Jackie Tillett, who serves as the director of the Dare County Elections Department, has been named Dare County Employee of the Month for February 2023. The prestigious award was presented to Tillett by Dare County Manager/Attorney Bobby Outten during the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting that was held at 9 a.m. on Monday, February 6, 2023.
“We’ve been doing Employee of the Month for as long as I’ve been here, and I’m not sure, but this might be the first or maybe the second time that I’ve ever had the opportunity to make the presentation, and I’m delighted to do it because the person getting it this morning is so well-deserving,” said Outten. “Jackie, believe it or not, might be our longest tenured employee. She’s been with us for 38 years.”
Tillett began her career with Dare County on May 20, 1985, when she was hired to work as a clerk for the Dare County Planning Department—and because she was often the first person with whom individuals made contact upon entering the office, she quickly became the face of the department, and she worked diligently to ensure everyone who walked through the door had all of their needs taken care of by providing both exceptional customer service as well as a friendly smile.
“When I think about Jackie, the first thing I think about is that smile that she showed you when she walked up here,” said Outten. “She’s always smiling. When someone walked in the front door, that’s who they saw. [She] told them what they needed to do, got everybody straight, kept everybody happy, kept the wheels turning and kept things going smoothly.”
During his presentation, Outten also noted the fact that Tillett displays a “calm and thoughtful” demeanor at all times and praised her for her ability to always keep her composure, despite some of the very difficult situations and challenging circumstances she has experienced over the course of her 38-year career with Dare County.
In February 2013, Tillett transferred from the Planning Department to the Elections Department, where she initially took on the role of senior elections specialist. Then, following the resignation of the county’s previous Elections director in the summer of 2020, Tillett was promoted to her current position of Elections director on August 17, 2020.
“In August of 2020, our Elections director left, and if you recall, 2020 was a presidential election year, and this was a few months before the election,” said Outten. “It was an election that was going to receive a lot of scrutiny, that had already received a lot of scrutiny. There were a lot of things going on, a lot of balls hanging in the air, and everything was kind of chaotic—not just in Dare County but throughout the whole state and the country. I have to tell you: Jackie stepped into that void, and things were not chaotic in Dare County. Our election went smoothly.”
Outten went on to also praise Tillett for her willingness to step up to the plate when needed and to serve the citizens of Dare County by stepping into the role of Elections director without showing any reluctance or hesitation.
“This is a person that stepped up when somebody needed to step up,” Outten said. “Most people at that time, if they had 28 or 30 years in, would have said, ‘No way I’m diving into this. I think I’ll go ahead and take my leave, and it’s been a good career.’ When we talked to Jackie about it, she didn’t even blink. She said, ‘I can do it.’ I said, ‘Are you sure you can handle it?’ and she said, ‘I’ve got it. Don’t you worry, Bobby. We can take care of it.’ And she did, and we haven’t missed a beat since.”
Outten’s sentiments were echoed in the nomination forms that were submitted by some of Tillett’s colleagues, one of whom highlighted not only her positive attitude and professionalism but also her exceptional leadership skills and ability to perform under pressure.
“Since taking the position in August of 2020, Jackie has shown outstanding ability, strength and perseverance,” wrote one nominator. “In Elections, the director is often under great pressure, knowing the smallest of issues could have negative effects for Dare County, its voters and the State of North Carolina. Jackie’s ability to organize, problem solve and adapt shone brightly in the face of ever-changing rules, regulations and restrictions. Under Jackie’s leadership, the Dare County Board of Elections maintains a sharp focus on accuracy and equality—with transparency and accountability to Dare County’s voters being the highest priority. I truly cannot think of anyone more deserving of the honor of Employee of the Month.”
As he concluded the February 2022 Employee of the Month presentation and presented her with the award, Outten told Tillett, “I can’t thank you enough for all that effort and can’t thank you enough for all that you’ve done for the county for the whole 38 years of your career. This Employee of the Month award is well-deserved. Thank you.”