Learn more about the nominees in each category. The following remarks were composed from the nomination letters and statements of support.
Commitment to Excellence
This award honors Carnegie Mellon staff members who take great pride in producing excellent work. They serve their customers with a steadfast commitment to quality performance. Nominees have an upbeat attitude and are consistently willing to invest considerable time and effort to overcome obstacles so that outstanding work might be delivered.
Anne Marie’s primary role includes overseeing Sponsored Project Accounting, Cost Analysis and Property Accounting for CMU. Beyond this already large set of responsibilities, she regularly takes on additional tasks to help the university meet its collective goals. Anne Marie’s unwavering commitment to excellence ensured successful completion of the National Science Foundation (NSF) audit, which lends credibility to the university and upholds its reputation as a place of integrity. Her dedication to producing excellent work not only improved the effectiveness of internal controls but positioned the university well for future research funding and audits. Her dedication to the NSF audit was unquestionable, and it inspired the efforts and collaboration of all involved parties across the university.
Kelly Campbell (HNZ 2017), Human Resources
Kelly has had a transformative impact on the way Carnegie Mellon brings new talent into the university. By collaborating with stakeholders across campus, she challenges the status quo, going out of her way to find creative solutions to staffing needs. One of Kelly's campus partners commented on her recruiting experience, "Kelly took the time to understand the needs of my unit. She worked to identify the specific background and skills I was looking for to complement my team. I truly feel that I have a partner who is interested in helping me achieve my goals."
Matt Coley, College of Engineering
Matt is a dedicated professional committed to operational accuracy and efficiency. His ability to view tasks and processes from a big picture perspective and his good-natured personality puts people immediately at ease and creates an environment where ideas are exchanged and problems are solved. He focuses on solving problems before they occur, which serves to benefit all those who work with him. One of Matt's colleagues comments, "I have observed that he approaches every problem with a level of calmness that is infectious to other employees and induces in them feelings of confidence and reassurance." Matt is truly an example of how one employee’s performance can have great impact both at the college and university levels.
Anita Connelly, College of Engineering Research Administration and Compliance
As part of the Engineering Research Administration Support Center, Anita consistently helps the team by providing advice and guidance, stepping in to help any team member with a project or challenging proposal. Besides being an expert research administrator, Anita’s best qualities are her professionalism and positive attitude. One colleague says of Anita, "Her enthusiasm is contagious and results in an enjoyable, exciting team environment to work in."
Christina Cowan, Electrical and Computer Engineering
What is impressive about Christina’s accomplishments is that they run the gamut, from outstanding leadership to creative and innovative service. She developed classes for the ECE staff to increase their morale and motivation. She believes that being valued is crucial to employee satisfaction and has she produced an amazing culture of learning not just within her administrative services group but in the entire department. Christina will encourage feedback and put it into action, anticipate needs before asked, bring new ideas to the table and will go out of her way to make your interaction with her a little more memorable.
Matthew D'Emilio, Office of the General Counsel
Matt's positive outlook, attitude and willingness to go above and beyond the scope of his job is undeniable. He complies with every request, always finding a solution to each individual department's needs. Matt responds quickly to time-sensitive inquiries, allowing all activities and operations to proceed without interruption. Matt has even participated in departmental meetings or training sessions to help staff better understand when and how the Contracts Office can assist operations, providing advice on identifying areas of risk and how best to reduce it.
Beth Depalma, CMUWorks Service Center
Beth is always positive and looks at what needs to be done for any unique task at hand. She looks at problems as a puzzle and makes sure that she solves it, not just accurately, but quickly. Her attention to detail and her calm and professional demeanor, paired with her engaging personality is undeniable. One of her colleagues stated, "I enjoy problem solving with Beth and bouncing ideas back and forth. Her commitment to excellence fuels my drive to be my best and excel at what I do."
Cornella Ellis, University Copy Center
Cornella consistently provides outstanding service to the CMU community, demonstrating a superior work ethic while performing above and beyond the responsibilities of his job description. As the first responder to customer service requests, Cornella answers 50-100 calls per month, resolving issues promptly and effectively. His initiative, knowledge and professionalism in delivering exceptional customer service ensures maximum availability of resources with high levels of customer satisfaction. He proactively assesses customers’ needs and effectively communicates with customers, handling difficult situations with patience and tact.
Catharine Fichtner (A 1995), School of Computer Science
The professionalism Catharine displays with faculty and students is unsurpassed and critical to ultimately providing the students with a positive experience in interacting with the Computer Science Department. She has always found ways to improve processes, take on more responsibility and provide better service to students. Catharine's consistent compassion and friendly demeanor, no matter how difficult the problem or situation, is seen as an invaluable resource to SCS students, faculty and staff alike.
Janice French, Tepper School of Business
A resource to her colleagues, Janice is an amazing team player who always puts first the good of the school and the university. Her insights and perspectives on how to best engage and steward students and alumni have been vital. Janice's efforts with the implementation of new software resulted in better organization, more efficient communication with our alumni and better data, which greatly benefits the entire Tepper School alumni network. Janice consistently performs above and beyond the description of her responsibilities by contributing additional time as a reunion and graduation volunteer and pet therapy volunteer for Carnegie Mellon students.
Rebecca Gray, Engineering Research Accelerator
Rebecca is extremely conscientious in helping all the of the research faculty and students who have come to her at odd times and sometimes with odd requests. She will always take requests with a smile and her favorite words, “we will get it done.” In addition to being an effective professional, Rebecca has an open and helpful attitude. She is truly a committed employee and Carnegie Mellon staff member who contributes to her department, college and university on a daily basis.
Holly Hippensteel, Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
Holly’s passion, skills, abilities and dedication are demonstrated daily through her work. She has been tasked with taking on increasing responsibilities, both within and outside Student Affairs, and has accepted these with professionalism and spirit. In a relatively short time, Holly has done much to promote gender equity at Carnegie Mellon, including, most notably, her efforts to help the university to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct impacting our community members. She plays a critically important role in the development of policy and best practices in the Title IX area; in the design, development and delivery of educational programming; and in the oversight and direct handling of investigations. There is no doubt that her impact on the Carnegie Mellon community will be felt for years to come.
Janice Metz, Entertainment Technology Center
Janice is truly someone who always goes above and beyond. She demonstrates a proactive attitude, a tireless work ethic and a holistic approach to problem solving that keeps the ideas, upon which the department was founded, in focus with every task. Janice plans and runs events critical to the success of the Entertainment Technology Center in receiving project sponsorships and brings attention to projects of merit to various communities. Because of Janice's devotion, hundreds of guests per event left impressed by what they experienced, entertained by their time spent and—importantly—eager to watch ETC progress in the future
Mary Moore, Cyert Center for Early Education
Mary embodies exceptional leadership in working with a large set of teachers, very young children and their parents from diverse backgrounds. She has worked through many tough parenting and family situations, many of which need a customized approach for the right solutions, while maintaining high standards of quality care. One parent says of her, "Mary has taught me that nothing about human development is insignificant, that the nurturing of human potential requires our every effort, that our charge is sacred and that this effort must always be collaborative."
Mary Beth Shaw, Office of the General Counsel
Working behind the scenes, Mary Beth is consistently there to deliver stellar advice, guidance and knowledge in a multitude of areas across the university. Her input to the terms and conditions to which we agree as an institution directly allows us to accomplish those dreams while reducing risk and expenses. From bond issues to contracts to tax law interpretation, she deals with a myriad of issues and challenges that are often quite complex. Despite this very heavy load, Mary Beth treats each client and their needs with the same care, passion and absolute commitment to excellence.
M. Shernell Smith, Office of the Dean of Student Affairs
Shernell is an outstanding university citizen, deeply committed to students and the welfare of the campus community. She cares deeply about the climate and culture on campus and has been especially committed to our underrepresented communities, creating linkages and building bonds. She is creative in developing ideas for different approaches, and then follows through to implement them, always engaging students and encouraging them to take the lead. Shernell is a team player, committed to university goals and the best interests of the university.
Mike Steidel (S 1978), Undergraduate Admission and Student Aid
In his years as director/dean of Admission, Mike has personally been responsible for enrolling over 40,000 students to the university. Michael goes to great lengths to understand the needs of each program and to enroll students who will excel in those programs. A true believer in the idea that "you can’t lead from behind," Mike can regularly be seen down in the admission trenches. He always focuses on the areas with the “weakest” results, the places where more work is needed and on his constant quest for excellence. He sets the bar high with his superb work ethic and loyalty to our institutional advancement.
Commitment to Students
This award honors staff members who are dedicated to guiding and assisting Carnegie Mellon students. They surpass the duties of their job description to meet students' needs, serving as role models who display a positive and professional image at all times.
Katie Cassarly, Career and Professional Development Center
Katie has supported the academic, personal and social needs of hundreds of MCS students. In her second year at CMU, Katie developed the PROPEL Symposium, in which students attended several topic-centered sessions with local employers. Students gained valuable knowledge, networking experience and networking contacts that they would have otherwise not experienced. Katie has worked closely with the all academic advisors in MCS to tailor her services to meet the needs of students and to maximize efforts toward student placement in the best possible positions.
Kevin Collins, Career and Professional Development Center
Kevin is a strong advocate for the SCS student population and consistently goes out of his way to meet with students and provide assistance. Last year, he facilitated 25 workshops for both undergraduate and graduate students, including eight orientation workshops in a 10-day time period, to help students acclimate to the university and the job search process. Kevin has gone above and beyond in creating programming and events that help his students and that cater to their unique needs. Kevin’s commitment to students can also be seen in his volunteerism during orientation, Almost Midnight breakfasts, Carnival, commencement and many more.
Andrea Francioni Rooney (DC 1994, 2014), Civil and Environmental Engineering
In her role as academic advisor, Andrea is engaged in providing academic information and guidance to our students, always meeting their needs and far exceeding their expectations. Andrea is often the first to notice a student’s accomplishments and to make sure they are celebrated. She attends academic and non-academic events that are important to the students, and she is the person they look for when they are giving a presentation or celebrating an event. Students speak effusively about Andrea’s caring attitude and warm personality and the role this has in supporting the positive department culture.
David Holcomb, School of Drama
David’s classes encourage a sense of camaraderie and unity within the student body. His method of teaching and support makes students feel bolder and more confident in their abilities as production managers and as leaders. Rather than solve a problem for a student, David will help them find strategies that will enable them to discover a solution on their own. He works tirelessly to support students and their work and manages a staff who assists in the creation of over 25 productions annually. Graduates of David’s speak about his classes and how lessons learned working with him have stuck with them more potently than anything else from their time at CMU.
Suzie Laurich-McIntyre, Office of the Vice Provost for Education
Suzie demonstrates immense dedication to diversity, wisdom in guiding both students and administrators and personal investment in the lives and careers of students. She develops deep connections with under-represented students, connecting with these students even before they attend CMU, maintaining those relationships and supporting students with personal and professional development opportunities. One student says, “I am continually blown away by her genuine heart and profound commitment … I couldn't imagine making it through this graduate experience without having her to be the voice of encouragement and reason or the shoulder to cry on.”
Tara Moe, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Tara's expansive institutional knowledge and expertise are invaluable resources, providing sound advice to prospective and current students. Tara works tirelessly with faculty and staff to ensure that programmatic needs are met and that enrolled students receive the quality educational experience that they deserve. She is an outstanding leader with a commitment to the values of justice and caring for all students. Tara willingly takes risks and manages them to evoke hope in the student population, continuously improving their satisfaction and removing barriers to outstanding service.
Cindy Vicker (TPR 2004), Chemical Engineering
Cindy is exceptionally dedicated to the students and to her work, serving as the go-to person for ChemE undergraduate and graduate students and faculty. She resolves any issue on time and always keeps her door open, ready to greet students and faculty with a friendly smile. She has developed innovative strategies to support the students and ensure they meet degree requirements, and has done so in a way that reduces their stress and improves their CMU experience.
Innovative and Creative Contributions
This award honors staff members who have developed new approaches, methods and processes to improve organizational effectiveness. They have demonstrated imagination and creativity in solving problems or fostering change that has benefited the university community. These nominees are expansive thinkers and effectual doers.
Bridget Decker (DC 2003), College of Engineering Dean's Office
Bridget has had a tremendous impact on the College of Engineering’s media presence, specifically through her innovative work with faculty research videos. She uses this highly persuasive medium to represent the research of faculty and she has been instrumental in embedding best practice processes in video creation. The wide-ranging subject matter connects a variety of audiences such as alumni, students, faculty, staff, donors, media, science foundations, associations and government groups.
Daniel Giammatteo (HNZ 2006), College of Engineering Dean's Office
In his work with the Silicon Valley campus, Dan has demonstrated his ability to think creatively and deliver novel proposals. He was tasked with developing the new financial operating model so as to meet the differing goals of the campus stakeholders. Dan has successfully struck a balance between the goals of each individual program and the budgetary needs of the entire core campus operation. He continues to actively look for opportunities to enable the campus and each program to thrive while balancing growth with stability.
Meighan Harding, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Since assuming the role of ECE director of operations, Meighan has worked at improving and streamlining the operations of the department. She looks for solutions, does not assign blame and is tremendously thorough. Meighan has tirelessly worked to support, inspire and guide ECE staff with various initiatives aimed at improving work experience and quality of life. One example of Meighan's impact is the implementation of the first ECE Staff Speaker Series, which she created to promote staff learning and development.
Mireille Mobley, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Since joining CEE in 2008, Mireille has demonstrated a high level of innovation and creativity in her work. She has had a key collaborative role in developing video modules, recruiting high school students admitted to the College of Engineering and designing of marketing materials for prospective students. Mireille is proactive in continuously re-evaluating CEE communication approaches and working to improve them through utilization of new technology and creativity.
Pam Wigley, College of Fine Arts
When CMU’s School of Drama celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2013, Pam set out to do something decidedly different to mark the centennial. Leveraging internal and external resources, Pam helped to secure CMU’s partnership with the Tony Awards, elevating the visibility of the School of Drama, promoting arts education and distinguishing our brand from competitors. The robust PR and marketing program that established the partnership earned CMU its first-ever Silver Anvil, the Public Relations Society of America’s highest honor. Pam’s dedication to finding creative solutions has created a tangible benefit in the School of Drama, increasing application volume by 43 percent.
This award honors staff members who enhance campus life with their enthusiasm, dedication to the university community and commitment to exceptional service. These individuals embody the university's values of growth and excellence. They foster an inclusive, collaborative and welcoming workplace that transcends organizational and professional boundaries through positive and constructive approaches.
Ashley Grice, Residential Education
Ashley goes above and beyond the call of duty to improve the diversity and inclusivity of CMU’s campus for all students, both undergraduate and graduate. She runs all SafeZone trainings, which educate attendees about language and behaviors they can use to make the LGBT+ community feel safer, fostering an environment of diversity and inclusivity. She advises and works closely with ALLIES and ALLIES-Grad, assisting with planning of many events, including the successful participation of CMU students, faculty, staff, alumni and more in this year's Pittsburgh Pride March. Ashley is an upstanding role model with unwavering commitment to LGBT+ students on campus.
Heather Johnson (HNZ 2010), Machine Learning
Heather not only embraces the idea of enhancing campus life, but also puts those ideals into action when working with faculty, staff and alumni. From providing new employees with introductions to staff and faculty, Heather always demonstrates her commitment to the university and represents CMU's values of growth and excellence. She has personally mentored and developed new staff members, encouraging their participation in campus programs and events, and has worked diligently to build bridges and forge new relationships with other departments and colleges. Heather certainly fosters an inclusive, collaborative and welcoming workplace that transcends organizational and professional boundaries through positive and constructive approaches.
Amanda Perkins, Finance Training and Communications
Amanda regularly takes mundane subjects and makes them exciting with engaging and informative training sessions, bringing staff from across the university together and encouraging excellence in compliance with university financial standards. Amanda frequently works on projects with multiple departments, always affirming the value of everyone’s contributions and creating a sense of trust and encouragement. Whether she is managing the Finance Bulletin or overseeing the delivery of Oracle training, Amanda is always thinking about how her efforts impact others.
G. Ronald Ripper, Civil and Environmental Engineering
From the time that Ron joined CEE in June 2006, he has demonstrated outstanding dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to both CEE and the broader CMU community. His cheerful, positive attitude has done much to contribute to the collegial working environment and familial atmosphere in his department. Ron helps all students cheerfully and promptly, attends and helps with their events and is looked at by all students as a friend. In addition to his daily duties, Ron has served as a Scotty Goes Green team leader, Staff Council representative, College of Engineering Staff Awards committee member and the master of ceremony at the annual CEE Talent Show.
Sari Smith, Silicon Valley Administration
Since her arrival at the Silicon Valley campus, Sari has transformed students’ campus lives and services through her leadership, continuous innovation and tremendous spirit and energy. She has worked hard to bring the students from our diverse programs together as a campus community, with such things as a monthly series of parties designed to engage our students with each other and to help them to network along, with providing fun ways to relax. Sari brought student-run organizations to life through her mentoring and outreach, giving students the opportunity to lead and to actively create a sense of community, inspiring them to new levels of university and civic engagement.
Patti Steranchak, Engineering and Public Policy
In additional to providing excellent, reliable and discreet service to the department head and supporting a wide range of departmental activities, Patti has played a critical role in creating and sustaining a friendly, collaborative environment where all students and staff feel respected and included. She’s helped to develop rising professors, has encouraged so many College of Engineering graduates through their academic careers and has mentored staff members to continue moving through the ranks and across the university. Patti has made the promotion and betterment of EPP her life’s work and her spirit shines brightly in the hearts of former affiliates, alumni, faculty, staff and students.
Teamwork and Collaboration
The team category is open to any group of two or more people, either in a shared department or interdisciplinary unit/taskforce, who have worked together toward a common goal.
This award honors staff teams who exemplify collaboration and cooperation with colleagues, students and the university community and recognizes its transformative impact. The team has developed new approaches, methods and systems to improve organizational effectiveness or has improved the student experience and/or students' learning opportunities. Nominees have demonstrated imagination and creativity in solving problems or fostering change that benefits the university community.
Engineering Research and Accelerator Team, Engineering Research and Accelerator
Left to right: Lynn M. Banaszak and Charlotte Emig
Lynn and Charlotte have been leading the Disruptive Health Technology Institute (DHTI) since it began in 2013 and have led a successful research and innovation effort that has touched all corners of the university. The team of two immediately began identifying areas of research focus to enable seamless collaboration and information sharing across the partners in DHTI. Not only have they laid the framework to make Carnegie Mellon known as a leading health care innovator in the Pittsburgh area, but they also worked successfully as a team as they strive to accomplish this goal.
HUB Team, Enrollment Services
Left to right: Lynn Javor and Melissa Skasik
Melissa and Lynn have built relationships across campus during their time here that will last a lifetime. Each one cares deeply about their students and their students’ families. Students know them for their outreach, anticipating and forecasting concerns, looking for possible options and furthering students’ own financial fluency. They set a stellar example for their colleagues about being wholly invested in the students’ experience. They deliver complex information in a straightforward and accessible manner, offering explanations and context, empowering everyone to make informed choices about how best to move forward for their specific situation.
Network Convergence Team, Computing Services
Left to right: Josh Emerson, Steve Snodgrass, Matt Nickerson and Ronald Zack
As Computing Services began planning to migrate SCS to the network-based telephony system, it became apparent to leaders on both sides that a team needed to find the best way to implement this — cue Josh, Steve, Matt and Ronald. This team came together quickly, set aside organizational boundaries immediately and began attacking the situation from all angles as a single cohesive unit. The spirit of partnership completely consumed this team on many levels. They have been open-minded and inquisitive while seeking solutions, and thoughtful and assertive about pursuing their plan, resulting in a smart and elegant transition.
PCI Core Team, Computing Services and Treasurer's Office
Left to right: Judy Cvejkus, Amy Faber and Laura Raderman (E 2002)
For the past five years, members of the PCI Core Team, a cross organizational team itself, have been working quietly behind the scenes with dozens of internal merchants and external vendors, hundreds of trainees, numerous IT professionals and multiple internal and external auditors to develop, document and assess the PCI compliance program it oversees. The PCI Core Team successfully managed a challenging assignment that ensured the university's ability to function effectively as a credit card accepting merchant. Amy, Judy and Laura had to hire, support and supervise a qualified security assessor to audit all of our merchants' processes and system infrastructure, and help a diverse group of CMU employees to understand the importance of the effort and prepare for an annual audit.
Qatar Bi-Weekly Payroll Team, Human Resources, International Finance and Qatar Dean's Office
Left photo, left to right: Lisa Ciletti, Richard Mundy and Jennifer Gray
Right photo, front row, left to right: Sara Bailey and Rita Motor; back row, left to right: Carrie Nelson, Katie Price, Kelli Friend and Russell Yount
Not pictured: David Burzese, Siva Vijaykumar Doddi, Karen Whistler Eck, Irina Fudrow, Kim Graziano, Christine Lacher, Michele Ley, Tami Long, Nimit Mehrotra (TPR 2010), Amy Maegle, Jan Provenzano, Andrew Pujol, Robert Riddle, Walter Rosado, Linda Schmidt and Pequin Xia
In April 2016, the Qatar Bi-Weekly Payroll Team completed a highly anticipated seven month project intended to convert a segment of existing Qatar employees to a new Workday bi-weekly payroll processing group, essential for employees who are paid in multicurrency. This change has significantly reduced the amount of manual effort expended within the Qatar and Pittsburgh offices and is poised to support future global expansions with the systems integrations, business processes, detailed procedures and task-oriented work plans. Not only did the team achieve its goal of the Qatar bi-weekly pay group implementation, but the team showed how global university departments and campuses can unite and succeed in support of a common goal.