Helpful Hints and Tips for Award Nominations

Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year

Follow the Directions – Do not go over the 20-page limit. Detailed directions on how to complete a Top Ten nomination can be found on the Supporting Data form. On the Supporting Data form make sure to answer if the candidate works for a Municipality, County/Special District or State/Federal/Military, and please indicate the population served by candidate’s agency/organization. If the candidate works in the private sector no population served needs to be filled out.

Nomination Content - Be sure the nomination covers all of the following areas as outlined on the Supporting Data form: Employment Record, Job-related technical and managerial accomplishments, Initial and lifelong education, Publications and/or Presentation, Professional Involvement, Community Service, Awards. Use the Procedure for Rating Candidates document to adequately address each section and learn how each section earns points.  For the Procedure for Rating Candidates please contact Rhonda Wilhite at or 800-848-2792 ext. 5261 or it can be found in the Awards Community page.

Letters of Recommendation - Letters of Recommendation are limited to 6 and they should be placed in the back of the submission. Letters should be addressed to the Top Ten Review Committee.

Membership - You do not need to be a member of APWA to be a Top Ten Public Works Leader. There are no self-nominations but any member, nonmember, chapter, etc., can nominate a candidate for the Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year.

Winners - A Top Ten candidate can only win the award once. The Top Ten Public Works Leaders of the Year has been around since 1960. The list of winners is located on the APWA website's Past Award Winners web page.

Public Works Projects of the Year

Category and Price - Choose the proper category and price division. On the criteria page you will see the definition of the five project categories. You can only choose one category and one price division. A Project of the Year can only be nominated once even if it does not win. Only projects substantially competed and available for public and/or agency use within two calendar years of December 31 are eligible.

Nominating - Only the managing agency or chapter can nominate a project. Anyone can prepare the nomination but it needs the approval of the managing agency or chapter to be nominated.

Project completion - Has the project met the deadline for completion? If the completion date is past the December 31 deadline you need to meet the 90% and open to the public rule by December 31 and change completion date to the date it was 90% complete and open to the public.

Nomination Content – The areas that need to be addressed are located on the criteria page and Supporting Data form. There is a 20-page limit excluding the nomination form or photographs. If you have included photos within your text and have gone over the 20 pages that is okay.  We understand that the photos have taken up text space but the space should be proportionate to the space used from the photo.

Public Works Projects of the Year - for Small Cities/Rural Communities

Criteria - The criteria to be addressed for the Public Works Projects for Small Cities/Rural Communities are slightly different than the Public Works Project criteria that define their nomination by price and category. The Small Cities/Rural Communities category requires that the project is for cities or counties with a population of 75,000 or less.

Project Completion - The following eligibility requirements in both Projects of the Year and SC/RC Projects of the Year are: Substantially completed and available for public and/or agency use within two calendar years prior to nomination. A project may be nominated only once for the award in any category meaning only once in the SC/RC category or Project of the Year by price and category; it cannot nominated in both. The SC/RC Project of the Year must be nominated by either the agency or chapter and a project can only be nominated once even if it does not win.

Professional Manager of the Year Award

Membership - All Professional Manager candidates must be APWA members. There si no length of APWA membership requirement. If there is a non-member candidate you want to nominate be sure they are an APWA member before the award deadline.

Experience - They must have 10 years of experience in the specific category they have been nominated for. The categories are Administrative Management, Engineering and Technology, Facilities and Grounds, Public Fleet, Public Right-of-Way, Public Works Emergency Management, Solid Waste, Transportation, and Water Resources.

Specifics - Each category requests the following areas be addressed:

  • Profession – Describe the candidate’s job responsibility now and what he/she has done within the last 10 years since each category requires a minimum of 10 years of qualifying experience.
  • Leadership – What has the candidate accomplished in their field? How have they demonstrated leadership?
  • Innovation – Describe the innovative contributions the candidate has made to the profession and how this improved the area of expertise (category) for which the candidate is being nominated.
  • Agency Service – Describe ways the candidate benefited the agency specifically in fiscal management of the job.
  • Customer Service – Describe any positive feedback such as customer service satisfaction surveys, awards or recognition, improved employee relations, satisfaction, morale, etc.
  • Community Service – How has the candidate promoted his/her field in the community, agency or customers served?
  • Sustainability – Supporting the advancement of sustainable contributions in public works

Administrative Management - Administrative Management category fields of employment are for human resource professionals, financial/business operations managers, information technologists, procurement service specialists, safety officers and office management administrators.

Management and Technical Innovation Awards

Management vs. Technical - What is the difference between a management innovation and a technical innovation? The answer is that a management innovation usually is a procedure such as a system or program or process. A technical innovation usually involves the materials, design and equipment such as pinch valves, a carbon fiber-reinforced bridge, etc.

Both - Yes, it is possible that something qualifies for both the Technical and Management Innovation Awards and if it does they can apply for both.

Myron Calkins Young Leader of the Year Award

Membership and age - Candidate must be an APWA member for five consecutive years and not exceed 35 years of age as of the deadline for the award submission. For example, if the deadline is March 1 and he/she turns 36 on March 2 and has the five consecutive years of membership, they would still qualify under the not to exceed 35 years of age rule.

Community Involvement Award

Membership - Candidate must be an APWA member.

Who - The submission should not be about what the candidate’s organization did unless he himself led the organization in a community volunteer effort.

Community Leadership - The submission should focus on their leadership in the community as outlined under eligibility on the criteria form, not in their place of employment.

Exceptional Performance

Categories - There are six award categoryies within the criteria: Adversity, Diversity, Chapter Journalism, Journalism, Safety, and Sustainability.

Presidential Award for Chapter Excellence (PACE)

Executive Summary - Before addressing the four categories provide an executive summary documenting the following: (1) Innovative programs and efforts which were implemented, and resources allocated to support chapter capacity impacting members, potential members, and the community in the past year; (2) areas addressed in the past year to improve chapter capacity and/or addressed to take the chapter to the next level in achieving excellence.

Categories - There are four categories in which the chapter is evaluated. Each category has specific goals that will be used to evaluate the chapter. You should begin with the first goals A. Net Membership gain/retention and then address the next goal; B. Membership Recruitment events, continuing the order as seen on the criteria.

Nomination Content - The period to which you are reporting is January 1 through December 31.

Service to Chapter Members - Under Section II Service to Chapter Members goal C: Evidences that the chapter is successfully meeting Chapter Best Practices – Fill out the Chapter Best Practices form and include in the nomination.

Service to Community - Under Section IV Service to Community goal B: Community Service Programs is where your chapter initiates participation working with your community to improve the environment such as clean-up a neighborhood, Adopt-a-Highway, Earth Day, recycling, etc. Attending a meeting about the environment is not necessarily meeting this goal. To collect school supplies, donate food to food pantries, disaster assistance.

Presentation - The submittal should be in order of the criteria outlined on the form.

Nomination criteria - Chapters need to meet the award nomination criteria to qualify to submit for the PACE.  The notification will be sent to the chapter in late March or early April by email to the chapter president, delegate and region director. It is also suggested that a chapter attend a PACE webcast that is sponsored by APWA. The invitation to participate will be extended by email to all chapters who have qualified to submit for the PACE.

For other awards in the APWA awards program that are not highlighted here please refer to the criteria page located by each award on the Awards Criteria and Forms page . If you have further questions please contact Rhonda Wilhite at 800-848-2792 ext 5261 or