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VA Maryland Health Care System


Secretary McDonald Honors VA Maryland Employees

EEO ADR Group with Fred Soejte, Jerry Diggs and Acting Director Adam Robinson

Pictured are Michele White; Maureen Cabell; Jerry Diggs; Fred Soetje; and Sheila D. Jones, EEO Manager/ADR Coordinator. Not available for photo are Janice Cills-Cole, EEO Specialist and Teresa Given, Chief, Human Resources Management Service.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Veterans Affairs (VA) Maryland Health Care System's Alternative Dispute Resolution Team (ADR) is the recipient of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Annual ADR Excellence Award. The ADR award is the highest recognition given to any VA employee or program who has made exemplary contributions to creating an environment where employees can effectively address conflict and resolve disputes in a manner that encourages communication, promotes understanding, enhances relationships, and engages employees in problem solving.

During a ceremony held recently at VA Central Office in Washington, DC, Robert McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, presented awards to the VA Maryland Health Care System ADR staff in two separate categories: ADR Award for Individual Effort by a Certified Neutral and ADR Resolution Award for Workplace Committee/Council Forum. 

Janice Cills-Cole, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Specialist, received the Secretary's ADR Award for Individual Effort by a Certified Neutral. An EEO Certified Neutral is a VA employee who serves as an independent third party to open lines of communication between employees and managers so they can better understand the root cause of a dispute and bring closure to the issues that lead to a complaint. Since her certification in 2012, Cills-Cole has served as a Neutral in 63 cases with a 90 percent resolution rate. "I have been able to apply the skills I have learned to improving employee relationships and enhancing working conditions throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System and I am honored to receive this award," said Cills-Cole.

The recipients of the Secretary's ADR Resolution Award for Workplace Committee/Council/Forum from the VA Maryland Health Care System include Sheila D. Jones, EEO Manager/ADR Coordinator; Fred Soetje, Associate Director for Operations; Jerry Diggs, Chief of Environmental Management Service; Teresa Gividen, Chief of Human Resources Management Service; Michele White, EEO Specialist; Maureen Cabell, EEO Assistant; and Janice Cills-Cole, EEO Specialist. 

"To provide the patient and family centered model of care that our Veterans deserve, we need to have a fully functioning workforce that is equipped with the proper tools to manage conflict," said Adam M. Robinson, Jr. MD, acting director of the VA Maryland Health Care System. "Our ADR Committee has contributed to a staff that feels empowered and affirmed as they deliver safe, quality and compassionate care to our Veteran patients."

The ADR Excellence Awards Program, which was established in April 2007, emphasizes the importance of effectively managing conflicts and resolving disputes, thereby saving time and resources. During the past fiscal year, the VA Maryland Health Care System's ADR Team has achieved a 69 percent informal resolution rate, surpassing the Department of Veterans Affairs' departmental goal of 55 percent.

Sheila Jones, EEO Manager/ADR Coordinator for the VA Maryland Health Care System, attributes the ADR team's success to collaborative efforts. "Our ADR Team had made great strides in resolving workplace disputes through facilitated discussions, conflict coaching and mediation," said Jones. "Achievement of this distinctive accomplishment can be attributed to the support by VA Maryland Health Care System's leadership, managers, supervisors, human resources staff and labor partners."


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