The Board of Pensions has recognized two employees for extraordinary contributions in 2016, a year that demanded significant changes in the workings of the Board as it redesigned The Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for 2017.
“D.J. Lee and Sharon Castillo made unique contributions to moving the Board forward as we realigned the model for fulfilling our mission,” Board President Frank C. Spencer said. “Through their work, they greatly supported our efforts to serve more, serve better, and serve the Church.”
Mr. Lee and Ms. Castillo received the annual Ernesto Badillo Award for Hospitality through Service. The award was established in 2015 to honor the legacy of the Reverend Ernesto Badillo Jr. of caring for members, employers, and churches. Rev. Badillo was Board representative to the Synods of the Trinity, the Covenant, and Boriquen and constituents in Cuba when he passed away in April 2015. At the Board and in the Church, Rev. Badillo was a friend to many and demonstrated hospitality in the service he provided.
Presentation of the award capped the Board’s annual Celebrating Excellence gathering, on January 13. Celebrating Excellence recognizes Board of Pensions employees in six categories of significant, exceptional achievement: Hospitality through Service, Strategic Contribution, Extraordinary Leadership, Innovative Improvement, Creative Resolution, and Recognition and Accomplishment.
“It is a deep responsibility we have, to live up to those who have come before and, equally, to lay the groundwork for those who will come after,” President Spencer told the gathering. The podium from which he spoke featured the Board’s 300th anniversary logo and the new agency logo. The first celebrates the 1717 founding of the Presbyterian Fund for Pious Uses, to which the Board traces its roots, and the latter captures foundational values as well as movement forward.
The Board’s work in 2016 revolved around the design, communication, and operations of the 2017 plan. Most importantly, it was about effectively transitioning employers and members to a new way of accessing information and conducting transactions, as the redesign of Benefits Connect yielded enhanced technology, to support the 2017 Benefits Plan. Employers could select benefits and members could elect them online.
D.J. Lee played a leading role in the development and testing needed to keep the Benefits Connect project on track, President Spencer said. Mr. Lee, Business Process Systems Manager, helped keep his coworkers focused, determined, and positive.
“As you can only imagine, large system implementations without unwavering attention to detail can lead to disorganization, chaos, and stress,” President Spencer said. “In the spirit of Ernesto, D.J. worked alongside his colleagues to be a true partner and to ultimately put forth a product that would best serve those who serve the PC(USA).”
As Mr. Lee worked internally, Sharon Castillo, then Assistant Director, Plan Administration, worked externally. “She traveled to the employers’ locations, she met with members … and, when and where needed, she opened up a laptop and got the enrollment done,” President Spencer said. “Her leadership and contributions with those who needed more, needed different … she carried that out in the spirit set forth by Ernesto Badillo.”
In concluding the annual gathering, President Spencer recognized the work of the entire Board. “It has been hard, hard work, and I am grateful for everything you have done,” he said. “We rise and fall as a team.”