SIOC’s top honors go to Java, Thornton

Roni Java of the Integrated Waste Management Board and Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton were honored for their work in communications by their colleagues at the State Information Officers Council.

Java, a Public Information Officer I with the California Integrated Waste Management Board, received the Lifetime Achievement Award, while Thornton, a Public Information Officer II at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, was named Public Information Officer of the Year for her “outstanding achievement in public information service” to the state and to the correctional system.

Thornton is the lead public information officer, or PIO, at CDCR, where she handles and directs media responses dealing with adult corrections.

SIOC honored 20 state agencies with 51 awards in recognition of  “excellence in state government communications.”

“Terry fields hundreds of calls every month from state, national and international media, as well as overseeing media responses by public information officers at 33 state prisons. She has been a public information officer at CDCR since September 1998,” SIOC said.
Thornton and Javi received the honors at the annual SIOC awards dinner on May 14.

 Beth Ruyak, a television host, producer, and writer of the Emmy-winning Sutter Health “LifeStages” for KCRA/KPIX, served as emcee for the event.

The Department of Consumer Affairs earned the most silver and the most gold awards, at four each.

“The SIOC Awards honor top achievements in state government communications,” said SIOC President Anne Staines. “Regardless of the medium or the message, state information officers and other communications officials wear many hats and accomplish an amazing array of tasks in getting the word out to the public about valuable state programs and services.”

She added that “from writers and editors to spokespeople, designers, event planners and analysts, no two jobs are alike.”
Independent judging was provided by prominent Sacramento-area public relations, media, and design professionals, who are not members of SIOC or associated with the council.

Proceeds from the SIOC Awards entry fees and the ceremony – as well as the council’s monthly meetings and programs – help fund two annual scholarships for students at CSU Sacramento who are working toward communications, English and/ or journalism degrees at California State University, Sacramento.

SIOC noted that Thornton had been involved in a number of major media issues that included the request for compassionate release for Manson Family member inmate Susan Atkins, who was diagnosed with cancer.

During 2008 Thornton was responsible for key issues ranging from the FBI’s investigation of offenders involved in domestic terrorism, the release of inmate and former SLA member Sara Jane Olson from prison, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, transgender inmates, visiting for registered domestic partners, prison gangs, lawsuits, valley fever, inmate overcrowding, and inmate rehabilitative programs.
Java was recognized for more than 18 years of outstanding dedication serving the state. She has served as lead Public Information Officer throughout her career at many departments, including the State and Consumer Services Agency; the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; Cal/EPA’s Integrated Waste Management Board & Department of Toxic Substances Control; and the California Employment Development Department.

“She is a multi-talented communications professional and has served the State with an unusually broad array of skills and services, including as spokesperson; strategic media planner; writer, editor, photographer, photo editor; event designer; web and publications expert; and project manager,” SIOC said.

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