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Humility. Authenticity. Commitment. Robert M. Tobias Certificate of Achievement Award

Nomination Form

About the Award

Nominations for the 2024 Award Cycle are due December 31, 2024!

This award annually recognizes senior federal leaders for their individual performance in the Key Executive Leadership Program. Awardees display humility, authenticity, vulnerability, and a commitment to personal and professional development. They exhibit enthusiastic cohort support and demonstrate a strong commitment to their leadership journey and the journey of those they lead.

By exhibiting authentic behavior and a commitment to the growth of their cohort as a learning team, they exhibit the values of the founder of the Key Certificate Programs for whom the award is named.


Nominees must be currently enrolled in a Key Executive Leadership Certificate Program.

Award Presentation

Recipients of the Robert M. Tobias award are honored at a Key Executive Leadership event held annually in Washington, DC. Key's offerings draw hundreds of federal leaders from the government dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in public service and workforce transformation.

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Meet the 2022 Awardees

Scott Bauer Profile photo

Scott Bauer


Acquisition Human Capital Initiatives

Scott W. Bauer is the Director of Acquisition Human Capital Initiatives with leadership of a Department of Defense (DoD)-wide alternative personnel system, $100+ million workforce development account, and industry/government exchange programs. Previously, he was competitively selected for the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program to serve as the Acting Senior Executive Advisor within the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In this capacity, he oversaw functional areas related to DHS’s 15,000+ acquisition workforce including an 80-person enterprise-wide Acquisition Professional Career Intern Program and management of the Homeland Security Acquisition Institute. Formerly, as the Associate Director of Production, Coordination & Optimization at Defense Acquisition University (DAU), he led a communication campaign for the first department-wide acquisition human capital redesign in 30 years for more than 185,000 acquisition workforce members.

Prior to his tenure at DAU, he served as the 4th Estate Director of Acquisition Career Management (DACM) for 32 defense agencies/field activities. In this role, he was responsible for the career development of more than 31,000 acquisition workforce members with oversight of statutory certification and continuous learning requirements. As DACM, he stood up the Defense Acquisition Talent Management System (DATMS), established a department-wide acquisition training contract vehicle, and brought together DoD and industry leaders with the creation of the “Leaders Building Leaders” event designed to groom and inspire the next generation of acquisition professionals.

While his former positions involved considerable workforce responsibilities, most of his career has been in the financial management environment. As Chief of the Exercise Branch in the “Engine Room” at the Pentagon, he integrated and defended the Air Force Fiscal Year 2017 $167 billion budget request to Congress with a live media presentation to over one million people. He was also the financial specialist/cost analyst for the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and managed its more than $1 billion procurement account for the Secretary of the Air Force’s top acquisition program.

Kelly DeGraff profile photo

Kelly DeGraff

Deputy Assistant Administrator, NPD

FEMA, Department of Homeland Security

Ms. Kelly L. DeGraff is currently serving as the Deputy Assistant Administrator (A) for National Preparedness Directorate (NPD) at FEMA. She leads seven business units that work across FEMA to ensure a ready and prepared Nation. These units provide policy and standards, develops programs, and delivers education, training, and exercises to instill equity, promote climate resilience, and promote and sustain a ready FEMA and prepared Nation. DeGraff also served as the Assistant Administrator for FEMAs Fund Management Directorate where she was responsible for the execution of more than $20B in funding and strategically overseeing human, financial, and information resources for FIMA. She also served as the Deputy Director for the UDSA’s Office of Homeland Security where she led a department wide initiative to refresh the vision, mission, and values enabling staff to deliver results and adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

As the leader of FEMA's fourth-largest post-disaster workforce, the Hazard Mitigation Cadre, Kelly oversaw field operations, improved communications, and built capacity to enhance the effectiveness of disaster response and recovery in her role as the Insurance and Mitigation Readiness Division Director at FIMA.

Prior to her work at FEMA, Kelly was a senior executive with AmeriCorps, where she served as the Director of Disaster Services and principal advisor to the White House. She provided leadership and operational direction in briefing Congress, OMB, and other stakeholders on policy and programs. Kelly launched a new disaster services office and forged partnerships that resulted in the launch of national programs such as the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, FEMA Corps, and Resilience AmeriCorps. Additionally, she built multi-agency coalitions with organizations such as the US Coast Guard, EPA, and the Council on Environmental Quality to respond to the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill.

DeGraff is a two-time finalist for the Partnership for Public Service Samuel J. Hyman Award, which recognizes exceptional federal employees who demonstrate a commitment to making a difference in the lives of Americans. She is a Senior Executive Fellow with Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School, she has a BS in Environmental Science and is a graduate of Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health National Preparedness Leadership Institute (NPLI).

Kyo Dolan profile photo

Kyo Marie Dolan

Special Agent in Charge

U.S. Secret Service

Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) Kyo Dolan’s career with the U.S. Secret Service spans more than 20 years with over 22 years of service in the Federal Government. SAIC Dolan currently serves as the Special Agent in Charge of the Richmond Field Office, which encompasses 84 of 95 counties in Virginia. During her tenure in the Secret Service, she has worked to enhance the four pillars encompassing the Secret Service’s comprehensive cyber mission – investigations, protection, intelligence, and policy. She has directed surge force collaboration missions with Intelligence Community and Federal partners in direct support of cyber protective operations for Presidential, Vice-Presidential visits and National Special Security Events. In her previous role as the Deputy Special Agent in Charge of Cyber Operations at HQ, she oversaw all cyber protective and cyber investigative operations for the Secret Service. She applied her computer forensic, networking, and cyber investigative experience to serve on the 3-person team that developed the Secret Service’s inaugural cyber protection program to safeguard the President and USSS protectees – Critical Systems Protection (CSP). The CSP Program has been emulated world-wide as it is deemed as the leader in cyber protection programs. From 2018 – 2020, DSAIC Dolan served as the Senior Cyber Advisor to the National Intelligence Officer for Cyber Issues within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence at CIA HQ. In this capacity, she authored and published classified intelligence assessments pertaining to cyber threats to national security as well as provided classified threat briefings to Cabinet-level officials and the National Security Council.

Zona Lewis profile photo

Zona Lewis

Director, Military Community Outreach

Department of Defense

Zona Lewis assumed the duties of director for Military Community Outreach within the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy in September 2022. With more than 30 years of military quality-of-life program management experience, Ms. Lewis directs communications, outreach and engagement across all MC&FP directorates and programs to support the well-being and readiness of more than one million military families. She is also responsible for the office’s digital media and resources, including and more than two dozen other platforms.

Prior to her appointment to director, Ms. Lewis served as the associate director for Military Community Outreach where she was responsible for outreach to the military community and stakeholders, and transformation of digital platforms to optimize program delivery. In this capacity, Ms. Lewis directed the development and execution of strategic communications, digital strategies, public affairs and community engagement in support of MC&FP, the Defense Department and the administration’s priorities. She began her tenure with MC&FP 10 years earlier as a program analyst translating leadership and program office visions into easily consumable messages for delivery across channels and platforms.

Ms. Lewis began her support to the military community with an internship with Navy MWR at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland. For 19 years, she worked for the Department of the Navy supporting quality of life programs, including guiding strategic communications for Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard’s wounded warrior support program, implementing communication and marketing strategies for Navy Fleet and Family Support Programs, and as a public affairs specialist for Commander, Navy Installations Command.

Ms. Lewis is a 1991 graduate of Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science and the spouse of a retired Navy Chief. She completed the Defense Information School’s Public Affairs Officer Qualification Course in 2006, and is a 2022 graduate of the American University Key Executive Leadership Certificate Program.

The Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy is directly responsible for programs and policies that establish and support community quality-of-life programs for service members and their families worldwide. This office also serves as the focal point for coordination for a broad range of quality-of-life issues within the Department of Defense.

Meet the 2022 Nominees

Read the nominees' full bios by clicking on each of their photos.

Jeff Patterson, US Forest Service, US AD 12

Isabel Brannon US Forest Service FS AL 14

Stephanie Soto US Forest Service FS Aspiring Leader 12

Jennifer Jones, USDA, APHIS 12

Ingrid Anderson US Forest Service FS AL 17

David Ashley US Secret Service USSS 8

Heather Farber-Lau, USDA, APHIS 12

Denise Sylvester Department of Agriculture FS AL 12

Serena Dietrich US Coast Guard DHS 86

Mary Donahue, USDA, APHIS 12

Jeffrey Foltz National Science Foundation Open Enrollment 84

Kelvin Roberts US Forest Service FS AD 16

About Robert M. Tobias

Bob Tobias photo

Robert M. Tobias served as the Director of the Key Executive Leadership Programs from 2002 to September 2014 and continued as the Director of Business Development until September 2019. He founded the Key Executive Leadership Certificate Program in 2002. Professor Tobias also serves as a member of the Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board. He was previously nominated and selected to serve on the Human Resource Management System Senior Review Advisory Committee and the Commercial Activities Panel. Prior to his work at American University, Professor Tobias was the General Counsel, and then National President, of the National Treasury Employees Union.