Above the Call, Awards and Appreciation

CDCR honors employees at 2019 Medal of Valor Ceremony

Man sings into microphone with others stand with their hands over their hearts.
Opening ceremony for the Medial of Valor.

Honorees included two Medal of Valor recipients and 83 employees recognized for volunteering to assist Camp Fire first responders

At its 2019 Medal of Valor Ceremony, CDCR honored 231 people for their bravery in responding to crises and life-threatening situations as well as exemplary work of benefit to the department and the community.

“The CDCR staff being honored today have demonstrated a spectacular list of courageous acts and an unyielding commitment to making a positive difference in people’s lives,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said. “Our communities are better as a direct result of the dedication, humanity, and valor CDCR staff show day after day.”

Two employees were awarded the Medal of Valor, CDCR’s highest award earned by distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. California Rehabilitation Center Correctional Sergeant William Annas (link opens new tab) received the Medal of Valor for rescuing several disabled elderly women from a burning house. Pleasant Valley State Prison Correctional Officer Hector Villarreal (link opens new tab) contained a gunman responsible for a series of shootings in Kerman, protecting the community from further harm.

Eighty-three Peer Support Program (PSP) (link opens new tab) team members were given a Unit Citation, awarded for great courage by a departmental unit in the face of immediate life-threatening circumstances. The PSP team provided stress-management tools and other support to the first responders of the Camp Fire, California’s most destructive wildfire that claimed the lives of 86 people. CDCR’s PSP was created to provide corrections employees involved in work-related critical incidents intervention and resources to cope with the effects of trauma. Over the years, more than 1,200 peer supporters have helped many CDCR workers and their families.

Employees from nearly all disciplines and professions statewide received awards at Creekside Christian Church of Elk Grove. In addition to the Medal of Valor and Unit Citations, CDCR awarded Bronze, Silver and Gold Corrections Stars; Distinguished Service Medals; and medals for Correctional Officer and Supervisor of the Year. CDCR also honored exemplary executives and administrators as well as health care, rehabilitation, parole, and juvenile justice professionals.

Editor’s note:

Following is the complete list of employees honored at the Sept. 13 Medal of Valor ceremony.

Medal of Valor

The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award, earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others.

William Annas, Correctional Sergeant, California Rehabilitation Center

Hector Villarreal, Correctional Officer, Pleasant Valley State Prison

Gold Star Medal

The Gold Star Medal is awarded for heroic deeds under extraordinary circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of immediate peril in acting to save the life of another person.

Martin Gonzales, Correctional Sergeant, Central California Women’s Facility

Jess Moran, Correctional Counselor I, California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, Corcoran

Rebekah Steele, Correctional Sergeant, Central California Women’s Facility

Silver Star Medal

The Silver Star Medal is awarded for acts of bravery under extraordinary or unusual circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of potential peril while saving or attempting to save the life of another person or distinguish him/herself by performing in stressful situations with exceptional tactics or judgment.

Pamila Baldo, Correctional Officer, Folsom State Prison

Brenden Donoghue, Dentist, Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility

Javier Flores Jr., Correctional Officer, Avenal State Prison

Manuel Moran, Correctional Officer, California State Prison, Los Angeles County

Gabriel Montero, Correctional Officer, Pleasant Valley State Prison

Raquel Lucca, Youth Correctional Counselor, O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility

Jeremiah Britten, Parole Agent I, Chico Parole Office

Hector Arias, Correctional Sergeant, San Quentin State Prison

Michael Teresinski, Correctional Officer, San Quentin State Prison

Bronze Star Medal

The Bronze Star is awarded for saving a life without placing oneself in peril. The employee shall have used proper training and tactics in a professional manner to save, or clearly contribute to saving, the life of another person.

Therese Smith, Registered Nurse, High Desert State Prison

Edgar Olivas-Jimenez, Correctional Officer, California State Prison, Corcoran

Thomas Pantega, Correctional Officer, California Medical Facility

Rafael Trevino, Correctional Officer, Central California Women’s Facility

Paul Ford, Parole Agent I, Stockton Parole Unit

Unit Citation Medal

The Unit Citation is awarded for great courage displayed by a departmental unit in the course of conducting an operation in the face of immediate life-threatening circumstances.

Jacob Argueta and Edwin Ronquillodiaz, Correctional Officers, California Correctional Institution

Robert Harris and Christina Holcomb, Correctional Officers, California Correctional Institution

Galvin Ratliff, Lieutenant-Camp Commander, Washington Ridge Conservation Camp, and
Todd Nelson, Eric Ayers and Chris Sauer, CAL FIRE Captains, Washington Ridge Conservation Camp

Brad Judd, Adam Van Weelden, Haydel Mitchell, Justin Valice, Timothy Karschner, Henry Ng, Daniel Yanez, Laura Rivas, Sean Sabala, Matthew Shirley, Jonathan Thorell, Erik Ramirez, Marc Zayas, Adam Slemmer, Ryan Sparks, Matthew Troth, Freddy Andrade – California State Prison, Sacramento

Inez Tapiz, Jennifer Kotko, Kristine Rillon, Manuel Avalos, Steven Byers, Chevi Amrein, Trisha Lilly, James Fontenot, Joanne Vice, Avelina Young, Brady Olivas, Christopher Smith, Elba Ramos-Puch, Erik Kraft, Jim Collon, John McClellan, Jonathan Richardson, Jumar Garcia, Justin Tackett, Kelly McGuinness, Kyle Kesteloot, Larry Walsh, Lisa Fletcher, Olivia Olmedo, Patrick Sahota, Rajesh Prasad, Renee Salinas, Roy Cuellar, Sara Vazquez, Stacy Cavagnaro, Vince Tapiz, William Belchoff, Cristina Thompson-Maker, Darren Nagtalon, Denise Aiello, Greg J. Buckley, Kimberly Puzon, Linda Tucker, Rachel Couzens, Traci Turner, Romie Robbins, Anthony Lane, Cabrina Robertson, Gregory Crowe, Matt Williams, Todd Murray, Katherine Minnich, Briana Rojas, Adam Slemmer, Angie Wright, Ariel Dunlop, Ashlee Schmidt, Brianna Maloney, Cassandra Elston, Daniel Rosensteel, Devin Ceja, Dirk Bauer, Gena Jones, John Dunkle, Julia Gamboa, Lara Kennerly, Michael Jordan, Nick Stake, Nick Voron, Norman Fujiwara, Randall Whitwell, Ricky Jimenez, Tani Shaffer, Therese Gianelli, Todd Manes, Troy Fuller, Craig Hamblin, Edward Mills, Joseph Guerrero, John Ojo, Kyle Felix, Marc Baes, Marlaina Dernoncourt, Naomi Davis, Scott Norton, William Foreman – Peer Support Team members who provided support to the Camp Fire first responders.

Distinguished Service Medal

The Distinguished Service Medal is awarded for an employee’s exemplary work conduct with the Department for a period of months or years, or involvement in a specific assignment of unusual benefit to the Department.

Tamara Jones, Minh Nguyen, Parole Agent IIIs, Board of Parole Hearings – honored for completing thousands of commutation sentence investigations and pardon applications.

Shannon Swain, Superintendent, Office of Correctional Education – honored for transforming the prison educational system.

Sally Morgan, Instructional Engineer, Division of Juvenile Justice – the only instructional designer in DJJ.

Ruthanna Esquivel, Monica Gober, Toni Locy, Julie Rojo, Jennifer Lay, Lloyd Wallace and Janelle Walls, Criminal Intelligence Analysis Unit, Office of Correctional Safety – honored for their assistance to the task force that captured a suspect in the Golden State Killer crimes and conducting threat assessments and investigating conspiracies to commit crimes in prisons.

Kathleen Allison, JR Antablian, Heather C. Bowlds, Marissa Castilone, Brenda Crowding, Patrice Davis, Eureka Daye, Marlaina Dernoncourt, Isaiah “Ike” Dodson, Elizabeth Gransee, Maria Hudson, Michelle Miller, Monica Montanez, John Prelip, Bianca Ramos, Albert Rivas, Jana Sanford-Miller, Heather Shirley, Tanya Stamos, Amenthia Tisdale, Terry Thornton, Christina Vargas, Rachel Lee, Thy Vuong – honored for organizing the 2018 Women Working in Corrections and Juvenile Justice national conference.

Julie Kaplan, Rosalinda Rosalez, Krissi Khokhobashvili, Ryan Youtsey, Albert Rivas, Kevin Hoffman, Margie McCune, Anthony Ivanich, Jimmy Reyes, Tracy Snyder, Heather C. Bowlds, Maria Hudson, Liliana Rivera, Gabriel “Gabe” Romo, Todd Poston, Eric Swanson, Vicky Waters, Jessica Mazlum, Justin Sanders, Chris Post, Lynne Tolmachoff, Stephanie Portela, Mike Duggan, Mike Ayson, Andrew Henning, Sandy Margullis, Dean Veik, Jeff Johnson, Steve Chambers, Lee Thomas, Scott Jalbert, Mike Salas, Jeremy Brant, Tim Davis, Marc Hafnar, Pat Easley, David Fulcher, Larry Notheis, Dana Howard, Clara Bonetti, Mary Sue Maurer, Richard Guess – honored for creating and activating Ventura Fire Camp, the nation’s first firefighter training camp for parolees.

Employee Recognition Awards

Executive of the Year

Cynthia Tampkins, Warden, California Rehabilitation Center

Administrator of the Year

Edmond Blagdon, Chief, Strategic Offender Management System

Correctional Officers of the Year

Thom Hutzell, Correctional Counselor II, Pelican Bay State Prison, and Rebecca Thomas, Correctional Officer, Calipatria State Prison

Correctional Supervisor of the Year

Mary Rodriguez, Correctional Sergeant, California Correctional Institution

Rehabilitation Professionals of the Year

William “Joe” Sullivan, Warden, California Correctional Institution

Kimberly Chu, Correctional Counselor III, California State Prison, Solano

Steve Smith, Correctional Counselor III, California Men’s Colony

Ross Zimmerman, Supervisor of Correctional Education, North Kern State Prison

Division of Adult Parole Operations Professional of the Year

David Nichols, Chief Deputy Regional Administrator, Northern Region

Division of Juvenile Justice Professional of the Year

Jeff Black, Correctional Food Manager, Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Healthcare Professionals of the Year

Honored for creating the new Health Care Department Operations Manual

Lara Saich, DeAnna Gouldy, Terra Adams, Terese Patterson, Carrie DeHerrera, Adam Burrell, Julie Inderkum, Justin McCal, Karen Goldsmith, Sarah Kloss, Julia Smith, Erick Castro, Thomas Cai, Chelsea Saechao, Doug Dinnell, Rhiannon Mehlhaff

Beacon Award

Kenneth Dixon, Parole Agent I, Sacramento-Natomas Parole Unit