Here is the second installment in our series recognizing exceptional work by Alaska state employees during the pandemic. The State of Alaska is one of our closest partners. Up now: the Alaska Department of Administration, which supports the state workforce in areas of finance, personnel, labor relations, property management, procurement and more.

Selena Dobbs is the network/telecom manager for the Office of Information Technology within the Department of Administration. The entire IT team stepped up to support remote workers and deliver critical services to Alaskans. (Photos courtesy of the Department of Administration)

For the State of Alaska, an unprecedented shift to teleworking was a necessary centerpiece of efforts to protect the wellbeing of employees and the public from COVID-19. In just two months, 6,000 employees — that’s 40% of the State of Alaska workforce — transitioned to telework. Outstanding efforts by the State of Alaska Office of Information Technology (OIT) made possible the widespread use of this essential tool.

Before the virus reached Alaska, the office coordinated with all departments on a bulk purchase of laptops to give employees what they needed to telework. In the background, the team moved fast. IT staff assessed network architecture for connectivity, bandwidth limits, user support and network equipment throughput capacity. What needed to change to ensure the success of thousands of employees working from home? The team quickly identified a probable issue with Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection capacity but before it caused problems, the Office of Information Technology brought in technical experts and industry partners to root out a solution. Over the course of a few days, they increased VPN capacity by two or three times, a vital stopgap at a time hundreds of additional employees each week transitioned to working from home. The team then designed and implemented a permanent solution that increased capacity by a factor of 10.

Here are a few members of the network team at the Office of Information Technology within the Department of Administration. The entire IT team stepped up to support remote workers and deliver critical services to Alaskans.

Simultaneously, this office stood up Microsoft Teams and DocuSign and made them available across the State workforce, to support collaboration, document sharing and digital approval in this new teleworking environment. Teams usership quickly grew to nearly 7,000 employees and DocuSign to nearly 1,500. Unprecedent user adoption, initiated by the new telework structure, was supported by an exceptional training program resulting from the IT team’s collaboration with Microsoft. To date, over 8,000 State employees have attended at least one Teams training event.

While other State workers are hunkering down and telecommuting, the IT staff often work in the office, wearing personal protective equipment.

“Without OIT’s forethought, creativity and selfless service to their fellow State employees, it’s unclear how the State workforce would have functioned during the pandemic,” said Kelly Tshibaka, commissioner of the Department of Administration. “A significant health risk to State workers and operational risk to the government was largely averted by the faithful service of this OIT team.”

Scroll down to see all the unsung heroes with the Office of Information Technology or download the list here. We thank them all!

Kristian Anderson
Wesley Barnett
Steven Becke
Lehea Benner
Curtis Bennett
Desiree Berg
Mathew Bergt
Randolph Berry
Simba Blackman
Erik Bobo
Thomas Bond
Jeremiah Bowlus
Mark Breunig
Justin Bright
Norbert Brinkley
Alexander Brint
Clifford Brown
Paul Brown
Garrett Bruesch
Daniel Buchholz
Gail Buenaflor
Carl Camp
Joyce Carlson
Richard Carson
Steven Carson
Eleanor Cary
Olin Castro
Sean Caughran
Mark Chase
Joseph Childs
Chong Choi
John Clifton
Christopher Conway
Aaron Cook
Joseph Corona
Matthew Culbreth
Randall Cunningham
Nikitha Daniel
Angela Daniels
Kai Davids Schell
Kyle Davison
Jon Deguzman
Andrew Deitrich
Selena Dobbs
Shawn Dollahite
Douglas Dorner
John Doty
Jeremy Duncan
Ronald Duvall
Richard Ebert
N Epperly
John Essary
Daniel Ezell
Marcy Fergueson
John Field
Timothy Frey
Kyle Gadd
David Garcia
Stuart Garrett
Jacob Gemmell
Robert Gordon
Richard Gotner
Tracy Gottschlich
Dustin Grimes
Avery Grossardt
Daniel Hawkins
Nicholas Haws
Matthew Heckler
Paul Hegg
Brian Heslor
Thomas Hogland
James Holm
Garrett Horton
Henrik Hudson
Aleksandar Ikonomov
Nathan Jackson
Jeffrey Jasper
Belinda Jerger
Jason Jerger
Troy Jezeski
Edwell John
Theodore Johnston
Christopher Jones
Jared Jones
Curtis Jorgensen
Patricia Katsur
Peter Katsur
Adrienne Keck
Ryan Kendall
Ryan Kersten
Jason Kettell
Dominique Kimbell
Peter Klein
Diana Kline
Luke Kreuzenstein
Russell Kunibe
Kristopher Laubenstein
Genji League
Karen Lechner
Seong Lee
Richard Lehman
Jennifer Lesh
Jerry Listowski
Lewis Long
Kristofer Maenhout
Leeric Marvin
Steven Mcbride
Jennifer Mccaul
Matthew Mccauley
Scott Mccutcheon
Floyd Mcmichael
Nathan Meneses
Jason Messing
Fredrick Miller
Justin Miller
Keith Moniz
David Moore
Alax Moores
Justin Mora
William Muldoon
Timothy Murphy
Drew Nelson
Justin Nelson
Sabrina Nelson
Benjamin Newman
Karsun Newport
David Nolen
Samir Obeidi
Suparphon Oneal
Michael Orsborn
Jonathan Palomo
Michael Papenberg
John Parent
Peter Parker
Mina Peters
Robert Peterson
James Pietan
Terry Posenjak
Kaylee Purinton
Carrie Quick
Mark Rackley
Kirk Radach
Gerald Rawson
Patricia Robinson
Tyson Robinson
Adam Rolfe
Max Rosen
Michael Rudisill
William Ryan
Tabitha Ryder
Scott Severance
Ryan Shaishnikoff
Richard Sheridan
Marylene Silva
Benjamin Sizemore
Krista Skannes
Zachary Slivonik
Paula Smedley
Jesse Smith
Niel Smith
William Smith
Jack Smodey
Wendy Souza
Vijaya Srinivasan
Jeremy Steele
Sage Stoneking
Allen Struck
Kelly Swearingin
Simon Taylor
Brad Thacker
Eugene Thompson
Gail Thompson
John Thurston
Louella Tilman
Matt Timken
Samuel Toguchi
Alfred Torgramsen
Grady Treston
Trevor Valentine
Cole Vanderbilt
Jason Vanderpool
David Vernon
Kyle Wales
Daniel Waller
Jeremiah Walters
Curtis Watson
Nathan Weed
Christopher White
Jeffrey White
Paul Wilkins
Patrick Wilson
Vincent Yelmene
Bryan Zepp

About the Unsung Heroes series

The State of Alaska has long been one of our closest and most reliable partners, helping to develop workforce housing, build and renovate domestic violence shelters, improve libraries and start from scratch a philanthropy for all of Alaska, the Pick.Click.Give program. Rasmuson Foundation President and CEO Diane Kaplan recently asked State of Alaska commissioners to highlight some of those whose efforts to adapt and respond stand out for going above and beyond, often in ways not seen by the public. This ongoing series is the result.