How to Write a Winning Director of the Year Nomination
Here are some of the things Director of the Year judges look for when reviewing entries, as well as mistakes that can lead to lower scores.
Campus Safety is once again accepting nominations for our 17th Annual Director of the Year awards, and many of you are hard at work writing your nominations. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this program, it honors the best and brightest executives in hospital, university and school security, law enforcement, and emergency management. If you know a K-12 school, higher education, or healthcare facility police chief, security director, emergency manager, or VP of security and/or public safety (or the equivalent) who surpasses the call of duty with their outstanding leadership skills, inventiveness, and selflessness, we encourage you to submit their (or your!) nomination. Past coverage of our Director of the Year winners and finalists can be found here.
For those of you who are working on your nominations or considering submitting an entry, we asked some of our judges about what they look for when judging the program, as well as common mistakes they’ve seen in previous years’ nominations.
But before we get to their comments, let’s review some of the basic steps you should take to put your Director of the Year nomination in the best light:
- Clearly describe in a reasonable amount of detail the accomplishments of your nominee (submissions should be no more than 15 pages in length)
- Provide specific examples that demonstrate your nominee’s achievements
- Whenever possible, provide quantifiable data as to why your nominee deserves to win
- Get your materials in on time (nominations are due Dec. 12), including endorsements from other administrators and employees.
It’s also important to note that the judges score each nomination on a scale from 1 to 5 on each of the following criteria:
- Nominee exhibits outstanding leadership and management abilities
- Nominee brings out the best in officers and staff
- Officer morale is high, even under difficult circumstances, and department employees are motivated
- Nominee fosters excellent community relations and extensive involvement with the public (students, patients, parents, employees, faculty, etc.)
- Nominee is excellent at handling budget issues and when the budget is cut, is able to do more with less
- Nominee develops initiatives that result in cost savings
- Nominee employs innovative solutions (“outside the box” thinking) when necessary
- Nominee has overcome unusual challenges
- Nominee’s initiatives have resulted in the resolution of long-term problems, either on campus or in the campus safety and security community as a whole
- When applicable, nominee’s achievements are quantifiable
Not including information on one or several of the judging criteria will likely impact a nominee’s chances of being named a winner, according to Gary Sigrist Jr., CEO and president of Safeguard Risk Solutions LLC.
“There have been many great applicants over the years I’ve scored poorly because they did not meet the criteria of the scoring sheet,” he says. “They may have the skills, but they did not list them. The candidates I score the highest have [addressed all of the criteria]. If they don’t, they earn little or no points. Think of this as a grant writing process. If you don’t answer all the questions, you don’t get the grant.”
Some examples of outstanding achievement and performance by a Director of the Year include:
- Improved officer response times and community interaction due to increased patrols using alternative methods of transportation (e.g. bikes, horses) or community policing
- Reduced rate and/or number of crimes and incidents at public events due to pre-event planning and revised crowd management tactics
- Increased number of crime reports due to improved Clery Act/Joint Commission/Title IX compliance and/or improved community relations
- Improved internal and external communications interoperability via equipment and/or mutual aid agreements
- Reduced rate of crime due to the installation or upgrade of cameras, access control, burglary, fire systems, and/or other security technologies
- Maintained high officer and employee morale despite recent traumatic incidents or setbacks
- Improved community relations and involvement resulting in fewer complaints
- Effectively recruited and incorporated volunteers, leading to greater on-campus officer presence
- Implemented enhanced disaster response strategies, recovery plans, and protocols
- Increased number and frequency of training sessions so officers successfully handle real-world, in-the-field situations
- Sustained excellent personal and subordinate performance despite significant obstacles or difficult circumstances
- Participation in local, regional or national industry associations or legislative initiatives resulting in the betterment of the campus safety and security community as a whole
- Other innovative initiatives that have lead to increased efficiency, morale, security and/or safety
So, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s hear from some of our other past judges.
Campus Safety: When you’ve judged the Director of the Year nominees in the past, what are the positive things that caught your attention and prompted you to give them a higher score than others?
Dan Dusseau, President of Dusseau Solutions LLC: I see it as a positive when nominees innovate. Too often the profession plays “follow the leader.” This is sometimes because of laws or expectations, and sometimes just because everyone else is doing it. Taking innovative steps and showing success captures my attention. I am also impressed with those who demonstrate a determination to succeed.
Lisa Terry, Chief Development Officer, Vistelar LLC -Unified Conflict Management System: I have evaluated each candidate in relation to his/her impact to the respective healthcare organization, the patients, visitors, and staff served as well as the broader industry and community. I love to see how the leader has championed innovative projects to improve safety, reduce injuries, work with internal healthcare partners as well as community partners. I also love to see how the candidate volunteers with various associations.
Jason Stoddard, Director of School Safety and Security, Office of the Superintendent, Charles County (Maryland) Public Schools: Including programs that were not required by law. Most of the nominations simply rehash implementation of required projects. In most of the packages there is very little innovation listed.
Amanda Guthorn, Associate at Healy+ and Interim Director of Security for the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation: A clear statement about what the nominee did/is doing followed by the reason it is important/valuable/effective. An executive summary would be AMAZING!
Tom Smith, President, Healthcare Security Consultants Inc.: Nominees that provided very specific examples within each category scored higher with me. Also, those that provided quantifiable results through surveys, budgets or other stats that went up or down depending on the subject matter helped me evaluate the submission.
CS: What are some of the mistakes you’ve seen that made you give nominations lower scores?
Guthorn: Identifying someone doing the basic tasks of a director’s job as outstanding or unique. Sometimes this is a function of a nominator not knowing what we do.
Terry: I have observed candidates attempt to get “credit” for meeting the minimum qualifications for having a certified hospital police department (and highlighting required training of his/her officers). I want to see leaders and departments that go above and beyond the requirements. I want to see how they integrate the department into the healthcare environment and make a positive impact.
Dusseau: When I see that a nominee listed things completed, I also look to see if it actually did any good. Nominees that fail to explain why a completed item was important, may receive lower scores. Nominees should assume that if they don’t explain the importance, then they don’t get credit. Also, I am not impressed just because someone belongs to organizations/associations etc. I am interested in what they did to make the organization/association better, not where they spent time.
Smith: Providing no specific response to the questions.
Stoddard: Completing their own nomination package. The intent of an award would seem to be that someone else sees your worth and puts you in the award. In a number of cases, it becomes very apparent the nominee wrote their own package and letters.
CS: What suggestions can you give potential candidates so they will submit a compelling nomination?
Smith: Provide data that supports your nomination wherever possible. If not possible, provide supporting documentation from leadership or specific departments that have expressed their positive opinion of the accomplishments you are submitting.
Also, organize your submission so the information is presented logically under each judging category. So, for example, for the “Nominee exhibits outstanding leadership and management abilities” criteria, provide examples from leadership, employee opinion feedback, and internal or external customer feedback/surveys.
For the “Officer morale is high, even under difficult circumstances, and department employees are motivated” criteria, use examples from employee surveys or other feedback information. This question is going to be difficult to respond to unless you have survey data.
Dusseau: Paint a good picture. Explain why the accomplishment was important, what it took to get there, what hurdles were overcome and why the campus and/or department is better as a result. Often an endorsement letter will describe something that the nomination did not (and thus credit can be obtained this way also).
Include everything that occurred since taking on the position. Think back and catalog all the changes. Use old calendars, budget info, staff memories, and files to create a list.
The submission should have a mix of items that show a well-rounded candidate that has overcome multiple obstacles or addressed things such as crime fighting, community outreach, employee issues, equipment, budget, and partnerships with municipal partners.
Terry: Conduct case studies on reducing workplace violence in your organization (both lateral and patient generated). Speak to the importance of hospital security and police officers understanding and embracing their role as a member of the patient care team. Provide evidence that the officers truly understand “trauma informed care” and their role in being “trauma responsive.”
Stoddard: Outside of state-required programs, explain what initiatives you have implemented to keep your students safe. Walk the reviewer through your implementation steps, successes, stumbling blocks, how you overcame issues, and what the results were. Use statistics to justify your successes if possible. BE INNOVATIVE.
CS: Any other advice you’d like to offer to potential Director of the Year nominees?
Dusseau: Ask others what they think you accomplished at the campus. Often others see us and our work differently than we see ourselves. You may gain additional ideas to add to your list.
Terry: Take time to become an active member/volunteer in IAHSS or the Healthcare Community in ASIS International (or both).
Stoddard: The successful implementation of state-mandated programs does not make you a director of the year. Innovation and ideas that are outside of the box do.
Smith: Don’t feel you need to get too carried away with the submission details. Keep it to the point and answer each criteria with specific data that supports your submission.
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