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Poole College of Management Announces the 2021 Staff Awards for Excellence Winners and Nominees

The NC State block "S" logo in brick off Varsity Drive. Photo by Becky Kirkland.

The NC State Awards for Excellence is one of the most prestigious honors given to non-faculty employees nominated in the following categories: customer service, efficiency and innovation, human relations, outstanding state government service, public service, safety and heroism and the spirit of North Carolina. Poole College of Management is proud to recognize the accomplishments of our nominees and two recipients in the SHRA and EHRA categories. 

“Poole College has a dedicated community of staff who work passionately and tirelessly to make the student experience a successful one,” said Frank Buckless, Stephen P. Zelnak Jr. Dean. “This year’s group of nominees exemplify the Think and Do spirit each and every day. I am incredibly proud of how they have worked during this pandemic environment to overcome obstacles. I appreciate their service and applaud each and every one of them on this great honor.”

SHRA Award Winner

Kimberly Whitfield, executive assistant to the dean, Office of the Dean

Award Category: Customer Service

Nomination Quote: Kimberly starts each work each day with a positive attitude and is always looking for ways that she can assist others. I appreciate Kimberly’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment that brings out the best in all of us. Kimberly is always looking for ways to recognize and celebrate the many positive activities of her colleagues. Kimberly is a patient, caring, and genuine person making a significant impact for the well-being of our whole community. We are fortunate to have Kimberly as our colleague and friend. Her energy and dedication to helping faculty, staff, and students is infectious and greatly appreciated.

EHRA Award Winner

Beth Shepherd, director of instructional design

Award Category: Customer Service

Nomination Quote: In late spring 2020, Beth transitioned to a college-wide role where she now serves as the director of instructional design. Beth has consistently and unselfishly provided unwavering support and service to faculty and staff in the MBA program as well as across Poole College – even before she was in a college-wide role. When the pandemic began, Beth jumped right in and proved to be an exemplary leader, resource and team player across the college as everyone was forced to pivot into a new normal. She created resources, led workshops and assisted individual faculty as they rapidly responded to the crisis and moved their courses online.

SHRA Nominees

Susan Ebbs, CRM program manager, Jenkins MBA

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation

Nomination Quote: Susan continues to wow me with her incredible work ethic, stamina, innovation, and follow-through. She had several difficult goals as we transitioned from Salesforce to Slate, including creating and utilizing several new technical features and procedures. Susan’s love for innovation also comes through in her sharing of information. She often shares suggestions, improvements, and the latest regarding new technology with the team. Her curiosity makes her an early adopter and influencer, leading our team to forge new paths. She does all of this with enthusiasm and grace, reason and kindness.

Kathleen Ford, operations assistant, Office of Business Services

Award Category: Customer Service

Nomination Quote: My experiences with Kathy are always prompt, positive, and accurate. I know that whenever I put in a request, and Kathy handles it, it will be done right away, and with a smile. Kathy has an extensive knowledge of how things work at Poole, meaning that she knows before I do, what backup documentation I will need to provide for a purchase or reimbursement. Kathy goes a step beyond just getting the task done, she genuinely cares about the people she serves, and takes the time to get to know us.

Emily Gower, admissions specialist, Jenkins MBA

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation

Nomination Quote: Emily has an insatiable curiosity and thirst for knowledge, which she focuses on understanding, analyzing, and enhancing the MBA prospect and applicant experience. Always eager to learn, Emily completed NC State’s Graduate Certificate in Marketing in May 2020. She often looks for new opportunities to grow and add to her skill set, which she then applies to her daily work on the MBA team. Emily continues to look ahead and identify more ways to be involved at PCOM by stepping up for new initiatives and offering solutions to current process pain points.

EHRA Nominees

Tayah Butler, director of diversity, equity and inclusion, Office of the Dean

Award Category: Human Relations

Nomination Quote: Tayah Butler has been very heavily engaged in working to create a welcoming and inclusive environment within the Poole College. This past summer, with the violence against people of color, heightened racial tensions and protests, her work came into stark focus. Although not in her primary job role, she provided vital counsel to the college’s leadership as we navigated these stressful times. She helped us to understand and manage processes to deal with incidents closer to our community. Her calming, empathetic and thoughtful approach helped the college remain a welcoming place.

Jenny Champ, associate director of admissions, Jenkins MBA

Award Category: Human Relations

Nomination Quote: Jenny has accomplished a great deal in the past year, even as COVID went about its business of changing our daily lives. Jenny has supervisory responsibilities for two NC State employees, as well as three contract employees, and, previously, several work study students. She always elicits much respect and admiration from those who report to her. Jenny’s love for the university, the college, and the MBA program and team is evident in her words and actions. She makes an effort each day to uplift the team and the individuals within it and she truly cares about each team member on a human level.

Sarah Danaher, admissions recruiter, Jenkins MBA

Nomination Category: Customer Service

Nomination Quote: Sarah is a strong candidate who provides exceptional service, which leaves prospective students fully satisfied with their experience. Sarah exceeds expectations and adds value to the customer experience. Sarah has gone above and beyond to make our prospective students feel welcome and safe throughout the entire Jenkins MBA admissions process. I have especially been impressed by the way Sarah makes our prospective students feel engaged and comfortable via her excellent communication skills, innovative recruitment strategies, and strong involvement in diversity and inclusion initiatives at Poole College of Management.

Jason DeRousie, director of curriculum and academic program, Office of Undergraduate Programs

Award Category: Outstanding State Government Service

Nomination Quote: In addition to the daily operations of registration and curriculum changes, Jason’s service to help Poole become a more efficient and equitable organization has taken many forms. The best example to date of his exceptional commitment to organizational excellence has been in the role of chair of the undergraduate program scholarship committee. Overall Jason is a great supervisor who has a genuine passion for his team and always checks on their well-being and professional development. He is a colleague who goes above and beyond to champion change for more equitable and inclusive practices.

Alissa Dodds, academic advisor, Office of Undergraduate Programs

Award Category: Human Relations

Nomination Quote: Not only is Alissa a great person to be on a team with, but she is also a natural leader for her peers and those that have the opportunity to work with her. As an academic advisor in the Office of Undergraduate Programs, Alissa consistently does incredible work for her advisees, her advising teammates and the larger staff in the Office of Undergraduate Programs. In thinking about specific explanations of Alissa’s strengths, two themes continue to surface: critical thinking and attention to detail. The best thing is that these themes are mixed with fun and genuine joy of life.

Julie Fleming, director of advising and student affairs, Jenkins MBA

Award Category: Human Relations

Nomination Quote: Julie Fleming has built a career out of guiding and mentoring others. With over a decade of higher education experience, and in her third year here at NC State, Julie currently leads a team of four, responsible for over 750 current graduate students. Julie found ways, even in a virtual world, to do physical and tangible things to help us all stay healthy. From talking with students through life decisions, to establishing innovative practices throughout our office, Julie improved the lives of literally every person in our program.

Megan Grubb, assistant director of scheduling and academic programs, Office of Undergraduate Programs

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation

Nomination Quote: Megan has been instrumental in streamlining our student registration process and ensuring that course scheduling goes smoothly by using course and seat restrictions and waitlists. Through many classroom and scheduling changes and challenges during the pandemic, Megan’s exemplary overall professional performance and character never wavered. Megan has made a difference in our office and the Poole College of Management. Her skills, knowledge, willingness to help others, and dedication to the faculty, staff and students is why Megan Grubb is being nominated for the NC State University Awards of Excellence.

Jenny Hammond, chief marketing and communications officer, Office of Marketing and Communications

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation

Nomination Quote: Jenny consistently demonstrates unselfish devotion to her role that is far and above the normal requirements. During a time of extreme uncertainty, Jenny is a reliable source of thoughtful, intentional and strategically-focused solutions, and one of the key people to ensure as calm a transition to remote classes as possible for our students and faculty. She has also tackled this time with a sense of humor and grace which undoubtedly helped the Poole executive team stay focused, collaborative and in good spirits! We cannot think of any colleague who exemplifies efficiency and innovation more than Jenny Hammond.

Riley Hutchison, assistant director of admissions, Jenkins MBA

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation

Nomination Quote: Riley’s innovative ideas when it comes to events, recruitment strategy, and communication are unique and have helped us become more efficient in our Jenkins MBA Admissions processes and procedures. Give her excellent skills in qualitative and quantitative data combined with her innovative ideas, she has tremendously helped our team with marketing our program to a variety of audiences. Riley has a fire and passion for the work that she does in higher education, and she is always thinking about how we can improve our processes.

Anne Clark Lau, associate director of development, Office of Development and External Relations

Award Category: Customer Service

Nomination Quote: Anne Clark demonstrates not only excellence, organization, long-term thinking and attention to detail, but high work ethic, positive attitude and collaboration. Anne Clark is among few people who excels at cross-team work and who can connect individual units’ goals with the larger college and university strategy. In the virtual world, Zoom meetings can be daunting but it is not the case when Anne Clark attends the meeting. She has such a warm personality, positive attitude and patience that many of us appreciate.

Maggie Merry, assistant dean of finance and administration, Office of Business Services

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation

Nomination Quote: Maggie is truly a pleasure to work with and is always looking for ways that she and her group can improve the services provided by the office of business services. In less than two years, Maggie Merry has become a go to person that the university looks to for advice and to assist with challenging issues.We are fortunate to have Maggie as our colleague and friend. Her dedication and commitment to serve the college at the highest level with a positive attitude is greatly appreciated. She truly exemplifies the “think and do” spirit of NC State and the Poole College.

Beverly Porter, director of career center, Jenkins MBA

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation/ Public Service

Nomination Quote: Beverly Porter has been director of MBA Career Services at the Poole College of Management since June 2014.  She has been committed since day one to serving our students, helping them find and secure the opportunities that they dreamed about before coming to Poole. At the time Bev came to NC State, all too many of the graduating full-time MBA students were settling for jobs that did not require MBA-level skills. When Bev was hired, she realized that the program needed to find a way to get into the $90,000 range and this goal was achieved a couple of years ago. When COVID hit, Bev and her team quickly pivoted to Zoom and utilized professional networks and implemented consulting with GEP Worldwide, a supply chain consulting firm. 

Maria Potepalova, associate director of integrated communications, Office of Marketing and Communications

Award Category: Efficiency and Innovation

Nomination Quote: Maria Potepalova has made outstanding improvements to Poole’s communications and outreach, both internally and externally. Maria advocated for improved functionality and efficiency of the Poole internal website; She worked to conduct a Poole College internal communications survey; She is a huge advocate for the Poole Thought Leadership initiative. In addition, Maria reaches across colleges and committees at the university to ensure the MarComm team is in the loop on all events and happenings. In the fall, Maria implemented a new project management system, Wrike, for the MarComm team so all work would be easily organized and achieved for internal clients. Maria’s work ethic, calm demeanor and curious nature are all assets that make her so very, very special.

This post was originally published in Poole College of Management News.

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