Staff Awarded For Excellence and Leadership

This past Fall 2022, the College of Arts & Letters recognized 13 outstanding staff members for their service and exceptional work. Recognition took place at a college appreciation event and awards ceremony on Sept. 9, 2022.

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Staff awarded for excellence and leadership in Fall 2022.

The highlight of this event was the presentation group and individual awards. These included:

Years of Service

Four staff members were recognized for their years of service at the university:

25 years of service:

  • Sherry Stevens, Fiscal Officer

20 years of service:

  • Viki Gietzel, Finance Operations

10 years of service:

  • Marilyn Duke, Office Manager 
  • Melissa Staub, Human Resource Lead

Jo-Ann Vanden Bergh Award

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Carly Ensign

Carly Ensign, Budget Director and Finance Team Lead for the College of Arts & Letters, is the 2022 recipient of the Jo-Ann Vanden Bergh Award, which is the gold standard of staff awards within the college.

“She brings insights that both reflect her high‐level understanding of the college’s inner workings as well as her personal connection to so many of the staff,” said Brian de Vries, Office Operations Assistant and former College Staff Advisory Council (SAC) Chair. “She is an outstanding leader that has significantly contributed to the College of Arts & Letters’ efficiency, transparency, and sense of community.”

Associate Dean of Academic Personnel and Administration Sonja Fritzsche remarked, “She is able to bring order out of less than order, which I have seen her do at the department and then at the college level. And she often does this methodically and quietly behind the scenes.”

Established in 2011, this award is named in honor of Jo-Ann Vanden Bergh, who served the College of Arts & Letters for more than 25 years in various staff positions. The award’s first recipient was its namesake, Jo-Ann Vanden Bergh. Criteria for the award includes being a creative staff leader who is dedicated to problem-solving and fostering high-quality work; who treats others with dignity, respect, and integrity; who promotes teamwork that enhances effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace; and who shows impeccable evidence of superior work performance.

As the recipient of this award, Ensign received a plaque and $1,000.

Outstanding Leadership Award

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Brian de Vries

Brian de Vries, Office Operations Assistant for the College of Arts & Letters, received the 2022 Outstanding Leadership Award, which recognizes a member of the support staff who embodies exceptional leadership by building community, nurturing a culture of care and support, exhibiting strong stewardship of institutional resources, and developing a shared vision of institutional excellence.

“His willingness to resolve conflict and handle challenging people and situations shows his remarkable patience and admirable tact. This can be attributed to his amazing people skills and ability to listen, consider, and articulate an issue,” said his nominator Finance Lead for the College of Arts & Letters Carly Ensign. “Despite the overwhelming amount of work that everyone must do, he consistently finds ways to help; his willingness to assist others is unequaled.”

The Outstanding Leadership Award, established in 2018, honors staff members who build and maintain a sense of community with colleagues, seek to continuously improve operations within the college as well as student and faculty experiences, understand and manage work assignments from a holistic point-of-view, and help others recognize how their contributions are part of a larger whole.

As the recipient of this award, de Vries received a plaque and $750.

Exceptional Service Award

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Kim Popiolek

Kim Popiolek, Senior Editor for the College of Arts & Letters, received the 2022 Exceptional Service Award, which recognizes support staff members who have worked for the college at least three years and have consistently demonstrated outstanding performance and a commitment to delivering exceptional service.

“From the moment she stepped into her role for the college, she hit the ground running, exceeding my expectations in every way imaginable,” said her nominator Ryan Kilcoyne, Senior Marketing Director for the College of Arts & Letters. “She took a broken-down process and created efficient workflows, governance, and structure to reach scale across departments, programs, and units. She has cultivated relationships with our departments and units and is always proactive in reaching out to faculty, staff, students, and even other colleges on campus to provide her expertise and services.”

The Exceptional Service Award, established in 2016, honors staff members who anticipate the needs of the college and are forward-thinking in addressing those needs. They also promote productive relationships across the college and university while demonstrating diplomacy and responsiveness.

As the recipient of this award, Popiolek received a plaque and $750. 

Rising Star Award

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Michelle Danaj

Michelle Danaj, Office Operation Assistant for the College of Arts & Letters, is the 2022 Rising Star Award recipient, which recognizes support staff members who have worked in their position within the College for one to three years and have shown promise early in their College of Arts & Letters careers with a potential for growth and advancement.

“In my 24 years working at MSU, she is the most competent and capable new employee who I have ever encountered,” said her nominator Department of Religious Studies Chair Amy DeRogatis. “Smart, organized, resourceful, honest, responsible, a real team-member, she is an exceptional staff member who has exhibited enormous dedication to her position during an incredibly challenging year.”

The Rising Star Award, established in 2016, honors staff members who have exhibited exemplary dedication to the mission of the college and university while consistently demonstrating outstanding performance in fulfillment of their job responsibilities.  

As the recipient of this award, Danaj received a plaque and $500.

Golden Staff Award

The College of Arts & Letters Golden Staff Award, established in 2015, recognizes a department, program, or group in the college that demonstrates exemplary service, hanging in there when the going gets tough, or for being a good model for the rest of the university.

The 2022 Golden Staff Award went to the College of Arts & Letters Academic Operations Team. Those team members include:

  • Melissa Arthurton
  • Laura Borchgrevink
  • Leann Dalimonte
  • Rhonda Hibbitt
  • Ben Lampe
  • Noushin Mahmood
  • Yvette Puga
  • LouAnne Snider
  • Marina Valli