How many organizations do you know of that honor their administrative professionals? For over 30 years, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community has made it a tradition to take part in a weeklong celebration to honor its hard-working and talented administrative support professionals. On Friday, April 25, a special luncheon was held on the lawn at Friendship Park near the Two Waters Complex in Scottsdale, Arizona where the Administrative Professional of the Year was announced.
Let’s go back 60 years and learn a little about Administrative Professionals Week. In June 1952, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer proclaimed National Secretaries Week (original name) as an unofficial secular holiday. In 1955, National Secretaries Week was moved to the last full week of April. The name was changed twice, and in 2000 it officially became Administrative Professionals Week/Day.
Here within the Community, this celebration is a tradition that many tribal employees look forward to. The entire week is set aside to recognize the hard work, skills, loyalty, dedication and efficiency of administrative professionals, upon whom so many Community organizations and functions depend.
“We’re really blessed to do what we do. This week’s worth of activities is the least we can do, and I really enjoy it,” said Community Manager Bryan Meyers as he addressed the audience at the week’s kickoff event, a steak luncheon, on Monday, April 21. “I always enjoy coming down here, seeing familiar faces and some new faces. You all mean the world to me and to this Community. We have another exciting year coming up, not without challenges, but I know each and every one of you is up for those challenges.”
“We get spoiled for one week, [and] this time it’s just us and not everyone else. The tribe is very fortunate to have events like this for their employees. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week and lunch with our director,” said Customer Service Assistant Molly Sanchez.
“It’s fun to be around everybody and to be involved in this. This is my first year, and it’s pretty cool,” said Customer Service Assistant Bowie Leonard.
The week’s events also included bingo, a fun personality questionnaire, making candy lei’s, enjoying a much needed break, networking, and more.
On the final day of the celebration, tribal employees gathered on the lawn at Friendship Park for the awards luncheon. This year’s theme was a Hawaiian luau. A huge white event tent was set up and decorated with colorful décor that made attendees feel like they were on a Hawaiian island. The luncheon menu was catered by Moki’s Hawaiian Grill where they served; Kalua Pork, Teriyaki Chicken, macaroni salad, Moki’s ice cream and more.
Administrative Professional of the Year
Every year a unique individual is chosen as the Community’s Administrative Professional of the Year. The tribal departments all nominate individuals for consideration, looking for employees who are hard-working, dedicated and enthusiastic. This year, six nominees were evaluated by the panel of judges.
The nominees were:
Arial Begay-Smith, Community Legal Services Clerk; one year of service
Jessica Garcia, Youth Services Secretary; 10 years of service
Stella Romero, Community Regulatory Agency Executive Secretary; 14 years of service
Ardell Moore, Council Executive Secretary; 11 years of service
Emily King, Administration Secretary; 14 years of service
Patricia Rodarte, Health Management Administration Executive Secretary; seven years of service
The 2014 SRPMIC Administrative Professional of the Year is Jessica Garcia, Youth Services Secretary. Garcia received a gift card worth $1,200 dollars, roses and a beautiful plaque on behalf of the Administrative Professional’s Week Committee, SRPMIC Tribal Council and the Community.
Garcia first started out with the After School Program and moved on over to Youth Services. She has been employed with SRPMIC for over 10 years now. She has two boys and enjoys spending time with her family.
“I’m in shock. I wasn’t expecting this at all. I wasn’t going to come, but [my director insisted that] I should. They were being sneaky about it, which is probably why I’m so surprised,” said Garcia as she laughed.
“I’m [always one to] stay in the background. I don’t like being in front of the crowd, I’ve never been that way. I just do what I do for my Community,” said Garcia. “I do what I do because I love my job and I love my staff. I put myself in their shoes and if I was them and I needed something, I would want to have it right then and there. I do everything because I just love my staff, they’re great.”
“It’s nice to know that [my director and staff] notice all the extra work I do. I love working with the kids and group homes. We have a lot of kids and it’s great to see them come in. I love my job and I don’t plan on going anywhere!”
During the past year, Jessica has done an outstanding job of organizing and making our systems run more efficiently. Youth Services oversees the Phoenix Indian School Trust Fund, and Jessica has pulled together all the information that is received in the form of monthly applications and receipts, and set up a system that tracks applicants and their awards. The committee that reviews applications relies on her to receive the applicants’ information, verify that all documents are included and received by the monthly due date. She has kept the committee organized each month.
In addition, she consistently ensures that our purchase orders, check requests, and receipts are processed in an efficient manner, as well as being submitted to the Finance Department. Youth Services rarely fails to turn in receipts on time, as Jessica has trained all Youth Services staff to follower her timelines, so all are submitted on time.
Jessica looks for ways to streamline and make processes run more effectively and efficiently. She makes recommendations whenever she finds a solution to something that she sees can be done better.
With payroll, she checks daily and emails staff so they are notified of missing swipes. Payroll Mondays have become very smooth with her vigilance of the LUCY system and exceptions. Youth Services staff communicates with her throughout the week to find out if time is missing and leave hours have been received and entered.
Finally, our personnel records were falling apart and difficult to handle. Jessica researched new files and found a type that weighs less and is easier to read and organize, and she is in the process of changing out the old for the new. The best part is that she has explained all of her systems to all of us so we can function when she is out on leave. It is for all these reasons that I nominate Jessica for the 2014 Administrative Professional of the Year Award.