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ALEXANDRIA, Va. –­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve announces the 2020 Volunteers of the Year (VOTY). Volunteers who serve in following functional and operational areas were nominated by their respective State Committee for the prestigious honor of being named Volunteer of the Year: Military Outreach, Employer Outreach, Public Affairs, Training, Ombudsman, and Operations.

The Functional and Operational Area VOTY Award is a national level ESGR award established to recognize those volunteers who have made significant contributions in ESGR’s primary functional and operational areas during the previous fiscal year. 

This year’s recipients are:

     Employer Outreach – Kristen Doan, California

     Military Outreach – Charles Russell, Indiana

     Public Affairs – Farha Fazel, Ohio

     Ombudsman – Mathew Meyer, Minnesota

     Training – William Wenger, California

     Operations – Dan Cobb, South Carolina

These outstanding, patriotic individuals have collectively delivered nearly 2,100 hours of service to ESGR over the past year. That's the equivalent of 52 weeks, or one year of labor! Based on the current value of a “volunteer hour” that's a return on investment worth approximately $56,500.  Additional information about their contributions to ESGR is included below.

About ESGR

ESGR, a Department of Defense program, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States. ESGR develops and promotes supportive work environments for Service members in the Reserve Components through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. It also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers. To learn more about ESGR, part of the Defense Personnel and Family Support Center, visit www.ESGR.mil.

EMPLOYER OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Kristen Doan, California  
Employer Outreach is a passion for Kris Dorn. She is an Area Chair for the largest concentration of Navy and Marine reservists in the country. Kris took steps to improve Civilian Employment Information (CEI) data by imploring Reserve leaders to update their CEI. Her message resonated with Guard and Reserve leaders resulting in an Employer Resource Guide being sent to over 2,600 employers. She facilitated California’s Employer Support Freedom Award selection committee and launched a “Submit Your Boss” campaign in collaboration with military outreach director, resulting in over 200 Freedom Award nominations.

MILITARY OUTREACH VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Charles Russell, Indiana

Charles Russell is one of the most dedicated volunteers within the Indiana committee. His commitment to serving in military outreach is a passion of his. He makes contact with all of the units in his region on a monthly basis, attends Skype calls, briefings, and other meetings to coordinate all needs. He sends documentation to ensure unit briefings have the appropriate handouts. He has recently presented annual briefings virtually to all of the units of several reserve components. He is well known and respected by the leadership of military units, local community members, and community leaders for his volunteerism.

OMBUDSMAN VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Mathew Meyer, Minnesota
Mathew Meyer is a dedicated Ombudsman for ESGR and the five Marine Reserve units in Minnesota.  When an expert is needed with legal background, Mathew steps forward.  In 2020, Mathew briefed five organizations to include corporation's human resource departments, on the law and encouraged them to sign Statements of Support. He provided a briefing to the Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, where his presentation was awarded continuing legal education points for lawyers attending the session. Mathew’s case load management resulted in closure rate at 93%, which was higher than the ESGR Central Region average.

OPERATIONS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Dan Cobb, South Carolina  

Dan leads a team of dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to prevent or mitigate any misunderstandings regarding employment rights and responsibilities. He frequently speaks about ESGR to other organizations, such as the Society for Human Resources Management, and is a highly respected advocate when briefing units throughout South Carolina. He has organized the South Carolina Committee’s annual training and has provided USERRA briefs at Yellow Ribbon events, Soldier Readiness Processing, and Family Day events. Seizing every opportunity for employer outreach, he consistently encourages service members to submit their employers for Patriot Awards, which has resulted in countless nominations.

PUBLIC AFFAIRS VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
Farah Fazel, Ohio

Farha Fazel's dedication and volunteer contributions to the Ohio ESGR Committee and Headquarters ESGR is extraordinary. Her expertise in marketing, brand messaging, event management, and communication makes her an amazing asset to ESGR. She has received recognition and high praise from the Ohio Adjutant General, the State Governor, headquarters ESGR, the committee chair and her colleagues for creating the first virtual Annual Planning and Awards Meeting, commonly referred to as APAM, hosted by the Ohio ESGR committee. This initiative now serves as a best practice for all of ESGR.

TRAINING VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR:
William Wenger, California
Mr. Wenger established a volunteer virtual certification program by creating an outline training program that resulted in a “How to” handbook for conducting virtual events. He identified and trained volunteers to be effective virtual presenters and quickly executed 218 Patriot Awards. He created the tools to make it happen. The lessons learned from six virtual training events were fed into a handbook that is now a national best practice. Through his efforts the California team has become virtual professionals and have achieved incredible success operating in a virtual environment. He also drafted and presented plans to conduct a virtual APAM and virtual employer engagement events.

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