Human Capital

Recipients of the 2014 Excellence in Leadership Award and the Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award

Michael P. McDermott
Dr. Amanda Demopoulos

In recognition of their outstanding acts, services, and achievements that exemplify and support the USGS leadership goals throughout the Bureau.

Honor awards will be presented at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Honor Awards Ceremony in Reston, Virginia, on May 5.

Excellence in Leadership Award

Citation for 2014 USGS Excellence in Leadership Award

Michael P. McDermott

Deputy Director for Core Science Analytics,
Synthesis, and Libraries Program
Core Science Systems
Reston, Virginia

Michael McDermott, the Deputy Director of the Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Libraries Program is nominated for a USGS Excellence in Leadership Award for his accomplishments over the past year as Interim Director of the USGS Libraries Program. With little previous experience in managing a large library operation with multiple locations, Mike embraced the Library portfolio, quickly learning the operational and technical details necessary to not only run the Library effectively, but also to better engage the staff in the decision-making processes necessary to address the challenging issues they faced.

Upon assuming the Library Director role, Mike was immediately faced with the very big challenge of reducing the space footprint of all USGS Libraries. With large and looming rent budget shortfalls, Mike was pressed initially into reducing the size of the Reston Library while facing a myriad of challenges with funding, contractor support, and experience with such a large consolidation project. Using his project management expertise, Mike engaged the technical know-how of the Library staff in defining the task and dividing it into manageable pieces. Under a very tight timeline, Mike then worked collaboratively with the librarians to implement the consolidation plan, all while maintaining accessibility for scientists to Library resources. Recognizing that communications were critical to the success of this project, Mike established daily morning status meetings with the Library staff which became the standard for project communications. He successfully used this mechanism to encourage employees to raise issues among their peers and to demonstrate the power of teamwork and inclusion. In this way, issues were identified and resolved expeditiously. Mike led by example and with humility by taking an active role in the book packing and monitoring “shiftwork” that was required of all Library staff, and in so doing earned the staff’s respect and admiration.

While the Reston Library consolidation project was underway, Mike also began planning similar consolidations in both the Denver and Menlo Park Libraries. He leveraged the experience he gained with the Reston project, and built similar teams in Denver and Menlo Park to develop plans and begin implementation. Through creativity and persistence, Mike resolved the myriad of difficult funding and staffing decisions by working with the staff on innovative alternatives. Through Mike’s leadership and encouragement over the past year, the Library staff were transformed into a high-performing team focused on accomplishing a common goal – moving forward with consolidating the space footprint of the USGS Libraries. The team’s efforts resulted in a Reston Library space reduction of 15%, with the ensuing Menlo Park and Denver Libraries to be reduced by 75% and 35%, respectively. When completed, USGS Libraries Program will realize an overall rent savings for the Bureau of approximately $575,000.

In addition to leading the Library consolidation project and maintaining day to day library operations, Mike also initiated a new Library Advisory Board to ensure the vision, strategy, and direction the Library is planning will incorporate input from USGS scientists. This is a critical step to ensure the Library maintains a strategic approach to meeting the scientists’ needs, and continuing to efficiently improve and advance Library services.

During Mike’s tenure as interim Library Director, he championed the cause of effectively managing through a period of significant upheaval and change. He cultivated an environment that invites innovation, teamwork and accountability, and he did this by getting to know each staff member, by learning their expertise and strengths, and by encouraging and valuing the contribution that each could make to the Library goals. He succeeded in challenging the staff to rise to new levels in their daily work and gave opportunities to the staff where they had not previously existed. He recognized excellence through rewards and he counseled and trained his staff to help them better succeed in their careers. Mike’s leadership contributions to the physical and cultural management of the Library Program have left the staff and the organization in good stead for the new, permanent Library Director to take it forward into the 21st century.

Nominated by:
Mary Wood
Senior Management Officer
Reston, Virginia

Endorsed by:
Kevin Gallagher 
Associate Director, Core Science Systems


Excellence in Leadership Award


Citation for 2014 USGS Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award

Amanda Demopoulos

Research Ecologist
Southeast Region
Gainesville, Florida

In recognition of Dr. Amanda Demopoulos’ tremendous leadership, as well as her scientific contributions to both the U.S. Geological Survey and the scientific community, it is my pleasure to nominate Dr. Demopoulos for the Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award. As Project Chief for the Outer Continental Shelf, Exploration and Research of Mid-Atlantic Deepwater Hard Bottom Habitats with Emphasis on Canyon and Coral Communities in the USGS-Terrestrial, Water, and Marine Ecosystems Program, Dr. Demopoulos developed and strengthened relationships with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). As a result of Dr. Demopoulos’ leadership, this project received the Department of the Interior Partners in Conservation Award for “Deepwater Canyons.”

Dr. Demopoulos’ effective communication skills and ability to sustain cooperative working relationships with both Federal and academic partners were pivotal to the success of this project as well as its predecessor “Lophelia II,” which was also awarded the National Oceanographic Partnership Program Excellence in Partnering Award. Dr. Demopoulos’ recent nomination to the Ocean Exploration Advisory Board as Special Government Employee as well as to the Deep-submergence Science Committee is testament to her leadership skills and scientific credentials. As a result of her ability to communicate effectively both orally and written, Dr. Demopoulos was sought out to represent the USGS at both national and international meetings, presenting and contributing to over 17 presentations over the last two years, highlighting her technical competence and scientific creativity.

Dr. Demopoulos is incredibly focused and well organized, having participated and lead over eight research cruises within the last two years in partnership with NOAA, BOEM, and NSF. Her success at sea as both a research scientist and chief scientist is in large part due to Dr. Demopoulos’ problem solving skills to make logistical decisions that support science excellence. At sea, Dr. Demopoulos has demonstrated creative solutions to manage conflicts effectively, confronting issues and disagreements in a positive and constructive manner. As Project Chief for the USGS DISCOVRE project, Dr. Demopoulos effectively handles pressure, maintaining focus and intensity, and successfully juggles administrative responsibilities with a prolific science career.

As a result of her thoughtful leadership manner and ability to translate vision into action, Dr. Demopoulos was appointed by the USGS Steering Committee to spearhead the RESTORE Act proposal to support restoration and conservation of deep-sea coral habitats and adjacent ecosystems in partnership with BOEM. She currently serves as a USGS Marine Science Advisor for the DOI Ocean Partnerships Team, providing guidance for ocean research priorities for the DOI, expanding on her role as a USGS Expert Reviewer of the Secretary’s Report on a Comprehensive Offshore Energy Program.

At the USGS Southeast Ecological Science Center, Dr. Demopoulos is the director of the Benthic Ecology Laboratory, overseeing the work of six employees (1 Federal and five contractors). She is responsible for supervising the finances, human resources, and technical resources effectively. Additionally, Dr. Demopoulos advises two Ph.D. students and a post-doc, as well as mentors two student contractors and five volunteers. As a mentor, Dr. Demopoulos is both respectful and values differences and opinions within her lab group, meeting with individuals at least once a week to review targeted tasks and progress. In managing her lab, she offers personnel a chance to pursue academic and career growth recognizing the importance of future scientists.

Dr. Demopoulos’ outstanding leadership achievements are demonstrated by these activities as well as her accomplishments over her eight-year tenure with the USGS. It is truly a pleasure to work with Dr. Demopoulos. Whether in the field, the lab, or the office, Dr. Demopoulos demonstrates and integrates the USGS Guiding Principles to support science excellence. As both a colleague and collaborator, I have experienced and benefited greatly from Dr. Demopoulos outstanding leadership skills. She encourages and inspires her colleagues, collaborators, and students to excel and to continually learn, whether it be mastering new techniques or developing new science directions. Dr. Demopoulos is a tremendous asset to the USGS and to the next generation of aspiring scientists. For her unparalleled scientific contributions and leadership, Dr. Demopoulos is most deserving of the Early Career Excellence in Leadership Award.

Nominated by:
Nancy Grumet Prouty, Ph.D.
Research Oceanographer
Santa Cruz, California

Endorsed by:
Jess Weaver
Regional Director – Southeast

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Leadership Development Program Manager
Office of Employee Development
Phone: 703-648-5764

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Mentoring Program Manager
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