2017-06-07 / Features

Queens Public Servants Honored With Prestigious Award


Karen Armstrong, Assistant Commissioner, Queens Adult Services, Department of Probation receives $10,000 check from Lisette Nieves, Fund for the City of New York. Karen Armstrong, Assistant Commissioner, Queens Adult Services, Department of Probation receives $10,000 check from Lisette Nieves, Fund for the City of New York. The Fund for the City of New York honored on May 25 their 2017 Sloan Public Service Award winners. Three of the seven winners are outstanding public servants in Queens. They were all were honored throughout the day at their individual workplaces, and later, at an awards presentation ceremony held at The Cooper Union. Karen Armstrong, Vilma Daza and Harriet Taub are being recognized for their outstanding civil service work in the Queens community.

All three women displayed unwavering drive and passion for these programs, earning the title of a Sloan Public Service Award winner and a $10,000 prize for the “Nobel Prize of city government.” All award recipients were nominated by colleagues or peers and then selected from over 250,000 other civil service workers. Ultimately, they were chosen for their commitment and dedication to their communities.


Vilma Raquel Daza, Community Library Manager, Corona Branch, Queens Borough Public Library with Mary McCormick, President, Fund for the City of New York. Vilma Raquel Daza, Community Library Manager, Corona Branch, Queens Borough Public Library with Mary McCormick, President, Fund for the City of New York. This year’s recipients have made library services more accessible for immigrants; turned around an underperforming high school; reduced re-arrests among individuals on probation; eliminated violent crime at a high-crime school; improved enforcement to ensure safer conditions in apartments; and provided 4,000 schools, nonprofits, and cultural institutions with free arts materials.

The 2017 Sloan Public Service Award winners from Queens are:

 Karen Armstrong, Assistant Commissioner, Queens Adult Services, NYC Department of Probation. Armstrong, who joined the department in 1989 as a probation office trainee, now leads a team of 140 who are responsible for 8,000 New Yorkers on probation in Queens. Her ability to implement new programs is unmatched. Prior to assuming her current position, Armstrong held the same job in Brooklyn, where she started three model NEON programs that connected probation clients to community organizations, government agencies, local businesses and residents. These efforts were so effective that when Armstrong left, Brooklyn led the city in the number of clients who achieved early release from parole for model behavior. Said a colleague, “She makes one of the most difficult jobs look effortless. She never stops working for our clients.”


Harriet Taub, Executive Director, Materials for the Arts, Department of Cultural Affairs receives $10,000 check from Lisette Nieves, Fund for the City of New York. Harriet Taub, Executive Director, Materials for the Arts, Department of Cultural Affairs receives $10,000 check from Lisette Nieves, Fund for the City of New York.  Vilma Raquel Daza, Community Library Manager, Corona Branch, Queens Borough Public Library. Daza and her staff of 9 full-time employees serve over 18,000 library patrons at the Corona Branch Library each month, making it the busiest library per square foot in all of Queens. As an immigrant to New York from Peru, Daza knows firsthand what an important lifeline a library can be and she has made the library “the central educational and resource hub of Corona.” Residents line up around the block to register for a wide range of classes. In the summer, programs are offered outdoors in the plaza; and Daza and staff volunteer their time to keep the library open in the morning and evening, beyond regular hours. A colleague noted, “I’ve been working in the Queens Library system for 30 years. I have never met a more passionate, driven, and dedicated individual.”

 Harriet Taub, Executive Director, Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. In a 35,000 square foot warehouse in Long Island City, Taub presides over Materials for the Arts (MFTA). Each year she and her staff of 17 and 1,000 volunteers collect and redistribute almost 2 million pounds of materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Over 4,000 member organizations including dance, theater and arts groups, afterschool programs, public libraries, and thousands of public school teachers put the fabric, paper, trim and notions and office supplies to creative use. In addition, MFTA is among the city’s largest providers of professional development courses in arts education for NYC school teachers and others. Called a true leader in “creative reuse,” Taub exemplifies the term “going above and beyond.”

The other winners are Deirdre DeAngelis-D’Alessio, Principal, New Dorp High School, Staten Island; Vincent DiGaetano, Bronx Borough Safety Director and now Principal, Bronx Alternate Learning Center, Office of Safety and Youth Development, NYC Department of Education; and AnnMarie Santiago and Lois Winters, Assistant Deputy Commissioner and Program Analyst, Office of Enforcement & Neighborhood Services, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

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