1/27/21 - A Message from Secretary Hou: 5 Star Employee Recognition Program Awardees

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Early in March 2020, we announced a new 5 Star Employee Recognition Program designed for IDHS staff to recognize colleagues who go above and beyond in their work to provide exceptional services. Since then, a lot has changed in our agency, our state, our country, and our world, but one constant has been the remarkable ways IDHS staff have shown up for each other and for the communities we serve. We want to recognize three 5 Star Awardees who were nominated for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Congratulations to Luis Perez, DRS, Luke Skowron, FCS, and Cynthia Yarbrough, DRS!

Luis Perez

Luis Perez is currently a Vocational Rehabilitation Coordinator within the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). Employed with IDHS for nearly six years, Luis lives life by the motto "Treat others how you wish to be treated." Luis strives daily to provide answers to all of the questions that customers have, and works to help others feel better leaving the office than when they came in.

Luis draws inspiration from seeing his parents work hard to provide a better life for him and his siblings. Both of Luis' parents defied odds and immigrated to the United States with no resources at a young age. As a way to appreciate their sacrifices, Luis challenged himself to make good choices and to be a good person. Just as he is inspired by his parents, Luis wants to inspire others.

Luis Fun Facts:

  • Luis was encouraged to run a marathon in 2018 and has since run three full marathons.
  • He has learned American Sign Language and enjoys practicing with co-workers.
  • Luis loves motorcycles and classic cars. His favorite car is the 1972 Volkswagen Beetle.

Luke Skowron

Luke Skowron has been a valued employee of IDHS for nearly three years. Being the son of a Polish immigrant, he draws from the strength, faith, and courage of his mother, who immigrated to the U.S with dreams for herself and her family.

Luke works in the Division of Family and Community Services (FCS) providing comprehensive casework management for individuals and families requesting public assistance. Luke's passion and excellent customer service skills can often be displayed when he is partnering with individuals and families to identify barriers to self-sufficiency, and strategies to overcome those barriers.

Luke Fun Facts:

  • Luke is a member of the Planetary Society and is an avid amateur astronomer and astrophotographer.
  • Luke speaks fluent Polish and loves grilling on summer weekends, biking in the spring and fall, and catching up on movies during the winter.

Cynthia Yarborough

Cynthia Yarborough has over 40 years of dedicated service to IDHS. Cynthia is a Senior Public Service Administrator in the Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS). Over the years she has worked in various capacities, providing a wealth of knowledge and assistance within the department, and most recently providing secretarial duties for the Planning and Development Unit. Whether it's receiving visitors, answering phones, overseeing quality assurance, or assisting management with special projects, Cynthia's willingness to help and serve others in any way that she can is an invaluable asset to DRS.

Cynthia loves people and enjoys helping others. Customer service and customer care is central to every personal encounter she has. Her goal is to show everyone that no matter who they are or what challenges they face, they are important and their lives have purpose. She credits these fundamental truths of her life to being taught to help others at an early age and to her belief in God. Cynthia receives inspiration from studying the Bible and from actively participating in worship services with her local congregation.

Cynthia Fun Facts

  • Cynthia enjoys spending time with her three precious grandchildren, fireside chats, dining out, and attending worship services with her husband, the love of her life for over 28 years.
  • Cynthia loves to play all types of games, whether cards, word, or board games. She refers to herself as an "MSNBC junkie" and loves watching various talk shows and listening to gospel radio.

New Nominations!

Nominations can be made by visiting OneNet and clicking on the 5 Star logo which will take you to a video message from the Secretary that introduces the program to all of our staff. Staff can submit their nominations online or by printing out the pdf to either mail or email the nomination.

Nominations are currently being accepted. Please see the schedule below for when nominations are being accepted for each quarter!

Jan 1st - March 31st

April 1st- June 30th

July 1st - September 30th

October 1st - December 31st

Thank you to Luis, Luke, and Cynthia - I am grateful for your dedication to the mission of IDHS.



Grace B. Hou

Secretary, IDHS