2007 Rising Star award winners, A-Ca

Redwan “Rosa” Akhtarkhavari, Jonathan Benett, Kim Brown, Audrea Bullock, Joseph Carignan, Ben Castellucci

Redwan “Rosa” Akhtarkhavari

Employer: City of Orlando, Fla.

Job title: Client support services manager Job description: Akhtarkhavari manages strategic technology projects and is involved in planning, developing and installing information systems that support public services.

Career in brief: After a five-year break to raise a family, Akhtarkhavari returned to her city job, where she is responsible for ensuring that IT projects are on time and within budget. She develops, maintains and communicates project plans and schedules resources to support the city’s IT project priorities and requirements. She is responsible for aligning projects with the city’s IT architecture and managing the city’s geographic information systems team.

Why Akhtarkhavari is a Rising Star: She exhibits a can-do attitude and leadership skills, which she recently used to automate the city’s manual time and attendance system. Officials estimate that the new system, which eliminated many previous costly and inefficient procedures, is saving the city more than $1 million a year.

Jonathan Benett

Employer: Blackstone Technology Group


Job title: Manager


Job description: Benett is responsible for leading business development and marketing, capture and proposal management, public relations, partner management, strategic planning, client account management and other activities related to the company’s General Services Administration schedule and governmentwide acquisition contracts.

Career in brief: Benett has been in his current job for a year and a half and in the government IT community for eight years.

Why Benett is a Rising Star: Senior company leaders said he is a real-life superhero who successfully balances a demanding job, numerous professional association leadership positions and a young family. In each of Benett’s multifaceted roles, he displays enthusiasm, character and professional leadership qualities that benefit the greater federal IT community, they said. Last year, he was president of Young AFCEANs, co-chairman of the Young AFCEANs Golf Tournament and vice president of programs for the AFCEA International’s Bethesda, Md., chapter. For the past three years, Benett also was membership chairman for the Association for Federal Information Resources Management.

Kim Brown

Employer: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Job title: Contracting officer’s technical representative (COTR) program manager Job description: Brown leads the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s COTR Oversight Program. She is responsible for assessing the work and effectiveness of more than 800 FEMA employees who work as COTRs for agency programs and procurements.

Career in brief: Brown came from working in industry to FEMA’s Acquisition Programs and Planning Branch to be a leader in creating a new post-Hurricane Katrina organization.

Why Brown is a Rising Star: In a short time, she automated a manual system of storing COTR records and developed a collaborative platform for the COTR community using Microsoft’s SharePoint software. Her work has had a ripple effect, which is manifested, her colleagues said, in greater feelings of cohesiveness within FEMA’s COTR community.


Audrea Bullock

Employer: General Services Administration

Job title: Contract specialist Job description: Bullock helps support the Office of Integrated Technology Service’s Network Services programs, which is part of GSA’s Federal Acquisition Service.

Career in brief: She has been a government contracting specialist for three years and in her current job for 10 months. Bullock has taken on assignments usually reserved for more experienced senior contracting officers. She acted as the lead contracting officer for the Verizon Business FTS 2001 long-distance contract while the lead officer was away on detail for 120 days.

During that time she negotiated and awarded contract modifications and impressed senior contracting officers with her efficiency and computer skills.

Why Bullock is a Rising Star: She is able to perform senior-level contracting functions, as demonstrated by her negotiations for new custom requirements for GSA’s Federal Relay Service contract. The new features will enable agencies to provide services for employees who have difficulty hearing or are speech-disabled. Such services had been unavailable under the contract because of technical, transmission or security constraints.

Joseph Carignan

Employer: Air Force Job title: Management analyst Job description: Carignan supports more than 15,000 employees at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center at Tinker Air Force Base. He maintains about 110 plasma screens that are used for training purposes and approves about 100 software and hardware purchase requests each month.  

Career in brief: Hired as an intern, Carignan has been in his current job and in the government IT community for two years and two months.

Why Carignan is a Rising Star: He is a problem- solver who is also adept at introducing greater efficiency into current operations. He designed a plan to consolidate printer assets that will save more than $500,000 a year in operating and maintenance costs. His aptitude and attitude make him an asset to the organization that he described in a prize-winning essay sponsored by the Tinker Management Association: “The excitement I feel when I say that I work for the Air Force is something no other job can give me.”

Ben Castellucci

Employer: Defense Finance and Accounting Service Job title: Information technology specialist Job description: Castellucci provides support on multiple platforms for two important Web applications: the Salary Offset Reporting System (SORS) and the Defense Workload Operations Web System.

Career in brief: He has been in his current job since September 2006 and in the government IT community since December 2005. Castellucci, hired as an intern in the Leaders-in-Motion program, took on the workload of two departing critical employees and quickly mastered SORS’ complex internal calculations and intricate data events.

Why Castellucci is a Rising Star: Senior officials said he is a hardworking, ethical and dedicated young man. He can dexterously shift gears from cutting-edge innovation to routine maintenance.

He safely incorporated newer capabilities into existing Web applications to make them more professional in appearance and easi r to navig e.

He also provides superior maintenance because of his ability to debug and correct code written by various programmers with diverse styles.

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