CHICAGO – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recognizes the agency’s highest performers and the most effective teams of 2020. TSA selected three Illinois area employees as the best in their fields for the year. Due to the current pandemic, the 2020 TSA Honorary Awards celebration will be conducted virtually this year to highlight the distinguished work of the recognized individuals and teams.
Maria Morelli was selected as the TSA’s 2020 National Honorary Coordination Center Employee of the Year Award. This award recognizes the employee who worked to achieve the highest level performance of their duties. She was the cornerstone of the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) coordination center, providing extensive experience, problem solving, and mentoring skills to her position. She is the manager of the 25-person Transportation Security Support Team (TSST) including their deployments across the nation.
Amber Powell was selected as TSA’s 2020 Honorary Awardee for Security Training Instructor (STI) Officer of the Year. In addition to her responsibilities at General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport (PIA), she frequently supported training at other airports. Powell completed the Rising Leaders Development Program (RLDP) and was selected to participate in the National Airport Training STI (NATS) program to rollout new equipment and training initiatives across the country. Powell participated in the DHS Mentoring program and created the DHS Career Progression e-Magazine to provide a comprehensive resource for fellow employees.
Robert Mooney, a scheduling officer, was part of the team selected as the winners of TSA’s 2020 Honorary Technology Achievement Award. This award recognizes accomplishments that improve the security of the U.S. transportation infrastructure or the efficiency of TSA, through technology related activities and measurable impact. Mooney worked with the TSA headquarters (electronic time, attendance and scheduling (eTAS) program team. Their collective efforts to improve the payroll and scheduling system led to their selection. Mooney contributed to the successful transition of users to an upgraded system to reduce timecard errors and increase accuracy of the payroll for TSA.
“I am proud of this Illinois TSA team and these superb individuals who won these prestigious 2020 TSA Honorary Awards,” said Illinois’ TSA Federal Security Director Dereck Starks. “Congratulations to the awardees and their families. These awards are well deserved and because of their professionalism and dedication, our ability to carry out the TSA’s core mission of protecting the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce is possible.”
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. The awards will be presented virtually by TSA Administrator David Pekoske from agency headquarters in Springfield, Virginia.