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Hats Off


In the interests of fostering national recognition for those individuals most deeply involved in restoring national pride to America's capital city, NARPAC has established a HATS OFF Award. As opportunities arise, it will be presented to those individuals at the operational level who have contributed most significantly to enhancing the perceptions and realities of DC as the premiere model American central city in the premiere model American metro area.

NARPAC's citation, a brief biography, and relevant site references will be included here in reverse chronological order:

December 20, 2002: Ivan C. A. Walks, MD, former Director of DC's Department of Health, and Chief Medical Officer, 1999-2002.


With great pleasure NARPAC honors Ivan C. A. Walks, MD for his extraordinary efforts to restore pride in America's capital city.

As Chief Medical Officer and Director of the District of Columbia's Department of Health for almost three years, Dr. Walks was involved in some of the mayor's most difficult and emotionally charged political and medical issues. He repeatedly rose to meet challenges that might well have deterred others and, at some personal risk, helped put DC on a new course towards much improved public health and national respect.

Dr. Walks reorganized agencies, upgraded facilities and improved the health prospects of the city's many poor. The collapse of DC's public hospital system presented a far tougher challenge. Setting out in a new, unproven direction to change the city's healthcare culture pitted the mayor, his health director, and the Control Board against the DC Council, DC's indigent health- care recipients and providers, and vociferous activists.

The District was then surprised by the nation's first bioterrorist attack, involving both federal agencies and vulnerable DC residents. Dr. Walks was back in the spotlight as disagreements flared about the most appropriate remedies. He was instrumental in effecting a sound solution.

For his accomplishments, Dr. Walks deserves the thanks of DC residents and all Americans -- especially those in the national capital metro area.

Thank you, Dr. Walks, and Godspeed in your future career.

NARPAC presents its fourth "Hats Off" Award to Dr. Walks

In a brief informal ceremony at DC's Wilson Building, NARPAC honored Dr. Walks in the presence of several of his long-time friends and associates. NARPAC's founder and president, Len Sullivan, and vice-president, Nick Kauffman (photos at left), kicked off the event while DC government dignitaries watched.

Following the reading of the citation and the ceremonial "doffing of hats" (lower left below) and the presentation of mementos by NARPAC treasurer, Job Dittberner (lower right below), Dr. Walks' contributions and personal commitment were recounted by Deputy Mayor and City Administrator, John Koskinen (upper left), and by Ward 8 Councilmember Sandy Allen (upper right). Dr. Walks responded (upper center), sharing his award with all the members of his DC health team., some of whom attended.

All photos by Bill Fitz-Patrick Photography, (assembled by NARPAC).


Dr. Ivan Walks has already crowded a great many achievements into his relatively short and very public career. Much of his education was received on the West Coast. His undergraduate work was primarily at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, after which he got his Doctorate of Medicine in 1988 from the University of California at the Davis School of Medicine.

This was followed by a one-year transitional internship at the UCLA School of Medicine and the West Los Angeles VA Hospitals; a two-year residency in psychiatry at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute focusing on mental health policy; and a two-year overlapping fellowship in trans-cultural psychiatry relating to behavioral and public health policy. To keep busy, he was also an associate editor of the Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry.

In 1993 Dr. Walks was appointed to the Los Angeles County Mental Health Commission, from which he resigned to become the Medical Director for Education and Outreach Programs at the Charter Behavioral Health Systems in Covina, California. He moved on to become the Medical Director for Managed Care at the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. During these years , he found time to participate in a US DoHHS fellowship program, take part in a local Los Angeles TV series on public health education, and serve on the Board of Directors on the non-profit Community Health Councils Project.

Dr. Walks came East as a Vice President and Associate National Medical Director for ValueOptions in Virginia in 1996. During this time, he served as chair of the National Credentialing Committee and on the AMBHA board of directors. More relevant to his next job, he designed and implemented the DC-KIDS, a "comprehensive integrated health care delivery system for DC's children in Foster care."

In September, 1999, Dr. Walks became Mayor Williams's Chief Health Officer and Director of DC's very troubled Department of Health, approved by the DC Council. Revamping of the DoH had already begun following a 1997 assessment of its multiple problems by the DC Control Board, but much remained to be done. But it is inconceivable that Dr. Walks could have foreseen the depth of the local public animosity to improving DC's extensive, but disintegrating public hospital system, or predicted becoming embroiled in the nation's first and unprecedented bioterrorist attack.

When Dr. Walks left in May of 2002, less than three years later, DC General had been closed, a revamped public hospital system was in place and operating (albeit imperfectly!), and the national anthrax scare had receded without panic and without unintended side-effects. During those years, he had also managed to change the management of several DC Health agencies, crack down on medicaid fraud, rebuild a decrepit public health laboratory, lower infant mortality rates, revitalize the city's overworked detoxification program, institute a proper immunization system for DC's 70,000 mostly underprivileged school kids.

With his 40th birthday still ahead of him, Dr. Walks has become a nationally-known figure in a nationally-feared domain. While he is currently biding his time as the CEO of Ivan Walks and Associates, LLC consulting firm on upper Connecticut Avenue, NW, he is certain to move on the greater things that will also reflect pride on the nation's capital city.

August 15, 2001: Dr. Abdusalam Omer, PhD, recently retired Chief of Staff to the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

It is with great pleasure that NARPAC recognizes Abdusalam Omer, PhD for his extraordinary efforts to restore pride in America's capital city.

For nine years, Dr. Omer has held increasingly important roles in shaping the future of the District of Columbia. First as a senior budget analyst and team leader, then as Chief Financial Officer for the troubled DC Public Schools, then for two years as Deputy Chief Finance Officer, restructuring and balancing DC's runaway budget. Finally, for two grueling years as Chief of Staff, he faced the bureaucracy inside, and endless claimants on DC energies from the outside: Congress; Federal Agencies; City Council; Control Board; and activists.

A key member of DC's dedicated band of reformers, Dr. Omer brought competence, compassion, and high standards to all his tasks. He understood government's obligation to listen to, and serve the people of the city -- starting with its young and disadvantaged. He saw government as people too, with needs, hopes and goals. He was mentor, catalyst, devil's advocate, task master. His friend, the Mayor, has praised his passion and integrity. Dr. Omer deserves the gratitude of the people of DC, the Greater Washington Metro Area, and all across America who want to be proud of their nation's capital city.

Thank you, Dr. Omer, and Godspeed in your future endeavors.

NARPAC presents its third "Hats Off" award to Dr. Abdusalam Omer

In a brief ceremony in One Judiciary Square on 15 August, 2001, NARPAC honored the Mayor's former Chief of Staff, Dr. Abdusalam Omer (above) for his contribution to restoring pride in the Nation's Capital.

Left to right (below): •NARPAC officers and members Nick Kauffman, John Cleave, Job Dittberner, and Len Sullivan are joined by Mayor Anthony Williams in taking their hats off to Dr. Omer •Dr. Omer smiles his appreciation •Dr. Dittberner reads the citation. An earlier recipient of the "Hats Off" award, Mr. John Hill, is in the foreground. •Presentation of the citation to Dr. Omer. • Mayor Anthony Williams adds his appreciation •Part of the audience before the ceremony

Photos by Lateef Mangum


Dr. Omer's professional career has been remarkably consistent and productive. He received his Bachelor of Science in Economics in 1977 from Boston College, his Master of the Arts in Public Administration from Oklahoma State University in 1981, and his PhD in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee in 1986, while teaching undergraduates American politics, public and personnel administration, budgeting and program evaluation.

He spent 1987 in New York City as a Research Associate with ACRC Systems, and moved to Washington and served as an international student advisor on immigration and naturalization issues at Southeastern University in 1989. He moved on to become a management and budget analyst for Prince William County capital improvement projects for three years, while also serving briefly as a consultant in international finance to the Africa Region of the World Bank.

In 1992, Dr. Omer joined the DC Budget Office, serving first as a senior budget analyst for Public Safety and Education, then as Team Leader for Public Education in the CFO's office. In August 1996, he became the Chief Financial Officer for the DC Public Schools, responding to Congressional and Control Board guidance.

In May 1997 he returned to become DC's Deputy CFO under Anthony Williams, charged with preparing the city's operating and capital budgets, where he instituted changes in format and processes, developed in-depth policy and budget analysis, and submitted balanced budgets for three consecutive years. (It was during this strenuous time that his capabilities drew NARPAC's attention and admiration.)

In April 1999, Abdusalam Omer was appointed by the Mayor as his Chief of Staff where he supervised a senior level staff of 75 in the Mayor's Executive Office, dealing with all aspects of DC's $5 billion government and well over 28,000 employees, and providing support and guidance to the deputy mayors and agency directors. His responsibilities ranged from political relations with Congress and the Council, to responding to (endless) constituent concerns, interacting with the press, and formulating the administration's overall policy agenda, from strategic planning to performance goals.

It has been a remarkable first 20 years in a career certain to continue to develop before Dr. Omer decides, by choice, to return finally to his first love: teaching.

March 7, 2000 (delayed from 1/26/00 by blizzard of 2000): John W. Hill, Jr., first Executive Director, DC Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (DCFRA = 'Control Board') Photos by Ghislaine Dittberner.


It is with great pleasure that NARPAC recognizes John W. Hill, Jr. for his extraordinary efforts to restore pride in America's capital city.

As Executive Director of the DC Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority from its inception in mid-1995 to mid-1999, Mr. Hill worked tirelessly and diplomatically to make the tough, unpopular decisions needed to set the District on a new course towards financial independence, civic pride, and national respect. He accomplished this without flaunting the Control Board's temporary powers and without deepening the rifts between various city factions.

Mr. Hill had the professional insights to properly define the problem, the good sense to develop a practical solution, the persuasive powers to convince national authorities to adopt the proper remedies, and, when selected by the Board, the perseverance and operational skills to work constructively across the gamut of local and federal bureaucracies, both executive and legislative. He is largely responsible for the District's rapid progress towards normalcy, and deserves the full gratitude of not only all DC residents, but of Americans everywhere--particularly those in the Greater Washington Metro Area.

We thank you, Mr. Hill, and wish you every success in your new career.

The mayor spoke warmly of his respect not only for John Hill's competence, but for his ability to work with others. The present and former Control Board Chairs, Drs. Alice Rivlin and Andrew Brimmer, also praised Hill's substance and style. (photos by Job Dittberner)


Mr John Hill graduated from the University of Maryland in 1976 with a BS in Accounting, and joined the staff of Coopers and Lybrand. Two years later he shifted to Price Waterhouse and Company as an audit manager, and moved on to the Marriott Corporation as Director of Audits in 1981. He returned to Coopers in 1983 where he served as General Practices Manager. After a short stint as an independent consultant he joined the General Accounting Office and became Assistant Director for Transportation Issues, then Food and Agriculture Issues. He directed the first audits of any major federal agency, including the GSA, the Dept of Agriculture, and the Veteran's Administration. He eventually moved up to Director of Financial Analysis and Audit Assistance Group, created to assist federal agency financial officers implement the Chief Financial Officers Act.

Mr. Hill was then GAO's chief witness before the Congress on all matters relating to the review of the District Government's finances. It was Mr. Hill's efforts that resulted in the creation of the DC Financial Control Board with the following objectives: to return DC to fiscal solvency; gain access to credit markets; implement new financial and management systems, improve the delivery of services; and recommend changes in the relationship between DC and the federal government. The Board was to be given the power to review and approve all contracts, leases, labor agreements and laws of the District and to exercise any power that could be exercised by the Mayor or the DC Council.

As first Executive Director of that Control Board, from June 1995 until May of 1999, Mr. Hill was responsible for developing and implementing the board's strategic plan, supervising the day-to-day activities of the board and its staff, working closely with the Congress and DC officials to accomplish the goals of the act that created the Board. The Board also came to directly manage the DC Public Schools and the Metropolitan Police Force. Major achievements have included turning a $350NM budget deficit to a $400N surplus, and transferring several major (and costly) "state" functions back to the Federal Government.

After four strenuous years and some remarkable accomplishments, Mr. Hill returned to the private sector, joining Arthur Anderson, LLP, as Senior Manager, Office of Government Services, and Director, State and Local Government Services.

Relevant Site References:

The background of the Financial Control Board;

Summary references to the key 1997 Control Board Reports;

Summaries of the Control Board reports to the Congress for 1998, and for 1999;

A recent NARPAC Editorial on the possibly premature declining influence of the Control Board;

Chronological references to local daily headlines concerning city managment;

hats off

August 11, 1999: David Gilmore, Receiver, DC Housing Authority


It is with great pleasure that NARPAC recognizes David Gilmore for his extraordinary efforts to restore pride in America's capital city.

As Receiver for the District of Columbia Housing Authority for the past four years, Mr. Gilmore has worked tirelessly and compassionately to eliminate years of accumulated blight from DC's extensive public housing projects. For their many residents, he is restoring safety, hope, and the human spirit itself, giving them the opportunity to share in America's dreams of self-sufficiency and home ownership.

Mr. Gilmore has taken the most fundamental first step in rehabilitating the nation's image of its capital city. He has handled his receiver's authority with sensitivity, earning the respect of those he is dedicated to helping. He deserves the full gratitude not only of all DC residents, but of Americans everywhere and particularly those of the Greater Washington Metro Area.

Thank you, Mr. Gilmore, and Godspeed as you continue your important work.


David Gilmore became involved in public housing while still a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, when he worked for the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Authority. After earning his Master of Social Work degree, Gilmore spent almost four years in Philadelphia, first with the city's Director of Housing, and then its Housing Authority, where he began as Director of Tenant Services and moved on to Director of Social Services.

After 18 months with the Boston Housing Authority as Director of Management Services, starting in 1972, Gilmore served as Executive Assistant to three consecutive presidents of the University of Massachusetts, where his responsibilities included community relations involving affordable housing throughout Boston's neighborhoods. During Boston's school desegregation efforts, the University was paired with the South Boston and Dorchester neighborhoods, home to a significant portion of Boston's public housing units.

In 1980 Gilmore returned to the Boston Housing Authority to assist the new Court Appointed Receiver, and stayed almost ten years--first as Special Deputy for Operations, and then as Deputy Administrator.

In 1989, Gilmore took over as Executive Director of the San Francisco Housing Authority which had been on HUD's "most troubled" list for five years. Two years later it was designated a "standard performer". Gilmore greatly increased capital improvement funding, led the demolition of one of San Francisco's most notorious public housing projects, and the construction of its low-rise, town house replacement.

During this time, Gilmore also served on the 18-member National Commission on Severely Distressed Public Housing, which led to Congressional enactment of HOPE VI--a nationwide program to revitalize very troubled housing.

In 1993 he took over the Seattle Housing Authority, his first chance to administer a "high-performing" agency, where he had the opportunity to apply a HOPE VI grant. He also led that Authority through a major reorganization process.

In the summer of 1995, Gilmore was appointed Receiver of the DC Housing Authority by Superior Court Judge Steffen Graae, with the endorsement of HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. Within 30 months, DCHA was removed from HUD's list of "troubled" authorities. Within the next 30 months, Gilmore's task of rebuilding DC's public housing is expected to be completed with outstanding results.

hats offhats off
Award Ceremony in DCHA Conference Room

Officers of NARPAC prepare to take their hats off to Mr. Gilmore (top), after which NARPAC's President, Len Sullivan, presents the award (bottom, left), and Mr. Gilmore responds (bottom, right) with an outstanding statement of his goals and ambitions for our nation's capital city.

Relevant Site References:

See Narpac's August 1999 Editorial;

See Progress in Public Housing;

See March, 1998 editorial entitled The Best Medicine for Urban Ills: Trickle-down or Super-fund;

See analysis of DC's strong racial and economic divisions;

This page was updated on Jan 5, 2003

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