UPEA/MACU Public Employee Salute Winners

The Utah Public Employees Association (UPEA) is proud to participate in the Public Employee Salute Program.  The program began in 2009, when a past UPEA executive director noticed that KSL Radio had a special segment called “Teacher Feature” to recognize Utah teachers.    However, there was no feature recognizing Utah’s public employees.  The following year, the UPEA and MACU Public Employee Salute Program began.  A total of 48 public employees have been honored during the past year.  Fourteen of the winners were honored at the Public Employee Salute Luncheon in September, while the remaining winners were honored at UPEA’s annual General Council.

Jessica Cook is an administrative secretary with the Department of Corrections, Adult Probation and Parole Division.  She has worked for the state for the past 11 years, 10 ½ of those years have been with the Adult Probation and Parole Division.  As an administrative secretary, Jessica supervises and trains nine support staff.  Cook also helps run reports that are critical to tracking and aiding in fugitive apprehension.  While running and reviewing these large statistical reports, Cook looks for new ways to make them more readily available for the AP&P staff.  When she isn’t being a liaison to various local agencies and community partners, Cook dedicates her free time to charitable organizations that include Children and the Earth.

Brett Burgi is an environmental health scientist with the Salt Lake County Health Department.  More specifically, Burgi is the food borne illness coordinator for Salt Lake County’s Health Department, Food Protection Division.  Burgi has worked for Salt Lake County for the past five years.  As a food inspector, he has inspected numerous restaurants throughout the valley. However, his primary focus is South Salt Lake, a challenging area for food protection.  His inspections are not just limited to restaurants; Burgi also inspects food trucks. His coworkers call Burgi their “go-to” person; if there is a difficult inspection that needs to get done, Burgi will do it!

 Ester Martinez is an appraiser at the Weber County Assessor’s Office.  Martinez has worked for Weber County for the past 25 years.  Her career includes helping Weber County citizens understand how their property (personal or commercial) is appraised, understanding property taxation protocol, assisting with commercial properties in Ogden Valley, etc.  Two years ago, Martinez was asked to help with the Multiple Housing Area; evaluating and verifying values for small income producing properties, Section 8 and HUD  housing, Section 24 and large apartments.  Without any training, Martinez dove in and has been doing an amazing job!  On top of all these duties, multiple offices (including her own) rely on Martinez to help with Spanish-speaking customers, and she does it all with a smile.


John Service is a heavy equipment mechanic for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT).  He has worked for the state of Utah for the past 18 years.  As a UDOT employee, Service has had to deal with countless difficult situations and many of them not in the best weather.  Despite bad weather and challenging situations, Service constantly goes beyond his assigned work duties.  John’s dedication to his work, great work ethic, and excellent training ability have made him a model UDOT employee.


Elizabeth Virivong is the Immunization Program coordinator for the Salt Lake County Health Department. Her priority is to make sure Salt Lake County residents receive important education and vaccine services to protect them and their neighbors.  At back-to-school time, Virivong advised the county’s health clinics to extend their hours to better serve the numerous clients needing vaccinations before the start of the school year. This year, she partnered with Intermountain Health Care  to provide flu vaccines to Salt Lake County’s homeless and uninsured.  In addition to collaborating with local partners, Virivong is constantly looking for ways to make vaccines more affordable and of the highest quality for Salt Lake County residents.  A co-worker said it the best:  “Liz holds herself, her program, and the services provided by her program to the highest level.  Liz truly puts her heart and soul into her job.  She is most deserving of this recognition and honor for all that she does to improve the health and lives of the individuals in our community.”


Brad Christensen is a tax/motor vehicle specialist for the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles.  He has worked for the state of Utah for the past 24 years.  Christensen began his career working directly with customers as a title and registration clerk, helping guide citizens through the process of registering their vehicles.  Using his great customer service skills, Christensen has excelled in his current branch support role, helping co-workers who work directly with the public and making any necessary corrections, not only does he exceed expectations at work; he also helps with various charities in the community.  Whether it be testing new systems to be used by the Utah State Tax Commission or helping a co-worker assist a customer registering their new car, no task is too small.

Vea Ofa is a JJS counselor III for the Division of Juvenile Justice Services.  He has worked for the state of Utah for more than 15 years.  As a JJS counselor III, Ofa supervises and works side by side with troubled youth.  As taxing and stressful as it may be for most, he takes it in stride.  Ofa serves as a positive role model for the young men under his supervision.  His co-workers agree ,saying that, “Vea can lead and guide our troubled youth no matter where they are held.”





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *