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2010 Distinguished Service Award

General Counsel Kerry and Deputy General Counsel Washington presented the Office of General Counsel Distinguished Service Award to 27 members of the office.  The recipients were recognized for an array of accomplishments.  Those recipients are:

Florence N. Bridges, Attorney, Contract Law Division – Ms. Bridges was recognized for outstanding legal work which enabled NOAA to successfully award NOAA’s $2.5 billion NOAALink information technology services acquisition.  NOAALink will provide almost all NOAA’s IT needs, and if successful, will be expanded to include all Commerce IT requirements. During the course of the year, Ms. Bridges had to work directly with high level contracting personnel, analyze complex source selection documents, defend protests, and ultimately was a key player in the many technical evaluation and source selection meetings needed to conduct this acquisition. Her work, which often required working long hours, nights, and weekends, helped minimize risk to NOAA and provided it with a better value proposition.

Tricia Choe, Attorney, Office of Legislation and Regulation –  Ms. Choe was recognized for her outstanding contribution by serving as the Acting Chief Counsel for Regulation, and, once that position was filled, helping the new Chief Counsel transition smoothly.  She brought valuable insight to the development of regulations covering such things as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, pollock quotas, the defense priorities and allocations system, and encryption export controls.   In addition, Ms. Choe was called upon to assist the Department in coordinating the OMB clearance of several Notices of Inquiry developed by the Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force on the following four topics:  Privacy, Cybersecurity, Copyright, and Free Flow of Information on the Internet, as well as various regulations from BIS and NOAA.

Felisha Clarke, NOAA – Ms. Clarke was recognized for her outstanding work in budget and financial management for the General Counsel Southeast office.  Felisha quickly learned the financial systems and applied her knowledge and skills to reconcile the office’s budget and create accurate budget reports.  Her efforts enabled management to project spending and develop a responsible spending plan.

Melissa Creech, Attorney, Economic Statistics Administration – Melissa L. Creech was recognized for providing exemplary assistance and counsel to the Census Bureau on a wide range of matters surrounding the Constitutionally-mandated decennial census, including data collection, residency rules, data accuracy, offenses and penalties, confidentiality, and disclosure protections. Ms. Creech also substantially contributed to the promulgation of critical revisions to the Foreign Trade Regulations and the resolution of legal disputes over certain data collection practices and the process for generating census results.

Melinda DeAtley, Attorney, USPTO, Office of Enrollment & Discipline,– Ms. DeAtley was recognized for her contributions to USPTO, particularly through her work in setting up the USPTO law school pilot program which permits law students in clinical law school programs to practice before the USPTO in both patent and trademark matters.  Ms. DeAtley oversees the law school pilot program and ensures that it is efficient from the perspective of the agency and that it is beneficial to the law students and law schools.

James Filpi, Senior Counsel, Commercial Law Development Program – Mr. Filpi has built a long list of success stories in the Arabian Peninsula.  Mr. Filpi’s methodical approach and solid legal development skills have resulted in major improvements in corporate governance codes, e-commerce legislation, bankruptcy regulations and use of arbitration in the Gulf region. 

Rachael Gamble, EDA – Ms. Gamble was recognized for her assiduousness in completing assignments and for her collaborative manner and creativity in helping EDA carry out its mission to support efforts to create jobs in the nation’s distressed areas.  Particularly noteworthy was her work in connection with the new Community Trade Adjustment Assistance (CTAA) program.  Rachael consistently worked overtime to complete the extra workload that came along with the new program.  She fielded myriad questions from staff and applicants, both on the phone and in writing, and organized the review and rating process in the Denver Regional Office for this program.  Ms. Gamble also handled a number of significant legal issues in connection with EDA’s grant for the Cedar Rapids Events Center project in Iowa.  The City identified this project as its top priority to respond to the economic distress caused by the historic floods of 2008 which devastated downtown Cedar Rapids.  Rachael adroitly handled a variety of legal issues involved in the project, including issues dealing with local match, relocation, and the environment.

Hardeep Josan, Attorney, Office of the Chief Counsel for Import Administration – Ms. Josan was recognized for her significant contributions to the office’s work before the World Trade Organization and before domestic trial and appellate courts, particularly through her work in defending U.S. countervailing duty practices and  antidumping duty principles as they pertain to Import Administration’s non-market economy practice.  As the principal attorney overseeing textile legal matters, Ms. Josan has also demonstrated leadership ability while working as a consensus builder within the team.          

Nathan Kelley, Associate Solicitor, USPTO, Office of the Solicitor– Mr. Kelley was recognized for his contributions to the USPTO’s 2010-2015 Strategic Plan goal of optimizing patent quality, particularly through his representation of the USPTO in appeals involving high-profile reexaminations of numerous telecommunications-related patents.  Mr. Kelley also made significant contributions to the formulation of several USPTO positions with far-reaching impact in the areas of patent reexamination and claim construction. 

Deborah King,  Attorney, Office of the Chief Counsel for Import Administration – Ms. King was recognized for her outstanding legal work on behalf of Import Administration.  Ms. King advised Import Administration on, and defended in federal courts, novel and complex issues that arose in the context of antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings.  Also, responsible for advising IA’s Customs Liaison Unit, Ms. King is a go-to staff attorney, who, during this past year, has been consulted on almost a daily basis by the Customs Unit and other staff attorneys for advice on a variety of Customs matters.  Moreover, because of her excellent oral and written legal skills, Ms. King has presented training programs to foreign nationals on judicial review of antidumping and countervailing duty determinations in the U.S. legal system and other dispute settlement fora and on public disclosure of information in antidumping proceedings.

Joel LaBissonniere, Attorney, NOAA – Mr. LaBissonniere was recognized for his leading role in the development of a significant legal opinion regarding collection and use of fines, penalties and forfeited proceeds in NOAA enforcement cases.  His analysis provided a solid foundation for the Department to make significant policy decisions regarding the use of the enforcement proceeds.

Sandra Lambright, Senior Paralegal Specialist, was the recipient of the Office of Chief Counsel for Industry and Security (OCC/IS) Outstanding Employee Award in FY 2010.  She was recognized for her major contributions to the enforcement operations of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and OCC/IS.  During FY2010, OCC/IS closed 39 administrative enforcement cases with total civil penalties in excess of $25 million, the highest level of civil penalties in BIS (and predecessor agency) history.  Ms. Lambright was a critical part of this office's outstanding effort, serving as this office's primary point of contact with the immediate staff of the Office of the Chief Judge for the U.S. Coast Guard Administrative Law Judges, and functioning as this office's only paralegal assistant since this past June.  She is also being recognized for her outstanding analysis of BIS enforcement case data and administrative penalty practices, which was very helpful on a number of occasions to the Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement and the Chief Counsel.

Pamela Lawrence, Attorney, NOAA – Ms. Lawrence was recognized for her work on issues related to the Endangered Species Act consultations on the Environmental Protection Agency’s registration of pesticides under the Federal Insecticide and Rodenticide Registration Act.  Her leadership has furthered the goals of endangered species conservation. 

Melissa Lieberman, Deputy Chief Counsel, Office of the Chief Counsel for NIST.    Ms. Lieberman was recognized for outstanding contribution to the Office particularly through her extensive work in assisting NIST in the implementation of NIST’s Smart Grid responsibilities and her continuing as the lead contact on matters regarding the NIST World Trade Center investigation.  Additionally, Ms. Lieberman is being recognized for her highly successful activities in promoting inter-office cooperation with other OGC Divisions and her extensive efforts in fostering an intra-office atmosphere of close cooperation and effective collaboration.

Marguerite Matera, Attorney, NOAA – Ms. Matera was recognized for her work related to implementation of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill litigation hold for NOAA.  Her work not only addresses a critical legal requirement, but will serve as the basis for a template to address future litigation holds.  

Joseph McCabe, Attorney, NOAA – Mr. McCabe was recognized for his work as a member of the prosecution team enforcing the largest civil penalty case NOAA has taken to hearing.  The hearing represented the culmination of more than a year of discovery by the Agency.  His support of NOAA’s enforcement effort enabled superb legal representation of NOAA and the Department. 

Mariam McCall, Attorney, NOAA – Ms. McCall was recognized for her work as the lead attorney on the implementation of the largest, most complex catch shares program in fisheries management that covers the Pacific Groundfish trawl fishery along the entire West Coast. 

Reynaldo Mora, Commercial Law Development Program – Mr. Mora has been the consummate team player in handling many of CLDP’s administrative needs.  Mr. Mora has kept all of CLDP’s travel arrangements on track and travelled to foreign countries when called upon to do so to help implement programs. 

Peter Oppenheimer, Attorney, NOAA – Mr. Oppenheimer was recognized for his efforts in the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee adoption of an amendment to Annex I of the International Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from ships to ban the use of carriage of heavy grade oils by vessels in Antarctic and Southern Ocean waters. 

Percy Robinson, Senior Counsel, Federal Assistance Law Division, Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Finance and Litigation – Mr. Percy Robinson was recognized at the 2010 OGC Awards Ceremony  as a Distinguished Attorney, within the Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Finance and Litigation.   Mr. Robinson is the Federal Assistance Law Division team leader for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).  This is a $5.7 Billion Dollar program funded by the Recovery Act, to provide grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.   Mr. Robinson was instrumental in providing and coordinating FALD legal support to implement an important American Recovery and Reinvestment Act initiative – the Broadband Technology Opportunities Grant Program (BTOP). This grant program provided more than $4 billion in Federal funds to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance broadband capacity at public computer centers, and support sustainable adoption of broadband service.  Mr. Robinson’s guidance, expertise, and experience were essential to the development of a creative and innovative legal approach to establishing the BTOP grant program jointly with the Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP), in response to the Administration’s request to coordinate and consolidate Recovery Act broadband initiatives.  He did it fast and he did it right. This is a distinguishing event that marks the largest distribution of Federal Assistance funds in the history of the Department of Commerce. 

Duane Smith, Attorney, NOAA – Mr. Smith was recognized for his work as the lead attorney for enforcement issues arising out of (i) the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and (ii) alleged violations of a ship speed rule designed to prevent whale strikes.  His work on these matters contributed to the Department’s successful efforts to protect the nation’s natural resources, including preventing contamination of America’s seafood supply and protecting the critically-endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

Darmika Stanfield, Paralegal Specialist, General Law Division – Ms. Stanfield played a critical role in providing legal support to staff attorneys in successfully resolving administrative appeals under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and in assisting with FOIA litigation in Federal district court.  Specifically, Ms. Stanfield was the backbone of the litigation support team and prepared an extensive Vaughn index, reviewed, organized, redacted and numbered approximately 1680 pages of documents.  She also independently completed three comprehensive draft FOIA appeals, and consistently produced a well-organized work product that enabled her recommendations to be readily followed.   Additionally, Ms. Stanfield independently provided substantive data for the FY 2009 Annual FOIA Report related to the status of Department administrative appeals.  This entailed numerous work hours but Ms. Stanfield completed this task in addition to her other office responsibilities.  These independent efforts effectively multiplied the attorney-strength of the Division, and resulted in many favorable comments about her work.

Sarah Schwartz, Attorney-Advisor, General Law Division – Ms. Schwartz was recognized for her contributions to the Commerce Connect team. As a key member of that team, Ms. Schwartz advised the Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration, as well as all the Department’s bureaus on the appropriations implications of designing a cross-cutting initiative that involves different bureaus to differing degrees.  Also, she made lasting contributions to the Department’s new social media programs, by assisting the New Media Director with Open Government Initiative questions pertaining to bureau commenting policies and questions raised by the use of the Web 2.0 application, IdeaScale.  She was instrumental in reviewing and modifying the Department’s Social Media/Web 2.0 Policy for final clearance by our office, an effort which lasted more than a year. 

David Shewchuk, Attorney, USPTO, Office of General Law- Mr. Shewchuk has been recognized for his contributions to the USPTO. The cases he worked were extremely complex, and of high visibility with far-reaching consequences for USPTO. He demonstrated an unusual ability to maintain high quality work products while meeting a demanding work schedule working Federal Circuit Court Litigations, appellate briefing to the FLRA and a significant POPA representation dispute. Mr. Shewchuk has demonstrated an equal propensity in providing legal expertise, and establishing client relationships which have resulted in several positive shifts geared towards enhancing USPTO’s ability to meet its mission.

Arthur Warren, Senior Counsel for Ethics, Ethics Law and Programs Division – Mr. Warren was recognized for the outstanding quality of legal services he provided relating to conflict of interest statutes and ethics regulations, including his analysis of complicated post-employment questions and difficult issues relating to application of rules with regard to interests and activities of spouses of employees.  Mr. Warren was further recognized for the comprehensive guidance he provided on a daily basis to senior officials in the Department relating to ensuring compliance with disqualification requirements and rules relating to participation in political activities.  

Gaye Williams, Deputy Chief, Ethics Law and Programs Division – Ms. Williams was recognized for her contributions to management of the Division, particularly through her work in setting up five different office training conference, retreats, and similar events that provided for educating staff members, establishing goals for the year, and exchanging ideas that lead to improvements in office operations and staff efficiency.  Ms. Williams also made substantial contributions to management initiatives, including programs with foreign governments as part of the Department’s efforts to support anti-corruption efforts and the expansion of the role of ethics program specialists in office operations. 

William Yue, Senior Counsel, Office of the Chief Counsel for International Commerce.  Mr. Yue was recognized for his contributions to the negotiations of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which establishes a state-of-the-art international framework for effectively combating global proliferation of commercial-scale counterfeiting and piracy.