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Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XXVIII, Number 5767
Wednesday, Jan 02, 2013

Parks Salutes Its Employees Of The Month (Part I)

Laura Prussin and Sarah Neilson are the Capital Employees of the Month for November.

Laura started her career with Parks as a Community Associate in December 2004 and is now the Deputy Chief of Staff at Capital. Sarah started with Parks as a Staff Analyst in December 2010 and is now the Senior Project Manager for the Chief of Capital Program Management.

Laura helps coordinate the day-to-day activities in Deputy Commissioner Braddick’s office, including correspondence, press inquiries, and, most recently, the storm response work. Sarah works directly with Chief Jonna Carmona-Graf to oversee the production of the capital program and to troubleshoot issues that come up during design and construction. She also coordinates our quarterly meetings with various regulatory agencies, and has recently taken on the storm recovery efforts as well.

Both Laura and Sarah are “take-charge” employees who frequently volunteer for tasks no matter how much work is involved. They’re both incredibly good-spirited, positive staff members who are a pleasure to be around.

Since Hurricane Sandy hit, there have been many Capital employees who have pitched in and worked long hours to help with the clean-up and recovery efforts. Both Laura and Sarah stand out as particularly persistent Parkies who have gone the extra mile. Laura worked through the weekends to put together spreadsheets to identify how we’ll be able to open our beaches next season. She’s been in communication with staff at Olmsted and in the boroughs to gather this data, while keeping up with her regular, demanding, day-to-day responsibilities. Sarah has taken on the impressive task of coordinating all of the site assessments that Capital is doing for the storm recovery. It is a huge amount of work that has required many late nights and weekends.

For their unwavering dedication to getting the job done, Laura and Sarah were nominated by Diane Jackier, Chief of Staff for Capital Projects, and Therese Braddick, the Deputy Commissioner for Capital Projects.

Whitney Files and Sabina Saragoussi are the Commissioner’s Employees of the Month for November.

Whitney launched her career with the City Parks Foundation in early 2005 and started her current role as Volunteer Program Director in January 2007. Sabina started as a Manhattan Outreach Coordinator with Partnerships for Parks in July 2005 and was promoted to Outreach Director in September 2007.

Whitney leads the Partnerships Volunteer program and is responsible for citywide tracking of volunteer activity, including corporate volunteer projects that raise over $300,000 annually. As Outreach Director, Sabina is responsible for coordinating with borough leadership and managing large initiatives such as It’s My Park Day and holiday tree lightings. She has also been overseeing a significant portion of the Greening Western Queens Tree planting project.

Whitney and Sabina both exhibit dedication in their work, and prioritize building and maintaining excellent relationships between the Parks Department and community groups throughout the city. Their work supports both our agency and the community at large.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Whitney and Sabina took the lead to manage over 90 volunteer projects in all five boroughs. Thanks to their commitment and knowledge, they were able to quickly and effectively coordinate resources with other divisions within the agency that were also hard at work on storm recovery. Simultaneously, they were coordinating with other agencies and nonprofit groups, including the DCAS, the Mayor’s Office, NYC Service, NY Cares, New Yorkers for Parks, various corporate groups, and other community partners. Thanks to Whitney and Sabina’s efforts, more than 6,500 New Yorkers had the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and play a direct and meaningful role in advancing our City’s post-storm recovery. We were able to bring volunteer support from across the city to help parks in many hard hit areas.

For their invaluable contributions to our agency, Partnerships for Parks, and the City Parks Foundation, Whitney and Sabina were nominated by Jason Schwartz, Director of Partnerships for Parks, Larry Scott Blackmon, Deputy Commissioner for Community Outreach, and Commissioner Veronica White.


“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.”

Oprah Winfrey
(1954 - )
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