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DTMB celebrates Public Service Recognition Week by sharing employees origin stories
May 02, 2022
Every superhero has an origin story, including public service superheroes! In celebration of Public Service Recognition Week, May 1-7, 2022, DTMB asked employees to share their public service origin stories.
Check back throughout the week as DTMB shares origin stories submitted by employees. Interested in a career with DTMB? Visit Michigan.gov/DTMBcareers for career opportunities.
Sandeep Jain, State Administrative Manager, Enterprise Portfolio Management Office – 24 years of service
I have worked at the State of Michigan 24 years, including my time as a contractor. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be in public service and support my customers, staff members, and the residents of Michigan. In my 24 years, I have supported the Department of Corrections (DOC), Michigan State Police (MSP), State Budget Office (SBO), Department of Civil Service, Department of Treasury, Gaming Control Board, Michigan Lottery, Department of State, and Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB). I enjoyed earning my way through the ranks and am currently a state administrative manager for DTMB’s Enterprise Portfolio Management Office (EPMO). I manage a team of 25 project management staff and oversee a $75 million portfolio of infrastructure and security programs and projects for the chief technology officer (CTO) and chief security officer (CSO).
Upon graduating from Malaviya National Institute of Technology in Jaipur, India, with a bachelor’s degree in engineering, I moved to the U.S. and began my career with the State of Michigan in 1998. I worked as a contractor for the DOC and led several key initiatives. After successfully migrating a legacy mainframe system – LEIN – with latest technology – Java – and seeing its impact in public safety, my dream to become a state employee became stronger. Public service just seemed to be in my blood.
In 2005, that dream came true, and I joined the state as an IT programmer analyst database administrator with MSP. I always enjoyed going the extra mile, because I have a passion for excellence. Within a year, I was promoted to an IT specialist, successfully leading a multitude of critical IT initiatives for DTMB, SBO, and Civil Service.
In 2011, I obtained my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and subsequently become certified in Information Technology Infrastructure Library, Capability Maturity Model Integrations, and a Certified Scrum Master. In addition, I co-authored the State of Michigan Project Management Methodology manual. During this time, I was promoted to a senior IT project manager, where I successfully delivered several complex projects for the Department of Treasury, Gaming Control Board, Michigan Lottery, and Department of State.
In 2016, I was recognized by EPMO management for my project delivery style and was encouraged to apply for the portfolio management office manager supporting DTMB’s CTO and CSO clients. This is the position I currently hold. I built a very successful team from the ground up and rolled up my sleeves to start building relationships with our customers. I feel proud of the synergy I have created with my staff and colleagues.
In 2017, I coached a team from Okemos High School, and they won first place in the Governor’s High School Cyber Challenge. I equally enjoy community service as much as public service.
I reside in Okemos with my wife Ritu, also a public servant for the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services, and daughter, Aanchal, who will attend the University of Michigan this fall. My son, Arham, recently graduated from the University of Michigan and now works at Google.
Christyn Herman, Communications Specialist, DTMB Communications – 13 years of service
While earning my master’s degree in communications at Grand Valley State University in the fall of 2008, I applied for the Governor’s Leadership Intern Program under Gov. Jennifer Granholm. In late March, I learned I was accepted and would begin my internship in May in the Michigan Economic Recovery Office (MERO). The office’s purpose was to share stories of how American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were impacting Michigan and to assist state departments in fulfilling their federal reporting requirements each quarter. Each day, I stopped in East Grand Rapids and picked up another intern, and together we drove into downtown Lansing to work in the Romney Building. During my internship, I had the opportunity to meet Sen. Carl Levin, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and Vice-President Joe Biden. In August 2009, I was hired full-time as a student assistant in MERO. At this point, I decided to make the move to Lansing and drive back to Grand Rapids for classes in the evening. They were long days, but worth it.
In May 2010, I graduated from Grand Valley with a Master of Science in Communications and was promoted within MERO to communications and compliance specialist. I truly loved the work I did in MERO and enjoyed my colleagues. They were fun, witty, and brilliant, and I attempted to soak up as much as I could. My colleagues’ work ethic was tireless, and their passion to serve the residents of Michigan was inspiring.
The last day of Gov. Granholm’s administration was Dec. 31, 2010, but the work of MERO still had to go on. I was named director of MERO, which was transferred to the State Budget Office (SBO), where I continued the coordinated preparation of over 600 quarterly reports to the federal government. While in SBO, I was asked to join the communications staff of John Nixon, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder as both budget director and the director of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB). I joined a team of three and gained a large group of colleagues who I still call my friends.
While in SBO, I had a front row seat to the state budget process, including the details, the debates, and the data that were all critical components to the governor’s executive budget presentation to the Legislature. The dedication of the SBO employees was motivating. I think this team was the truest version of the words “public servant.”
In 2014, Director Nixon headed back to his home state of Utah, and Gov. Snyder name John Roberts as budget director and David Behen as the director of DTMB. With this came the opportunity to either stay with SBO or move to DTMB for a new adventure. Ultimately, I made the decision to join a few colleagues at DTMB in August 2014, where I have been ever since.
I love my job. Some days, I like it more than others, but I don’t think I’m alone in that sentiment. In the past eight years, I have witnessed the growth of DTMB as a state department, a culture, and a family. Every time something gets hard, and I think there is no way it can be done, I’m once again proven wrong. The DTMB team I am surrounded by is astounding, marvelous, spectacular -- somehow these words don’t quite capture it, but they are simply the best. I am impressed each week by the help we give to our customers, the problems we solve, and the connections DTMB makes all in service to Michigan’s 10 million residents.
To all my DTMB colleagues, you humble me, and I am privileged to work alongside you. Thank you. Happy Public Service Recognition Week!
Bree Anderson, Legislative Liaison & Policy Advisor, Director’s Office – 2.5 years of service
Public service was always a part of my life growing up in a family full of teachers and military service members. I didn’t have their skills or talents, though, and wasn’t sure how I could help in the world. Lacking a clear direction, I ended up majoring in public policy in college. During an advising meeting about my post-graduation plans, I mentioned applying to the Peace Corps. It seemed like a good fit and with most nonprofits requiring a master’s degree, I hadn’t had any callbacks for interviews yet. My advisor said, “Why aren’t you looking into AmeriCorps VISTA?” This conversation was a turning point in my life. AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) is the domestic version of the Peace Corps. The VISTA program serves in all 50 states and in U.S. territories. Through capacity-building activities, such as fundraising, grant writing, research, and volunteer recruitment, AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program serve in areas of high need to enrich communities with professionals and resources.
I served as VISTA volunteer in Denver from 2003-2004 at a small but growing nonprofit organization dedicated to career preparation and placement with a focus on people transitioning from the correctional system. As a development associate, I wrote grants, planned charity events, assisted with workshops, sorted – literally – tons of donated professional clothing for interviewees, and a hundred other things that individually probably didn’t make a huge impact. However, having a development associate through AmeriCorps helped that nonprofit to grow into what is now, 20 years later, a thriving statewide organization. This was my first step in, what is now, a long line of public service working in community based nonprofits, county government, and now for the State of Michigan. Just like when I was a VISTA volunteer, the days or tasks I do as an employee taken one at a time may not seem like they make a big difference. But when I take a step back and see how my efforts help the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, & Budget as an organization, I can see the bigger picture and it brings me both pride and happiness.
Lynda Miller, Acting State Administrative Manager, Platform Design and Support Services – 35 years of service
Compared to a lot of state employees, I started my career “late.” I was working for a Lansing company that handled Adidas clothing and footwear when I was told about a position with the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO), and started with them in May 1987. I was working on the Child Support Enforcement System (MiCSES) when an inter-agency agreement for the MiCSES between SCAO and the Department of Social Services (DSS) was dissolved; then I became a DSS employee, still working on the MiCSES project. In 2001 when the Department of Information Technology (DIT) was formed, I was moved over and worked in the IT finance area, supporting several budget functions including Agency Services, Center for Shared Solutions, and the Office Automation. In November 2009, Gov. Granholm merged DIT and the Department of Management and Budget to create the Department of Technology, Management & Budget. In 2017, a position was posted for a manager of the Business Services unit within the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). I have really enjoyed my last five years with CTO and have learned so much in this role. Compared to some state employees, I have probably worked for very few agencies in my 35-year career.
Caleb Buhs, Public Information Officer, DTMB Communications – 17 years of service
My initial path to public service was not a ceremonious one. It began the same as most that enter the job market out of college, accepting one of the first positions offered to me in my field (communications for me). Starting as an entry level communications professional in the Michigan Department of Treasury gave me a great opportunity to see the bigger picture of what public service means – working to make people’s lives better by offering the critical services that everyone needs for a functioning society. I knew early on that this was something I was meant to do.
As I reflect on what currently stands at a 17-year career, I often wonder if it was simply luck that this opportunity presented itself, or if I was always going to end up here. My mom worked more than 30 years as a social worker, positively impacting the lives of some of the most in need in our community. I always quietly respected her service, but it wasn’t until later in life that I realized the impact it had on me.
I love the work I get to do every day, working alongside other dedicated public servants that go above and beyond for more than a paycheck - to make the lives of those in our community and throughout the state better. My day job even inspired me to serve my community even further and I’m now in my sixth year serving as a school board member for my public school.
Anna Versalle, Departmental Manager, Client Service Center – 2.5 years of service
Working in public service makes me feel like the work I do every day really makes a difference. I have held other positions in my career, but none were quite as fulfilling as working for the civil service. I got started in public service right out of high school when I was appointed to serve a term on the Planning Commission in Marcellus, Michigan. I really enjoyed being a part of something that was shaping the future in positive ways. While my career took me through the private sector for a while, I was very excited to have the opportunity to apply for a position with the State of Michigan and accept the job offer. I am serving again as a Planning Commissioner, in Oshtemo Township, continuing my service outside of work as well. I look forward to future opportunities to grow my skills in public service.