When Patricia A. Foley was growing up, she learned to swim on the beaches of South Boston. Years later, that pastime would grow into Foley’s life mission and career.
As president of the nonprofit Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, Foley says her everyday goal is to “make sure that Bostonians know that the harbor belongs to them, but with that opportunity comes the responsibility to protect clean water.”
On Tuesday, Foley will be among the group of city officials and public servants who will be honored at the Henry L. Shattuck Public Service Awards, which recognize individual leadership and commitment to improving Boston.
“We’re trying to identify individuals who don’t only do the job, but do it exceptionally well,” said Samuel R. Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, the organization that puts together the annual event. “And then, they do more.”
Tyler noted that the award has been around for 32 years, and every year the theme has stayed constant: celebrating unsung heroes. The awards are named after the previous chairman of the research bureau.
Foley is one of two who will receive the Shattuck City Champion award and among 11 overall who will be recognized. Joseph L. Hooley, chairman and CEO of State Street Corporation, will receive the other Champion award.
Foley said the pride she once she learned of the honor reflects many moments throughout her career. She cited the annual Beach Bash and Splash, a free event for children to enjoy beaches, a cookout, and water activities.
Another honoree, Deborah Pullen, is being recognized for her work as director of information management systems for the Boston Public Schools Office of Human Capital.
While helping manage 8,900 BPS employees may seem like a high-stress job, Pullen said she aims to emphasize customer service — and that keeps her work positive.
“When they call or come into the office, I know if I can take care of their issue, then they will not be distracted and can concentrate on teaching our students,” she said. “ Over the summer we see a lot of retirees who come in to complete their final paperwork. I make sure I congratulate them on their retirement.”
Pullen’s commitment to the system can be seen through her makeshift “bible,” in which she gathers samples and instructions for hiring and transferring employees from different unions. She said she finds it to be special help to co-workers during busy transition seasons, such as summer.
Tyler noted that while the honorees are exceptional, they often don’t make headlines.
“When there’s a problem, people notice, the media notices,” he said. “There’s less recognition of the people doing well.”
He added that the lack of public recognition of city workers makes the award even more meaningful.
‘We’re trying to identify individuals who don’t only do the job, but do it exceptionally well. And then, they do more.’Samuel R. Tyler, Boston Municipal Research Bureau president
For Maria Santos, another 2017 recipient, the award was unexpected. As procurement manager of the Boston Public Health Commission, Santos often finds herself in a fast-paced, high-intensity push to get services to the appropriate communities.
“It’s about empowering programs and people, and ensuring needs are met,” she said. “I don’t do the work here at Boston Public Health Commission for recognition; I do it because we really enjoy the work that we do.”
Martin Kain, director of training for the Boston Election Department, said he was very appreciative of the recognition.
“I am motivated by the people who staff the polls,” Kain said. “I have developed a relationship with many of them, over the years. . . . These are the same people that are active in other civic endeavors.”
This year’s other award winners are:
►Heather Campisano, chief of staff for the Boston Planning and Development Agency
►Sherry Lewis DaPonte, assistant headmaster at Boston Latin School
►Kerry Jordan, TV operations and technology manager for the Boston City Council
►Sergeant Gino Provenzano, Boston Police Department Bureau of Field Services
►Barry Stafford, principal fire alarm operator for the Boston Fire Department
Occasionally, the bureau selects a public official at a department head for the Shattuck Chairman’s award. This year, Henry Vitale, executive director of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, will be recognized.
The awards ceremony will be held at the Seaport Boston Hotel, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh is scheduled to attend.Natasha Mascarenhas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @nmasc_.