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CDCR Honors Employees at 36th Annual Medal of Valor Ceremony | #education | #technology | #training | #education | #technology | #infosec



SACRAMENTO ― The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) today honored 148 employees for bravery and service at its 2021 Medal of Valor Ceremony.

“These employees’ dedication to public service, their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to save others and the work they do to improve our institutions and our communities exemplify the best in CDCR,” CDCR Secretary Kathleen Allison said.

Parole Agent I Luis Cardenas received the Medal of Valor, the department’s highest award, earned by distinguishing himself by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service.

On Dec. 28, 2020, Agent Cardenas was checking on a parolee near a busy shopping center in Bakersfield when he heard multiple gunshots coming from a store and saw people running. He assessed the situation and notified law enforcement. Agent Cardenas ultimately approached the suspect who surrendered to him without incident. When Bakersfield Police Department officers arrived, Agent Cardenas stayed with the suspect as they evacuated the store and cleared the building for any other threats or additional suspects. There were no injuries or deaths and the Bakersfield Police Department acknowledged the efforts of Agent Cardenas in responding to the incident and risking his life to prevent harm to others.

Out of the 148 employees honored, 109 received Distinguished Service Medals awarded for an employee’s or a group of employees’ exemplary work conduct with the Department for a period of months or years, or involvement in a specific assignment of unusual benefit to the Department.

Wasco State Prison Correctional Officer Dustin Stegall received a Distinguished Service Medal for his four years of volunteering with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team. The 15 members of the Owens Treatment Team at N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton and the 15 members of the Alta Vista Treatment Team at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility were awarded Distinguished Service Medals for implementing the first-ever High Core Trial program, which provides pro-social treatment and interventions to the most behaviorally-challenged and gang-entrenched youth in the Division of Juvenile Justice. Distinguished Service Medals were also awarded to the 37-member team who oversaw the development and implementation of policies, procedures, and training on the housing and searching of the incarcerated transgender community and to the 41-member team from CDCR and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) who created critical tracking systems for managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The large number of employees receiving Distinguished Service Medals is emblematic of their commitment to give back to their communities, improve the lives of incarcerated people and prepare them for their return to society, and promote safety, accountability and transparency,” Secretary Allison said.

Because of COVID-19, this year’s Medal of Valor ceremony was pre-recorded. Employees from nearly all disciplines and professions from CDCR and CCHCS statewide received awards at the virtual ceremony that featured videos, narratives and photographs.

In addition to the Medal of Valor and Distinguished Service Medals, CDCR awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold Corrections Stars. CDCR also honored the Correctional Officer of the Year, the Correctional Supervisor of the Year, and exemplary executives and administrators as well as health care, rehabilitation, parole, and juvenile justice professionals.

Following is the complete list of employees honored at the Sept. 24 Medal of Valor ceremony. Narratives for specific awardees and awards are available upon request.

Medal of Valor

The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award, earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others.

Luis Cardenas, Parole Agent I, Division of Adult Parole Operations

Gold Star Medal

The Gold Star Medal is awarded for heroic deeds under extraordinary circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of immediate peril in acting to save the life of another person.

Tracy Master, Parole Agent I, Division of Adult Parole Operations

Greg Williams, retired Information Technology Specialist, Central California Women’s Facility

Silver Star Medal

The Silver Star Medal is awarded for acts of bravery under extraordinary or unusual circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of potential peril while saving or attempting to save the life of another person or distinguish him/herself by performing in stressful situations with exceptional tactics or judgement.

Carlos Garcia, Correctional Supervising Cook, Calipatria State Prison

Randy Turner, Correctional Sergeant, San Quentin State Prison

Earl Cooper, Correctional Officer, California State Prison, Solano

Veronica Cantu, Correctional Sergeant, Valley State Prison

High Desert State Prison employees

  • Larry Middlesworth, Correctional Officer
  • Alejandro Munoz, Correctional Officer
  • Allen Freitas, Correctional Officer
  • Molly Kaoorn, Correctional Sergeant
  • Andrew Curzon, Correctional Officer
  • Glenn Martinez, Correctional Officer
  • Jordan Paige, Correctional Officer
  • Jamil Patterson, Correctional Officer
  • Jonathan Sieberg, Correctional Lieutenant

Bronze Star Medal

The Bronze Star is awarded for saving a life without placing oneself in peril. The employee shall have used proper training and tactics in a professional manner to save, or clearly contribute to saving, the life of another person.

Cody Greer, Correctional Officer, California Medical Facility

Jennifer Howard-Hammer, Correctional Counselor I, California State Prison, Sacramento

Ricardo Urrea, Correctional Sergeant, Richard A. McGee Correctional Training Center

Kimberly Silva, Correctional Officer, Statewide Transportation Central Unit

William Mayfield, Correctional Officer, Valley State Prison

Joseph Jasso, Correctional Food Manager, Central California Women’s Facility

Jim Liptrap, retired Superintendent, Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp

Paul Ford, Parole Agent I, Division of Adult Parole Operations Policy and Procedure Unit

Dustin Morrison, Correctional Officer; Elias Rodriguez, Correctional Officer; and Michelle McKee, Registered Nurse, California Correctional Center

Steve Oschner, Correctional Sergeant, and Stephen Harkness, Correctional Sergeant, California Correctional Center

Distinguished Service Medal

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded for an employee’s exemplary work conduct with the Department for a period of months or years, or involvement in a specific assignment of unusual benefit to the Department.

Dustin Stegall, Correctional Officer, Wasco State Prison

Owens Treatment Team at NA Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility

  • Mark Miranda, Program Administrator
  • Zenaida Agtarap, Treatment Team Supervisor
  • Daniel Torres, Senior Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Tiffany Yee, Parole Agent
  • Larry Banks, Parole Agent
  • Satkar Dhakal, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Jamesray Gillon, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Susan Gosal, Parole Agent, Division of Adult Parole Operations
  • Hector Hernandez-Garcia, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Teri Isola, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Oscar Lopez, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Skylynn Murillo, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Deanna Pulido, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Kenneth Simmons, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Dr. Saema Rahmany, Psychologist

Alta Vista Treatment Team, Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

  • Cynthia Brown, Program Administrator
  • Rashad Rigard, Treatment Team Supervisor
  • Ryan Pitts, Senior Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Tracee Agee, Parole Agent
  • Alexander Chavez, Parole Agent
  • Willie Bowden, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Darrin Duncan, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Khalil Ealy, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Don Greene IV, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Sade Jenkins, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Jasmine Pena, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Raymond Peralta, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Daniel Perez, Youth Correctional Counselor
  • Adrian Arzola, Youth Correctional Officer
  • Dr. Deborah Leong, Psychologist

Transgender Housing and Searching Workgroup

  • Amy Miller, Director, Division of Correctional Policy Research and Internal Oversight
  • Andrea Goldsmith, Strategic Offender Management System Contractor
  • Carrie Stafford, Assistant Chief Counsel, Office of Legal Affairs
  • Chenoa Dill, Associate Warden, Central California Women’s Facility
  • Cherita Snelling, Associate Warden, California Medical Facility
  • Connie Vanenburg, Correctional Counselor II, Classification Services Unit
  • Delinia Lewis, Correctional Administrator, RJ Donovan Correctional Facility
  • Dionne Hudnall, Acting Chief Deputy Warden, Female Offender Programs and Services/Special Housing
  • Dr. Eddy Joelson, Chief Physician and Surgeon, CCHCS
  • Dr. John Lindgren, Senior Psychiatrist, CCHCS
  • Dr. Oliver Lau, Chief Medical Executive, Folsom State Prison, CCHCS
  • Dr. Shama Chaiken, Chief Psychologist, CCHCS
  • Dr. Trisha Wallis, Senior Psychologist-Specialist, CCHCS
  • Dr. Tristan Buzzini, Senior Psychologist-Specialist, CCHCS
  • Elton Soriano, Associate Warden of Programs, Folsom State Prison
  • Erik Pedersen, Chief Deputy Warden, California Health Care Facility
  • Gary Turner, III, Correctional Captain, Division of Adult Institutions
  • Jamie Moss, Staff Services Manager III, Office of Training and Professional Development
  • Janel Campbell, Correctional Case Records Administrator, Correctional Case Records Unit
  • Jeff Nelson, retired Associate Warden, California Medical Facility
  • Jeff Reed, Correctional Counselor III, Enterprise Information Systems
  • Kristoffer Applegate, Deputy Appointments Secretary and Public Safety Advisor, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom; formerly Assistant Secretary, CDCR Office of Legislation
  • Lia Moore, Staff Services Manager III, Office of Fiscal Services
  • Mandi Hauwert, Correctional Officer, San Quentin State Prison
  • Margie McCune, Labor Relations Manager II, Associate Director of Workforce Consolidation and Reduction Support
  • Megan Cherinka, Correctional Captain of Field Operations, CCHCS
  • Michael Stone, Staff Counsel III, Office of Legal Affairs
  • Nancy Hardy, Chief Deputy Warden, Division of Adult Institutions
  • Rob Scicluna, retired Correctional Counselor III, Strategic Offender Management System
  • Roosevelt Whisenant, Parole Agent III, Division of Adult Parole Operations
  • Shannon Stark, Correctional Captain, Female Offender Programs and Services/Special Housing
  • Stephen Vang, Staff Services Manager I, Female Offender Programs and Services/Special Housing
  • Suzann Gostovich, Office of the Inspector General, retired
  • Tami Falconer, Ombudsman, Office of the Ombudsman
  • Terry Thornton, Deputy Press Secretary, Office of Public and Employee Communications
  • Trent Allen, Chief Deputy Warden, Sierra Conservation Center
  • Xina Bolden, retired Ombudsman, Office of the Ombudsman

CCHCS Quality Management team and CDCR Office of Research team

  • Annette Lambert, Deputy Director, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Fong Hodgdon, Associate Director, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Michael Selby, Associate Director, CCHCS Quality Management
  • John Dunlap, Deputy Medical Executive, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Genifer Espinoza, Health Program Manager III, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Spencer Puente, Research Data Supervisor II, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Dr. Michelle Amaral, Research Data Supervisor II, CCHCS Quality Management
  • K.C. King, Research Data Supervisor II, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Katherine Yount, Health Program Specialist II, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Marcus Dahlstrom, Physician and Surgeon, CCHCS Quality Management
  • David Leidner, Senior Psychologist Specialist, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Stephen Ellis, Research Data Specialist I, CCHCS Quality Management
  • I-Cheun (Mark) Chen, Research Data Specialist II, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Vikrant Rathore, Research Data Specialist I, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Jorge Palamara, Research Data Specialist I, CCHCS Quality Management
  • Cheryl Larson, Director, Information Technology Services Division, CCHCS IT Staff
  • Kevin Sutton, Deputy Director, CCHCS IT Staff
  • Eric Merrill, Information Technology Specialist II, CCHCS IT Staff
  • Scott Davidson, Information Technology Manager II, CDCR IT Staff
  • Carrie Daves, Information Technology Manager I, CDCR IT Staff
  • David Hawley, Information Technology Supervisor II, CDCR IT Staff
  • Justine Hutchinson, Research Scientist III, CCHCS Public Health Branch
  • Kimberley Lucas, Research Scientist III, CCHCS Public Health Unit
  • Chris Chambers, Deputy Director, CDCR Office of Research
  • Amber Lozano, Staff Services Manager III, CDCR Office of Research
  • Louis Olgin, Information Technology Supervisor II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Chanya Bruno, Information Technology Specialist I, CDCR Office of Research
  • Chinh Tran, Information Technology Specialist I, CDCR Office of Research
  • Ashley Gabbard, Staff Services Manager II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Yvonne Lawrence, Research Analyst II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Sam Mooc, Information Technology Specialist I, CDCR Office of Research
  • Loran Sheley, Research Specialist IV, CDCR Office of Research
  • Juan Villon, Research Specialist II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Kendra Jensen, Research Specialist II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Miguel Lizarde, Research Data Analyst I, CDCR Office of Research
  • Paul Whiteley, Research Program Specialist II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Corinne Slapnick, Information Technology Supervisor II, CDCR Office of Research
  • David Weishahn, Information Technology Specialist II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Anh Thornburg, Information Technology Specialist I, CDCR Office of Research
  • Kevin Grassel, Information Technology Specialist II, CDCR Office of Research
  • Kyle Langowski, Information Technology Supervisor I, CDCR Office of Research

Employee Recognition Awards

Executive of the Year

Karen Thacker, Regional Parole Administrator, Division of Adult Parole Operations, Southern Region Headquarters

Administrator of the Year

Dr. Briana Rojas, Associate Director, Chief Psychologist, Office of Employee Wellness

Correctional Supervisor of the Year

Beau Campbell, Correctional Lieutenant, Mule Creek State Prison

Correctional Officer of the Year

Stephen Leatherman, Correctional Officer, California State Prison, Sacramento

Rehabilitation Professionals of the Year

Dr. Nina Thomas, Supervisor of Correctional Education, California Correctional Institution

Steven Duncan, Correctional Officer, California Medical Facility

Division of Adult Parole Operations Professional of the Year

Jon Stern, Chief Deputy Regional Administrator, Division of Adult Parole Operations

Division of Juvenile Justice Professionals of the Year

Dr. Jonathan Yip, Associate Director, Mental Health and Treatment Programs

Karette Fussell, Supervising Casework Specialist, Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Healthcare Professional of the Year

Dr. Alison Pachynski, Chief Medical Executive, San Quentin State Prison

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Contact: CDCR Press Office, (916) 445-4950 or opec@cdcr.ca.gov



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