Rep. Houlahan Wins Two Democracy Awards, An Historic First

Chrissy HoulahanRep. Houlahan addresses hundreds of constituents in Phoenixville during her second State of the Sixth address, her 59th town hall. Houlahan recently held her 65th town hall. (Submitted Image)

The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) recently announced that Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) was a winner of two Democracy Awards—she is the first Member in history to win two categories in a single congressional term. Rep. Houlahan was selected for outstanding achievement in the category of “Constituent Service” and “Life in Congress”- Workplace Environment.

“I am so honored and humbled to accept these awards on behalf of our dedicated team members and the people of Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District,” said Houlahan. “My service in Congress is exactly that—service—and our entire office culture and values are built upon this foundation of serving our community.”

Houlahan added: “In the midst of challenging circumstances because of the pandemic, we adapted our constituent services to ensure we could still provide high-quality service to Pennsylvanians navigating delayed tax returns, Social Security benefits, small business relief, veterans’ benefits, and more. Constituent services is core to who we are, so this recognition is especially meaningful to our entire team. It also goes hand in hand with our second award for Workplace Environment—we are best able to serve our constituents when our team members are supported.”

“As a successful entrepreneur who scaled businesses here in southeastern Pennsylvania before coming to Congress, I know that a strong office culture means better services for our constituents. I’m extremely proud of our office’s successes, but we won’t stop here. We look forward to continuing to improve our services to the students, families, and businesses in Chester and Berks Counties in the months and years to come,” Houlahan concluded.

The Constituent Service category honors offices for their outstanding practices or achievements acting as ombudsmen with the federal government or responding to constituent requests and inquiries. The “Life in Congress” Workplace Environment category highlights offices that have established both formal policies and informal cultures that enhance the work-life fit and professional development of their staffs. Rep. Houlahan is a three-time Democracy Award winner, having won the Transparency and Accountability category in 2020.

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“As a multiple Democracy Award winner, Rep. Houlahan’s office is one of the best in Congress,” said Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. “From her freshman term in office, Rep. Houlahan created an intentional strategy to be an outstanding public servant for her constituents. As a two-time winner in one year – the first Member to reach this achievement – Rep. Houlahan and her staff are to be congratulated for not only being a model for her colleagues in Congress, but for helping to restore trust and faith that our democratic institutions can work.”

Eight House and Senate offices were honored as winners in four categories: Constituent Service; Innovation and Modernization; Transparency and Accountability; and “Life in Congress”-Workplace Environment. Representative and Senate offices submitted applications, were interviewed by CMF staff, and then provided documents demonstrating the office’s adherence to the established criteria. The winners were selected by a committee primarily comprised of former Members of Congress and congressional staff. The winners will be honored at a ceremony to be held in Washington, D.C. in the fall.

Details on the process and the history of the Democracy Awards can be found here.

Among other noteworthy items, CMF included the following reasons for selecting Rep. Houlahan for a Constituent Service award:

“Since Rep. Houlahan took office in 2019, the office has been conducting quarterly constituent satisfaction surveys. Each staffer, not just interns and junior staff, answers the phone and even Rep. Houlahan sets aside time each week to talk to constituents. Every constituent who attends a telephone town hall and gets in the queue to ask a question but isn’t able to, is called back by a staffer within 48 hours. The office has an open-door policy for constituents, and every constituent who requests a meeting in DC, gets one. During the 116th Congress, Rep. Houlahan and her team hosted 38 town halls, more than anyone else in the Pennsylvania delegation, responded to 177,000 calls or letters from constituents, closed 1,859 cases resulting in $4.8 million in federal benefits back to constituents, and worked with local companies and nonprofits on applications for federal grants and contracts, resulting in $16 million in grant awards to district entities.”

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Among other noteworthy items, CMF included the following reasons for selecting Rep. Houlahan for a Workplace Environment award:

“The office benchmarks salary data across Congress and everyone receives at least the median salary for their position. Additionally, they conduct an annual anonymous all-staff survey based on the Great Places to Work methodology, the results of which are taken seriously and acted upon to make improvements across the organization. They have a Staff Working Group which makes recommendations to senior staff, many of which have been implemented, including: limiting internal emails between 8pm-8am; an annual presentation to the team by the Chief of Staff on the office budget and how decisions about spending get made; and adding a standing agenda item to daily calls where junior staff can ask senior staff or Rep. Houlahan questions directly.”

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