When a large organization gets recognized for doing one thing really well, that’s usually considered an achievement. But this year, Maricopa County is standing out in a big way, earning national awards for dozens of different innovative programs.
The nation’s fastest-growing county received 58 National Achievement Awards this year from the National Association of Counties (NACo) for designing and implementing programs that have made a measurable, positive impact on the community. 16 county departments, elected offices, and courts were honored in service categories including public safety, health, and information technology, among others. Maricopa County’s Election Command Center won a coveted “Best in Category” award for Civic Education and Public Information.
“I have served on this board for nearly a decade, and I’ve never been prouder of the work we’re doing on behalf of residents,” said Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “Whether it’s getting critical information to residents to help them participate in elections, providing resources that improve their safety and wellbeing, or improving our processes so we use taxpayer dollars more efficiently, Maricopa County is a model for how governments can get important things done in a timely manner.”
The influx of federal pandemic recovery funding has allowed county departments to reach even more residents with their services. Two prime examples are Maricopa County’s Human Services and Public Health departments, which won 15 NACo Achievement Awards each for their efforts to serve under-resourced and under-served populations.
“Not everyone can go to work every day and come home knowing they made their community a bit better or someone’s life a little less challenging,” said County Manager Jen Pokorski. “Working for this government, you can. We have dozens of lines of business and each one makes a significant positive impact on our community, particularly when times are tough. These award-winning programs are an example of our commitment to continuous improvement.”
Below are a few examples of winning programs and their impact:
Career Fair & Community Expo
Maricopa County Human Resources, in partnership with more than 40 county departments, held the first-ever Maricopa County Career Fair and Community Expo at Chase Field in February. The event drew more than 2,200 attendees and led to more than 450 on-site job interviews. The Career Fair also sparked a 93% increase in job applications in January-February 2023 compared to November-December 2022.
Election Command Center
In anticipation of a crush of media coverage and public spotlight on Maricopa County elections, six elected officials and a team of elections and communications professionals formed the “2022 Elections Command Center” to serve as a central hub of information for the weeks leading up to and following the Nov. 8 General Election. The Command Center was inspired by the Joint Information Center (JIC) model used in emergency management situations that centralizes communication efforts to better inform the public and respond to requests for information. In three months of operation, the Elections Command Center held 16 press conferences, coordinated more than 600 reporter interviews, and responded to the needs of more than 500 credentialed local, national, and international media outlets. The coordinated crisis communications effort led to significant engagement in traditional and social media and above-average turnout for a midterm election.
Hand in Hand Street Outreach Program
Maricopa County Human Services Department partnered with Community Bridges, Inc. to connect people experiencing homelessness to services than can improve their lives. Outreach teams work in unincorporated areas of Maricopa County and target communities where people experiencing homelessness are known to gather. As of spring 2023, the program had connected 336 individuals to services 63 clients to positive housing destinations.
Medical Reserve Corps Expansion
Maricopa County Public Health Department vastly expanded its Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic from approximately 200 volunteers to well over 27,000 volunteers at its peak in 2021. These volunteers also met critical needs during a novel MPXV outbreak and Maricopa County’s first recorded case of dengue in 2022. From January 2020 to January 2023, the MRC has recorded 140,000 volunteer hours valued at over $6,000,000.
You can view all 58 Maricopa County NACo Achievement Awards here. Just search “Arizona” in the database.