2021/05/27 – 2021 Distinguished Staff Awards recognize exceptional Ohio State employees’ accomplishments - Human Resources at Ohio State

2021 Distinguished Staff Awards recognize exceptional Ohio State employees’ accomplishments

The Distinguished Staff Awards, the university’s highest staff recognition, annually honors individuals for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments and service to The Ohio State University.

Congratulations to the 13 recipients recognized for their outstanding work in advancing the university’s mission, which could not be accomplished without the dedication, work and incomparable spirit of our extraordinary Buckeye staff members.

To be considered for a Distinguished Staff Award, nominations are submitted and carefully reviewed by the selection committee. Each nomination is assessed on criteria consistent with the university’s values, as well as the individual’s unique contributions to enhance the quality of work life for faculty, staff, students or patients, provide outstanding and ongoing service to university stakeholders, and/or develop creative solutions to increase department or university operations.

In this extraordinary year, two outstanding recipients were awarded the Presidential Staff Award, a special distinction that recognizes nominees who demonstrate university values, as well as an exceptional commitment to diversity, community engagement, affordable education and access for all students.

The 2021 Presidential Staff Award recipients are:

Chila ThomasChila Thomas, EdD
Executive Director, Young Scholars Program
Office of Diversity and Inclusion
19 years of service

As an exemplary leader, student advocate, and astute administrator, Dr. Chila Thomas is an innovator who takes the initiative to elevate programs to the next level. Dr. Thomas is credited with the programmatic overhaul of the Young Scholars Program, which supports low-income, first-generation college students. As a result of her leadership, the first-year retention has increased to 90%. She instituted an early arrival program, a first-year seminar course, and peer mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students and created the Education Equity, Excellence course development committee. Additionally, in partnership with the USAID, Higher Education Partnership- Dominican Republic, Dr. Thomas serves as a subject matter expert and is leading the development of “Camino a la Universidad” or Road to College, a bridge program for low-income, first-generation students pursuing higher education. Dr. Thomas genuinely cares about others, which is evident from her influence on the hundreds of scholars she has mentored throughout her career.

Karin A. ZuckermanKarin A. Zuckerman
Director, Veterinary Medical Center
College of Veterinary Medicine
10 years of service

Karin Zuckerman has an unwavering dedication to the Veterinary Medical Center mission, which has been shown through her impact in the ongoing success and annual growth of the center. Karin has improved workflow efficiencies by increasing staffing levels, increasing clinical patient caseload, helping modernize and expand clinical and hospital facilities, and navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic. She has a deep commitment to enhancing customer, patient and student experience, and has strengthened relationships with referring veterinarian partners. Karin leads by example to improve the working and learning environment for faculty, staff and students, as well as to help the local community through her volunteer efforts.

The 2021 Distinguished Staff Award recipients are:

Kate BartterKate Bartter
Executive Director
Sustainability Institute at Ohio State
13 years of service

Kate Bartter Arnold has been instrumental in the creation of the Sustainability Institute and other initiatives that make Ohio State a national leader in efforts to reduce the carbon imprint. Kate’s work includes building effective partnerships with leaders across the university, developing effective strategies to grow overall resources for sustainability scholarship and activities, and providing support to sustainability staff across units. Kate tirelessly advances and amplifies the awareness, integration and progress of creating a culture of sustainability at Ohio State. Her impact expands across the university as the chair of the President and Provost’s Council on Sustainability and central Ohio as a member of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s Sustainability Committee.

Spenser CaffeeSpenser Caffee
James Patient Access Services (JPAS)
Martha Morehouse Tower
9 years of service

Spenser Caffee is a collaborative, dynamic leader with an employee-centric and patient-focused approach who quickly masters new skills and helps train others. Throughout his career, Spenser has seized opportunities to gain experience across multiple service lines and specialties, often demonstrating his ability to collaborate across team lines. He was integral in the development and growth of the Lung Cancer Screening Clinic, the improvement of operational changes in the Martha Morehouse Tower and the creation of an standard of practice for the Tower’s Infusion Unit. Many of his colleagues recognize and appreciate Spenser as someone with a kind heart who consistently goes above and beyond to support patients and staff.

Christy GoodmanChristy Goodman, AuD
Audiology Clinical Preceptor
Department of Speech and Hearing Science
College of Arts and Sciences
27 years of service

Dr. Christy Goodman is a creative and solution-focused audiologist who always has a patients-first mindset. Demonstrating her compassion and work ethic, during the pandemic, Dr. Goodman volunteered the use of her home as a hearing aid repair clinic to meet an at-risk population’s critical needs during the closure of on-campus clinics. She is praised and looked up to as a role model for professional students for teaching exemplary patient care and for actively showing compassion with every patient interaction. She is known for the impact she has on people throughout the community because of her extensive knowledge, innovative solutions, early adoption of technology and personal attention she gives each patient.

Brad HarrisBrad A. Harris
Chief of Staff
Enterprise for Research Innovation and Knowledge
28 years of service

Brad Harris’ servant leadership combined with his commitment to move projects forward has improved the quality of the Ohio State experience for faculty, staff and students. Brad has made a positive difference as a key contributor to developing the Research and Creative Expression pillar of Ohio State’s Time and Change strategic plan, leading the 2020 return to research program, implementing COVID-19 testing of students, faculty and staff, and creating equitable benefits for post-doctoral researchers. Brad’s ability to efficiently manage projects and partnerships across Ohio State is the result of his skillful approach to foster support for initiatives and facilitate meaningful discussions that are focused on identifying challenges along with solutions to advance decisions. Brad’s influence and leadership is appreciated and respected by leaders and colleagues throughout the university.

Kristy KrehnoviKristy Krehnovi
Administrative Assistant to the Chair
Department of Astronomy
College of Arts and Sciences
20 years of service

In her position, Kristy Krehnovi fulfills multiple roles and demonstrates proactive leadership, which has been key to the growth of the department and success of the Ohio State Planetarium. In all the administration roles in which Kristy serves, she consistently enhances the quality of work life with excellence in service that makes a significant difference for everyone she encounters. She is recognized for leveraging university relationships to assist faculty, staff and students to anticipate issues before they arise and create solutions. Kristy’s empathetic and helpful approach make her an invaluable asset to faculty, staff and students throughout the department and beyond.

Brittany PoastBrittany Poast
Department Manager
Department of Molecular Genetics
College of Arts and Sciences
15 years of service

Brittany Poast is known for her creative problem-solving abilities and strategic leadership. She tackles challenges with positivity, calmness, reliability and efficiency. She regularly guides faculty, staff and students with gentle patience to help others navigate through obstacles, such as the COVID-19 pandemic as well as technology and system changes. Utilizing her extensive policy and procedure experience, Brittany implemented solutions that have significantly improved department operations and supported the department’s research efforts. Brittany is greatly respected for her outstanding and ongoing service, and the time and energy she invests to make every department member feel valued and important.

Jay SmithJay Smith
Support Manager, Technology
School of Communication
College of Arts and Sciences
10 years of service

Faculty, staff and students recognize Jay Smith as an expert who provides expedient service for wide and varied technology support across the College of Arts and Sciences. Jay is known for his calm demeanor, kind spirit and the personalized attention he provides to everyone he assists. He has a deep commitment to making technology work for faculty, staff and students, a key component to ensuring work can be completed, especially throughout the pandemic. Additionally, Jay’s support of The Lantern’s web site and social media presence has been key to its digital success. A personalized, above-and-beyond approach is Jay’s hallmark and colleagues appreciate his expertise and authenticity.

Jackson R. StotlarJackson R. Stotlar
Academic Program Coordinator
Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
College of Arts and Sciences
5 years of service

Jackson Stotlar has a remarkable vision for organizational efficiency and a passion for higher education. With enthusiastic leadership and perseverance, Jackson implemented innovative improvements to many programmatic aspects in the department. He also initiated and implemented curriculum and assessment redesign efforts that have sparked change in departments across Arts and Sciences. Many colleagues and students appreciate Jackson’s deep commitment to exchanging institutional knowledge and sharing effective methods across campus, as well as to mentoring students.

Jennifer SwiftJennifer Swift
Physical Therapist
Outpatient Rehabilitation
Ohio State Wexner Medical Center
16 years of service

Jennifer Swift has created programs that position Ohio State as a leader in rehabilitation for patients after limb loss. With a passion to serve patients, educate future therapists, collaborate with colleagues and lead team members, Jennifer provides exemplary leadership in technology advancements and objective functional outcome measures. As an expert in her field, Jennifer has contributed to published academic articles, presented at the national physical therapy conference, and partnered with community and government programs to advocate for patients. Additionally, Jennifer is committed to educating students through mentorship and serving as a guest lecturer. Jennifer is a compassionate champion for patients who is well-respected by physicians and her peers.

Alisa TateAlisa Tate
Director of Student Services and Graduate Studies
College of Education and Human Ecology
7 years of service

Alisa Tate understands the importance of working collaboratively to build community and ensure students have the support they need to be successful. Alisa overhauled Student Services offerings, creating innovative programs designed for graduate students, including implementing opportunities to meet with the department chair and establishing student affinity groups within the college. Alisa’s commitment to listen to, advocate for, support and bring together students has made her an invaluable resource. She is also greatly respected by faculty, and admired for the positive culture, leadership and support she provides her team and colleagues.

Katherine (Katie) WatkinsKatie Watkins
Program Director of Undergraduate Studies
College of Pharmacy
8 years of service

With an enthusiastic, collaborative and honest approach, Katie is a visionary leader and trusted voice in academic affairs who consistently focuses on the best interests of students. Katie develops authentic connections with prospective and current students, which is reflected in the comments of students who cite conversations with Katie as turning points in their college career and the praise she receives from student families. Her leadership has led to the success of the College of Pharmacy’s Early Admission Program, as well as innovative and creative solutions for virtual engagement throughout the pandemic of prospective students and their families. Katie’s influence spans across Ohio State through her important work with the University Staff Advisory Committee where she strives to create a better workplace for all Buckeyes.

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