UPEA Accepting Applications for Retirement Board Seat

The Utah Public Employees’ Association is accepting applications from members interested in applying for its seat on the Utah State Retirement Board.  Members who are interested in applying must send a letter of intent and a resume to:


Attn:  Angie – Retirement Board Position

1000 Bellwood Lane

Murray, Utah  84123

Or email the information to:  angie@upea.net

UPEA encourages members who would like to be considered for this appointment to apply.  Qualifications for interested individuals include being a current, active member of UPEA in good standing.  The deadline for submitting a letter of intent and a resume is Friday, September 14, 2018.

The appointment is a four-year term, beginning on July 1, 2019.  The duties of the seat can be found in Utah Code 49-11-203 and include the following:

  • Receive and act upon reports covering the operations of the systems, plans, programs, and funds administered by the office;
  • Ensure that the systems, plans, programs, and funds are administered according to law;
  • Examine and approve an annual operating budget for the office;
  • Serve as investment trustees of the Utah State Retirement Investment Fund;
  • Report annually to the governor, the Legislature, and each participating employer the contribution rates, premium rates, and any adjustments necessary to maintain the systems, plans, and programs on an actuarially sound basis;
  • Recommend to the governor and Legislature, through the executive director, any necessary changes to this title;
  • Develop policy for the long-term operation of the various systems.

Lawmakers Debate How Best to Retain Public Employees

A new study found public employees’ salaries and benefits are highly competitive with Utah’s private sector, Utah State Auditor John Dougall and Department of Human Resources Management Director Paul Garver told lawmakers at an Aug. 15 meeting.

However, when separated into base salary and benefits, base salary 12.28 percent below the market median, they told the Legislature’s Government Operations Interim Committee. The benefits for Tier 1 and 2 employees range from 40 percent to 55 percent above market median.

Garver suggested that the best way to retain and recruit public employees is to create a value proposition for public employees. The private market will always be more “quick and nimble” and able to adapt to changing markets than state government. Because of this, creating a robust package of benefits along with competitive salaries is vital.

Rep. Adam Robertson, R-Provo, noted that “few jobs are as stable as a government job.” He asked whether Utah should move toward a general market model to keep the public market at the same competitive level as the private market. Rep.  Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, pointed out that Utah should focus more on retention of their public employees. She shared an anecdote from her days as an attorney, recalling how costly the high turnover rate was to her office. “Keeping dedicated, hardworking, public employees should remain our priority.”

Overall, the legislators agree that Utah needs to find a way to appeal to the younger generations, who may prefer higher base salaries over retirement/healthcare benefits.

Garver did not have a recommendation to present at the committee. However, he promised to, “continue to work with current partners [PEHP and URS] to create options and opportunities for the Legislature to consider” in the coming session.

Dougall emphasized the importance of establishing a “compensation philosophy” to base the goals of the committee on when it comes to total compensation of public employees. He posed rhetorical questions such as: Should the Utah Legislature place its focus on retention, recruitment, or next generation skills?

Committee Chairman, Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, motioned to open a bill file, which passed unanimously. Harper asked UPEA Executive Director, Todd Losser, to participate in future meetings with all other stake holders. Garver will return to present recommendations to the committee during the October interim committee meeting. Ideally, by November the committee will be able to create legislation based on those recommendations.

Utah State Agencies Applauded for Their Participation in Clean-Air Initiatives

In February, participants in Utah’s Clear the Air Challenge eliminated 89,076 trips, saved 1.43 million miles and $423,388, and burned 2.12 million calories, according to the initiative’s website.

Michelle Brown encourages state employees to continue the trend by using public transit, biking, and telecommuting when possible. These transportation options were the focus of a three-month social media campaign the Utah Transportation Department (UDOT) launched, Brown, state coordinator of resource stewardship for the Utah Department of Administrative Services (DAS) told the Legislature’s Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Interim Committee on June 20.

The campaign led to a 2000 percent increase in visitors to the TravelWise website (https://travelwise.utah.gov), a majority of whom had never visited the site before.

“Transportation continues to be a key best practice,” Brown explained when introducing successful DAS programs. She said the Telematics Program is a voluntary pilot program that encourages drivers to set operating parameters, which in turn increase fuel efficiency and safety and reduce the need for maintenance. In the first year of the program, unnecessary idling was prevented, miles per gallon increased, and aggressive driving and accident costs decreased. Brown said the program is environmentally conscious, improves air quality, and is financially responsible and viable. It also aligns with Gov. Gary Herbert’s Idle Reduction Executive Order.

Another success story comes from the Division of Fleet Operations. It supplemented its fleet with 632 Tier 3 vehicles in the past fiscal year. Tier 3 vehicles emit 80 percent less volatile organic nitrous oxide. Additionally, Fleet Operations expanded the electrical vehicle (EV) infrastructure. The state contracted five new EV vendors, allowing for expansion and installment of EV chargers at three state facilities (Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Governor’s Office of Energy Development, and the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) at Cal Rampton).

Brown noted that state agencies are being recognized for their continued efforts to engage in public outreach. The Division of Fleet Operations was awarded the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Energy and Environment for its 15 percent decrease in emissions from fleet vehicles. UDOT was recognized as UCAIR’s 2018 Community Partner for optimizing mobility, reducing energy, and improving air quality through the TravelWise Program.

Members of the Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Interim Committee, were pleased with Utah state agencies’ actions. Rep.  Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, praised Brown for her hard work, and asked whether DAS could accomplish more with additional staff. Brown explained she has the help of 42 stewardship liaisons representing each state agency to help the department achieve its goals, but extra hands are always appreciated.

The Utah Public Employees’ Association encourages members to be aware and participate in activities that help keep Utah air clean.

Ensuring DHRM Rule Changes Don’t Adversely Impact You as a State Employee

The Utah Public Employees’ Association’s (UPEA’s) Human Resource Policy and Rules Committee monitors the Department of Human Resource Management’s (DHRM’s) draft rule changes every spring and provides comments.

After attending DHRM’s yearly rules hearing on June 7, UPEA Field Services Manager Christy Cushing met with DHRM Labor Relations Director Rebecca Parr, DHRM Legal Compliance Review Manager Tim Evans, and DHRM Human Resources Specialist Bryan Embley to review DHRM rule changes for FY2019.

This year, DHRM incorporated three of UPEA’s five rule recommendations. These include:

  1. As of July 1, state agencies will not be allowed to require employees to maintain a minimum balance of accrued leave. Twice last year, a manager at an Office of Recovery Services office required employees to have 80 hours of annual leave accrued before approving any future annual leave requests. DHRM rules already mandate that agencies allow every employee the option to use annual leave each year for at least the amount accrued in the year (R477-7-3(5)). When UPEA heard from two employees that their leave requests were being denied because of their lack of accrued leave, it filed a grievance on their behalf. To ensure all state agencies clearly understand they cannot require minimum leave balances for any type of leave, DHRM agreed to add the new language to the rules.
  2. For various reasons, state agencies can grant employees career mobility assignments as a mechanism to learn additional skills by completing job duties outside their original positions. Typically, only agencies, not employees, can offer a career mobility assignment, which is why UPEA recommended the elimination of the language “employees and agencies are encouraged to promote career mobility programs” (R477-4-13) from DHRM rules clarify the rules.
  3. Before last year, state employees were allowed to rescind their intent to retire or resign from state government within 24 hours of giving their notice. When DHRM modified this rule, it permitted employees to seek agency management consent if they wanted to withdraw their notice of resignation or retirement (R477-12-1(1). Because all managers are not authorized to hire staff, the rule was amended to now grant only the “agency head or designee” the ability to invalidate an employee’s notice.

DHRM denied UPEA’s suggestion to allow employees the opportunity to request a formal classification review to determine if they are classified appropriately. DHRM noted it is in every agency’s best interest to classify employees to the correct position; yet changing the rule in this way could have a budgetary impact, especially if employees frequently made the request. UPEA also requested DHRM define “administratively acceptable evidence” (R477-7-4(7) when employees are required to prove their sick leave use. DHRM noted some agencies are more rigid than others and adding a definition could undermine an agency’s discretion.

In addition, UPEA disagreed with four of DHRM’s draft rule modifications. They are:

  1. PEHP currently does not allow a surviving spouse to purchase dental insurance using a spouse’s pre-2006 or pre-2014 sick leave benefits, as per Utah State Statute 67-19-14.3. To be consistent with statute, DHRM Rule R477-7-6(5)(vii) will now read, “In the event an employee is killed in the line of duty, the employee’s spouse shall be eligible to use the employee’s available sick leave hours for the purchase of additional medical coverage.”
  2. Similarly, DHRM believes the language should be removed from R477-6-6(10)(a) that specifies that employees who accept career mobility assignments can receive a temporary pay increase or decrease while completing the different job duties. UPEA believes the language in subsection (a) should be kept, as it doesn’t make sense to keep subsection (b), articulating the employee’s salary could be reduced when they are no longer in a career mobility position, if the rules don’t identify that his/her salary could decrease or increase when accepting a career mobility assignment. During the rules hearing, DHRM noted that in its internal electronic system it codes career mobility assignments as promotions or reassignments, which is why DHRM wants to remove the language. Regardless of how career mobility assignments are coded electronically, they are not inherently permanent promotions or reassignments. DHRM seemed to agree that removing the language in subsection (a) could cause confusion and is considering keeping the original language.
  3. As a result of a recent Utah Court of Appeals Case Stephen Burgess v. Dept. of Corrections, which overturned the termination of a Department of Corrections employee, DHRM added 13 defined “discretionary factors” to R477-DHRM Rule R477-11-3. The language describing these new factors was  taken verbatim from Judge Michele Christiansen’s opinion, which also refers to another case, Daniel Harmon v. Ogden City Civil Service Commission and Ogden City Corp. Ogden City Fire and Ogden City Fire Chief Mike Mathieu. Essentially, DHRM wants to ensure agencies thoroughly evaluate all these discretionary factors before deciding to give employees written warnings or placing them on a performance improvement plan, and before formally disciplining them with a written reprimand, suspension, demotion, or termination. This is great news for employees; however, one of the discretionary factors allows agencies to evaluate the “likelihood of recurrence.” Because neither an agency nor DHRM can predict an employee’s future behavior, UPEA believes this specific discretionary factor should be removed from the rules. Trying to predict the “likelihood of recurrence” disregards giving employees an opportunity to remediate their behavior by giving authority to the agency/DHRM to argue something could happen in the future. DHRM declined to remove the new language because the relevant case law already includes the same language.
  4. UPEA ensures that the processes for conducting a layoff are equitable. Currently, DHRM Rule R477-12-3(5) requires that agencies give employees 20 working days’ notice when their position is being eliminated. Nonetheless, this year DHRM is removing that language so the rules are more consistent with Utah State Statute 67-19-18(6)(d), which only requires that employees be granted notice of their appeal rights within 20 working days of being laid off.

UPEA members can join the Human Resources Policy and Rules Committee or offer suggestions on human resource rules by contacting their UPEA staff representative. If you would like to attend the next committee meeting, it will be on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. at the UPEA office.


Rules Corner: Clear up Misconceptions about FMLA

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a 12-month period for qualifying reasons, yet misconceptions abound over what qualifies for FMLAand what happens when an employee returns to work. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about FMLA.


  1. Do I qualify to apply for FMLA?
  2. Family and/or medical leave may be granted for the following reasons, according to DHRM Rule 477-715:
  • The birth of a child, and to care for a newborn
  • The adoption or foster care of a child
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition
  • When a serious health condition prevents performance of essential work functions.
  • To care for an eligible military service member or veteran, (a spouse, child, parent, or next-of-kin) with a serious illness or injury sustained or aggravated while on active duty
  • For a qualifying exigency arising out of certain enumerated exigencies relating to a spouse, child, or parent’s active duty in the armed forces in a foreign country
  1. Does a ‘serious health condition’ include physical and psychological care?
  2. Answer: Yes. However, remember that an employee must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours and been with the agency at least one year to qualify.
  3. Can both parents use FMLA for the birth or adoption of a child?
  4. Both mothers and fathers have the right to take FMLA leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
  5. What happens if my position is no longer available when I return from FLMA leave?
  6. An employer must restore an employee returning from FMLA leave to the same or an equivalent (virtually identical) position. This is one of the many benefits to using FMLA rather than sick leave or vacation days. Before passage of FMLA , employers could terminate employees absent from work for a family or medical reason without recourse. Using FMLA leave helps protect your job.
  7. Does my employer have the right to request a medical certification that verifies my serious health condition?
  8. An employer has the right to request medical certification that an employee has a ‘serious health condition’ from a healthcare provider. An employer also has the right to require an employee returning from FMLA leave to provide a fitness for duty certification before returning to work.

FMLA is a great resource for  those who need it. It is important for employees to be aware of their employers’ FMLA policies and procedures because they can vary from agency to agency. Please reach out to UPEA with questions or concerns about FMLA.


Join UPEA in Saluting Utah’s Public Employees

The Utah Public Employees Association (UPEA) is proud to participate in the Public Employee Salute Program.  The idea for the program was conceived in 1999, when a past UPEA executive director noticed that KSL Radio had a special “Teacher Feature” segment to recognize Utah teachers. UPEA and Mountain America Credit Union used Teacher Feature as the model for the Public Employee Salute, which began a year later.


The following individuals have been nominated and recognized with the Public Employee Salute for their hard work for the state of Utah.


April 2018

Sharlene Anderson

Sharlene Anderson is a deputy court clerk for the 5th District Court. She has worked for the state for more than 10 years. Coworkers describe Anderson as kind and fair. She is always considerate to the public, employees who work with her, and everyone she comes in contact with during her workday. She shares her knowledge of accounting and other processes without being intimidating or cruel; she simply wants everyone to understand and process cases correctly. She protects the court’s integrity while exemplifying a positive outlook and willingness to help everyone. Instead of having an attitude of superiority after so many years with the court, she has taken on the role of a mentor. If everyone was likeAnderson, there would be an exceptional atmosphere in the courts.

Tim Olson

Tim Olson is an employment counselor for the Department of Workforce Services (DWS). He has been working for the state for 16 years. Olson began his work at DWS during the 2002 Winter Olympics as a security guard. During his time as a guard, he paid attention to services DWS provided, and would go out of his way to help customers use these services. Because he was attentive and always exceeded expectations DWS hired him after his security job ended. Olson goes out of his way to help clientsimprove the quality of their DWS job registration, find specific jobs catered to them in the system, and improve their resumes. He also takes the time to solve problems that arise with earning approval for unemployment payments. Olson constantly looks for ways to save the department money. One unique way he does this is by taping spoons to the pens so that one box is used once every three months instead of one box a week. He is also known to fix jammed printers not just in his work area, but throughout the Provo building where he works. Olson is known by his coworkers to have a kind heart. He often helps them with vehicle issues.

Chris Kawa

Chris Kawa is a technician II for the Department of Technology Services (DTS) in information technology (IT) support. When customers call in and they have a computer or phone issue they can’t fix themselves, he finds the solution. Kawa has worked for DTS for more than two years, and has made a huge impact. Unlike many IT techs who work within one specific campus, Kawa has worked on every campus. He takes calls from state employees, contractors, medical personnel, and some from the general public. During his time at DTS, Kawa has created several tutorials for his coworkers on how to assist customers faster. These tutorials have been extremely helpful to his coworkers and customers. Coworkers know Kawa to be extremely intelligent when it comes to computers. He has taken many opportunities to teach coworkers about computers, and has helped one coworker specifically from barely understanding basic “computer talk” to being able to troubleshoot the majority of the calls that come in.

Wade Mathews

Wade Mathews is the “Be Ready Utah” manager for the Utah Division of Emergency Management.Mathews’ responsibility in his position is to promote Gov. Gary Herbert’s “Be Ready Utah” program, which encourages the public to make a plan, get a kit, be informed, and get involved with emergency preparedness. Mathews is a strong advocate of this program, and encourages emergency preparedness for families, their homes, businesses, and the community. He has worked in this position for almost five years, and previously was emergency manager in Tooele County. Mathews is consistently available to coworkers to listen to new ideas and how to implement them. He encourages the team to work together to provide preparedness presentations throughout Utah. These presentations, along with education materials, promote preparedness for earthquakes, floods, loss of power, water shortage, and other disaster situations so Utah can “Be Ready” as a community to survive and recover together. His team knows Mathews as energetic; he boosts moral in the office. He contributes to strengthening relationships within the workplace and is reliable.

May 2018—

Deanne Arvizu

Deanne Arvizu is a coordinator III at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), focusing on training and staff development. Arvizu is filled with compassion, love, and cheerfulness when she communicates and interacts with employees at SLCC. She goes out of her way to create connections with employees and has become a confidante for employees to talk with about any trials they face. Recently, Arvizu has become involved in a new coaching program the college started. As a coach, she conducts weekly one-on-one meetings with staff during which they set weekly goals focusing on what they need to accomplish, along with discussing pathways for their personal and professional lives. The meetings are confidential, and Arvizu focuses on ways to resolve the things that really matter to the employees. Coworkers know her as fun to be around; she has a smile that goes with her everywhere. Arvizu is deeply appreciated for her commitment to the lives of employees at SLCC. She goes out of her way to keep coworkers smiling, especially when times are tough.

Joseph Raynor

Joseph Raynor works for the Division of Facilities Construction and Management. Coworkers at the Provo facility know him as an amazing worker who is very well liked. He has made a point of knowing people in each office within the building and making sure that they know he is around to help with anything they need. He displays professionalism and kindness to all he meets. If he sees someone sitting alone at lunch, he asks to join them so he can build stronger relationships with others in the building. Raynor is known as a person who would rather fix something than throw it away and replace it with something new. As a result, he has saved the state money across multiple departments and agencies. Not only does Raynor do a great job at the Provo building, but he also works as an emergency medical technician in the community. His knowledge allows him to go above and beyond as a state employee and to also serve in his community.

Sherry Tran

Sherry Tran is an employment counselor at the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) South Davis Office. She has worked for the state for more than nine years. Tran is known for her outstanding work with clients DWS serves. She takes care of the employment center employees and makes sure everyone has the needed supplies in order to effectively do their jobs. She also makes sure that the employers who use the employment center for various services are taken care of and all their needs are met. Not only does this assist the employers, it also provides employment opportunities for DWS customers. Tran is patient and demonstrates a positive yet gentle demeanor. She is knowledgeable and proficient in her current job and listens with care and concern to all individuals. She exhibits a caring and positive attitude to DWS customers. Tran is bilingual and is always willing to assist as needed for DWS Vietnamese customers. She is truly is a team player and an asset to DWS.

Antigone “Tiggy” Carlson

Antigone “Tiggy” Carlson is a contracts administrator at Salt Lake County Contracts & Procurement. She is always willing to help any employee learn more about purchasing requirements. She answers questions quickly, helps with research if she doesn’t know an answer, and has become an expert in the PeopleSoft system. Much of Carlson’s knowledge about PeopleSoft has been self-taught. She is motivated to dig in and figure things out on her own, then she shares with those around her. If someone takes an unusual problem they are experiencing to her, she’ll troubleshoot it herself to identify the root cause and get things working right again. When it’s a known issue, she quickly helps guide the user in navigating the system to correct the problem. She has a passion for doing things right and is always looking for ways to improve. Each time there are changes to PeopleSoft, she reviews processes for efficiencies, coordinates testing, and trains employees on the new functionality. She’s also willing on a regular basis to send out “tips and tricks” that help coworkers stay on track when entering information into the system. Her positive attitude benefits the county and all of those she interacts with daily.

Essy Rahimzadegan

Essy Rahimzadegan is a right-of-way engineer for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). He has worked in public service for 26 years and works effectively with coworkers, consultants, and the public. He is a wealth of knowledge on processes and finding information. Like all good employees, Rahimzadegan is great at balancing the limited resource of time with an overwhelming amount of requests. He does this without becoming annoyed or bothered. He has a good sense of humor and a committed sense of duty to fulfill the demands of his job to a variety of customers. Rahimzadegan has made great strides in moving information to a government information system (GIS) database to help everyone find accurate information online using UDOT’s tool-UPlan. This allows people to view information on a map and download a copy of the plans pertaining to their project. Rahimzadegan truly fulfills UDOT’s vision of “Keeping Utah Moving,” and is a wonderful public employee.

June 2018—

Paula Bowen

Paula Bowen is a benefit payment control specialist for the Department of Workforce Services (DWS). In addition to the hard work Bowendoes for DWS, she is also known for her exemplary involvement with the Wellness Council. Bowen has been involved with the Wellness Council since April 2017, and regularly promotes wellness activities in the administration building. She brings employees together to make healthy living a priority in the building, and each month promotes the PEHP wellness opportunities. Bowen sends reminders to staff about events and also visits each floor for verbal encouragement to participate. Recently, she recruited management from each floor to participate in a karaoke event, which created a successful event with lots of laughter and employee participation. It’s easy for employees to get lost in their day-to-day duties, and Bowen helps to remind everyone of the importance of learning wellness strategies and participating in wellness activities. Bowen’s collaborative, friendly, and supportive attitude and willingness to put herself out there to recruit active involvement encourages the employees to take better care of themselves.

Erin Stephens

Erin Stephens is a caseworker for the State of Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). She has worked for the state for more than 10 years, and in  this time has expanded to fulfill many roles within the caseworker realm. In all of her roles, Stephens has gone beyond what is required to provide for her clients, who include children, parents, and extended family. Over the years, Stephens has cared for the well-being and safety of children while carefully balancing important family connections. Stephens recently took on a complex case from another worker. She listened, staffed the case, and gave a unique perspective on the parent’s determination to work withDCFS. She was able to come up with innovative recommendations and suggestions that became a list of commitments to follow while she worked with the parents. Within DCFS, Stephens has been a mentor to many, and commits to coaching coworkers through to the end. She consistently offers to supervise visits for other employees and helps assistant caseworkers round up vehicles after they are repaired. Stephens has saved the division money by using grant funding to assist families with reunification rather than continuing to leave children in foster care because of the family’s economic situation. This is both cost saving, policy following, and compassionate. Stephens is known for her kindness, motivation, and dedication to the families she works with. She also advocates for assistance, donations, and volunteers for the Utah State Hospital Forgotten Patient Program.

Amanda Bennett

Amanda Bennett is the receptionist at the Sanpete County Jail. She has unselfishly served Sanpete County citizens for 10 years. She uses her talents to help execute the Sanpete County Fair by serving on the Fair Board. Bennett performs a range of duties that include grant writing, brainstorming with board members, and attending County Commission. She also meets with city mayors and town council members to plan and orchestrate the fair. Bennett takes the time to attend educational planning seminars despite her busy schedule. She plans for years in advance for seating, efficient water use, and sports facilities for 4-H.  Bennett has proven her worth as a public employee and community servant. Her dedication to Sanpete County will be felt years into the future. She always takes time to help with any problems that arise. Whether it is helping bandage a child’s injured knee or coming up with an affordable alternative to a blown down grandstand, Bennett can be counted on to help.

Becki Winger

Becki Winger is an office specialist II at the Department of Corrections. She has worked in public service for 14 years.  She’s been with Adult Probation and Parole (AP&P) for four years, and previously worked as a 911 dispatcher and records specialist for the Ogden Police Department. Winger’s career has centered on assistance, service, and creating a safe environment for citizens. She is the office go-to person for processing, records, and information technology  issues. Winger is eager to expand her knowledge, and has become a subject-matter specialist with court investigative reports and AP&P systems while performing her regular duties of processing reports, warrants, termination requests, and case follow-ups. When she faces problems, she finds solutions and relays those solutions through the chain of command. On top of everything else, Winger trains new staff members, ensuring they understand all aspects of the work. Her calm demeanor, warm personality, and welcoming attitude draw staff and other individuals to consult with her on professional and personal issues. She devotes her life to serving Utah citizens.

July 2018—

Becky Corless

Becky Corless is a Living Skills Center attendant at the Utah State Developmental Center. She is recognized for her skill in providing excellent training to people with intellectual disabilities and working with clients to develop job skills to prepare for community-based employment. Her supervisor was recently in a serious accident and had to take time off work. Corless graciously picked up his job and hers, helping clients excel in their training. She goes into work early to help one client clean horse stalls and helps teach and mentor others working at a charter school to develop kitchen skills. She has the ability to challenge the people she works with to stretch and learn more and work at greater overall independence. She has built relationships with clients and knows how to best support them to achieve and grow. Not only does Michelle work well with clients, she continues to ensure the necessary paperwork required for the job is current and accurate. She has adjusted her schedule to accommodate the needs of the job, and is very positive with everyone she works with. Corless is an exemplary state employee.

Michelle Crofts

Michelle Crofts is a preconstruction administrative assistant at the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). She is great at working with other employees and the public. She receives calls from all over the state. No matter who calls or what they are calling about, Crofts does her best to ensure that she can help them with whatever they need. She always treats the public with consideration and respect. Crofts is also known by coworkers as a wonderful fellow employee. One coworker appreciates how welcoming Michelle was when she hired on at UDOT.  From the moment they met in the interview, Crofts made her feel a part of the UDOT family. She even took time to help her new coworker move her belongings out of storage. The employees at UDOT Region 4 Headquarters know if they are having a bad day, it is almost guaranteed that a quick chat with Crofts will make everything seem a little brighter. Crofts makes working at UDOT a true pleasure, and coworkers look forward to working with her in the years to come.

Derick Zorn

Capt. Derick Zorn is a leader in the Department of Corrections, and to all around him. He not only works with staff assigned to him, but with all who ask for help. Zorn continually looks for ways to improve his areas of responsibility, and looks out for those who may be affected by changes. He continually monitors the budget and works to stay withinbudget constraints. He exhibits creativity in training staff and is a mentor at work. Zorn is well-respected and reaches out to staff outside of work. He listens to people and actually hears what theysay. One staff member acknowledged Zorn for reaching out to him during a low point. Zorn checked in on him outside of work, and ensured he knew there was someone he could rely one. Zorn also ensures staff are held to a high standard and are accountable for their actions. This is vital when working in corrections. With scrutiny always on actions, he teaches staff to be upstanding members and proud of what they do. Zorn is known for being a captain who exhibits a high standard of professionalism, kindness, and a willingness to mentor all who cross his path.

Nathan Harrison

Nathan Harrison is a finance director at the Department of Workforce Services (DWS). He guides purchasing at  DWS and is an instrumental component of the finance division. Not only does he calmly and kindly educate and enforce procurement code and internal policy, he does so with of compassion and respect. He possesses excellent communication skills and is a powerful advocate of best practices to resolve complications. Harrison also streamlines internal processing for utmost efficiency to benefit clients. Even though Nathan has an extremely busy schedule and many responsibilities departmentwide, each time a coworker approaches him for approval, he tries to meet the client need as quickly as possible after confirming policy adherence and client need. He is an advocate for taxpayers, consumers, and those who at DWS.


UPEA congratulates all those recognized with the Public Employee Salute and thanks them for their extraordinary work for the state of Utah. The Public Employee Salute is an ongoing program UPEA is proud to be a part of. Please nominate coworkers who you believe deserve recognition for their hard work by contacting the UPEA office.


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