Every year, UNC Charlotte awards and recognizes exemplary employees for their hard work and dedication to the campus community and beyond. In a year unlike any other, many employees nominated their teammates, colleagues, those they supervise and other University employees for the 2021 Staff Employee of the Year awards.
There were many worthy nominees in each of the five categories — devotion to duty, innovation, human relations, community and public service and safety and heroism — 12 of whom came from Business Affairs. Six of the winners are also from Business Affairs — Krista Collins, Chris Gonyar, and the Return to Campus Kit Team consisting of Katharina Findlater, Horace Lytch, Rachel Skipworth and Rick Torres.
Employee of the Year winners and nominees were honored during a virtual staff recognition event on April 23, 2021. We are proud of all of our winners and nominees, their accomplishments and for all they do to support Niner Nation.
Devotion to Duty
Marina LeLeux, benefits counselor, and Stephanie Lazzaro, benefits consultant, were nominated for their work administering new and complex leave benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their collective team efforts helped Human Resources provide service to more than 400 employees, processing approximately 88 Paid Administrative Leave requests, 260 Families First Coronavirus Response Act applications, and 218 leave bank transactions.
Jody Thompson, a member of Auxiliary Services for over seven years, was nominated for her devotion to duty by adapting quickly and effectively. In 2020, assumed the interim role of director of auxiliary services while maintaining her responsibilities as the food services program manager. Thompson brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about campus operations to her new role and continues to provide exemplary leadership in her area.
Katharina Findlater, executive assistant to the vice chancellor for business affairs, was nominated for developing new processes to support the change to a virtual office structure and supporting the vice chancellor in this transition. Her preparedness and dedication ensured the vice chancellor could remain responsive and effective even while work loads increased and priorities shifted almost daily. Outside of her normal work duties, Findlater also became an indispensable member of the BA Communications team, assisting in various aspects of the COVID-19 response efforts.
Rebekah Hartberger was nominated for crucial work on UNC Charlotte’s e-commerce program, which facilitates approximately $130 million in University receipts each year through hundreds of thousands of transactions. Amidst constant technological changes, Hartberger consistently stays ahead of the curve and her efforts have been noted to mitigate the University’s risk in an extremely high-risk area. For much of 2020, Hartberger served as interim PCI/eCommerce manager, supporting over 40 merchant departments across campus, leading the annual compliance processes and facilitating a system conversion that impacted over 30 online storefronts.
Christopher Shultz, grounds spray technician, was nominated for his efforts on the grounds data mapping project and his innovative approach to process improvements. This was in addition to his main duties spraying turf, pavements and plant material and coordinating all pest management work requests. Shultz was lauded for his willingness to be the first to volunteer to assist others and work overtime for athletic events, as well as the skill and excellence he applies to every aspect of his work.
Laura Williams, University’s controller, was nominated for coordinating the tracking of all financial costs and losses resulting from COVID-19, monitoring federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) available, developing recommendations for allocation of the funds, transacting allocations approved by the Chancellor and reporting the use of funds to the Department of Education. Williams approached the work in an innovative way and managed an increased volume of data under circumstances never experienced before. The way she developed the tracking enabled the University to fully utilize all HEERF funds awarded which was critical for addressing the University’s financial impacts.
Mary Factor serves as the education coordinator in the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). She was nominated for her role in the implementation of safety and compliance education during the COVID-19 pandemic as employees and students returned to campus in the fall of 2020. She was commended for her work to build an education plan that makes our campus a safer place to live, learn and work.
The Logistics Team, consisting of Doug Lape, director, Parking and Transportations Services (PaTS); Denise Larson, administrative assistant; Kenan Foster, administrative support associate and Alanna Sherrow, administrative support associate, were nominated together for their work during the pandemic response. They launched and managed the Logistics Section of the Incident Management Team after the Emergency Management department requested additional support for their pandemic response. These duties were done in addition to their daily Parking and Transportation Services responsibilities.