PORTLAND, Oregon - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced that two Oregon employees and an Oregon airport have received top agency honors for excellence while carrying out the security mission in 2020. Recognized as the highest performers and whose work has made a significant impact on TSA operations this year, due to COVID-19, the awards were announced virtually by TSA Administrator David Pekoske from agency headquarters in Springfield, Virginia.
Federal Security Director of the Year
TSA Federal Security Director (FSD) for Oregon Stephen Taber was named national FSD of the Year. As FSD, Taber is responsible for all TSA operations in Oregon and is based at Portland International Airport. He is the sole recipient of this award in 2020.
FSD Taber was recognized for skillfully leading Team Oregon through a challenging year that included keeping the traveling public healthy and secure during the spread of COVID-19. He consistently addressed evolving operational needs while balancing employee needs, all without compromising security.
FSD Taber is known as a leader who seeks feedback from employees to improve screening operations and encourages innovation that has been replicated at airports across the country. As a former TSA officer himself, FSD Taber’s depth of knowledge of the TSA operation is invaluable in working with stakeholders to strengthen their shared security mission. He can frequently be seen in the security checkpoint engaging with the employees and helping out as needed.
Despite being evacuated from his home due to the summer wildfires in Oregon, FSD Taber was at work every day to support the local TSA team. He also plays a key role among federal agencies in Oregon, serving as Chair of the Oregon Federal Executive Board, leading a coordinated federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Passenger Support Specialist of the Year
TSA Officer Naomi Eckstine was named Passenger Support Specialist (PSS) of the Year. In this role, she was recognized for providing exemplary and unparalleled service to travelers who require special accommodations or are concerned about the security screening process. She is the sole recipient of this award in 2020.
TSO Eckstine who works at PDX initiated a “Better to Best” training for other TSA employees to encourage top-notch customer service to travelers. She also is the point of contact for the local USO and she coordinates participation by the local TSA honor guard to support ceremonies for the return of Fallen Heroes to Oregon. TSO Eckstine oversees special programs within TSA including Adopt-A-Family and Feds Feed Families as well as extending her external stakeholder activities to efforts like Make-A-Wish, Snowball Express and Toys for Tots.
Airport of the Year – Cat II – IV
Mahlon Sweet Field (EUG) in Eugene, Oregon, was recognized as the top airport of its size for outstanding local leadership, commitment to empowering employees and working with stakeholders to ensure a superior passenger experience for the traveling public.
Each year, EUG welcomes the world's best track and field athletes for the annual Steve Prefontaine Classic and every four years, EUG hosts the Olympic Trials for track and field. The city of Eugene is also home to the University of Oregon. The number of special and high profile events that often begin and end at the airport require that TSA and the airport stakeholder community remain constantly engaged.
TSA at EUG has developed an initiative named “Building Effective EUG Security” or BEES to focus on security awareness and engagement across the airport community. They have initiated training opportunities with live fire explosive demonstrations, raised awareness about human trafficking and supported "Stop the Bleed," which is an effort to place trauma kits in designated locations throughout the airport terminal.
Beyond the security mission, the EUG TSA team was recognized for protecting the safety, security and well-being of passengers, airport employees and the TSA team during the dual crises experienced during the summer months. With wildfires raging in the area and the coronavirus pandemic disrupting daily life, the EUG TSA team never wavered in its leadership, commitment, and passion for each other and the public.
TSA’s honorary awards are announced annually. Employees are encouraged to nominate colleagues whose work in the past year was extraordinary and supported the agency’s strategic goals. Due to COVID-19, the awards were announced virtually today by TSA Administrator David Pekoske from agency headquarters in Springfield, Virginia.