Detective, Milwaukee Police Department
Lori Gaglione's 17-year career with the Milwaukee police department has included such exciting assignments as going undercover in narcotics and posing as a prostitute to nab Johns. But it's her current investigative work as a detective in the sexual assault unit that she finds most rewarding. "I love to see a case through from beginning to end," Gaglione explains.
That zeal led her to develop a program that makes sure more cases do come to a satisfying conclusion. Always frustrated when the statute of limitations ran out on unsolved cases, Gaglione devised a plan to keep them open. Combining shrewd legal maneuvering with high-tech science, this plan allows prosecutors to issue "John Doe" warrants based on the DNA evidence a suspect leaves at a crime scene (such as blood or hair samples). Then, as anyone charged with a felony in Wisconsin is arrested, his DNA is checked to see if it matches any of the outstanding John Doe warrants.
Other police departments around the country have adopted Gaglione's program, and her own department had its first successful match on a John Doe warrant last March. "'I can't tell you how satisfying it was to bring closure for this woman--and for all women," says Gaglione. "They can feel safe again."
New Jersey State Senator
Allen fought for legislation to form a Women's Heritage Trail, commemorating women and their contributions to flew Jersey. When completed, the trail will showcase key sites around the state and help to educate students and tourists, as well as encourage research. "Now the residents of New Jersey will know the other half of their history," says Allen, who has earned herself a place in women's history.
Marcia d e Braga
Nevada State Assemblywoman
Nevada interest groups have been fighting over rights to water from the Truckee River for more than a century. "It had to be settled rather than continue to waste taxpayers' money in the courts," says de Braga. A skillful and compassionate negotiator, she brought all parties to the table--and kept them there--until a fair settlement could be worked out. The agreement compensates groups for past grievances and allocates water rights for the future.
Department of Health, State of Hawaii
Realizing how, critical speed is when dealing with infectious disease outbreaks, Ching-Lee developed an electronic monitoring system that allows doctors and hospitals to immediately alert public health officials to potentially fatal illnesses. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a major article on her work in November 1999 and today, her system is a model for others across the country.
Director of Policy and Planning for Indiana's
Family and Social Services Program
Some 46,000 children in Indiana have signed up for the Children's Health Insurance Program since 1997 thanks to Cobb's astonishing efforts. By marketing in areas where eligible families might be found and campaigning on radio and television, Cobb has done what most other states have not been able to do--make sure eligible children have the medical insurance they deserve.
Martha M . Escutia
California State Senator
When students at a local school near a chrome-plating plant fell ill in 1996, Escutia became determined to raise air quality standards in her state. Her goal: Base standards not on levels that are risky to the typical 180-pound male, as they were previously set, but to children, who are far more vulnerable to contaminants than adults. It was a long fight, with business groups opposing the change, but finally in 1999, the Children's Environmental Health Act became law in California. "It's the most important work I've done," says a satisfied Escutia.
Louisiana State Senator
Irons has conducted the state's first significant study of teen pregnancy and helped move Louisana up from forty-ninth in the U.S. on the number of teen births. A teen mother herself, Irons says, "My history could have been a negative in my career, but I decided to make it an asset." She has also succeeded in recruiting women to enter public service, doubling the number of women in the state legislature.
Margaret W. Patten
Colonel, Baltimore Police Department
When the police department needed to send a representative to Baltimore's new task force on domestic violence, the chief chose Margaret Patten - "Obviously, because of my gender," she notes. But Patten became a dynamo on behalf of abused women, developing a plan that includes tracking distress calls, training officers to guide victims to resources, and recognizing incidents of animal abuse as possible precursors of family violence.
Ann M. Testa
Colonel, United States Air Force
When Testa arrived at Honolulu's Hickam Air Force Base in 1996, she was shocked by the condition of housing for the troops and even more shocked to learn that it could take as long as 30 years for renovation money from the government. "Active duty people work their hearts out for the Air Force, yet their spouses and children live in substandard housing," says Testa. Her solution: Families Helping Families, a self-help organization where base residents and outside volunteers pitched in to renovate and improve thousands of homes.
Connecticut Commission on Children
Providing services to children is important. But training parents to become advocates for their children ultimately helps more youngsters. That's why Elaine Zimmerman founded the Parent Leadership Institute, where mothers and fathers in 14 Connecticut cities could learn about government policy-making as well as writing and advocacy skills. Has her program been successful? Just ask the two moms who have earned seats on their city councils after graduating from the school.
Shirley R. Watkins
Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Throughout her professional career – from her early days as head of food services for the Memphis school system to her role today as Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the USDA – Shirley Watkins has been looking out for America's hungry. And she's been doing it with caring and compassion, determined not to be just another Washington bureaucrat, as she puts it.
That atttitude explains Watkins' success in launching the "fresh fruits and vegetables initiative." In 1997, she visited the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. There she learned that many of the residents had undergone amputations as a result of comnplications of diabetes. Knowing that diabetes can often be controlled by a healthful diet – and that it was her own agency that supplied much of the food to that reservation – Watkins was outraged. "The stuff we were sending was so high in fat and so foreign to the Native American diet, they thought the federal government sent them food to kill them," says Watkins. Within a year, her agency was supplying $3 million worth of produce to reservations across the country.
"You've got to understand that for Shirley, there are no impossible goals," says Marshall Matz, a food-service attorney who has known Watkins for 20 years. "There are just the battles she's already won and the ones she hasn't won yet."
Her most recent victory: a pilot school breakfast plan that had only lukewarm support in Congress until Watkins testified. "There's a lot of lip service to getting kids ready for school," she says. "I went up there to tell them that hungry children don't learn."
Program Administrator, Aurora Teen Court,
Baker's highly successful teen courts – in which judge, jury, prosecuting and defense attorneys are all teenagers – have been instrumental in reducing the rate of repeat offenders. A whopping 88% of teen court defendents maintain a clean record after the experience, which Baker attributes to the fact that "kids listen to each other." As a result of her efforts, there are now 25 teen courts throughout her state.
Joan Z. Bernstein
Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection,
Federal Trade Commission
Bernstein recognized early on the dangers the Internet could pose to consumers. "The crooks are always the first to exploit new technology," she says. To combat fraud with her limited budget and staff, cybercop Bernstein created "Surf Days," during which key federal agencies surf the net looking for scams in their areas of expertise (e.g., the SEC looks for stock swindles). After the FTC leaves a warning on suspect sites, up to 70% improve or close within a month.
Fuels Compliance Manager, IRS
In an effort to evade excise taxes, motor fuel vendors were creating a dangerous mixture of fuels that destroyed car engines and posed a serious health hazard. Curtis-Brown worked with scientists to develop a test to identify tainted fuels and catch the culprits. Not only did she recoup the substantial tax money for much-needed highway repairs, Curtis-Brown protected the health and property of countless consumers.
Susan Molloy Hubbard
Special Assistant for Communications, Office of the Director,
National Cancer Institute
The latest information on treatments can be a lifesaver for cancer patients, That motivated Hubbard to create PDQ, the National Cancer Institute's comprehensive information system, which includes clinical trials and physician directories (accessible on the web cancernet.nci.nih.gov/pdq.html ). "I thought if consumers can look up data on cars and stereos, they should certainly have a way to get information about cancer treatments," says Hubbard, who overcame resistance from medical groups to establish the free PDQ service.
Jane M. Kenny
Commissioner of Community Affairs, New Jersey
Determined to reverse the urban decay she witnessed throughout her state, Kenny managed to unite the opposing camps – low-income housing advocates and independent developers wary of government interference – by revising building codes to protect the public while giving developers incentive to restore old housing. In the year following adoption of Kenny's new code, housing rehabilitation in the state's five biggest cities increased 60%.
Moira K. Lyons
Speaker, State House of Representatives, Connecticut
In a state where insurance is the major industry and largest employer, Lyons took on Goliath. "Patients all over the state were telling me that insurance companies were denying treatment their doctors recommended," she says. In response, Lyons drafted a comprehensive reform bill guaranteeing patients the right to a third-party review. Today, even the insurance industry approves of the review process.
Tuckahoe District Supervisor, Henrico County, Virginia
Her harrowing emergency room experiences helping battered women led O'Bannon to make domestic violence a priority when elected to her local board of supervisors. O'Bannon worked with police to show the connection between violence in the home and criminal violence, and initiated a family program that includes safe houses and comprehensive support. Says O'Bannon, "People are beginning to see that solving problems at home can help stop violent crime."
Kimberly D. Olson
Colonel, United States Air Force
After petitioning the Air Force in 1979 to allow women to compete for pilot training, Olson became the sole female trainee on a base of 5,000. Today, she is one of only 327 female pilots and one of just eight to hold the rank of Colonel. In addition to her challenges in field assignments, Olson created "Family Readiness," a support program for the families of troops who serve our country. Said a member of her squadron of Olson's caring attitude, "You are one of the reasons we will stay in the Air Force."
Irma L. Rangel
Texas State Representative
When affirmative action was eliminated, minority enrollment at Texas state universities plummeted. Rangel pushed for legislation, called the "Ten Percent Plan," that requires universities to automatically enroll any student ranking in the top 10% of his or her graduating class. Since many Texas high schools are predominantly Hispanic, African American, or white, taking the top 10% results in racially diverse colleges while rewarding hard-working students. Educators call Rangel's plan "a meaningful incentive to kids."
Attorney General, Washington State
Christine Gregoire has brought the tobacco industry to its knees, negotiating a legal settlement that will force cigarette companies to pay taxpayers $206 billion, change their advertising practices, and fund a multimillion dollar campaign to discourage teen smoking.
Gregoire filed suit against the tobacco industry on behalf of Washington State in 1996. She joined an effort Mississippi Attorney General Michael Moore had begun six years earlier when he filed the first lawsuit asking tobacco companies to pay states for the money they were spending to treat smoking-related diseases. Gregoire worked on Moore's negotiating team, and they scored big in June 1997, winning a $386 billion settlement that also would have imposed strict curbs on tobacco marketing. But the settlement included some new nicotine regulations that required Congressional approval-and that never came. Almost a year later, the settlement was declared dead. Many predicted no one would ever be able to rein in the tobacco industry.
But the state attorneys general went back to the table, this time with Gregoire at the helm. Within five months, she had her deal -- one that didn't need Congress's stamp of approval. Her pact has been criticized in some quarters for not getting enough money from tobacco companies, and because it doesn't include nicotine regulations. But most observers are awed that Gregoire was able to wrench any agreement from negotiations that had proved fruitless for so long.
Today, even Gregoire's tobacco-company adversaries have nothing but praise for her skills: "She has a very clear idea of what her objective is and doesn't let very much get in the way of getting there," says Meyer Koplow, a New York-based lawyer who represented Philip Morris in the negotiations. "She gets people to agree on things they didn't expect to agree on."
Those who have been on her side all along take it even further: "She's quite amazing," says Mississippi's Moore. "Here's this lady who is really a good mother, a good wife, and a good person-plus she's a wonderful public servant. To find all those things in one person is a bit uncommon."
Former Director, California Department of Social Services
Anderson enlisted the help of major league sports figures in a "responsible fatherhood" advertising campaign, and created programs that encouraged fathers to step forward and declare their paternity. As a result, California collected nearly 210,000 paternity declarations in the first two years of the program.
Jo Ann Davidson
Speaker, Ohio House of Representatives
In 1995, weeks after Davidson became the first woman ever elected Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, she won passage of a package of reforms designed to keep citizens informed about the work of their elected representatives. Her efforts mark the most recent achievement in a lifetime of public service.
Shirley A. DeLibero
Former Executive Director, New Jersey Transit
When DeLibero took over New Jersey Transit, the nation's third largest public transportation system, in 1990, trains and buses were in disrepair, and many failed to arrive on schedule. Eight years later, the trains ran on time (buses too), ridership was up, and fares had not increased. Small wonder New Jersey Transit was named best transit agency in the country twice in the last three years.
Comissioned Officer, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
After learning that African-America n children are five times more likely to suffer from asthma than other kids-yet far less likely to get treatment-she built a partnership of some 17 Atlanta organizations that teach parents how to manage the disease. Today, Essien's Zap Asthma is a model for cities across the country.
Senior Scientist, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Fifty million Americans benefit from reduced levels of lead in their air and drinking water thanks to Levin's efforts. A government employee for 19 years, she discovered economic benefits to reducing lead in the water supply and in car emissions, then successfully lobbied to implement her lead-reduction methods.
Board Member, Nevada State Board of Education
Lujan-Hickey developed Las Vegas's Classroom on Wheels program: mobile preschool classes that travel to poor neighborhoods, serving nearly 400 kids who otherwise wouldn't have access to early education. A Cuban immigrant who says the program is her way of giving something back, Lujan-Hickey was only 42 when her husband died and she was forced onto public assistance while raising her four children. She now runs her own business-consulting firm.
Executive Director, North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission
Mala grew up on a reservation in North Dakota. Today, she's a powerful advocate for Native Americans, fighting for health-care programs, educational grants, and new career opportunities. Her Northern Plains Healthy Start Initiative, which offers prenatal care on Indian reservations, has served 2,500 women and lowered the infant mortality rate.
Mary Lou Marzian
State Representative, Kentucky Legislature
Marzian was elected to the state's General Assembly in 1994, and despite sometimes overwhelming opposition, she has managed to push through legislation aimed at improving women's pay and their access to health care. Among her achievements: After 16 years of failed attempts by other lawmakers, Marzian, a nurse, won new rights for nurses across the state to prescribe medicine.
Chief, Geriatrics, Extended Care & Rehabilitation Health Care, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Tucson, AZ
At a time when few older patients were offered any kind of rehabilitation, Walters introduced a wide range of services aimed at getting patients up on their feet -- and back into their own homes. The new approach means that the average hospital stay at the Tucson facility has dropped from 68 days to 28, and the hospital now serves some 900 new patients a year, compared to about seven before.
Health Commissioner, City of Philadelphia
"There's no convincing Estelle," says Philadelphia attorney Richard Gold of his good friend and colleague, Richman. "When you challenge her and tell her she can't do something, she'll do it."
That's exactly what happened when a bunch of politicians and private health-care professionals told Richman there was no way her public-health department could provide mental-health care to more than 400,000 of Philadelphia's poorest people. Only a for-profit company could handle the job, they said.
But Richman figured she had a better idea-and the nonprofit corporation she created, Community Behavioral Health (CBH), is the first ever to be established by a large city govemment to oversee managed mental health care. In its second year of operation, CBH is expected to save the city between $10 million and $15 million-money that will be plowed back into public services rather than deposited into a corporate bank account.
County Legislator, Rockland County, NY
In her 15 years as a county legislator, Cornell has created: a network of institutions for violence prevention; a comprehensive, county-wide educational resource system for children; a housing coalition; an art advocacy program; and a committee charged with bringing more women into government.
Deputy Commissioner for Disability and Income Security, U.S. Social Security Administration
Daniels is a polio survivor who developed a program called A Home of Your Own. It has helped more than 230 disabled people in 22 states buy their own homes, while offering a variety of support services.
Director, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
In 1995, Gade helped form and then chaired the Ozone Transport Assessment Group (OTAG), an association of 37 states charged with figuring out how to clean up the mess. Based on OTAG's ideas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has recommended that states implement new standards.
Mayor, San Jose, CA
Just 59 days into her first term, Hammer created Project Diversity, a program aimed at recruiting more people from minority groups for government positions. In the project's first year, the number of women and minorities selected to serve on city boards and committees rose sharply and continues to increase.
General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island
When Mayer took office, she inherited a state pension system that was so plagued by scandal, it had been the subject of ridicule for decades. Mayer not only saved the state millions of dollars annually, but her honesty and integrity restored faith in a system that functioned unchecked for far too long.
Member, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Molina believed in the concept of welfare-to-work long before it was politically popular, and with hard-nosed tenacity, she made sure it was realized in LA county. Her program, Greater Avenues to Independence, has helped thousands of welfare recipients and is now considered a model for the rest of the country.
Superintendent, Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center fpr Women, Union Grove, WI
It speaks volumes that a group of female inmates nominated Powell for this award. She's a compassionate advocate dedicated to giving inmates at the Ellsworth Correctional Center the chance for a normal life through drug rehabilitation and job training.
Park Ranger, National Park Service
An avid horse-back rider, Shepherd developed a mounted-patrol program aimed at safeguarding artifacts and archaeological sites in otherwise inaccessible wilderness areas of Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park.