2022 Management Excellence

Mark Reed, Valerie Hasberry, James Kaufmann

Led the cleanup, restoration and enhanced security of the U.S. Capitol Building and grounds following the violent attack on Jan. 6, 2021, ensuring that the work of Congress could continue and the presidential inauguration could take place two weeks later.

The crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop Congress from counting the electoral votes that would confirm Joe Biden’s presidential election victory smashed windows, doors and furniture, defaced historic statues and murals, trashed offices, and vandalized the inaugural platform that was under construction.

In the aftermath of this attack, the staff of the Architect of the Capitol—custodians, laborers, painters, groundskeepers, architects and engineers—shook off the immense trauma of that day to quickly get the building and grounds back in order and ensure the work of Congress could continue.

Led by Mark Reed, the superintendent of the U.S. Capitol Building and Capitol Visitor Center, Valerie Hasberry, the chief security officer, and James Kaufmann, the director of the Capitol Grounds and Arboretum, the employees began the arduous task of cleaning up the debris, starting the painstaking restoration work, working with the Capitol Police Board to ensure the security of the building, and preparing for the inauguration that was just two weeks away.

“It felt like the aftermath of a tornado,” said Peter Bahm, the chief of staff for the Architect of the Capitol. “Everyone had to overcome emotion, but there was a mindset that we are here to make sure Congress could get back to work. People did their jobs in a difficult situation.

“Everyone was focused on enabling the House and Senate to resume certifying the 2020 presidential election on the evening of January 6th and getting the Capitol campus back in order while preparing for the inauguration to signal our nation’s determination to support a peaceful transition of power,” Bahm said.

J. Brett Blanton, the architect of the Capitol, said his staff found significant damages from that fateful day, including a wrecked inauguration platform along with smashed and stolen sound systems and photography equipment.

Blanton also noted that in each of their areas of authority, Reed, Hasberry and Kaufmann made quick assessments of what needed to be done, set priorities, and then directed and motivated the staff to complete the job of restoring the Capitol to its grandeur and ensuring its security.

“What was impressive to me was the calming effect that Mark, Val and Jim had on their staffs,” Blanton said. “They focused on the mission and told employees, ‘Let’s do our job and enable democracy to prevail.’’’

That job required the expert cleaning and conservation of statues, murals, historic benches and original shutters that suffered varying degrees of damage, primarily from the residue of pepper spray, chemical irritants and fire extinguishers. Recently restored bronze and glass lanterns that were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the original landscape architect of the U.S. Capitol Grounds, were damaged, a cast-iron lamp post was torn down by rioters and many windowpanes were broken.

There was damaged and broken furniture, papers scattered everywhere, House and Senate offices vandalized, pieces of door frames broken off, holes in the walls and mountains of trash that included placards and cast-iron pipes throughout the building and all over the grounds.

Architect of the Capitol employees also worked to secure the perimeter of the building, which was surrounded by high metal fencing in the aftermath of the attack.

Reed said he went through a range of emotions on Jan. 6 and in the days that followed.

“First it was disbelief and then sadness,” Reed said. “This is a building we care about and to see it trampled by some Americans was really sad. Then I experienced anger and then pride in the team in how they came together.”

Hasberry said as a veteran, she never imagined that an attack on the U.S. Capitol by Americans could occur.

“But our staff came together to overcome the shock and anger to say we have to move forward and get the Capitol back,” Hasberry said. “It was heartbreaking, but like a lot of tragedies, it brought out teamwork and goodness in people when faced with a challenge. They said, ‘Let’s get it done.’ There was a lot of pride that we got the Capitol functional again, and we showed that the rioters did not win.”

Kaufmann agreed. “The Architect of the Capitol staff had the willingness and the guts to do whatever it took to get in and make things right and to ensure that everyone who walks up to the Capitol will still get that sense of awe. The team showed tremendous drive and confidence in each other. This crew was as patriotic as you can get.”

Patricia Williams, the director of the Office of Safety and Code Compliance for the Architect of the Capitol, said the employees under the direction of Reed, Hasberry and Kaufmann brought the building and grounds back to pristine condition.

“They brought order and normalcy after the chaos,” Williams said. “The Capitol is the symbol of our democracy, and we wanted to show that we were still standing.”