Staff Community Awards

Every year, Staff Council collects nominations from the campus community to recognize the work of staff over the past year and selects one winner per category to receive an Staff Community Award.

Collaboration Award

The Collaboration Award promotes and rewards outstanding collaborative efforts between colleagues at Westminster College. This award recognizes collaboration that positively improves the lives of Westminster students, faculty, and staff, making Westminster College an exceptional place to live and learn. Collaborations could be between staff members, staff and faculty, across departments, etc., as long as 2 entities are working together.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Nominations must include parties taking part in a collaborative effort
  • Collaborative efforts must exhibit a positive impact towards strengthening colleague relationships
  • Collaborative efforts must exhibit a positive impact towards improving the Westminster experience

Collaboration Award Nominees

  • Nathan Aldrich

    Nathan Aldrich

    Help Desk Manager

    Information Services

    Nominator: Chris Eggett

    Nomination: During the COVID-19 crisis, Nate has taken it upon himself to learn the ins and outs of Microsoft Teams to ensure that he understands how the program works. Nate has taken the time to work with faculty to integrate teams into their teaching styles. Nate has also worked with students daily to ensure they are successful using teams and canvas throughout the crisis.

  • Gail Avendaño

    Gail Avendaño

    Director of Aviation Student Support

    Flight Operations

    Nominator: Lisa Heiskell

    Nomination: Gail is a valuable partner and collaborator with the Career Center. Over the past 2 years, in particular, she has worked tirelessly to continually improve the internship process and experience for Business and Aviation program students. This ultimately sets up students for improved success upon graduation. One form of this collaboration has been in making improvements with the offerings to her internship class for Business and Aviation program students, with close collaboration with the Career Center. This involves adjusting syllabi to continually seek ways to position students for their future path as professionals in the working world. Gail is willing to offer and seek feedback that will improve the student experience in her pursuit of program excellence.

  • Frances Peacock

    Award Winner

    Frances Peacock

    Assistant Director

    Student Success and Retention

    Nominator: Christie Fox

    Nomination: I am nominating Frances Peacock for her efforts in cooperating with Veterans and Military Services Office, the Center for Global Engagement, and the Admissions Office. Frances is an Assistant Director of Student Success and Retention, but she also has an extra line to her job title: she’s the designated advisor for veterans, international, and transfer students. She serves very specific student populations who share some, but not all, attributes, which means that every day she works across and with other departments to improve the student experience.
    Frances is a passionate advocate for her student populations, which means that she’s constantly learning more about her students so that she can better... assist them in making the most of their education. She regularly attends training on international, veteran, or transfer students, which has her engaging in multiple professional societies and state-wide organizations. She is also on the board of the Utah Advising Association, our connection with what’s happening in academic advising around the state and the country.
    In the course of a day, Frances moves from advocating for the needs of Reserve Officers’ Training Corps students who attend military science courses at the University of Utah to meeting with prospective transfer students to help them understand what their academic career at Westminster will look like. In fact, she’s an impressive “closer”: students who meet with her usually deposit soon after! Then she may Skype a student on the other side of the planet to talk with them about what courses they should take their first semester at Westminster and what to expect from the American education system. Frances reminds us that Westminster is a diverse college, with students from all over the world with a variety of experiences and expectations. Her ability to move between student groups, Westminster offices, and outside organizations improves our work together and significantly impacts the student experience.

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  • Natalie Seely

    Director of Policy Development and Insurance Programs

    Legal, Risk Management, and Safety

    Nominator: Bri Buckley

    Nomination: Natalie Seely meets the award criteria in that she facilitates communication across many campus departments through her work as the director of policy development and insurance programs. She chairs the Risk Committee, assembles policy working groups, and continuously reaches out to other staff and faculty groups in order to create solutions to close policy and operational gaps. She is in constant communication and is always soliciting feedback from other working groups to ensure that all stakeholders are represented in all of the projects in which she's involved.

    Natalie is a great example of what it means to work collaboratively, and she deserves recognition for all of the work that she has coordinated. She has been able to use her skillset to improve processes, operations, and policy for the entire campus.

  • Janalyn Smith

    Senior Payroll Specialist


    Nominator: Jodi Mayo

    Nomination: Jana carries a huge load and has been so wonderful in her training. She has stayed many late nights for payroll issues. She is an awesome and very dedicated team member.

  • Jess Sweitzer

    Director of Residence Life

    Student Service Administration

    Nominator: Jody Katz

    Nomination: Jess is a committed and dedicated professional that has been working collaboratively to provide access to students with disabilities. She has enthusiastically embraced weekly meetings with the Disability Services director to ensure that students are provided access. Her efforts have removed barriers for students seeking housing accommodations and exemptions. She is also committed to ensuring that resident advisors have adequate accommodations and access. Her work is assisting with removing barriers, stigma, and making Westminster College a more accessible and welcoming environment for students with disabilities. In addition to her collaborative efforts, Jess has been extremely welcoming and engaging to me as a new director here as Westminster College. She has gone out of her way to assist me with making connections and establish relationships; she is an exceptional colleague that deserves recognition for her efforts.

  • The Center for Centers

    Nominator: Julie Tille

    Nomination: The Center for Centers has worked hard to collaborate programming efforts to positively impact the Westminster community. The Environmental Center, the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center, and the Dumke Center for Civic Engagement strategize to combine student training, programming, and celebrations to enhance each department's individual efforts, while also enhancing the student experiences. From our shared experiences, students have gotten to know each other and each of our programs better, and we have seen through student learning reflections that this has helped to support their learning in their co-curricular roles. It has also made the Center for Centers space a very fun place to be. The collaborative nature of the centers has been an incredible benefit to all involved and is something we take pride in, while also challenging ourselves to continue to fine-tune.

  • Julie Tille


    Dumke Center for Civic Engagement

    Nominators: Kari Lindsey, Mackenzie Bledsoe, Bridger Layton

    Nomination: At Westminster College, the Center for Centers in Bassis Center for Student Learning is itself a collaborative effort—4 centers operating in 1 building (the Writing Center, Dumke Center for Civic Engagement, Environmental Center, and Student Diversity and Inclusion Center). There is much overlap between the centers, the biggest of all being student success and social justice. As such, the directors and coordinators work very closely with each other.
    Though few know... it, Julie Tille (director of the Dumke Center) was instrumental in the creation of both the Legacy Scholars and Legacy STEPS initiatives, which invests in first-generation Griffins. Dan Cairo and Julie Tille worked diligently in funding and designing the Legacy Scholars program. A few years later, Julie played a similar role while Dr. Julian Mendez did the same for Legacy STEPS. They poured over first-generation research and selected a cohort. To this day, the Walkways Program and Legacy Program work in tandem with each other. Julie is humble and satisfied in seeing first-generation students thrive on campus. She also teaches for the program and serves as a mentor.
    Julie sits on many committees and wears many hats, involved in everything from food justice to signature student experiences. She is the first one to pull any of the center staff in her office to discuss how best to support our students. Any student who works for the center or is involved in any way becomes "our students," and Julie is compassionate and dedicated to fighting for them.
    We hope to see her win this award, commemorating the invisible collaboration she has done for (literally) decades at Westminster.

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Emerging Leader Award

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes a new professional at the college or a professional who has recently moved into a new leadership role on campus. The recipient has created an impact on campus within their role by being open to learning and challenging themselves and others. This staff member has demonstrated commitment to the college and is seen as an outstanding professional in their department and/or within their field of work.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Seeks additional responsibilities and opportunities and (either formally or informally) influences and inspires others to improve and grow
  • Has demonstrated a commitment to their role and the betterment of their team’s experience working at the college
  • Engages in and/or develops opportunities for community development and serves as a positive member in the campus community

Emerging Leader Award Nominees

  • Bri Buckley

    Director of Campus Safety

    Legal, Risk Management, and Safety

    Nominator: Sara Demko

    Nomination: Bri really stepped up this year to help the campus respond to a pandemic and an earthquake. She organized weekly updates and coordinated the campus response as well as represented the college in the community. Bri always remained calm despite dealing with tremendously stressful situations. I am incredibly grateful to have her as a colleague, and she deserves all our appreciation for her leadership through this crisis.

  • Award Winner

    Jody Katz


    Disability Services and Testing Center

    Nominator: Christie Fox

    Nomination: Since arriving on campus in November 2019, Jody Katz has become an important thought leader in how we look at students with disabilities and has transformed the office of Disability Services. Jody was most excited about the position of disability in Westminster's diversity statement and immediately began working in improving access and dismantling ablest practices around campus.

    In her 6 months on campus, she has: improved our Disability Services... website to ensure that all of the documents were accessible to screen readers; removed barriers for students seeking accommodations by eliminating the in-person meeting (before COVID-19); increased her availability to students by creating Disability Services open office hours; worked with faculty on the tricky "modified attendance" accommodation. She also provided opportunities for our community to learn together by organizing a well-known speaker to come to campus to talk about the deaf community via Deafhood 101, and through a panel of students with disabilities that she plans to take on the road during the 2020–21 school year.

    Jody has worked so hard with faculty and staff that I also thought about nominating her for the Collaboration Award. She naturally fits into the Office of Student Success and Retention but also started building strong relationships with other important offices on campus, including Residence Life, legal, and Bon Appetit. She has also attended individual school meetings to help groups of faculty better understand some of the changes to the law regarding disabilities and how that impacts our teaching.

    Since the pandemic, Jody has been on the front lines helping faculty make their (now) online classes more accessible and promoting universal access, which improves instruction for all students. She serves as part of the Curriculum Delivery Working group to ensure that our fall class delivery will be as accessible as possible. In the fall, she plans to launch a Universal Access group, composed of faculty, staff, and students, to increase awareness and adoption of universal access pedagogy. She inspires us to make everything more accessible and, frankly, better. In short, she is improving the lives of students every day, and I feel privileged to work with her.

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  • Sam McGettigan

    Financial Aid Counselor

    Financial Aid

    Nominator: Alison Vasquez

    Nomination: Sam and I work very closely with students who wish to study abroad and use financial aid. Sam is very committed to assisting these students through the lengthy process of approving financial aid for their program and completing the necessary paperwork once they are abroad so their funds can be dispersed. He is extremely patient even if he has to contact a student numerous times to make sure they comply with financial aid regulations. He worked closely with the Office for Global Engagement to revise the process students have to complete to make it easier and less cumbersome. He also worked closely with us to change how we disperse funds for certain programs so the students could more easily access their financial aid. Sam is always open to new ways of doing things and approaches his work with a positive attitude. I appreciate Sam's willingness to always look for ways to improve our services and support of students.

Exemplary Griffin Award

The Exemplary Griffin Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates leadership by mentoring, coaching, inspiring, and motivating colleagues. The recipient promotes excellence in teamwork, performance, and achievement within their department and demonstrates a commitment to and support of the college’s vision, creativity, and innovation while promoting inclusiveness and respect for difference.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Mentors and coaches colleagues in both their department and/or across the campus
  • Serves on committees to represent their peers and to support change impacting the college
  • Often recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of their peers and actively engages in providing critical and constructive feedback

Exemplary Griffin Award Nominees

  • Kenton Gregory

    Maintenance Foreman


    Nominator: Bri Buckley

    Nomination: Kenton Gregory is an exemplary Griffin because he serves on multiple committees both to represent his department and provide expertise in the issues being addressed, most of which affect our campus at large. He serves on the Risk Management and Compliance Committee and Emergency Preparedness Committee, the missions of which are particularly relevant now. He has stepped up to the challenge of being interim director of Plant Management and Facilities and continues to be a great leader of his crew in Maintenance and Grounds. He is always willing to provide input and help when needed, and his care and commitment are evident in the quality of his work around campus. The work that Kenton and his crew do may not be immediately visible to every member of our campus community, but we could not adequately perform in our own roles without all of the contributions from him and his department.

  • Debbie McKinstry

    Director of Advancement Services

    Institutional Advancement

    Nominator: Office of Advancement

    Nomination: Debbie McKinstry began her career as director of advancement services at Westminster in 2005. Debbie demonstrates that everyone, no matter their position at Westminster, is a part of our students’ success every day. As a member of Institutional Advancement, she is integral in our ability to engage and fundraise successfully with thousands of alumni, parents, and friends each year. She leads a growing team that handles all of our alumni contact data, philanthropic gift processing, prospect research and management, alumni engagement tracking, gift accounting, fundraising results, pledge fulfillment and pledge commitment processes, and efforts to coordinate scholarship awards with financial aid.

    During her time at Westminster, Debbie has mentored 7 past... staff members, motivating many of them as they worked on completing their degrees at the college. She prides herself on the success of the Institutional Advancement team and specifically on the successes of her direct reports, always willing to step in and help when needed. She even rescued one staff from a friendly mouse! She trains and mentors students that work in her department and has been known to supply “care packages” to a few. Most people won't know about the mouse story, but Debbie does! I'll share it with you all at a later time.

    Debbie, along with her staff, partner with Information Services, making an out-of-date database provide the up-to-date, accurate information the department and others across campus need and depend on. It isn’t an easy task given not all areas of the database talk to one another, and her creative ideas on how to complete this work lead to reports that provide necessary data on fundraising and financial accountability for the college.

    Events are a large part of the Advancement team’s work, and you will always find Debbie greeting guests and welcoming those in attendance. Westminster Weekend, WestMixer, and other events are all now much more efficient as Debbie has worked to establish systems for accountability and success. She volunteers at the Woman’s Board Silver Tea and Holiday Party each year, helping this group raise valuable dollars for student scholarships.

    Debbie is involved with students and campus activities and is a wonderful advocate for Westminster. She is always trying to help everyone get better to benefit our campus community. Debbie exemplifies what being a Griffin truly is.

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  • Emily Swanson

    Award Winner

    Emily Swanson



    Nominator: Chloe Barnett

    Nomination: In the Giovale Library, we often talk about how lucky we are to work with a collaborative and close-knit team. What the rest of the campus might not realize is that the success of our team, and the achievements of individuals within our department, has so much to do with the outstanding leadership and mentoring of the Library Director, Emily Swanson. It is difficult to put into writing the many ways in which Emily is an "exemplary Griffin"—but here goes.

    1. Emily has instituted collaborative, departmental goal-setting within the library. Every year, our staff work together to determine, initiate, and accomplish goals for collection development, library services, teaching and learning, and information access. This fosters collaboration among library staff, allows each staff member to take on a leadership role to help the team accomplish a specific... goal, and fosters new initiatives within the library.

    2. For the last 2 years, Emily has organized a monthly professional development meeting for library staff. In this meeting, staff members present about something of interest to others (for example, providing research assistance in a certain subject area) or a guest is invited to present on a topic important to our work. Guests have included Kim Zarkin, speaking about copyright law; Karen Hicks, speaking about disability services and accessibility; and Laura Kendellen, speaking about UX Design.

    3. Emily prioritizes staff professional development. Every year, she works with individuals to determine what professional development opportunities they would like to attend and ensures that there are funds set aside in the library budget so that we can attend conferences, take online classes, and continue to grow professionally. She gently encourages library staff to share our work through conference presentations and publications and is always willing to offer feedback and guidance as we prepare to present or publish our work.

    4. Emily serves on many campus committees, including the Planning and Priorities Committee, the Curriculum Committee, and the Teaching and Learning Resources Committee. She represents staff and library interests in each of these committees.

    5. During COVID-19, Emily has led the library in the extremely difficult work of determining when to close the building to the public and how to continue to offer resources, services, and support to our patrons. She has prioritized the library staff in this process, listening to our concerns about safety and to our ideas about how to move forward. During this very difficult time, she allowed for her staff to be heard, an act that has been extremely important and meaningful.

    6. Although Emily is a supervisor, she realizes that her staff are also her colleagues. She asks for our feedback and offers opportunities for each of us to nourish our strengths and to take on new challenges and leadership roles.

    I started at Westminster 5 years ago, having worked at other institutions. Emily has, by far, been the best supervisor I have had during my career, and this is evident by the way my own resume has grown. Because of Emily, I have gained confidence in my own work and in my potential as a leader. She has encouraged me to serve on campus committees, to take on committee and leadership roles in professional organizations, to present at conferences, and to take advantage of opportunities to learn. She has never "pushed" me. Instead, she has helped me to see my own abilities and strengths by offering support and guidance.

    Westminster College is lucky to have Emily Swanson... she is truly an exemplary Griffin.

    Nominator: Valerie Burnett

    Nomination: As an employee in the library, I know I have Emily's support to become the best I can be. She has high standards and makes specific efforts to enable us to fulfill those high standards. For example, she is the first supervisor I've had who not only helps me to set lofty goals but works with me to set a plan on how to get there. Check-ins give me the opportunity to articulate my progress and map out the continued journey to success. If the destination happens to change along the way, she has the flexibility to recognize that a change is necessary and to help me reach the newer goal, instead of insisting on just staying with the original plan when it no longer makes sense.

    Emily serves on the Planning and Priorities Committee, advocating for the college as well as for the role of staff within the college. She also serves on TLR. She knows the library resources and offerings best of all, of course, so she can advocate for the library to use its powers to ensure our students get the best learning experience available.

    As part of Emily's efforts to be an excellent boss, she made the commitment to keep all meetings to the allotted time length and, in return, asked us to show up on time so she could start the meeting promptly. She has held to that commitment, and we can count on our meetings wrapping up in a timely manner. Consequently, our meetings are efficient and effective.

    Under Emily's leadership, the library has aligned its mission and efforts with the college-wide learning goals. Before we take on a new plan, or even before we continue business as usual, we ask if our plan is consistent with our goals and will it further the college's mission.

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  • Cassidy Thomas

    Administrative Assistant/Office Manager

    School of Education

    Nominator: Kiana Avlon

    Nomination: Cassidy has done an exemplary job coordinating the transition online to support the School of Education faculty and students. He spearheaded a wonderful online orientation for the Master of Arts in Community Leadership, Master of Education, and Master of Arts in Teaching program summer semester start students. He's gone above and beyond, assisting new students learning the ins and outs of using Westminster platforms like self-service to register for classes and teams to join orientation and adjust to online classes. He's really demonstrated how much he cares about continually supporting our new Westminster students during these uncertain times by going above and beyond with helping students start the semester every step of the way!

  • Arikka Von

    Arikka Von

    Director of Strategic Communications

    Office of Marketing, Communication, and Events

    Nominator: Sheila Rappazzo Yorkin

    Nomination: I would like to nominate Arikka Von. The word exemplary is synonymous with the way Arikka performs her job. She has progressively become the mentor and coach within our team on so many projects because she is willing to share her thoughts and ideas and then help bring an idea to fruition. She jumps into projects to offer strategies, tactics, and practical feedback to get the task accomplished while focusing on the big picture. Her work has depth and breadth. I have relied on Arikka to take the initiative and be able to bring folks along to work at hand. She takes the time to reach out to faculty and staff on a regular basis and is able to build relationships that enhance the work we do in... the Marketing and Communications office.

    Arikka serves on many committees and teams, including commencement, advancement communications, enrollment communications, crisis communications, onboarding, and many other ad-hoc groups. She is steadfast in her commitment to our vision and mission related to diversity and inclusion and is unwavering in her support to impacting change in our community and beyond. Our team relies on her steady approach, and so do I. She is humble and hard-working, and everyday exudes exemplary. I hope you will join me and choose to recognize her for this award. Thank you.

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Campus Innovation and Impact Award

The Campus Innovation and Impact Award recognizes a staff member or department who uses creativity to develop new or improve processes, systems, products, methods, or services and encourages others across the campus to do the same. The recipient makes innovation a priority and takes reasonable and calculated risks that improve Westminster and make the campus community a better place to live and work.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Carefully assesses and identifies problematic systems or processes impacting the campus community and quickly implements new ideas into action to solve the issue(s)
  • Questions existing assumptions and beliefs and considers diverse perspectives in challenging those ideals
  • Creatively navigates limited resources to address rising concerns impacting the college and provides a wide range of suggestions to approach change in a practical and mindful manner

Campus Innovation and Impact Award Nominees

  • Award Winner

    Kristen Kerr

    Campus Visit and Events Coordinator


    Nominator: Erica Johnson

    Nomination: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to nominate Kristen Kerr. When I arrived on campus last summer, I encouraged Kristen to evaluate our campus visit program and identify opportunities for improvement. Using admitted student research from previous years, Kristen noted the strong impact class visits and faculty interaction have on a student's decision to attend Westminster. While there was a current program in place that allowed students to visit classes, it wasn't widely advertised or used by visiting students. This was a lost opportunity, given the powerful influence of class visits. Beginning at the end of fall... semester, Kristen worked with the admissions visit team, academic deans, and faculty to create, build, and implement a new class visit program. Within several weeks of reaching out to faculty, dozens of professors opened their classes to visiting students, expanding the number of opportunities that prospective students have to engage with faculty and current students. By the end of February, the entire program was launched and ready to go for the rest of the semester. Almost immediately, we received positive feedback from students and faculty who participated in the program.

    While our campus visit program has been temporarily suspended, Kristen’s innovation, creativity, and collaboration helped us launch a new critical part of our visit program. This fall, the program will be back, more widely advertised, and available to visiting students. While these innovations and ideas required staff time and talent, the entire program was put into place with minimal additional financial resources. The cost of this improvement to our visit program was just the cost of materials needed to build display boards advertising each day's class offerings. Thank you to Kristen for being willing to reconsider the "way things have been done," for identifying a high impact opportunity for change, and for working with colleagues from across campus to implement this new visit opportunity for prospective students.

    Nominator: Braden Thompson

    Nomination: Kristen successfully organized and launched a new and exciting class visit program for prospective students. The new program allows students to drop in on a variety of classes and experience an authentic Westminster class experience. Creating this program required coordination with countless professors to map out all the courses, times, and seats available (or unavailable) for classes on any given day of the week. Although COVID-19 has interrupted the implementation of this program, both professors and prospective students expressed positive feedback during the few weeks it was live before campus closed.

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Student Success Award

The Student Success Award recognizes a staff member who has gone above and beyond to provide support and services for students. The recipient is known to create space for students to be heard and valued and acts as a mentor to students to create a transformational and accessible student experience. This staff member cares deeply about students and their education.

Criteria (must meet 1 or more):

  • Seeks to improve services, processes, systems, and/or products that enhance the living and learning environment for Westminster students
  • Creates space for students to feel safe and respected and works diligently to advocate on behalf of students by bringing their voices to the decision table
  • Positively speaks about the college student experience while promoting new ideas to elevate the standards of learning at the college (i.e. through collaborative efforts with other departments and faculty)
  • Invests time and energy in mentoring and coaching students through their student development and creates learning opportunities outside the classroom for students to implement their learning into practice

Student Success Award Nominees

  • Award Winner

    MacKenzie Bledsoe

    Program Coordinator

    Dumke Center for Civic Engagement

    Nominator: Kari Lindsey

    Nomination: I excitedly submit my nomination letter for Mackenzie Bledsoe, coordinator for the Dumke Center for Civic Engagement and the Walkways Program. Mackenzie inspires me every day to fight for students and create new practices that are more inclusive, welcoming, and celebratory.

    Through her position for Walkways to Westminster, Mackenzie is diligent in training her student mentors to have emotional and cultural intelligence. These students receive training in sexual assault prevention, inclusivity, and asset-based frameworks. In this way, Mackenzie advocates for student success both for present Griffins (who benefit from her leadership and guidance), and future... Griffins (who get guidance from Westminster mentors).

    Mackenzie is fierce in her student advocacy. She is fearless in staff meetings in asking questions like, "How will this affect our most marginalized student populations?" Where some (like me!) are afraid of the power dynamics in a space like this, Mackenzie carefully crafts her thoughts beforehand, writing out the parts of the Westminster experience she wants every student to have.

    She has been the reason many Walkways to Westminster students attend Westminster College, and though she has been here for a short time, the effects of her labor are seen campus-wide. Mackenzie is currently earning her masters at Westminster and has chosen to focus her research on college access. She lives and breathes access work, creating a world where all students get the opportunity to attend college and have a meaningful experience while here. She is already implementing her research knowledge to access work at Westminster College. She defines student success, not through retention rates or GPA, but instead the experiences they have, their identity saliency on campus, and their sense of belonging.

    When a Walkways to Westminster student is interested in coming to campus, Mackenzie walks them through all parts of the process, making sure they meet with the Financial Aid, Admissions, and Student Affairs offices, and more. She advocates for them in scholarship meetings and has been instrumental in securing funding for many students. She also helps teach the Year 2 Legacy Program class, where first-generation Griffins mentor high school students.

    I hope you will consider Mackenzie Bledsoe for this prestigious award. She is, unequivocally, made for this award.

    Nominator: Julie Tille

    Nomination: Mackenzie is an amazing champion for students. In her role overseeing Walkways to Westminster, she mentors over 30 students to be incredible change agents in the community. Mackenzie supports the students in a holistic way. Through training, curriculum development, and community advocacy, Mackenzie enhances the Walkways to Westminster program and each student's learning. Mackenzie has an asset-based lens when working with both Westminster students and the 5th-12th grade students in the Walkways program. She is an ideal candidate for the award.

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  • Jimmy Kendall

    Assistant Director

    Student Success and Retention

    Nominator: Christie Fox

    Nomination: While it might seem obvious to nominate an assistant director of Student Success and Retention for a student success award, I want to call out Jimmy Kendall for his tireless work using a particularly innovative approach to working with some of our most precarious students.

    For the past several years, Jimmy has had the full spectrum of students on probation in his caseload. While this number varies a bit from semester to semester, it's not a small number and comprises the students who need the most ongoing and comprehensive support. Last year, Jimmy piloted a student success class for students on probation. While it’s not required, it is strongly recommended, and we’ve seen small... but steady numbers take us up on it. It would be easy in this class to talk down to the students or to focus on study habits, time management, and other transactional details. Instead, Jimmy uses the class to challenge the way students think about higher education and their role in it. He assigns readings that stretch to think about equity in education. He inspires them to answer the provocative question, “Why are you here?” and to contribute to making Westminster a better place for themselves and other students.

    He also has a reputation in our team and around campus for being an empathetic ear for students who need a space to be heard. He spends many days listening to student problems and prompting them to find ways to solve them. His ultimate goal is to empower students to advocate for themselves and for others. He draws on his own background as a first-generation college student who worked full-time through college to help students find the internal resources to rise to the challenge.

    Jimmy is an advocate for other first-generation college students not only through his everyday work, but through his time with Legacy Scholars, where he is the dedicated academic advisor, and the Daniels Fund Scholarship Program, which provides generous funding for first-generation and low-income students to attend the college of their choice. His work with both of these organizations means he’s often on campus in the evenings or out attending events on the weekends as they seek to provide their students with enriching experiences outside the classroom to complement what they’re learning in the classroom. And, he does all of this while he’s not attending classes or working on his research for his PhD program. Jimmy exemplifies the tenets of student success work by going above and beyond his job description every single day.

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  • Julian Mendez

    Julian Mendez

    Associate Professor


    Nominator: Nancy K. Brown

    Nomination: Julian Mendez has gone above and beyond to provide support and services for first-generation students through his work as the academic coordinator for the Legacy Program. He designed and created the Legacy STEPS program, a cohort for high achieving students from first-generation populations who transfer to Westminster from community colleges. Julian created the cohort to foster academic and social integration for his students as well as family and community engagement. Julian has been the driving force behind the Legacy STEPS cohort, and his amazing effort and dedication to students brought the program to fruition. He has been a tremendous mentor to all of the students in the cohort for the past 2 years, and this May, the... STEPS cohort will celebrate its first graduates.

    Julian’s effort represents everything this award stands for— enhanced learning environment for Westminster students, a safe place for students to be heard and to support each other as they navigate college for the first time, efforts to recruit and retain first-generation students by empowering them to believe in themselves and their abilities, and intensive mentoring for each student in the cohort to ensure their success. I urge you to recognize the effort and accomplishment of Julian Mendez and his work to create the Legacy STEPS cohort at Westminster, a program that is deeply impacting the lives of our first-generation students.

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  • Winter Morse

    Winter Morse

    Director, Client Services

    Information Services

    Nominator: Chris Eggett

    Nomination: Winter always has students’ best interests in mind every time she is working on a project. During the COVID-19 crisis, Winter has gone out of her way to ensure that there are plenty of laptops available for student check out. She has spent several hours working with students to ensure that they have success using teams.

    Winter has also been a mentor to several of the student employees; she was always going out of her way and asking how their classes are going. If they have an idea to improve the Information Services process, she will encourage them to try it. If the idea works, she will run with it, and if it doesn't work, she will take the time to work the student and try to improve the process.

    Westminster would not be the same without Winter.

  • Will Shiflett

    Will Shiflett

    Graduate Business Programs Operations Director

    School of Business

    Nominator: Stephanie Moyle

    Nomination: Will is singularly focused on student success. Will is fair-minded, service-focused, and Will goes above and behind the call of duty to help graduate students. As one example, a few weeks ago, during the COVID-19 shutdown situation, Will delivered textbooks to students who were unable to come to campus. Will has been a source of great stability, especially during the COVID shutdown.

    Gore is very lucky to have Will as a team member. Thanks, Will!

  • Jovana Sisovic

    Tax Institute Clinic Coordinator

    School of Business

    Nominator: Anonymous

    Nomination: Jovana is the Director of the Westminster Tax Clinic, which provides high quality, transformative internship experiences to Gore School of Business students and serves the broader community by providing pro bono tax preparation and financial advocacy services. The clinic is part of the national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, comprising such tax clinics around the country. There are other clinics based at higher education institutions in Utah, but Westminster's is the best thanks in large part to Jovana's outstanding leadership of our operation.

    Students register for a course in the Gore School, which has as its primary activity doing an internship in the clinic. Jovana trains and mentors the student interns, who work... directly with community clients, helping them with their taxes. These interns are generally very well trained and do a great job. Jovana also manages the business operations of the clinic, regularly bringing in enough grant money to keep the clinic as a self-sustaining operation. The clinic is the highest producer of tax preparation services in the state and, without a doubt, has the biggest impact on the community.

    Jovana also puts on an annual 2-day professional event called the Westminster Tax Institute. With the institute, tax professionals from around the region, as well as some Westminster employees and students, get 2 days of intensive training from speakers and other experts that Jovana recruits. The institute is a highly respected training program, and it always takes in more revenue than it costs to put on, the residual is donated back to the community. The institute would not be so successful without Jovana's hard work. Jovana is a highly dedicated, professional, and super competent staff professional who is a joy to work with. She has been responsible for providing fantastic experiential learning opportunities to many of our students. I just can't think of a better staff-person on campus to get this award right now.

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  • Tiana White

    Tiana White

    Director of Outdoor Programs

    Fitness, Wellness, Recreation

    Nominator: Oliver Anderson

    Nomination: When I think of an outstanding colleague who works day-in and day-out for our students, I think of Tiana White. When I ask students about who has impacted their lives, I hear the raves of Tiana's mentoring, leadership, and kindness. When I sit in large meetings and feel the conversation losing its focus on the student experience, I hear Tiana's voice, reminding colleagues why we're here; why we do what we do. Tiana is truly an amazing human and leader on this campus, dedicated to the success of our students—allow me to share some brief examples.

    Last year, I was challenged by Tiana on my approach to handling... a student club situation. I was in the wrong and led with poor role modeling in the situation, and Tiana not only called me into a discussion regarding the issue, she hosted a meeting with the students impacted to ensure everyone was heard and validated. Beyond this, Tiana shared with me her disappointment in my actions and how we staff members need to role model what we expect of our students. This example isn't about me—it's about the student experience. Due to Tiana's care and intervention, I was able to acknowledge a flaw in my professionalism. If Tiana didn't create a brave space and invite me to be vulnerable and realize my impact, the situation with the students would communicate to the students that my actions were valid, which they were not. Due to Tiana, the students witnessed strong leadership and integrity. And through this, this club succeeds by not slipping into suspension, and in fact, improved remarkably.

    Another example of her impact with our students is the Outdoor Program. Throughout the field of outdoor programs, there are not many female-identifying directors. When students attend conferences with Tiana, they see the level of respect colleagues have for Tiana and how much of a badass she truly is. I remember a student who told me that Tiana inspired them to stay invested in the outdoors and gave her hope that women can make it in a very male-dominated field. Tiana gives hope to those not represented in the outdoors and humbles those whose identities dominate the playing field.

    Tiana also manages a very strong leadership program for her student leaders. Some of the best student leaders who are critical, thoughtful, and compassionate come from Tiana's Outdoor Program.

    Lastly, Tiana bridges so many gaps for underrepresented students. From her collaboration with Legacy Scholars to supporting a female-identifying only trip and creating space for students of color to become trip leaders, Tiana truly gives it her all for our students, and thanks to her, our students are in a lot better place. Tiana is a role model for the students and us colleagues.

    She leads with her whole heart, and every action has integrity. I deeply admire Tiana's impact, and I know for a fact her students cherish her dedication to them. Thank you, Tiana, for being the example our students need to succeed.

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