Election Systems & Software’s servicemen and women bring a special perspective and skill set to our mission of providing better elections, every day.
Our active duty service members and veterans are an example of dedication and commitment to a bigger purpose. They inspire us to serve our customers and their voters to our best ability – which is why it’s a special honor when service members recognize their ES&S team members for their support.
We gathered to congratulate Mike Anthofer, director of Technical Services, as he was presented the Patriot Award. He was nominated by his employee, U.S. Army National Guard Specialist and ES&S Sr. Technical Services Specialist Kawi Taffa.
The Patriot Award is awarded to supervisors by their active service direct reports, who submit a written nomination reflecting their supervisor’s efforts to support their service. These efforts can include flexible schedules, time off before and after deployment, leaves of absence and support for families of service members.
In his nomination letter, Kawi wrote, “My supervisor [Mike Anthofer] always works with me no matter what to ensure I can attend drills, annual training and other military classes needed. My employer is always interested in its Guard and Reserve employees. Even though it was unplanned, and I was on the walking [waiting] list, my supervisor Mike Anthofer permitted me to attend the Basic Leader Course. I appreciate all the assistance my employer has given me this year.”
We sat down with Mike and Kawi to talk about the nomination and award and why it means so much.
ES&S: Kawi, you serve this nation both as a Specialist in the Army National Guard and in your role supporting voting systems. What is that like?
KT: It’s a very special feeling getting to serve my country every day. If it’s time to put the boots on and get in the field, I’m prepared to do that, and if it’s time to serve my country by supporting our customers with their equipment, I’m ready to do that, too.
ES&S: You wrote in your nomination that Mike’s support of your attending the Basic Leader Course during your annual training was one of the reasons you nominated him. Can you tell me about the Basic Leader Course and why his support meant so much?
KT: Sure – for my service in the Army National Guard, one weekend of every month is dedicated to drill. Then, there are two weeks every year dedicated to annual training, and the dates aren’t known ahead of time, so it’s hard to plan for it.
When this year’s annual training dates were announced, I was on the walking list (waiting list) for the Basic Leader Course, training you have to pass to become an NCO or Warrant Officer. At that time, I was also working on a huge project for ES&S in Maryland. Mike helped me find a way to attend training without missing out on my responsibilities at ES&S.
ES&S: So – did you pass? Are you on your way to a leadership role?
KT: I did – I joined the Army National Guard to become an officer, so it’s a great feeling to be on the way to accomplishing a goal I have had from the beginning. I’ll be reporting for Warrant Officer School in March 2020.
ES&S: Mike, how did it feel when you heard Kawi had nominated you for this award?
MA: It was definitely unexpected – I felt honored that Kawi would think I was deserving of the award. In my mind, I didn’t do anything special; I just supported him.
Kawi is very motivated to achieve his goals in his role at ES&S and in his role as a service member, and it’s the least I can do to support him in doing so.
ES&S: Have you had a lot of experience working with active service members and veterans?
MA: Kawi is my only current active duty service member. Before I came to ES&S, I was a contractor with USSTRATCOM at Offut Air Force Base, and for ten years prior to that, I worked as a defense contractor in the DoD healthcare space, where I worked with lots of military members and families. I’m familiar with working alongside service members, and I know how challenging that lifestyle and sacrifice can be.
ES&S: What special qualities do you think service members bring to our company/to our customers?
MA: The sense of mission. Because ES&S is a partner to government entities, we have a similar sense of urgency and dedication to ensure our customers have successful elections. Service members connect well with our customers’ mission, and they bring a certain level of resiliency and dedication to get the job done.
Kawi is one of those people – if you give him a job or put him in a situation, he doesn’t falter in completing or solving it. I can count on him not only to do things correctly but to always make the extra effort to find a better solution. He’s very disciplined, very dedicated and has high expectations for himself and his work.