Parkwood’s Sullivan honored for public service

Sullivan celebrated: Police Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan received the Richardson Dilworth Award for Distinguished Public Service. TIMES FILE PHOTO

An annual City Hall ceremony honoring Philadelphia’s top municipal employees featured a strong Northeast influence earlier this month as Police Chief Inspector Joseph Sullivan won the Richardson Dilworth Award for Distinguished Public Service.

Sullivan, a lifelong Parkwood resident, was recognized for his 34 years of service to the Philadelphia Police Department, including his ongoing role as commander of the Homeland Security Bureau.

Meanwhile, two other award winners should be familiar to folks who live and work in the Northeast. Laura Cassidy won the Dilworth Award for Innovation in Government. She’s the sustainability manager for the Holmesburg-based Philadelphia Prison System.

Joanne Dahme, the Philadelphia Water Department’s general manager for public affairs, won the Dilworth Award for Excellence in Customer Service. Though she has no direct connections to the Northeast, she has been a guest speaker at many local civic association meetings over the years in her advocacy for water department projects.

“I feel very grateful and very humble because I basically received this great honor because I have so many fantastic people who work for me. They are highly trained and make great decisions,” Sullivan said in an interview with the Northeast Times.

Sullivan graduated from St. Anselm grade school in 1976 and Archbishop Ryan High School for Boys in 1980. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Penn State.

Sullivan entered the Philadelphia Police Academy in 1982. He has served as a police officer, sergeant and lieutenant in SWAT, and the captain of the 9th district. He has been a division commander in the Narcotics Bureau and chief of the department’s Training Bureau.

He has two adult daughters and a son, 22, who aspires to become an FBI agent.

“I always wanted to be a police officer. That’s what I always wanted to do,” Sullivan said, adding that Homeland Security “has been one of my two favorite assignments.”

SWAT was his other favorite job. With Homeland Security, he oversees SWAT, along with the department’s bomb disposal and special weapons units, dignitary protection and civil affairs. He is the department’s primary liaison with the FBI on counter-terrorism matters. Sullivan has helped create nationally recognized initiatives related to crisis management and policing, as well as the handling of protests and demonstrations with concern for the rights of demonstrators and public safety. Sullivan helped orchestrate security for Pope Francis’ visit last year and the Democratic National Convention in July.

“Joe has displayed his passion for this profession over the years and has shown his commitment to this city with his ongoing service through the department,” Police Commissioner Richard Ross said during the award ceremony.

Cassidy has worked 21 years for the city, including the last 10 in her current role. She manages green programs in the prison system, allowing prisons to reduce their waste output while creating avenues for inmates to develop meaningful re-entry skills. She helped launch single-stream recycling and waste composting programs in the department. She oversaw the creation of a two-acre orchard at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center that houses more than 200 fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, making it the largest orchard in the city.

Dahme has worked in the Water Department for 34 years and now serves as the liaison between government and the public on stormwater management, water resource protection and the Green City Clean Waters plan. She has forged partnerships to turn neglected parking lots, recreation centers and other areas into green corridors that help improve water quality across the city. She has served as the inaugural chair of the Citywide Flood Risk Management Task Force. She often works alongside first responders to keep residents informed during weather emergencies and infrastructure failures.

The three award winners were chosen by a selection committee from among 215 nominees representing many branches of city government. Nominations were submitted by other city employees and managers, as well as the general public. Nominees must be full-time employees with at least three years of continuous service. The award program is sponsored by Dilworth Paxson LLP and Independence Blue Cross. It is named in honor of former Mayor Richardson Dilworth. ••