Human Capital

Recipients of the 2018 Excellence in Leadership Award

Joyce Williamson
George Ozuna
Alexandra Etheridge and Dr. Moses Milazzo

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.

Read the citations for the selectees below:

Joyce E. Williamson

Excellence in Leadership Award

Joyce E. Williamson, Director of the Dakota Water Science Center (DWSC), is nominated for the Excellence in Leadership award because of her leadership skills and adherence to the USGS guiding principles. Joyce has served in many roles in the Center including project hydrologist and Data Chief. Joyce embraces new techniques and tools for addressing scientific issues and makes these tools available for staff to advance scientific studies. Joyce also has served as acting administrative officer for the Center, so she is adept in managing finances and human resources. Throughout her previous roles and current role as Director, she has displayed technical competence and leadership qualities.

Joyce also is very responsive to partner needs. She regularly attends high-level meetings during which she identifies policies that impact the USGS and communicates those policies to staff. She takes the time to meet with Congressional representatives to discuss water issues affecting the Dakotas. Joyce is respectful in that she listens carefully to staff and partners and responds accordingly. The DWSC has a variety of customers and cooperators, including Native American Tribes. Working with Tribes requires understanding of cultural values and diversity, and Joyce has emphasized tribal collaboration. Joyce recognizes that face-to-face meetings with partners are necessary in developing and maintaining cooperative working relationships. She makes personal visits to many of our partners, which encourages trust.

Joyce values differences, and recognizes that staff have different needs, feelings, and capabilities, and she responds differently and appropriately depending on those recognized differences. Joyce is accountable in that she admits when she is wrong and teaches others to take responsibility. She makes hard decisions and sets the standards high for the DWSC. Joyce is an excellent communicator. When she conducts staff meetings, she takes the time to explain decisions that affect the staff. Her office door is always open, so that staff can speak directly with her.

She is an instructor with the Leadership Intensive course and puts her practices into motion. Joyce has completed 10 years with the Leadership Intensives program, teaching 15 courses to over 360 students. Kim Miller states “Joyce is one of the best facilitators we have ever had.  She connects with the audience not only with her background as a scientist and administrative professional but with her heart.  Her heartwarming stories remain in the minds and ears of the recipients for many years teaching valuable lessons to them repeatedly.  Her presence in a Leadership Intensive commands respect and her delivery and presentations give great respect to the students allowing them to not only learn the material but to see a respectable, intelligent strong woman apply them.  Joyce Williamson is the epitome of what a true leader should be.  She leads with every step she takes and every word she speaks.” Joyce has also coached other Leadership Intensive facilitators to enable them to be proficient.

Joyce encourages others in their work and personal life. She speaks very well of the staff and provides words of encouragement to build the team up. Focus is an integral part of Joyce’s ability to keep on task and reach milestones and goals. Joyce has mentored many staff and her staff trust her. Joyce also gives credit where credit is due. During her tenure as Director of the DWSC, she started a monthly STAR award program, for which staff could nominate their peers for this award. Joyce has led the Center during a tough time of change during the DWSC merger and showed great sympathy and empathy to staff while they struggled with adapting to the constant reorganization. She has encouraged transparency and openness during the merger. This has led to many staff being comfortable in bringing emerging issues to her attention, which has led to better overall management of the Center.

Along with all the qualities and leadership capabilities outlined above, Joyce is a genuine, caring, and amazing person. She has an infectious laugh and makes even the worst situations manageable and leaves you feeling good about the work you are doing. The Center is grateful to have a Center Director that is such a charismatic and capable leader and believes that there is no one more deserving for this award than Joyce Williamson.

Supported by:
Jennifer Bednar, Administrative Officer
Kaleb Blodgett, Regional Program Analyst
Scott Morlock, Deputy Regional Director for Science


George B. Ozuna

Excellence in Leadership Award

George B. Ozuna is currently a Hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Texas Water Science Center (TXWSC) where he currently focuses on program and employee development activities in the Center and nationally. Mr. Ozuna began his USGS career as a seasonal employee and has held several positions from Hydrologic Technician, Hydrologist, Water Quality Specialist, Studies Chief, Subdistrict Chief, and Deputy Director for Studies over his 38 years of experience. At the beginning of his career, he benefitted from a new employee orientation program that introduced him to the diversity of science activities of the different divisions (now mission areas) of the USGS.  Such a training program is not available to new employees today.

Prior to 2015, like many centers, the TXWSC lost many management and supervisory staff because of attrition from retirements, promotions, and transfers.  As vacancies were advertised to replace losses, very few candidates applied from the TXWSC or even from within USGS.  Existing USGS leadership training did not have the capacity or curriculum to address these needs. The TXWSC Leadership Team saw a drastic need to take a more proactive approach to develop a pool of potential candidates and increase long-term employee retention for future leadership positions as part of a succession plan.  

Based largely on his experiences and observations gained during the span of his career, Mr. Ozuna championed an effort to develop a one-year program called “Texas Leader Development". The goal of the leader development program is to unlock the untapped leader potential inside our employees, broaden understanding of USGS science and capabilities, and increase a passion for leadership in USGS.  Interested individuals are asked to nominate themselves including providing their reasons for wanting to participate in the program. A total of 10 to 12 participants are selected from this list of nominations by the TXWSC Leadership Team. The program participants meet bimonthly over the course of one year. Mr. Ozuna attends all the sessions and serves as coordinator, facilitator, and mentor during the program.

Mr. Ozuna works closely with the Office of Organizational and Employee Development during the first two sessions to focus on understanding yourself and understanding yourself in a team dynamic which include self-assessments such as personality profiles and other employee development tools. The next 3 sessions are field visits to expose the participants to the breadth of USGS science and leadership.  George coordinates with Water Mission Area and other Science Centers to conduct field visits. One visit is to USGS Headquarters to meet senior leadership with the Water Mission Area, other Mission Areas, and Science Centers. One visit is to Denver to meet with Region leadership, the National Water Quality Laboratory, and other Science Centers in the area. The third field visit typically has been to another Region to meet with other Science Centers. At the final session, the participants reflect on what they have learned and share their experiences in a joint session with the TXWSC Leadership Team.

The response to this training by TXWSC staff has been so successful that the Center is now in its 4th round!  Texas leadership’s original goal was to increase the number of candidates for supervisory positions but not only has that goal been achieved, other unanticipated benefits have been realizeoration have improved between employees across the Center. Leaders from the program have done a great job addressing results from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys.

Mr. Ozuna’s tireless efforts to support and promote leadership-centered culture; and the time and devotion he takes to mentor the participants is remarkable. He genuinely wants all employees to understand and share his enthusiasm for how great of an agency we all work for. His jovial personality and ability to make personal relationships contributes to the success of this program.  Other Science Centers across the nation are very interested in the program and are now consulting with George on how to bring it to their centers. George Ozuna has demonstrated excellence in leadership through his vision and passion to pass on his vast experiences and appreciation of the greatness of USGS science to our future leaders.

For his tremendous contributions and leadership skills, George Ozuna is recommended for the USGS 2018 Excellence in Leadership Award.

Supported by:
Timothy H. Raines, Director, Texas Water Science Center
William Guertal, Deputy Associate Director, Water Mission Area


Alexandra B. Etheridge and Dr. Moses P. Milazzo

Excellence in Leadership Award

This is a group nomination for Moses Milazzo and Alex Etheridge in recognition of their demonstrated leadership in raising awareness of workplace harassment through the development of USGS workshops and trainings on bystander intervention and anti-harassment, and for promoting a culture of inclusion, dignity, and respect in alignment with the USGS Guiding Principles.

Moses and Alex are recognized as groundbreaking leaders for their efforts to bring attention to harassment in and around the scientific community and to work towards eliminating it. Together, Moses and Alex developed and piloted the USGS StepUp! Employee Empowerment Strategies (SEES) Program: A Bystander Intervention Program designed for scientific workplaces. The SEES Program, modified from a University of Arizona program, focuses on community recognition that harassment negatively affects everyone. Moses and Alex led efforts to initiate pilot SEES programs in USGS headquarters and in six USGS science centers to provide Bystander Intervention Training to employees and to train new instructors. They have also provided Bystander Intervention trainings at national science events and institutes, such as the USGS Regional Data Workshop, American Geophysical Union Fall meeting, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Data collected as part of these trainings have been critical to improving the understanding of the prevalence of harassment and bystander attitudes in the USGS and the scientific community. In 2018, the USGS ELT identified SEES Bystander Intervention Training as a program targeted for expansion in the USGS Anti-Harassment Action Plan submitted to DOI.

To complement the SEES program, Moses and Alex also developed and piloted the USGS Anti-Harassment Peer Support Worker (AHPSW) program, where non-supervisory employees are trained to educate peers on available resources, report harassment and workplace misconduct, and raise awareness around these issues through training and outreach. The AHPSW program is being piloted in eleven USGS Science Centers.

Collaboration has been a key component to the success of these efforts. In developing the SEES and AHPSW programs, Moses and Alex worked closely with USGS Anti-Harassment Steering Group, Anti-Harassment Program, Human Capital, and Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity. They also participated in national discussions on anti-harassment with leaders from other federal agencies, academia, and the private science sector. Their efforts have raised awareness at all levels of USGS and beyond, and they continue to identify new ways to stimulate dialog, including bringing in guest speakers.

Moses and Alex are commended for stepping up to action and creating much more than just a training program; they created a movement toward cultural change. Their efforts have been recognized by others outside of the USGS, with Alex and Moses receiving the 2018 Association of Women Geoscientists Presidents Award for their accomplishments in anti-harassment training. A quote from a training participant: This was the best training related to diversity and inclusion that I’ve ever taken.  It was personal and thought-provoking, and Alex and Moses inspired me to take action within my own center.

Supported by:
Dianna Crilley, Supervisor
Eric Reichard, CAWSC Center Director
Mark Sogge, Pacific Regional Director


« Return to USGS Excellence in Leadership Award