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Volume XXVII, Number 5751
Wednesday, Dec 05, 2012

Parks Salutes Its Employees Of The Month (Part III)

David Terhune, Aretha Singh, and Mari Suriel are Management’s Employees of the Month for October.

David is currently the Director of Personnel and has been with Parks since 1985. Aretha was hired as a Clerical Associate in 1999 and over the years rose to Deputy Director of Personnel. Mari started her career at Parks as a Clerical Aide in 2005. She currently works as a Supervisor of Client Services for the Parks Opportunity Program.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis visited the Workforce One center in Jamaica, Queens, announcing the Department of Labor’s plan to release funding through their National Emergency Grant (NEG). Parks, along with Small Business Services, saw this as a great opportunity to hire individuals in need of employment while bolstering our workforce and aiding in recovery efforts.

David Terhune did not shy away from this daunting task. He worked with management and his staff to craft and execute a hiring plan in only a few short days. David and his team were responsible for hiring 788 individuals at five locations in eight days at one NYC public housing recreation center in Brooklyn, one public library in Brooklyn, and three SBS Workforce One sites in Staten Island, Jamaica, and Downtown Brooklyn. The team was responsible for setting up mobile hiring centers throughout the City with little time and no long-term planning. They had to work closely with directors of other organizations and facilities, with Parks taking over a good portion of their buildings.

It could not have been possible without Mari Suriel’s coordination efforts. She was tasked with tracking all potential hires and ensuring that they progressed throughout interviewing, processing, training and receiving work assignments. She seamlessly helped transition thousands of candidates with the utmost respect and consideration. Even those who were not hired had a positive experience due to her kindness. Meanwhile, Aretha Singh led and oversaw the processing operation. Not an easy task with so many candidates in such a short time! Her sound judgment and calm demeanor set the tone for the staff and potential hires. She kept her composure and never lost focus of the task at hand.

David is a songwriter, musician, and father of three daughters. He can be seen performing periodically at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan. Aretha is a Queens resident and Sudoku expert who is known at Parks for having an answer to just about every question. Mari balances her career with her family, as a mother of three sons under the age of six.

For their unwavering dedication to getting the job done, David, Aretha, and Mari were nominated by Deputy Commissioner Garafola.

Sheena Brown, who was unable to attend last month’s ceremony, is Management’s Employee of the Month for September.

Sheena started her career at Parks in 2005 as a Monuments Coordinator. She is now the Deputy Director of Arts & Antiquities where she handles much of the oversight for monument restoration and new monument projects. In addition, Sheena tracks the unit’s budget, manages contractor relationships, and serves as the unit’s liaison on special projects.

Sheena is adept at handling multiple complex projects simultaneously. She is organized, persevering, and thorough, responding to her many tasks with wisdom, good humor and tact. She is a positive force for the unit and serves as a critical liaison between the Arts and Antiquities unit, other Park divisions, Park partners, and the general public.

Sheena has been the coordinator for the conservation of the Christopher Columbus monument in conjunction with Tatzu Nishi’s high-profile art project, Discovering Columbus. This project was on a fast-tracked time table, and Sheena has worked hard to keep the project on schedule.

In August, after many years, Sheena was able to arrange for the addition of five historical inscriptions to the Sheepshead Bay Holocaust Memorial. This project required numerous site visits and complex negotiations with the pro-bono firm performing the work.

Sheena also oversaw the engraving of the 2011 American Laureates to the Nobel Monument, which required coordination between a monuments company, the American Museum of Natural History, and the office of the Swedish Ambassador.

Sheena is a mother to two young children, Ellie and Alec. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Gregg, and together they maintain a very active website of family photo postings. Sheena is also a “foodie” and likes to travel when she can. She holds a Master’s Degree in Decorative Arts, and formerly worked as Deputy Director at one of Parks’ historic homes, the Morris-Jumel Mansion.

For her hard work and dedication for getting the job done, Sheena was nominated by Director of Art and Antiquities Jonathan Kuhn and Deputy Commissioner Larry Scott Blackmon.


“Friendship with oneself is all-important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
(1884 - 1962)
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