Why Environmentalist Dr. Abu Senkayi Won Lifetime Award in USA

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By EADM Correspondent

In Summary: It’s the most coveted award among federal employees in the USA. The award is a recognition of one’s demonstrated commitment to the highest standard of excellence and dedication to public service. The achievements of the recipient’s career have lasting impacts on the agency and the perception of federal service in general. And the winner is? Ugandan-born environmental scientist Abu Senkayi, Ph.D., a 25-year veteran of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) of the USA Federal government who also doubles as the representative of the Kabaka of Buganda to the SW region of the USA. He deserves the award. He has done us proud. It is a return blessing. Congrats, Dr. Abu Senkayi!

 The Award-winning Abu Senkayi, Ph.D., savors his moment

Dallas, Texas—Ugandan-born environmentalist, Dr. Abu Senkayi, has won the Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his demonstrated commitment to the highest standard of excellence and dedication to public service of the United States Federal government. Dr. Abu Senkayi, an environmental scientist working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 in Dallas, Texas, was declared winner of the much-coveted award after beating off a stiff challenge from two other strong finalists, including his workmate at EPA Region 6; Ms. Nancy Dorsey and Alan Hormel of the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA). Dr. Abu Senkayi, who doubles as the representative of the Kabaka of Buganda to the south-western region of the USA, has been a recipient of several other accolades from the EPA including the Region 6 Gregg Cooke Strategic Alliance Award in 2013, acknowledges that his professional excellence has not come on the cheap. “Receiving the Lifetime award is a significant achievement in my professional career,” the veteran scientist wrote in an e-mail message to the EADM. “When I Was a little boy, my dream was to become a scientist. However, the chances of achieving this dream were not very high, considering that I came from a very poor family background,” he reminisced. “However, with hard work and some luck, I achieved my dream of not only becoming a scientist but also a US government scientist working at EPA,” the ever green Dr. Abu Senkayi wrote.

FLASHBACK: Dr. Senkayi, seated between the EPA Region 6 Regional Administrator, Richard E. Green, and Deputy Regional Administrator, Larry Starfield, after receiving the Region 6 Gregg Cooke Strategic Alliance Award in 2013.

“Dr. Abu Senkayi has demonstrated a commitment to the highest standard of excellence and dedication to public service,” Ms. Kelly Anne Anderson, Executive Director of the Dallas Fort Worth Federal Executive Board (FEB) said while announcing the award winners during a virtual ceremony in Dallas, Texas recently. She added: “The achievements of Dr. Abu Senkayi’s career have lasting impacts on the agency and the perception of federal service.” The Public Service Awards also known as The Federal Executive Board (FEBies) is an annual award ceremony recognizing excellence in Federal Service.

Ms. Kelly Anne Anderson, Executive Director of the Dallas Fort Worth Federal Executive Board (FEB) declared Dr. Abu Senkayi winner of the Lifetime award ahead of two other finalists.

There are 28 Federal Executive Boards across the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth FEB is comprised of 80 Federal Agency Heads and 220 Federal Departments.

The Dallas-Fort Worth FEB annually receives hundreds of nominations in multiple categories. The 2021 FEBies debuted on August 31, 2021 during which a cross-section of federal employees from various Federal Agencies and Departments, including, among others, the US District Court Jury; the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA); the Transportation and Safety Authority (TSA); the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS); The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region 4 Diversity and Inclusion Fearless Leaders for Change; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Moving the needle in the moonshot in Texas; General Service Administration (GSA); Health and Human Services (HHS); Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) and others were recognized for their Federal Service.

The award-winning Dr. Abu Senkayi, currently an environmental scientist with the United States Environmental Protection Agency Region 6, is responsible for coordinating enforcement and compliance activities specifically related to concentrated animal feeding operations. Dr Senkayi earned his doctorate in soil science from the University of California at Davis before joining Texas A&M University in College Station as a research scientist. Abu Senkayi, Ph.D., completed his bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. A former member of Clay Mineral Society, Soil Science Society of America, and the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain, Dr. Abu Senkayi is a 25-year veteran of the EPA. He attributes his achievement to a rounded work ethic  that places humanity and the environment at the center of everything he does.

“I strongly believe that this award is a recognition of the academic, professional and social work that I have engaged in over the last 30 years or so,” the passionate conservationist Dr. Abu Senkayi wrote in his e-mail to the EADM.

Engineer Israel Mwesigwa, who has known Dr. Abu Senkayi for over 30 years Expressed delight at the professional milestone attained by his long-time friend. He saluted the lifelong environmentalist with boatful of kudos!

A long-time resident of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area since 1987, Dr. Abu Senkayi’s professional recognition was not lost on members of the Ugandan community living in the area, whose local association he helped to establish. Engineer Israel Mwesigwa, who has lived in the DFW area since 1977 and has known Dr. Senkayi for over three decades said his friend has dedicated his professional life to preserving the environment and serving communities with unperilled humility and generosity.

“He deserved the recognition,” engineer Israel Mwesigwa told the EADM. “He is a noble, honest, and honorable man. He loves people and is an example of a servant leader,” the engineer now turned businessman and philanthropist said of his soft-spoken buddy. Engineer told the EADM that Dr. Abu Senkayi has  dedicated over half of his lifetime thus far to protecting the environment and to community service, vocations he has executed with maximum diligence, humility, and exemplary leadership. “Dr. Abu Senkayi loves people and does not discriminate against anybody on the basis of ethnicity, religion, politics, or cultural background,” engineer Mwesigwa said. According to engineer Mwesigwa, the award to Dr. Senkayi is “a return blessing for the good things he does to people.” “He is one of the greatest human export Uganda has ever sent abroad!”, declared the engineer. He recalled that Dr. Senkayi is the founding president of the DFW community association of Ugandans living in the area and played a leading role in hosting the Ugandan-North American Association (UNAA) in Dallas in 1990. “He has done us very proud and we should celebrate his achievement,” the upbeat engineer Israel Mwesigwa said.

Dr. Abu Senkayi, the founding president of the Ugandan American Association of Greater Dallas Fort Worth (UAA-DFW), played a leading role in organizing and hosting the 2nd UNAA convention in Dallas, Texas in 1990.

Dr. Abu Senkayi, according to available public records, served as the president of the interim Ugandan American Association of Greater Dallas Fort Worth (UAA-DFW), a community organization of Ugandans living in the area for several years before the association was officially registered by the state of Texas. He is one of the founding fathers of the UAA-DFW. Following the registration of UAA-DFW by the Texas secretary of state on August 12, 1992, Dr. Senkayi was elected the first UAA-DFW president in 1993.

Rev. Joseph Kamugisha, a former president of the Ugandan American Association of Greater Dallas Fort Worth (UAA-DFW), has worked closely with Dr. Abu Senkayi on numerous high-profile community programs for over 25 years.

While celebrating the lofty accolade to Dr. Abu Senkayi, Rev. Joseph Kamugisha, a former president of the local Ugandan American Association of Greater Dallas Fort Worth (UAA-DFW), stated in his social media posting that “Dr. Senkayi is perhaps the longest serving publicity secretary in the history of UAA-DFW.” “I had the highest honor when Dr. Senkayi accepted to serve his last term under my presidency in 1999 as the publicity secretary,” the former president and social media trailblazer wrote.” In that role, “Dr. Senkayi was the first publicity secretary and editor to introduce and maintain a community monthly newsletter, where he often featured as the main writer,” Rev. Kamugisha recalled. He further wrote that Dr. Abu Senkayi was one of the estimated 120 Ugandans who convened in Atlanta, Georgia in November 1988 to witness and participate in activities of the first and historical Thanksgiving weekend dinner during which  the Ugandan-North American Association (UNAA) was born.”

A cross-section of UNAA members during one of the annual conventions. UNAA has since 1988 morphed into a dynamic organization taking a life of its own. It is loved and loathed in equal measure by the very Ugandans it was formed to serve.

Coincidentally, before, during, and after the Atlanta meeting, Dr. Senkayi was temporarily stationed in Atlanta working on a special project of national significance. In his own words, Dr. Senkayi “was a member of the Ebasco Environmental Services multidisciplinary team that was assembled in Atlanta for several months to conduct an environmental assessment in support of the Intercontinental Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the U.S. and the former U.S.S.R.” He continues; “This team evaluated the potential impacts relating to the elimination of the intermediate-range and shorter-range Pershing missiles by open burning and static firing.” “Based on the results of this study, the U.S. Senate ratified the INF Treaty,” Dr. Senkayi’s brief to the EADM states.

Two years later, in 1990, Dr. Abu Senkayi, the founding president of the then nascent UAA-greater DFW area led a dedicated group of Ugandans to organize and host what later became the 2nd UNAA convention. After the convention, available records indicate, the Dallas group worked tirelessly to incorporate and register UNAA in Texas. As night follows day, during the first UNAA general elections in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1993, Dr. Abu Senkayi was elected UNAA's first secretary, a role he executed with the highest of integrity and dignity for two consecutive terms (1993-1997).

Dr. Frank Matovu and Dr. Sarah Matovu, long-time residents of Atlanta, Georgia, congratulated Dr. Senkayi upon landing the coveted award. The couple, comprising of the six founding members of the Ugandan-North American Association (UNAA) worked closely with Dr. Senkayi during preparations to hold the first UNAA meeting in Atlanta, Georgia in 1988.

Dr. Sarah Matovu,who has served on numerous committees with Dr. Abu Senkayi over a long period of time, told the EADM in a phone interview that their time-tested friend was very deserving of the award. She said that Dr. Senkayi is very passionate about the environment. “When you see and listen to him speak, you feel his commitment and passion about the preservation of the environment both here in the USA and in Uganda,” the medical doctor said. “He advocates clean air, health eating practices, and a safe environment for all,” she said. While expressing regret over the degradation of the environment in Uganda, Dr. Sarah Matovu observed that although there is not much the Diaspora can do to stop or restore the degradation of the environment in Uganda, “whenever you hear Dr. Senkayi speak about the destruction of the environment in motherland Uganda, you feel the genuine pain, sense of loss, and a near evangelical faith he articulates. “Although the Matovu family has known the Senkayi for over three decades, the couple spent much more time with Dr. Abu Senkayi during the summer and fall of 1988 when the latter temporarily lived in Atlanta on official duty and took time off to assist with the preparation for the first ‘UNAA Convention’.

Information available to the EADM indicates that Dr. Frank Matovu and Dr. Sarah Matovu hosted the Thanksgiving dinner during the first ‘UNAA Convention’ at their private residence in Marietta, Georgia (an Atlanta suburb), on Thursday November 24, 1988. “About 60 to 80 Ugandans attended the Thanksgiving dinner that would later become UNAA’s anchor ceremony, the convention,” the information obtained by the EADM suggests.

Dr. David Nnyanzi, an academic and Assistant professor of sociology at the Framingham State University, Massachusetts, USA, described Dr. Abu Senkayi as an impeccable individual with high moral character, very hard working, a father figure, and a professional role model who earned the award on merit.

“The award is one in a meritorious series which he has been accumulating over the years,” Dr. David Nnyanzi, an assistant Professor of sociology at Framingham State University in Massachusetts told the EADM on phone. Dr. David Nnyanzi, who has worked with Dr. Abu Senkayi on several community service projects for Buganda and Uganda in general, said that the lifetime award to Dr. Senkayi was like an icing on the cake. “He has received several accolades over the years but this particular one is even more timely and meritorious as it has come at a time when Dr. Senkayi is marking 25 years of service with the EPA; a kind of icing on his ‘Silver Jubilee Cake’,” he told the EADM. Dr. Nnyanzi, who described Dr. Senkayi as his big brother, father-figure, and role model, said that his exemplary attributes do not only resonate with him but also with the rest of the young generation and his peers. Dr. Nnyanzi, a fellow clansman with Dr. Senkayi; both belong to the Mbogo (buffalo) clan of the Baganda, said he has worked with Dr. Abu Senkayi during organization for the biennial Buganda Bumu conventions, and other community development programs. “He is an impeccable man,” the professor of sociology told the EADM. “I have found him so engaging, educative, hardworking, and passionate about environment conservation and the development of Buganda, Uganda, and humanity in general,” he said. However, Dr. Nnyanzi observed that “any such development can only be realized if the environment is preserved and protected, a mission Dr. Senkayi has dedicated his life to.”

Dr. Abu Senkayi addressing the Buganda Parliament (Lukiiko)at Mengo in 2017

Over the years, Owekitiibwa (Honorable) Dr. Abu Senkayi, the representative of the Kabaka of Buganda to the South-western region of the United States covering the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, has held various high-profile positions on behalf of the Ugandan community resident in the DFW area. For example, in 2000, he was one of the key members who planned and executed the first historic visit of His Royal Majesty the Kabaka of Buganda, Ronald Muwenda Mutebi to Dallas, Texas. “In 2005, Dr. Senkayi served as the Chairman of the organizing committee that was responsible for another historic royal visit of Her Royal Highness the Nabagereka of Buganda, Sylvia Naginda to Dallas, Texas,” Rev. Joseph Kamugisha wrote. Rev. Kamugisha served on the same committee as the deputy to Dr. Senkayi.

Dr. Abu Senkayi and family enjoying the outdoors and natural beauty in the state of New Mexico

Happily married to Mrs. Sunajeh Senkayi, a father of two adult children, Ali Senkayi, son who is an electrical engineer and Dr. Sala Senkayi, daughter, and now an award-winning federal employee, Dr. Abu Senkayi, has selflessly served his local community as a leader and role model to both his peers and the young generation. Perhaps as a way to actualize his parental dream, the couple’s only daughter, the youthful Sala Senkayi, has followed her father’s academic and professional path. Today, the hitherto little Sala Senkayi, Ph.D., is one of the youngest female Environmental Scientists in the USA. An accomplished scholar and consummate professional, Dr. Sala Senkayi, is an award-winning scientist in her own right. In 2017, she won the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) from the former USA President Barack Obama in recognition of her professional excellence.

EPA Region 6 Regional Administrator, Ron Curry, standing between the award-winning duo; Dr. Abu Senkayi and his daughter, Dr. Sala Senkayi in 2017.

The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) came with a grant of $100,000 which enabled Sala to continue her research. The editorial team at the EADM joins fellow Ugandans, EPA Region 6 and other scientists in congratulating Dr. Abu Senkayi, upon receiving this well-deserved and distinguished honor by the DFW Federal Executive Board.

A cross-section of Kabaka’s Envoys in the USA and Canada with the former Deputy Katikiro of Buganda Ambassador Emmanuel Sendaula in 2017.

In addition to the hundreds of Ugandans who have sent their congratulatory messages to Dr. Abu Senkayi on winning the lifetime award include his fellow representative of the Kabaka of Buganda to North America (Canada and the USA). a source familiar with the workings of the group told the EADM that the representatives were actually the first associates of Dr. Senkayi to salute him on the historic milestone. “Actually, one of the representatives cut a video clip from the award ceremony and shared it on social media before it went viral,” the source told the EADM. ”He is our very own and we are very proud of him and it was fitting that we broke the news by going first!”, the source said.

Meanwhile, over 1000 federal employees within the Dallas-Fort Worth jurisdiction were nominated to compete for the public service excellence awards offered to the best-rated employee in each of the 15 categories, according to Mr. Michael Coyne, the DFW Federal Executive Board (FEB) Chair and the Regional Director for National Weather Service. This was the “second virtual annual Public Service Awards Ceremony as the country continues to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, said Ms. Kelly Anne Anderson, Executive Director of the Dallas Fort Worth Federal Executive Board.

"These Federal employees are responsible for securing the homeland, feeding families, protecting the environment, educating our children, and keeping our infrastructure functioning,” Ms. Kelly Anne Anderson told her virtual audience. She added: “These outstanding service members men and women provide service to this country through hard work and by recognizing the mission of their respective agencies.”

Ms. Kelly Anderson saluted all federal employees for their dedication and service to the country, the DFW Policy Board, and Federal Agencies in the DFW Federal Executive Board (FEB) geographical area that support the FEB by lending their employees as a resource to serve on the committees. She said that without them they couldn't do the work they do each day. Ms. Kelly Anderson also thanked the Committee Chairs and Committee members, Peer Review Panel for ranking the nominees, and the Blue-Ribbon Panel of Judges.

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