Elkins earns federal ‘professional of the year’ award

Posted on November 17, 2016 by Janika Carey

Sweet Briar College graduate Debra Elkins ’93 is the recipient of the Association for Federal Enterprise Risk Management (AFERM) Professional of the Year Award. Elkins accepted the honor at the AFERM 2016 Summit in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 7.

The award honors her service and dedication to advancing enterprise risk management as director of ERM in the Office of Finance at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The department is the equivalent of a Fortune 10 company, with an annual budget of over $1 trillion dollars, and more than 90,000 employees working in its large operating divisions — including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Surveillance (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Elkins’ award is one of three given out at the summit. The Leader of the Year award went to Ken Fletcher (Transportation Security Agency), and Doug Webster (United States Agency for International Development) earned the Hall of Fame award.

“Each award honors a federal professional who has made a lasting impact on his or her organization as a part of extraordinary contributions to advancing ERM in the federal government,” according to AFERM’s website.

The Leader and Professional awards recognize work that has been accomplished over the past year. The Hall of Fame award showcases achievements over an entire career.

For Elkins, 2016 has been a year of honors. In September, Sweet Briar College surprised her — and co-chair of the Alumnae Alliance Council, Sarah von Rosenberg ’72 — with the Outstanding Alumna Award.

In addition to her work on the council, Elkins is an alumnae admissions recruiter and member of the Pink Rose Society, serves on the Reunion Gifts Committee, the Friends of Athletics Board, the Strategic Initiatives Committee, and was the 2010 commencement speaker at Sweet Briar.

The daughter of longtime Sweet Briar professor Judith Molinar Elkins, she graduated from Sweet Briar summa cum laude with a degree in mathematical physics, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and was the Emilie Watts McVea Scholar. Elkins went on to receive a master’s degree in mathematics and a doctorate in industrial engineering from Texas A&M University.