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Mentoring Award Winners: Kevin Cecco and Lillian Lin

1 August 2009 2,649 views No Comment
Stephanie Shipp and Beth Kilss, Jeanne E. Griffith Award Selection Committee

Kevin Cecco, a winner of the Griffith Award, with his wife, Stacey, and daughters, Madison and Delaney

Kevin Cecco, a winner of the Griffith Award, with his wife, Stacey, and daughters, Madison and Delaney. Copyright Bob Peavy Photography 2009.

On the afternoon of June 17, Kevin Cecco of the Internal Revenue Service and Lillian Lin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were presented with the Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award in the conference center of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This year marked the first time in the award’s seven-year history that two winners were chosen, as well as the first time the ASA’s Government Statistics Section oversaw the award selection process. The audience of approximately 60 attendees comprised colleagues, family, and friends of Jeanne Griffith and both awardees, as well as the members of the award selection committee and Interagency Council on Statistical Policy.

The Winners

Kevin Cecco is chief of the Corporation Statistics Branch of the Statistics of Income Division (SOI) of the Internal Revenue Service. He has been a supervisory statistician/mathematical statistician at SOI for more than 10 years. Cecco earned his BS in mathematics from Bloomsburg University and has completed several graduate courses in statistics from the Joint Program in Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland. Prior to working at SOI, he was a mathematical statistician at the U.S. Census Bureau from 1990–1995 and General Motors Acceptance Corporation from 1988–1990.

Award Committee Members
The Jeanne E. Griffith Mentoring Award committee is composed of six members who each serve a six-year term. Andy Orlin serves as emeritus member, thus providing continuity and historical perspective.)

Carol House, National Agricultural Statistics Service (through 2015)

Emerson Elliott, National Center for Education Statistics (through 2014)

Stephanie Shipp, Science and Technology Policy Institute (through 2013)

Clyde Tucker, Bureau of Labor Statistics (through 2012)

Dan Kasprzyk, Mathematica Policy Research (through 2011)

Beth Kilss, IRS, Statistics of Income, retired (through 2010)

As chief of SOI’s Corporation Statistics Branch, Cecco manages staff who sample, edit, and produce critical tax statistics associated with active domestic corporations. These data are then analyzed and disseminated on SOI’s web site, known as Tax Stats, and through SOI’s Corporation Complete Report and Corporation Source Book. In his previous position, Cecco supervised a group of mathematical statisticians who provided general statistical consulting services for more than 90 projects throughout the IRS. His areas of expertise include statistical consulting, sample estimation, quantifying sampling variability, and producing performance measurement indicators.

Cecco regularly asks staff members about their career goals and works with them to develop strategies to attain them. He revisits these periodically, assessing progress and refocusing as needed. Staff recognition is also important to Cecco, and he often goes above and beyond to acknowledge his staff members’ important contributions. As a result, employees have frequently responded with extra effort. Outside the office, Cecco has volunteered his time for school science fairs and career days. A guidance counselor at an elementary school wrote that Cecco “demonstrates a passion for mentoring students and instilling in them a desire to reach higher goals.” A principal of another school acknowledged Cecco’s “enthusiasm and love of statistics” and said he was “creative and willing to share his expertise.”

Tom Petska, who recently retired as director of SOI and who nominated Cecco for the award, spoke briefly during the ceremony:

Kevin’s outstanding abilities and accomplishments as a mentor include devoting quality time to each new employee to learn about their strengths and personal interests; teaching basic statistical skills, team protocol, and how to mitigate tough situations and tough customers so employees will eventually lead their own projects; and pairing each new employee with a senior staff member of the team so they can learn and develop.

Cecco, in conveying his thanks, talked about the five ingredients for creating an ideal mentoring environment: trust; carving out the necessary time to devote to your employees; a caring attitude; an understanding of the differences between an employee’s skills, knowledge, and talent; and knowing when to let go. “In time, the mentee becomes a peer of sorts, and eventually, in some cases, the mentee grows in a particular direction where he/she becomes the teacher of the mentor …,” said Cecco. “Over the course of time, they have become experts in various statistical areas. When this happens, the mentor knows he/she has accomplished their job.”

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