Helen Putnam Award

2017 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence Winners Have Been Selected! Stay Tuned!

We will be announcing the winners at the 2017 Annual Conference & Expo in Sacramento, CA. If you are joining us for the conference make sure you swing by the League Partner Village on the Expo floor where all the winning cities will have their programs displayed.

If you have any questions please contact Melissa Lienau at (916) 658-8216 or mlienau@cacities.org.


2016 Helen Putnam Winners

The 2016 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence winners have been announceded. Congratulations to all the cities who have submitted applications this year. We received 137 applications total and are proud to announce 12 winners. Please check out the winners below!

Award categories include:

CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award

Community Services and Economic Development

Economic Development through the Arts

Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, and Community Involvement

Health and Wellness Programs

Housing Programs and Innovations

Internal Administration

Planning and Environmental Quality

Public Safety

Public Works, Infrastructure, Transportation

Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government

Please contact Melissa Lienau with any questions at mlienau@cacities.org or (916) 658-8216.


2016 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence Winners!

CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award

Program Title: Central Family Justice Center

The Family Justice Center is a warm and welcoming one-stop center for children, youth, and adults affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse, and human trafficking. We bring together a diverse group of professionals from the criminal justice field, civil, legal, advocacy, health, and mental health systems to provide comprehensive services under one roof. Community-wide planning efforts began in 2014, and over 100 local government officials, community leaders, and community-based agency professionals came together to solidify the vision for the Center. This planning process included the input of the Mayor, members of the City Council; Contra Costa County elected officials and staff members, and a host of community-based agencies and business leaders. After the initial focus group and town-hall meetings, the planning team located a suitable site and retained professional staff who could implement the vision. In March of2015, the Family Justice Center opened its doors to 400 guests who came together as a family to celebrate the county-city-community partnership.
Contact: Robert Zywicki, Lieutenant, City of Concord
Phone:  (925) 671-3220 or Email: robert.zywicki@cityofconcord.org

Community Services and Economic Development

Manhattan Beach
Program Title: Connected!

Connected! Is a collaborative effort between the Manhattan Beach City Senior Advisory Committee (SAC), a group of volunteers affiliated with the City’s Older Adult Program and students at Mira Costa High School. The program is designed to help older adults understand, navigate and effectively use a variety of technology devices including smart phones, tablets and laptops. Offering One-on-one sessions between students and older adults, along with providing a series of informal sessions weekly resulted in an older adult community that is more informed and better connected to their friends and family, services needed and their community.
Contact: Mark Leyman, Director Parks and Recreation
Phone: (310) 802-5403 or Email: mleyman@citymb.info

Economic Development through the Arts

Palm Desert
Program Title: First Weekend Palm Desert

First Weekend Palm Desert is a monthly celebration of arts and culture in the City of Palm Desert held from November to May. The event includes art openings, festivals, performing arts, music, interactive art, gallery and museum openings, classic cars, and more. The event was created to solve challenges in several areas, including economic development, furthering of goals to boost tourism and increase cultural offerings outlined in the City’s strategic plan. The City also wanted to provide free and low cost cultural activities to the citizens of and visitors to Palm Desert. Now in its third season, the event has grown to include large scale unique events, festivals and live entertainment. The City Council's support for First Weekend began with its approval of the 2013 Envision Palm Desert Strategic Plan with its earmarking of funds for the event in the 2013/2014 fiscal year budget. To date, the City has annually partnered with more than 35 Palm Desert organizations of all sizes and make-up, including non­ profit, educational centers, commercial entities, and traditional and non-traditional venues for arts and culture.
Contact: Deborah S. Glickman, Management Analyst II
Phone: (760) 346-0611 or Email: dglickman@santa-clarita.com


Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, & Community Involvement

Rancho Cucamonga
Program Title: City of Rancho Cucamonga Kitten Nursery 

The City of Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center opened a 24 hour neonatal kitten nursery to
help save the lives of more kittens, enhance community engagement, grow the volunteer program, increase the support from local businesses and expand interdepartmental relationships. Also, they now have an innovative Animal Services Department whose mission is building a community in which every Adoptable Pet Finds a Home. The Animal Services Department cares for more than 5,000 homeless pets annually and responds to more than 7,500 calls for service related to animal rescue, welfare, cruelty and neglect. The Kitten Nursery was open May through December 2015, which is traditionally known as kitten season (the
time when the number of underage kittens peak). Volunteers donated more than 3,000 hours of service and a
hundred new volunteers and Pet Cadets were on-boarded to assist with the kitten nursery project. In total, over 800 underage kittens were cared for in the nursery and an additional 150 kittens were placed in foster homes. At the end of 2015, the Animal Center had cared for 400 more kittens than in previous years and decreased their euthanasia rate from 20% to 12%. The Nursery project facilitated growth of our donors and supporters and grew our social media presence which helped us reach a broader audience and expand awareness of our mission and challenges.
Contact: Veronica Fincher, Director Animal Care and Services
Phone: (909)466-7387 or Email: veronica.fincher@cityofrc.us


Health & Wellness Programs

Program Title: Commit2Fit

Commit2Fit Woodland is a free month-long fitness challenge held in May and November of each year for all Woodland residents, regardless of age, to get out and exercise together, make physical fitness part of their daily routine, enjoy themselves as they participate in a variety of free healthy activities hosted by participating health clubs, try new exercise programs, and achieve and sustain their personal fitness goals. New in 2016 was an additional 12-week, weekly education and walking program “Commit2Fit Wellness” held from January through March. A committee was formed with local health clubs, the school district, the county’s health department, a local healthcare provider and other organizations throughout the community to develop ideas and help establish the initial Commit2Fit program. A number of committee members went beyond the initial planning efforts and became partners with the City by hosting Commit2Fit. As Woodland and other California communities struggle with the rising levels of obesity and adult onset of diabetes, there needs to be more focus on developing and sustaining healthy lifestyles. Most partners have supported the program for two or more challenges offering free calendared classes, memberships, and merchandise to Commit2Fit participants. Commit2Fit has been shown to be an innovative and successful example of public-private partnerships formed to bring a community together with the common goal of achieving good health.
Contact: Dallas Tringali, Program Manager
Phone: (530) 661-2005 or Email: dalla.tringali@cityofwoodland.org


Housing Programs and Innovations
Program Title: Neighborhood Revitalization at Parkway Gardens

City collaborates with high crime, condominium development to change the face of the community. Innovative use of court system to rebuild, leverage, and support homeowners association for code compliance and by-law enforcement resulting in crime reduction and better quality of life for residents of Fairfield. In 2013 a 240-unit condominium housing development called Parkway Gardens in the heart of Fairfield was plagued with shootings, drug sales and the accompanying traffic resulting in very high levels of calls for police service coupled with high rates of serious crimes. With the City’s support and the CDBG investment of less than $104,000, Parkway Gardens has experienced vast improvements in both the quality of the residents’ lives and the physical property. Residents and owners can see the physical improvements in the quality of their surroundings from effective lighting; improved building and landscape appearance to reduced non-resident traffic and timely repairs.
Contact: Gale D. Spears, Communications Manager
Phone: (707) 428-7611 or Email: GSPEARS@fairfield.ca.gov

Internal Administration

San Diego
Program Title: Performance & Analytics Department

In pursuit of a city government that is as innovative as the people it represents, San Diego city leaders created a unique new department with a citywide scope. The Performance and Analytics Department combines open data, lean six sigma, performance management and other operational excellence initiatives. Under one roof with a broad yet simple mandate: to turn the buzzwords of transparency, efficiency and accountability into reality. San Diego’s city government is undergoing significant transformation in part due to the implementation of new and innovative programs initiated and woven together by this department that help demonstrate to residents that government can work. From its inception, Performance and Analytics was tasked with taking the city government to another level, where data enables decision making, performance is measured, and services to 1.3 million residents/customers and tens of millions of tourists are delivered smarter, faster, and cheaper. Just one month after City Council adopted an open data policy, Performance and Analytics trained 65 city employees to help conduct the first data inventory effort of any government in the region. At DataSD.org, the public can now help the city prioritize high value datasets for release through a voting option, a rare form of community engagement related to open data inventories.
Contact: Almis Udrys, Director of Performance & Analytics
Phone: (619) 236-5929 or Email: AUdrys@sandiego.gov

League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations

Program Title: Bakersfield Homeless Center Workforce Partnership

In 2013, the City of Bakersfield and the Bakersfield Homeless Center (BHC) established a collaborative partnership to provide municipal job training skills and create employment opportunities for homeless individuals, while creatively providing a solution to the City’s highway litter problem. The solution - The Highway Litter Cleanup Program – has not only restored beauty and cleanliness to the City’s highways, but has reduced the number of unemployed and unsheltered individuals residing in Bakersfield. The City takes pride in its multi-award winning program, which has become a model for other cities seeking to reduce homelessness. The solution to the City's highway litter problem is as heartwarming as it is productive. The City's dire need to restore cleanliness to local highways gave way to the innovative development and implementation of a solution that far exceeded the initial goal of eliminating highway litter. The City's Solid Waste Division partnered with KBB, BHC, Caltrans, Kern County Council of Governments and other private sector partners to solve Caltrans' highway litter problem by putting homeless people to work.
Contact: Christopher Gerry, Administrative Analyst III
Phone: (661) 326-3753 or Email: cgerry@bakersfieldcity.us


Planning & Environmental Quality
Program Title: Claremont Tree Crisis Intervention & Outreach

The City of Claremont has long been known as the City of Trees and PHDs. The town's tree lined streets and prestigious colleges have been noted in national publications like Sunset and Money Magazines. However, a four year drought and dry hot weather was taking its toll on the City's prized trees. To compound the already critical situation, water conservtion mandates for outdoor watering restricted even more watering. Seeing a crisis, the City called a Tree Crisis and instituted a program to educate residents on the need for tree watering and the proper technique to ensure the long term health of the City's urban forest. When faced with the decline of our trees due to drought stress, City staff tapped into the rich knowledge and volunteer base in the community. The City reached out to Claremont Heritage and Sustainable Claremont, two community organizations, to recruit volunteers to contact residents door to door to educate them about tree care. City staff and volunteers contacted 147 property owners through the Tree Crisis Intervention and Outreach
program. Through the program, more than 200 trees received critical watering as a result of the program. In toal, the City lost less than 1% of its City trees due to drought. By speaking with the property owners, the volunteers could assess the obstacles and misinformation that caused residents to stop watering their trees.
Contact: Bevin Handel, Public Information Officer
Phone: (909) 399-5497 or Email: bhandel@ci.claremont.ca.us

Public Safety
Santa Clarita
Program Title: Special Needs Registry

Santa Clarita created an easy-to-use and replicate public safety tool to help special needs and senior individuals in the event they wander off or get abducted or lost. The collaboration among the City, sheriffs department and special needs registry helped law enforcement recover several people. In 2014 the City of Santa Clarita, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Clarita Autism Asperger’s Network and local school districts came together to revitalize the existing Special Needs Registry, a resource deployed in 2009. Through the online Registry, guardians can upload vital information, including the family member’s name,

photograph, address, emergency contact information, medical diagnosis and suggestions on how to best

approach the individual. Additionally, two identification cards with information matched to the Registry, which
can help law enforcement recognize and assist the individual, are mailed to each family. The benefits of the Registry to our most vulnerable citizens and to law enforcement make it an invaluable safety tool.
Contact: Gail Morgan, Communications Division Manager/PIO
Phone: (661) 255-4314 or Email: gmorgan@santa-clarita.com

Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation
Program Title: City of Oxnard Public Works/City Corps Partnership

The partnership between the City of Oxnard’s Public Works Department and the City Corps community service youth program is designed to address several challenges that the City faces. These challenges include reduced staff, a retiring workforce and an economically and environmentally disadvantaged community. The Public Works Department and the City Corps program established an MOU in 2013 that clarifies the partnership which is designed to meet these challenges. Oxnard residents face a range of challenging social conditions that include poverty, overcrowded homes, poor educational attainment, high unemployment, crime and gang violence. Several of Oxnard’s census tracts have poverty rates above 34%. This is significantly higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8% (data from census.gov). Partnering with the City Corps program taps into the service learning, work training, community building and community outreach. These positive community service oriented programs are especially beneficial in times of implementing needed change such as green alleys, street improvements, infrastructure updating, and the implementation of service rate increases.
Contact: Daniel Rydberg, Public Works Director
Phone: (805) 385-8280 or Email: daniel.rydberg@oxnard.org  


Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government
Program Title: Storm Drain Detectives (SDD)

Beginning in 2000, the City of Lodi-Public Works has managed the Storm Drain Detective (SDD) student volunteer river monitoring program as a way to involve the community in learning more about the Mokelumne River watershed. Since the City of Lodi’s streets drain to the river, untreated, students test the Mokelumne River receiving water for pH, turbidity, nitrates, dissolved oxygen, temperature and electrical conductivity to determine the impact of runoff on the river. Also occurring at the time of the waste water plant fine, were multiple daily closures at Lodi Lake swimming beach due to high coliform counts, believed to be caused by the resident geese population. This collaboration between the City and the SWRCB Clean Team ultimately laid the foundation for the monitoring program design for the Storm Drain Detectives.  A Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) was filed with the SWRCB by the City in 2001. This partnership between the SWRCB and the City was critical for Lodi to succeed in the long run. The initial investment of time and resources may be daunting, but in the long run, the program will become invaluable as mandated permit requirements continue to mount.  
Contact: Kathy Grant, Public WorksWatershed Program Coordinator
Phone: (209) 333-6800 or Email: kgrant@lodi.gov


Archive of Winners

Who was Helen Putnam?

Helen Putnam was a mother, school teacher, principal, mayor, and county supervisor. But most of all, Helen Putnam was a person who viewed meeting one's potential as the measure of success. Excellence, to Helen Putnam, was shown by someone who did his or her very best. She was as supportive and loving of people who did their best as she was of people who did the best. To the League and to California cities, Helen Putnam defined excellence. The Award for Excellence is given in her memory.

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