The City Sentinel Online, Staff Report
Lester Claravall of Oklahoma has become the first national honoree in the 11-year history of the NextGen national awards program.
NextGen, a national organization out of Washington DC, is a movement to inspire new leaders through innovation, training, and leadership opportunities in efforts to bridge the generation gap to help develop and retain new talent in the field of public service.
Due to Covid-19, the recent annual Summit normally hosted at the nation’s capital, went virtual. The highlight of the 2020 event was announcement of this year’s NextGen “Nation’s Top 12” honorees.
Drawing from more than 200 nominations submitted, 12 individuals from across the country were chosen to receive awards in 6 different categories for this year’s NextGen Top 12. The categories included Courageous Champion, Innovator of the Year, Silent Hero, Exemplary Leader, NextGen Advocate, and Dedication During Covid-19.
The group said Claravall won the Exemplary Leader award for demonstrating benevolence, competence, integrity, dedication, and commitment to improving and inspiring others at the local, state, national and international levels.
At the international level, Claravall has volunteered his time and expertise to be an international speaker at 12 different global and world congress events held in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America.
Nationally, Claravall was the youngest ever two-term national president of the Interstate Labor Standards Association (ILSA), a network of labor and safety officials from each of the 50 American states and several countries. ILSA addresses such topics as wage theft, prevailing wage fraud, teen worker injuries, and human trafficking of children.
At the Oklahoma Department of Labor, he served all 77 counties as Oklahoma’s only full-time child labor officer to protect working children against workplace abuse, exploitation, endangerment, and hazardous occupations.
Locally, Claravall graduated from the FBI, OSBI, Police, and Fire citizens’ academies, served the Oklahoma City Police Department as an ambassador for 3 years, and served as the National Volunteer Fire Council Fire Corps state advocate to help support local fire and EMS departments across the state through volunteer efforts.
During his public service and community outreach career, Claravall has been recognized by several national and international organizations for his many contributions to helping others.
He was named one of the nation’s Ten Outstanding Young Americans by the United States Junior Chamber and finalist for Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World by Junior Chamber International.
Claravall’s other honors include the National Public Service Award presented jointly by the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration, the Lewis Hine Award for Service to Children and Youth presented by the National Child Labor Committee, the Gold Screen Award presented by the National Association of Government Communicators, and the Labor Excellence Award presented by ILSA.
In addition, Claravall was twice a finalist for Cable’s Leaders in Learning Award presented by Cable in the Classroom.
In 2019, Claravall was one of those honored at the Universal Human Rights Awards ceremony in the Oklahoma state Capitol Building.
Darla Shelden, reporting for The City Sentinel newspaper, wrote last year that Claravall, “began public service as a Carl Albert Executive Fellow for the State of Oklahoma in 1997. After only six months, he was asked to start up the Child Labor Unit. His background in marketing, training and development aided in spearheading a statewide young worker safety campaign in schools. As the state’s only full-time child labor officer, Lester would be responsible for educational outreach and enforcement efforts throughout the state.” Claravall has worked with international partners to keep young workers safe around the world.
Note: Publisher Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report. McGuigan worked on safety issues with Claravall when during the tenure of the late Brenda Reneau, the longest-serving elected Commissioner of Labor in Oklahoma history.