State information officers honor their best communicators

The professional group that represents California’s public information officers, the State Information Officers Council (SIOC), has honored 21 state agencies with 48 awards in recognition of “excellence in state government communications.” The annual awards ceremony was held May 8 in Sacramento.

CalPERS, the $260 billion pension fund for public employees, earned the most number of gold awards and the Department of Consumer Affairs won the most in silver. 

SIOC, established in 1970, represents about 100 communications professionals.

Top honors for career achievement went to Patricia K. Macht of the California Public Employees’ System and Capt. Steve Turner of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security. Macht, CalPERS’ assistant executive officer who heads the Public Affairs Office, received a “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

Turner, Public Affairs Manager with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security, was named statewide “Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Year.”

“The SIOC Awards honor the hard working people within the state’s communications and public affairs divisions,” said SIOC President Sarah Dalton. “Within the confines of tight budgets, PIOs employ tremendous creativity in disseminating information about state government to the public and the news media.  The annual SIOC competition allows us to pay tribute to our colleagues’ talents, their ingenuity, and their commitment to excellence.”

CalPERS' Pat Macht

Professionals outside state government provided SIOC with impartial expertise for its 2008 Awards.

Independent documentary and video producer, and three-time regional Emmy award-winner, Joyce Mitchell was Mistress of Ceremonies at the May event, and prominent Sacramento-area public relations and media professionals, who are neither members of SIOC, nor associated with the council, were award judges.

Macht was honored for 17 years of exemplary performance in the field of state government communications.  As CalPERS’chief spokesperson and assistant executive officer for public affairs, Macht has helped shape CalPERS’ image as a sophisticated investor, a leader in corporate governance, and a catalyst in taming health care costs. Under intense media scrutiny, Macht has led CalPERS through divisive issues including CalPERS investments and ties with Enron; CalPERS battles with health plans and hospitals such as Sutter over the cost of health care; and CalPERS investment in the Sacramento downtown Towers Project.

Since 1995, Macht has expanded the CalPERS Office of Public Affairs from a 10-member staff to a full-service public affairs division.  She also serves as a board trustee for her synagogue and on the board of the greater Sacramento Jewish Federation and was secretary of the 2004-05 Sacramento County Grand Jury.

Turner was named PIO of the Year for outstanding achievement in public information service to the State of California and to his department.  The successful management of emergency services and public information dissemination during a disaster is a joint effort on the part of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES), the Office of Homeland Security (OHS), and other vital state, local, and federal agencies. 

SIOC’s award recognized Turner for his outstanding performance in the State’s Joint Information Center at OES during the 2007 Southern California Wildfires.  Formerly the Community Services Manager and lead spokesman at the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District, Turner is also a member of the American Red Cross Executive Board of Directors. 

OHS' Steve Turner


When the 2007 wildfires broke, Turner initiated information coordination between hundreds of local, state, and federal agencies, as well as nongovernment organizations. Turner received the PIO of the Year award for his dedication and performance as part of a highly trained team that included the Governor’s Office, OES, OHS, CalFIRE, FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), and many other State agencies, departments, offices and boards.

The State Information Officers Council (SIOC) is a nonprofit organization offering professional development and networking opportunities for public information officers throughout California.  In addition to its annual communications awards competition, SIOC raises funds to provide scholarships for college students majoring in journalism, communications, and public information management.

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