New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Matthew Fraser, and Jonathan Weiner, president of the Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize Foundation, last night presented 15 city employees with the inaugural NYC Hayes Innovation Prize during an awards ceremony at Gracie Mansion. The winning projects — originating from 10 city entities — deployed cutting-edge technology to improve disease responses, preserve housing, expand broadband access, and keep city streets clean during the CoViD-19 pandemic. Honorees were selected from among 120 nominations, and each received $1,000 cash prizes, which were funded by the foundation. The New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) and the Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize Foundation co-sponsored the awards.
“To meet the challenges of the 21st century, we need bold, forward-thinking public servants who are willing to not just think outside the box, but break the box,” said Mayor Adams. “I not only congratulate these 15 city employees on their well-deserved recognition, but, more importantly, for their ideas that are helping to better the lives of their fellow New Yorkers. I look forward to continuing to promote a culture of innovation throughout our administration.”
“Our city employees routinely reimagine and redefine what is possible for public service,” said First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright. “These winning projects, chosen from 120 nominations, highlight the outsized impact our public servants make on this city’s most urgent and complex issues, and demonstrate the vitality of our city agencies. The message is clear: Join New York City government and the sky is the limit.”
“New York City’s secret sauce is our highly-skilled public servants whose daily contributions are responsible for building a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable home for our nearly 9 million residents,” said New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser. “This select group of honorees showcases the world-class talent, creativity, and ingenuity that our city government employs on a wide range of issues to improve the lives of all New Yorkers. I thank Mayor Adams for championing a culture of innovation within his administration and the Hayes Prize Foundation for their partnership in celebrating the outstanding achievements of our city’s employees.”
“The Hayes Prize Foundation is thrilled to recognize these impressive public servants, whose innovative contributions have helped ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers,” said Jonathan Weiner, president, Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize Foundation. “We are especially grateful to Mayor Adams and his administration, particularly Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser and the Office of Technology and Innovation, whose partnership with the foundation this year has strengthened and expanded this program’s impact.”
Since 2005, the Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize Foundation has hosted annual awards to recognize and encourage exceptional city officials in city government. OTI teamed up with the Hayes Prize Foundation in 2022 to launch a new citywide award celebrating the outstanding work of the city’s 300,000 municipal employees. A panel of past winners of the Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize and of the former CTO’s Technology & Innovation Award selected this year’s winners. These winners and finalists exhibited exceptional talent and creativity in their work and a deep commitment to public service.
This year’s prize winners were:
- Jay Bala of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), who developed and implemented the agency’s Public Health Partners Connect, a data project that allows DOHMH to identify, manage, and visualize relationships with over 20,000 external partners. This system allowed DOHMH to deploy vaccinefinder.nyc in a matter of weeks when vaccines became available for both CoViD-19 and Mpox.
- Cindi Davidson and Ashley Charles of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), who were instrumental in the successful implementation of TLC’s Medallion Relief Program Plus (MRP+) — an unprecedented debt-relief program that has ensured financial security for over 1,200 taxi medallion owners who were hard hit by both pandemic and the disruptive influx of Uber and Lyft on the taxi industry.
- Imen Harrouch and Michael Conway of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), who collaborated to construct DSNY’s first real-time tracking system to monitor citywide street sweeping, which helped to address a five-fold increase in complaints over deficient street sweeping during the pandemic.
- Masha Gindler of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Efficiency, who created first-of-their-kind initiatives to measure the “time tax” burden caused by government services and introduce “secret shopper” programs at different agencies to enhance customer experience across the five boroughs.
- Cassie Hackel of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), who pioneered the Eviction Rate Questionnaire and eviction prevention training, which allows HPD to monitor evictions in government-assisted housing and hold sponsors accountable with eviction rates surpass two percent.
- Joseph Iacoviello of the New York City Department of Education (DOE), who led DOE’s rapid transition online in March 2020. Iacoviello helped to procure and distribute over 240,000 devices in the first eight weeks of the pandemic alone, procured over $50 million in hard and software donations, and coordinated with multiple major telecom companies to provide LTE access to teachers, staff, and students.
- Sujin Lee of the New York City Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, who heads the Mapping Equity project, an interactive mapping tool that shows a geographic picture of New Yorkers’ quality of life using 75 measures of neighborhood well-being and public service delivery from over 25 New York City government agencies.
- Selena Ley of the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, who spearheaded the Digital Forensic Laboratory — the first accredited lab focused on electronic storage devices in New York state and only the fourth nationwide. This laboratory has allowed prosecutors to access sensitive personal information on over 1,000 devices since 2018.
- Sharon Greene and Eric Peterson of DOHMH, who built and maintained the city’s automated communicable disease spatiotemporal cluster detection system — the first to prospectively detect actual local outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease, salmonellosis, shigellosis, campylobacteriosis, and cryptosporidiosis.
- Garfield Swaby of the New York Public Library (NYPL), who spearheaded NYPL’s groundbreaking program to provide internet access to New Yorkers living within range of different library pilot locations. His team used cutting-edge CBRS technology to extend the reach of each libraries’ signal to service the surrounding neighborhoods at speeds faster and more reliable than broadband.
- Henry Wang of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), who created the Risk Analytics Unit that publishes analytical tools for officers and NYPD leadership to more easily visualize key performance metrics from citywide to precinct level.
- Jade Wang of DOHMH, who developed and championed the analytical tools necessary to decipher and translate gigabytes of whole genome sequence data, which is used to inform disease outbreak response actions taken in New York City during the pandemic.
The finalists for this year’s awards include:
- Lincoln MacVeagh of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board
- Seth Hostetter of the New York City Department of Transportation
- Joe Maruca and Ryan Joel of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations
- Stephen Cormier of DOHMH
- Roman Danilov of the New York City Department of Transportation
“Effective public health work must be data-driven and, my teammates recognized here, bring their data expertise to bear every day on disease surveillance, outbreak prevention and in creating a healthier city for us all,” said DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “In addition to tracking diseases, they make enormous amounts of data accessible and available to the public, so New Yorkers have the information they need to make healthier choices. These public servants are unsung heroes, and I am so happy they are being recognized for their work and proud to call them colleagues.”
“Displaying a creative vision for advancing law enforcement represents a vital public service to the city, its residents, and the women and men of the New York City Police Department,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “Today, we thank the mayor, the city’s Office of Technology and Innovation, and the Frederick O’Reilly Hayes Prize Foundation for recognizing Henry Wang for his professionalism and for his valuable contributions in our ongoing mission to step forward together in the policing profession.”
“The challenges presented to our city during the CoViD-19 pandemic were unprecedented,” said DOE Chancellor David C. Banks. “Our schools and our students were forced to quickly transition to remote learning, and because of Joseph Iacoviello’s hard work and dedication to our students, our young people and their families received the tools and resources they needed to continue their education, despite the circumstances. This recognition is well deserved, and I am proud to join the chorus of city leaders in elevating and celebrating the incredible and innovative work being done by all today’s honorees.”
“Over my 15-year career in government, I have had many deserving colleagues win Hayes Awards, and it is always a joy to see this esteemed foundation honor the significant contributions that exceptional civil servants make to good government,” said DSNY Commissioner Jessica Tisch. “I am so proud that Imen and Michael are now joining this elite group of Hayes Prize winners, and I thank them for their work keeping New York City clean, safe, and healthy. The city is better for their service.”
“We are thrilled to see public servants, including HPD’s own Cassie Hackel, recognized for the exceptional talent and creativity they bring to their work, which is, ultimately, to better serve everyday New Yorkers,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión, Jr. “Cassie implemented a streamlined process for monitoring evictions in HPD-financed affordable housing projects, holding partners accountable for eviction rates of over two percent, and requiring eviction prevention trainings for developers and managing agents. The significance of working to better understand and protect New Yorkers from eviction cannot be understated as the city continues to recover from the destabilizing effects of the CoViD-19 pandemic. I sincerely thank Cassie for her compassion and thoughtfulness in carrying out this important project.”
“The Medallion Relief Program Plus has been a monumental success, providing over $370 million in meaningful debt relief for nearly 1,700 medallion owners impacted by predatory loans, the pandemic, and disruptive forces in the industry,” said TLC Commissioner David Do. “Securing and restructuring these loans has been a huge, complicated endeavor, and Ms. Davidson and Ms. Charles have been key players on this incredible team that has made a direct, transformative, and positive effect on people’s lives.”
“I’m thrilled for our all colleagues who have been chosen to join this illustrious group of Hayes Award winners but, in particular, to Masha Gindler, who each and every day, works tirelessly to advance the critical and necessary goal of creating a truly customer-centric government, one that that moves operations closer to the expectation of our fellow New Yorkers, and one that is continuously in pursuit of operational excellence,” said New York City Chief Efficiency Officer Melanie LaRocca. “Innovative approaches to both modernizing and evolving our standards for performance in government is clearly good for all New Yorkers and is absolutely at the heart of what drives Masha. Congratulations to all honorees!”
“Our work is guided by a commitment to equity, evidence, and innovation in order to find meaningful solutions to some of New York City’s most intractable challenges,” said Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity Acting Executive Director Carson Hicks. “Sujin Lee has been an integral part of our office as the deputy director of data analytics, and I am thrilled she is being recognized for the vision, incisiveness, and creativity she brings to the team every day.”
“We know that to meaningfully address racial and social inequity, place matters,” said EquityNYC Director Sara Shoener. “Sujin Lee’s exceptional leadership in the analytic development of mapping equity ensured that we created a powerful resource to help decisionmakers advance evidence-based strategies to serve all New Yorkers.”
“Selena Ley’s exemplary work has contributed to the Bronx District Attorney’s Office becoming a leading 21st century prosecutors’ office,” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark. “Selena was key in developing our Digital Forensics Laboratory, the first accredited Digital Forensics Laboratory in a prosecutor’s office in New York State and only the fourth such lab nationwide. This laboratory has allowed prosecutors to access information on over 1,000 devices since 2018, providing consequential evidence leading to convictions, as well as defendants being cleared. We applaud Selena for her hard work, dedication, and service to the people of the Bronx and congratulate her on receiving the NYC Hayes Innovation Prize.”
“For decades, public libraries have served as essential providers of free internet access, devices, and skills for those on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said NYPL President Anthony W. Marx. “Our vice president of information technology, Garfield Swaby, and his team have taken our commitment to digital equity to the next level: Using the library to provide internet access directly into our patrons’ homes. NYPL’s wireless pilot is an innovative and, we hope, scalable approach to help ensure all New Yorkers have internet access. We applaud Garfield and his team for their important work on behalf of New Yorkers.”