In the interests of fostering national recognition for those individuals
most deeply involved in restoring national pride to America's capital
city, NARPAC has established a HATS OFF Award. As opportunities arise,
it will be presented to those individuals at the operational level who
have contributed most significantly to enhancing the perceptions and realities
of DC as the premiere model American central city in the premiere model
American metro area.
December 20, 2002: Ivan C. A. Walks, MD, former Director of DC's Department of Health, and Chief Medical Officer, 1999-2002.
With great pleasure NARPAC honors Ivan C. A. Walks, MD for his extraordinary efforts to restore pride in America's capital city.
As Chief Medical Officer and Director of the District of Columbia's Department of Health for almost three years, Dr. Walks was involved in some of the mayor's most difficult and emotionally charged political and medical issues. He repeatedly rose to meet challenges that might well have deterred others and, at some personal risk, helped put DC on a new course towards much improved public health and national respect.
Dr. Walks reorganized agencies, upgraded facilities and improved the health prospects of the city's many poor. The collapse of DC's public hospital system presented a far tougher challenge. Setting out in a new, unproven direction to change the city's healthcare culture pitted the mayor, his health director, and the Control Board against the DC Council, DC's indigent health- care recipients and providers, and vociferous activists.
The District was then surprised by the nation's first bioterrorist attack, involving both federal agencies and vulnerable DC residents. Dr. Walks was back in the spotlight as disagreements flared about the most appropriate remedies. He was instrumental in effecting a sound solution.
For his accomplishments, Dr. Walks deserves the thanks of DC residents and all Americans -- especially those in the national capital metro area.
Thank you, Dr. Walks, and Godspeed in your future career.
NARPAC presents its fourth "Hats Off" Award to Dr. Walks
In a brief informal ceremony at DC's Wilson Building, NARPAC honored Dr. Walks in the presence of several of his long-time friends and associates. NARPAC's founder and president, Len Sullivan, and vice-president, Nick Kauffman (photos at left), kicked off the event while DC government dignitaries watched.
Following the reading of the citation and the ceremonial "doffing of hats" (lower left below) and the presentation of mementos by NARPAC treasurer, Job Dittberner (lower right below), Dr. Walks' contributions and personal commitment were recounted by Deputy Mayor and City Administrator, John Koskinen (upper left), and by Ward 8 Councilmember Sandy Allen (upper right). Dr. Walks responded (upper center), sharing his award with all the members of his DC health team., some of whom attended.
All photos by Bill Fitz-Patrick Photography, (assembled by NARPAC).
Dr. Ivan Walks has already crowded a great many achievements into his relatively short and very public career. Much of his education was received on the West Coast. His undergraduate work was primarily at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, after which he got his Doctorate of Medicine in 1988 from the University of California at the Davis School of Medicine.
This was followed by a one-year transitional internship at the UCLA School of Medicine and the West Los Angeles VA Hospitals; a two-year residency in psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute focusing on mental health policy; and a two-year overlapping fellowship in trans-cultural psychiatry relating to behavioral and public health policy. To keep busy, he was also an associate editor of the Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry.
In 1993 Dr. Walks was appointed to the Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission, from which he resigned to become the Medical Director for Education and Outreach Programs at the Charter Behavioral Health Systems in Covina, California. He moved on to become the Medical Director for Managed Care at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. During these years , he found time to participate in a US DoHHS fellowship program, take part in a local Los Angeles TV series on public health education, and serve on the Board of Directors on the non-profit Community Health Councils Project.
Dr. Walks came East as a Vice President and Associate National Medical Director for ValueOptions in Virginia in 1996. During this time, he served as chair of the National Credentialing Committee and on the AMBHA board of directors. More relevant to his next job, he designed and implemented the DC-KIDS, a "comprehensive integrated health care delivery system for DC's children in Foster care."
In September, 1999, Dr. Walks became Mayor Williams's Chief Health Officer and Director of DC's very troubled Department of Health, approved by the DC Council. Revamping of the DoH had already begun following a 1997 assessment of its multiple problems by the DC Control Board, but much remained to be done. But it is inconceivable that Dr. Walks could have foreseen the depth of the local public animosity to improving DC's extensive, but disintegrating public hospital system, or predicted becoming embroiled in the nation's first and unprecedented bioterrorist attack.
When Dr. Walks left in May of 2002, less than three years later, DC General had been closed, a revamped public hospital system was in place and operating (albeit imperfectly!), and the national anthrax scare had receded without panic and without unintended side-effects. During those years, he had also managed to change the management of several DC Health agencies, crack down on medicaid fraud, rebuild a decrepit public health laboratory, lower infant mortality rates, revitalize the city's overworked detoxification program, institute a proper immunization system for DC's 70,000 mostly underprivileged school kids.
With his 40th birthday still ahead of him, Dr. Walks has become a nationally-known figure in a nationally-feared domain. While he is currently biding his time as the CEO of Ivan Walks and Associates, LLC consulting firm on upper Connecticut Avenue, NW, he is certain to move on the greater things that will also reflect pride on the nation's capital city.
| August 15, 2001:
Dr. Abdusalam Omer, PhD, recently retired Chief of Staff to the Mayor of
the District of Columbia. |
For nine years, Dr. Omer has held increasingly important roles in shaping the future of the District of Columbia. First as a senior budget analyst and team leader, then as Chief Financial Officer for the troubled DC Public Schools, then for two years as Deputy Chief Finance Officer, restructuring and balancing DC's runaway budget. Finally, for two grueling years as Chief of Staff, he faced the bureaucracy inside, and endless claimants on DC energies from the outside: Congress; Federal Agencies; City Council; Control Board; and activists.
A key member of DC's dedicated band of reformers, Dr. Omer brought competence, compassion, and high standards to all his tasks. He understood government's obligation to listen to, and serve the people of the city -- starting with its young and disadvantaged. He saw government as people too, with needs, hopes and goals. He was mentor, catalyst, devil's advocate, task master. His friend, the Mayor, has praised his passion and integrity. Dr. Omer deserves the gratitude of the people of DC, the Greater Washington Metro Area, and all across America who want to be proud of their nation's capital city.
Thank you, Dr. Omer, and Godspeed in your future endeavors.
In a brief ceremony in One Judiciary Square on 15 August, 2001, NARPAC honored the Mayor's former Chief of Staff, Dr. Abdusalam Omer (above) for his contribution to restoring pride in the Nation's Capital.
Left to right (below): NARPAC officers and members Nick Kauffman, John Cleave, Job Dittberner, and Len Sullivan are joined by Mayor Anthony Williams in taking their hats off to Dr. Omer Dr. Omer smiles his appreciation Dr. Dittberner reads the citation. An earlier recipient of the "Hats Off" award, Mr. John Hill, is in the foreground. Presentation of the citation to Dr. Omer. Mayor Anthony Williams adds his appreciation Part of the audience before the ceremony
Photos by Lateef Mangum
March 7, 2000 (delayed from 1/26/00 by blizzard of 2000): John W. Hill, Jr., first Executive Director, DC Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (DCFRA = 'Control Board') Photos by Ghislaine Dittberner.
The mayor spoke warmly of his respect not only for John Hill's competence, but for his ability to work with others. The present and former Control Board Chairs, Drs. Alice Rivlin and Andrew Brimmer, also praised Hill's substance and style. (photos by Job Dittberner)
August 11, 1999: David Gilmore,
Receiver, DC Housing Authority