Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Two with Award

May 16, 2022

2021 Performance Excellence Awards Presented at PENworks 2022 Conference

ST. PAUL, Minn., May 16, 2022 – The Performance Excellence Network (PEN) honors two recipients of the 2021 Performance Excellence Award.  The Award is based on the Baldrige Framework and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management and performance system.  The evaluation criteria consider leadership, strategic planning, customer-related processes, measurement and knowledge management, workforce, and operations, and recognize organizations that are systematically improving results.

Recipients of the Award include: State of Minnesota, Department of Human Services Direct Care & Treatment Administration (St. Paul, Commitment Level); and Granite Table Community of Excellence (St. Cloud, Commitment Level).  There have been 152 organizations recognized since 1991 by this program.

“Teamwork has taken us a long way in a short time,” said Marshall Smith, CEO of DHS Direct Care & Treatment.  “Together we’ve made remarkable strides. We’re so pleased that this award recognizes our progress. But we have more ambitious goals ahead — more work in front of us. And a fantastic team that will rise to every challenge and make it all happen.”

While the Award has been given to organizations for 30 years, Granite Table is the first community to receive recognition in our region, this being their second MN Performance Excellence Award.  Granite Table is a collaborative leadership effort in a three-county region around St. Cloud and uses the principles of excellence as captured in the Baldrige Framework to improve community outcomes related to population health, educational attainment, economic vitality, and quality of life.

Both recipients were recognized at PENworks 2022, a hybrid conference held last week at Mystic Lake Conference Center and livestreamed throughout the region.  The Awards were presented during a ceremony attended by over 300 local leaders from across a four-state region.

Said Brian Lassiter, president/CEO of the Performance Excellence Network: “As we continue to navigate significant challenges, both of these recipients have demonstrated a commitment to improving their processes, aligning their strategies, and optimizing their resources to serve their customers, their workforce, and other stakeholders.  They are committed to continuous improvement and are positioned for future success.”

Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development joined the celebration, adding: “We think Minnesota is at a real inflection point…and will rise up and help write the next chapter of the American economy.  This is a moment for the whole Midwest to commit ourselves to excellence, and that’s what you’re celebrating today.”

The conference featured more than 25 local, regional, and national speakers from all types of organizations, each sharing best practices and methods to improve leadership, innovation, resilience, and valuing people.  Of those speakers, three were from Baldrige Award recipient organizations, the nation’s highest performing organizations: Dr. Daria Willis, president of Howard Community College (MD); Stacey Crockett, senior communications specialist at the City of German Town (TN); and John Sackett, EVP & COO, Adventist HealthCare (MD). 

The other three keynotes each shared methods for navigating change, maintaining resilience, and leading forward: Mauri Friestleben of Minneapolis North High School, Deena Ebbert aka “Propellergirl,” and SSG John Kriesel, Purple Heart wounded Iraqi veteran and former Minnesota legislator.

About Performance Excellence Network

The Performance Excellence Network was founded in 1987 by the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Rudy Perpich, and was spun off into a private 501(c)3 nonprofit two years later. PEN advances improvement and performance excellence within organizations, individuals and communities. It helps leaders identify strengths and improvement opportunities, and it builds networks that bring information, resources, knowledge and best practices to organizations desiring to improve. PEN serves over 200 members and organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. The Performance Excellence Award is given in four levels: Commitment, Advancement, Achievement, and Excellence. For more information, go to

About Granite Table Central Minnesota Community of Excellence

The Central Minnesota Communities of Excellence initiative focuses on the three-county region surrounding the St. Cloud area.  It’s goal is to improve population health, educational attainment, economic vitality, and quality of life for the community.  For more information:

About Minnesota Department of Human Services, Direct Care & Treatment Administration (DCT)

DCT is a complex behavioral health care system, operating psychiatric hospitals and other inpatient mental health treatment facilities; inpatient substance abuse treatment facilities; dental clinics, residential group homes and vocational programming for people with disabilities; and the nation’s largest secure treatment program for civilly committed sex offenders.  With nearly 5,000 employees, DCT provides services at nearly 200 locations statewide. For more information:

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