Air Force employee named as Service to America Medals finalist

  • Published
  • By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
An Air Force leader was announced May 4 as a finalist for the 2015 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, which highlight America’s dedicated civil servants who made significant contributions to the nation.

Steven Zander, the director of the Air Force Community Partnership Program, is a finalist in the Management Excellence category. This category recognizes a federal employee for demonstrating superior leadership and management excellence through a significant contribution to the nation that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.

Zander was nominated for leading a team to develop innovative partnerships between Air Force bases and their neighboring communities in a concerted effort to save money and strengthen the local base and community support in service areas ranging from libraries and golf courses to snow removal, operation of a water/waste water treatment plant, and construction/maintenance of ball fields.

“Steven has helped the Air Force and our bases think differently,” said Miranda Ballentine, the Air Force assistant secretary for installations, environment and energy. “It used to be that bases were mini cities in terms of all the municipal services they self-provided. Steven leads a team that goes to the bases and has a well-defined process to brainstorm ways to best utilize base and local community resources and expertise.”

Zander said he is truly humbled being named an award finalist and acknowledged the honor would not be possible without his team spread throughout the country, which has helped base and local community leaders work together to identify innovative ways of partnering under the umbrella of the Air Force Community Partnership Program.

“We set the framework that devised a creative way to train and send teams to installations and their surrounding communities,” he said. “The greatest results are achieved when installation and community leaders embrace the concept of partnering and use the Air Force’s well-structured process which provides support as needed to help them find ways to get to yes.”

One example of a partnership initiative under development is at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, where the local community would like to partner with the military installation to develop a shared sports complex on 63 acres of Air Force land. The city will invest almost $8 million to build the sport fields on Air Force property, which, in turn, will increase tax revenue generated by sporting event attendees who will also use city hotels, restaurants and other ancillary benefits. The effort will bring value and benefits to Airmen and families residing in local communities and on base, as well as bring almost $900,000 in potential facility benefits to the base.

The 2015 finalists will be honored May 6 on Capitol Hill as part of Public Service Recognition Week. The winners of the Service to America Medals will be announced in October. Information on Partnership for Public Service and Service to America Medals can be found here.