Institute Staff Awards


Do you work with an outstanding co-worker or team member? Is there a new hire in your department who exhibits visionary leadership? Are you the team member who regularly identifies problems, but focuses on potential solutions? Then take the time to nominate them, or yourself, for a Staff Award.

Nomination Timeline

  • Nominations Open | January 16, 2024
  • Nominations Close | February 25, 2024
  • Recognition of Winners | April 26, 2024

Nomination Process

 You will need the following three things to complete the online nomination process:

  1. Your Georgia Tech login (ID and password) to access InfoReady, the nomination system.
  2. Nomination Questions. Each award includes its own set of questions (between 5-6) to answer about why your nominee is worthy of the award. This is in lieu of you writing a nomination letter. You can click on the award of your choice and download the questions from the supporting documents on the individual award page.
  3. One reference letter OR video of support. Thoughtfully consider people who can explain different aspects of the employee’s accomplishments. The reference or video can come from a supervisor, colleague, client, student, or other community member who was directly affected by the employee’s work. The goal is to fully describe, from different viewpoints, the employee’s attitude, specific behaviors, approach, and results.

Reference letter: You may upload the reference letter yourself to the application or you may send the application to your letter writer through the InfoReady system for them to upload by the deadline.

Video of support: If your reference prefers to submit a 2-minute max video explaining different aspects of the employee’s accomplishments, they should upload the video to a file sharing site (youtube, vimeo, dropbox, onedrive, sharepoint, etc.) and provide the link to you. Place the link on a document and upload the document onto your InfoReady application as if it was a reference letter.

Quick Guide to the Nomination Platform

  1. Select the award you would like to nominate someone for here. Click the Learn More button. You will be re-directed to the InfoReady site.
  2. If you have not logged in to the InfoReady site, you will need to log in and then search for the award:
    • In the top right corner, click Log In.  
    • Click on the box that says, “Login for Georgia Tech Users.” Click the blue Georgia Tech Login button and use your GT ID and password to sign on. 
    • You will be presented with a page full of awards for staff AND faculty. You can scroll to find the award or use the search box to find the award.

After You Submit a Nomination

Expect an email from InfoReady confirming your nomination was received.

Please ensure you have completed the following:

  1. Completely filled out the application in InfoReady and clicked “Submit”.
  2. Filled out the questionnaire and attached it within InfoReady.
  3. Requested either a letter or video of support. You can do this via InfoReady or through your own methods. If you send the request via InfoReady, your reference will have the opportunity to upload a document directly within InfoReady to your application.

Once the Nomination Process Closes

The Staff Awards committee will review all applications equally. However, if an application is missing any of the nomination criteria (missing questionnaire or not enough letters of support), their application will no longer be considered.


Tips for Preparing a Successful Nomination

Follow instructions, get support, be memorable, avoid jargon and spell out acronyms, include measurable results, use multiple examples, and be descriptive in your nomination.

Previous Staff Award Winners


Previous Winners
  • 2022: Terry Lee Grumley Bridges

Acting with Ethics First Award

Dr. Daurette Joseph, Director of Academic Advising, College of Computing

As Director of Academic Advising, Daurette has created a level of training and protocols to ensure that the College of Computing manages decisions fairly and consistently. She has led an effort to be more transparent in class registration, worked to shift internal deadlines so that students can gain more equitable class access, adjusted the interview process for incoming academic advisors to be more impartial, and regularly empowers her staff to speak up for what is right when advocating for students. When making decisions, she looks to the law or policy first, then thoughtfully considers the impacts now and in the future before rendering a decision. 

Previous Winners
  • 2022: Denise Ocasio Thomas

Cultivating Well-being Award

Mechanical Engineering S.H.O.E. Cabinet: Melody Foster, Lula Baker, and Ann Lamb

Through extensive interviews with staff, the Staff Happiness and Organizational Development Cabinet studied the environment and developed a plan to create a collegial and inclusive environment, built on mutual respect among faculty, staff, and students in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. They provided the chair with a list of initiatives touching on all 8 dimensions of wellness and then oversaw the implementation of: a formal onboarding process, a school-wide retreat to connect employees and share knowledge, job shadow opportunities, reclassification of job positions, health-related and social events to increase a sense of community, and improved processes and efficiency to improve well-being and create psychological safety.

Previous Winners

Putting Students First Award

Dr. Charmaine Troy, Associate Director, First-Generation Student Initiatives, Office of Undergraduate Education

Whether advising or mentoring 1-1in her office and around campus, or developing programming to support their success, Dr. Charmaine Troy is passionate in her commitment to serving Tech’s first-generation students. She relentlessly strives to find new ways to fund opportunities and identify new people to collaborate with, on-and off-campus, in order to scale support. Beyond creating infrastructure and programs for this support, she focuses on relationship building—primarily with the students, but also with their parents and families, who are also new to the college experience. She has created and maintained several programs that demonstrate her prioritization of students like the First-Generation Jackets peer mentoring program, First-Generation College Celebration Week, and the First-Generation Job Shadow Program to name a few examples of how she brings people and resources together to scale opportunities for first-generation students.

Previous Winners
  • 2021: Jeremy Gray 
  • 2020: David Brown, Steve Woodard 
  • 2019: LaTrese Ferguson 
  • 2018: Angela Hicks 

    Leadership in Action Award

    Juana Cunningham, Senior Director, Strategic Consulting

    It takes unique skills and characteristics to bring the best out in people and Juana Cunningham has what it takes to produce results – in both processes and in the professional growth of leaders she works with. Juana personifies professionalism, diplomacy, and grace. She is uniquely able to set a clear vision but is not overly forceful with people. The result is that people want to adjust, improve, and grow because she challenges them in ways that help them see the benefits to them. When we think about “leadership in action,” we sometimes focus more on the visible, “front facing” leadership position who deserves recognition. Equally as important, however, are those who work closely (often behind the scenes) to help leaders have the support, tools, resources, and input they need to advance their organizations and better serve our students. Or, in other words, “lead the leaders.” Congratulations, Juana, on this well-deserved award!

    Previous Winners
    • 2021: Jeremy Gray 
    • 2020: David Brown, Steve Woodard 
    • 2019: LaTrese Ferguson 
    • 2018: Angela Hicks 

      Leadership in Action Award

      Cary Ogletree, Building & Delivery Service Manager, Mechanical Engineering

      With 18 buildings and 220,000 square feet of space, it’s a formidable challenge to coordinate projects across the entire Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and 100 faculty. Cary is always in the middle of the action. His responsibilities vary throughout the day from handling large requests to clear lab space, coaching his team when he accompanies them to a job site, or working with students as they come to him for help planning their capstone presentations. When multiple pipes burst last Winter, he was the first one on the scene, triaging damages and creating a workplan for each incident. Cary has built a community of respect within his facilities team. One of his “tricks” is getting his hands dirty with the tasks his team is handling; in fact, he would never ask them to do anything he would not do himself. Cary is reliable, resourceful, and always willing to help. He takes responsibility when things do not go as planned, but always is generous with giving credit to his team.

      Previous Winners

      Leading By Example in Sustainability Award

      Steve Place, Horticulturalist II, Infrastructure and Sustainability

      Steve’s focus has been to create an engaging living laboratory for students on an around the Kendeda building, so they can learn first-hand about urban agriculture, ecosystems, and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in a supportive environment. He does this through programs such as the Kendeda rooftop garden, Students Organizing for Sustainability community garden, BBUGS Bio Quad Pollinator Garden, Friday English Ivy Pulls, and hosting social events focused on sustainability and mental health. Steve diligently cares for our grounds using old, new, innovative and eco-conscious ways to curb issues such as weeds and how fall leaves are managed on campus. With each sustainable practice that Steve brings to Georgia Tech he is saving us thousands of dollars and reducing our carbon footprint. But Steve is not just a cultivator of plants. He nurtures the growth of the students, faculty, and staff and is an indispensable link between environmental education and the physical space that surrounds us.

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: Testing Site Operations Leads (Alex Ortiz, JulieAnne Williamson), Kiki Brown, Dale Allgood, Alfred Blue, Sara Warner, Jenny Cotton, Sheree Gibson, Dr. Ben Holton, Dr. Anton Bryksin, Mike Shannon, True Merrill, Miles Paca, Nic Speller, Brian Liu, Postal Service Team

      One Giant Leap Award

      Joe Brown, Application Support Manager, Housing and Residence Life, Student Engagement and Well-Being

      Following the decision to move to centralized housing move-in process, Joe Brown worked to optimize the drive-thru check-in process that allowed them to expand this process to all 8,700 residents. He hired, managed, and developed the first student intern team to manage move-in at Georgia Tech. This intern team, Team LEO (Logistics and Event Operations), was a truly innovative approach to managing the preparation required for move-in and replaced the former, unsustainable model –a committee of professional staff. The creation of Team LEO freed up professional staff to focus on their core responsibilities, equating to salary dollars better spent, increased peak daily move-in averages from 95 to 196 students moving in per hour, and created an amazing, sustainable experience for students with their voice in the process. Joe challenged the team to explore innovative solutions and re-write the move-in playbook which resulted in glowing reviews from parents and campus partners.

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: Steven Daniele, Justin Filoseta, Troy Hilley, Jeff Lowe, Nguyen Nugyen, Arian Padron, Michael Sheldon, Troy West

      One Small Step Award

      Patrice Faison, Academic Program Manager, Evening MBA Program, Scheller College of Business

      Patrice plays an integral role in the academic and co-curricular experience of the Evening MBA students by innovating within the context of the CHARGE leadership development program. To increase the visibility and effectiveness of the CHARGE program, Patrice has led the effort to reconfigure the program’s marketing and tracking for MBA students. Through her passion for providing a highly satisfactory student experience, her willingness to embrace technology, and her drive to innovate, she has had a lasting impact on the people and processes around her. More than anything, Patrice cares about her students and their welfare and recently worked on a goal toward better understanding the experience of ethnic and racial minorities in the Evening MBA program in collaboration with DEI experts around campus. She plans to present her findings to the DEI council in Scheller in support of the college’s strategic goals. Patrice, this one small step has such a huge impact!

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: Christian Birk, Jason Brewer, Pamela Buffington, Jassen Ceci, Samba Diop, Dr Shakis Drummond, Desmond Gardfrey, Warren Goetzel, Christian Hayes, Nilufer Korkmaz, Valerie Morrison, Tami Salz, Norah Sinclair, Chris Williams, Charlie Wright 
      • 2020: Will Jimerson 
      • 2018: Aby Parsons 

      Excellence Award

      Workplace Learning and Professional Development Team: LaTrese Ferguson, Bryan Harber, Rachel Watts, Tim Edmonds-King, and Kala Taylor

      The Workplace Learning and Professional Development team is dedicated to advancing Georgia Tech’s mission and our community members’ career potential through engaging, transformative, and applicable learning that can be immediately integrated into day-to-day activities. In 2022, they hosted 151 learning opportunities and had 1,712 participants from all areas of campus. As one participant put it, “The WLPD team is the team I consult with, take courses from, and get pushed out of my comfort zone with so that I can bring my best self to work.” With programs ranging from MentorTech, ASPIRE, the New Employee Experience, Professional Development Circles, Intact Team sessions, and the Interruptions podcast, their programs contribute to an estimated 32% decrease in annual employee turnover. Congratulations WLPD team, we are so lucky to learn from your excellence!

      Previous Winners
      • 2022: Samba Diop
      • 2021: Tyler Barker 
      • 2019: Elayne Ashley 
      • 2018: Bethany Schuster 

      Rising Wreck Award

      Andrew McGraw, Academic Program Manager, Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

      About 4 months into Andrew’s employment, his former supervisor had to temporarily leave unexpectedly to take care of an ill family member. This left Andrew as the only full-time staff member on the Ivan Allen College’s enrollment and recruitment team. He immediately assumed necessary responsibilities of his team and gave his supervisor as much time and space as possible to grieve and spend time with family. This included managing and onboarding new student interns, keeping several large-scale projects on task, and assisting with broad strategic planning for the year, on top of his typical job responsibilities. Through Andrew’s work in the past year, he has directly increased registrations for Ivan Allen’s Tours & Information Sessions by 110% and increased attendance at their annual Shadow Day events by 44%. This has helped lead the College to record number applicants for both first-years and transfers (up 15% and 11%, respectively). Andrew’s resourcefulness, innovation, and willingness to go above and beyond makes him the ideal Rising Wreck awardee.

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: Steven Sheffield, Will McKenna 
      • 2020: Chris Burke 
      • 2019: Bobby Strickland 
      • 2018: Marilu Suarez 
      • 2016: Alba Gutierrez 

      Service to the Community Award

      Birney Robert, Event Coordinator, College of Computing

      Birney is an unstoppable force of reaching out to communities, serving, strengthening, and bringing communities together. She brings a deep thoughtfulness and rigorous scholarly and research-oriented approach to community service. She recently graduated with an MA in museum anthropology from GSU thanks to Georgia Tech’s TAP program. Combining her knowledge of museums, accessibility, community outreach, and event planning, Birney was awarded a C21U and Microsoft Accessibility grant of $40,000 which covers the costs and support of two accessible exhibits at the intersection of art, science, and technology here at Tech. With this, she curated an art exhibit called Extension of Self that explores ways that technology influences our sense of self and ways of being in the world. Since receiving this grant, she is dedicated to ensuring that all College of Computing event collateral, messaging, locations, and virtual events are ADA accessible. Thank you for all you do in the spirit of “Progress and Service,” Birney!

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: OISSS Advising Team, Chung Kim, James Godard, Grace Battle, Jamie White-Jones 
      • 2020: Stacey Bass, Recha Reid 
      • 2019: Renee Brown, Quinae Ford, Jackie Strickland, Laura Pusateri, Mack Bowers
      • 2018: Kerry Wallaert, Leslie Hall, Pam Ruffin, Atira Rochester, Laci Weeden 

      Spirit of Georgia Tech Award

      Chris Malbrue, Academic Program Manager, VIP Program, Electrical and Computer Engineering

      As one person put it, “Chris Malbrue is everyone’s ‘go to guy’ in the Vertically Integrated Projects program.” Whether he is talking to team members about notebooks during the first Ag Robotics class each semester, helping with audio/visual equipment in VL465 bright and early on the first day of class, answering countless questions with professionalism, responsiveness, and a smile, or resolving matters large and small, Chris goes above and beyond to make sure the VIP program runs smoothly. Another person noted, “He doesn’t just do the job. He puts his heart into his work and it makes a tangible difference.” Because Chris’s personal and professional characteristics lead to service excellence and make Georgia Tech a better place to work, we are thrilled to acknowledge Chris with the Spirit of Georgia Tech Award!

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: OISSS Advising Team, Chung Kim, James Godard, Grace Battle, Jamie White-Jones 
      • 2020: Stacey Bass, Recha Reid 
      • 2019: Renee Brown, Quinae Ford, Jackie Strickland, Laura Pusateri, Mack Bowers
      • 2018: Kerry Wallaert, Leslie Hall, Pam Ruffin, Atira Rochester, Laci Weeden 

      Spirit of Georgia Tech Award

      Francisco Castelan, Assistant Director of Pre-Health, Pre-Graduate and Pre-Professional Advising, Office of Undergraduate Education

      Francisco is known for his excellence as a pre-health advisor. The qualities that make Francisco an excellent advisor also make him an excellent colleague. Trained in counseling, Francisco is an active listener, taking in all the information people share with him and considering it carefully before offering a thoughtful response. In group discussions, Francisco is often the synthesizer, able to bring strands of thought and different interests together in a shared enterprise. Francisco is equally comfortable supporting the superstars who are admitted to multiple top-tier schools and the students who may have struggled academically or with the MCAT. His approach is to reassure all students that their path to medicine is unique. There are too many examples of students who have persevered and gone on to medical school under Francisco’s guidance to name just one or two. His entire career has been built on empowering students to pursue their dreams. Francisco, you truly embody the Spirit of Georgia Tech!

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: OISSS Advising Team, Chung Kim, James Godard, Grace Battle, Jamie White-Jones 
      • 2020: Stacey Bass, Recha Reid 
      • 2019: Renee Brown, Quinae Ford, Jackie Strickland, Laura Pusateri, Mack Bowers
      • 2018: Kerry Wallaert, Leslie Hall, Pam Ruffin, Atira Rochester, Laci Weeden 

      Spirit of Georgia Tech Award

      LGBTQIA Resource Center Team: Tegra Myanna and William Britto

      The LGBTQIA Resource Center Team serves as collaborators, connectors, advocates, educators, and community builders. Recently, the Center led the initiative to update Georgia Tech’s Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination, and Anti-Harassment Policy to align with the Supreme Court ruling to include gender expression. The staff continuously put themselves on the line to speak up about exclusive practices and sometimes are the only ones advocating for community members who live at the margins of multiple marginalized identities. This work is challenging and exhausting, yet the team does it with energy and creativity. As one person put it, “On numerous occasions, I walk by the office and hear laughter and conversation from students and team members. This is the kind of psychologically safe space that students need to feel welcome and valued: A “home away from home” for some students and a cultural safehouse for others.” The Center is truly bursting at the seams with engaged students, faculty, and staff and Georgia Tech is a better place because of the tireless work done to increase a sense of belonging, safety, and allyship to LGBTQIA yellow jackets. Thank you so much Tegra and William!

      Previous Winners
      • 2021: OISSS Advising Team, Chung Kim, James Godard, Grace Battle, Jamie White-Jones 
      • 2020: Stacey Bass, Recha Reid 
      • 2019: Renee Brown, Quinae Ford, Jackie Strickland, Laura Pusateri, Mack Bowers
      • 2018: Kerry Wallaert, Leslie Hall, Pam Ruffin, Atira Rochester, Laci Weeden 

      Spirit of Georgia Tech Award

      Andrew Blakely, Public Services Associate II, Library

      When the Library became a 24-hour operation, Andy moved to the third shift. Andy has been the consistent face that provides service for students and keeps a watchful and caring eye on our community when there are few employees on campus. The students that arrive at the Library in the early morning hours have unique needs. Some are intensely cramming for exams and very stressed. Some of them are experiencing homelessness or mental health issues. He consistently engages with these students with compassion and brings his best self to these interactions, treating everyone with kindness. Because of the hours he works, whenever he encounters a problem, Andy has few other people to turn to for advice or information. Therefore, Andy is an independent problem solver and always puts the needs of students first and works to resolve problems in their interest. Many opportunities are unavailable to overnight workers because they require daytime meetings and commitments. Despite this, Andy continues to find new ways to contribute, to learn, to grow, and to participate in the important and ongoing work of the Institute. He raises his hand. He speaks out. He lets his abilities and commitment to excellence, rather than the original scope of his job responsibilities, define his contribution. We are so lucky to have you, Andy!

      Frequently Asked Questions

      For questions not answered here, please contact GTHR Recognition Program Manager, Mattie Hamilton

      How long does the nomination process take?

      The nomination process varies by individual, however, follow the three steps under the Nomination Process section to ensure you have everything prepared before submitting to InfoReady. We recommend not waiting until the last minute since you will need a reference letter or video of support from another person.

      Do I qualify for an award if I am not director level or above?

      Absolutely! The staff awards are for all staff and academic professionals (acting in an academic support role) who have been employed in a full-time, permanent position for at least 12 months and are in good standing. If you or someone you know meets the criteria for an award then, nominate them!

      Is there a minimum number of years you have to be employed before you can be considered for a nomination?

      Yes. A nominee needs to be in a full-time, permanent position for at least 12 months and in good standing in order to be nominated for an award. For the 2024 Staff Awards, staff must have been employed on or before January 3, 2023 in a full time, permanent position.

      The Rising Wreck Award is the only award that has additional years of service eligibility criteria. This award is for new staff; to be considered, a nominee must have started in a full-time, permanent position sometime between January 4, 2021 – January 3, 2023.

      Are research faculty eligible for staff awards?

      The staff awards are for staff and non-tenure track faculty acting in an academic support role. However, if a research faculty member is nominated for their work in a non-research capacity—an administrative or organizational capacity—the nomination will be considered and up to the discretion of the committee.

      Otherwise, research faculty nominations should be directed to the other Institute awards listed at:



      Can I nominate myself?

      Definitely! You just need to fill out the application and answer the questions as if you were nominating someone else (i.e., submit your nomination in 3rd person). You will still be responsible for acquiring 1 letter of support from someone else.

      Who is on the Staff Awards selection committee?

      The Staff Awards selection committee is comprised of 10 to 12 individuals from a variety of job classifications and departments. We include representatives from Staff Council and many of the college and unit advisory committees.

      What is the judging process like?

      Once the nominations close, the Staff Awards selection committee reads every single nomination, questionnaire, and support letter. Each nomination goes through a series of behavioral questions that varies by award and each behavior is ranked on a scale from 1 to 5. The scale is:

      1 – Does not exhibit the behavior at all

      2 – Exhibits basic level

      3 – Exhibits intermediate level

      4 – Exhibits above average level

      5 – Exhibits exceptional level

      Will the selection committee have the flexibility to move nominees to an award category that better suits the nominee?

      Yes. The selection committee will have the ability to place a nominee in another award category that the nominee may be better suited for. A member of the selection committee will notify the nominator and discuss their recommendation if needed.

      Is there a limit to the number of nominees one college or department can submit?

      Not at all! Colleges and departments are encouraged to submit nominations for employees who meet the qualifications for each of the awards.

      Is there an approval or vetting process for a award recipient?

      Yes. After the committee has selected a winner for each award, the names of the recommended award recipients will go to (1) the nominee’s direct manager, (2) the nominee’s unit HR Business Partner or representative, and (3) senior Institute leadership to ensure that the employee is in good standing with the Institute.

      Can individuals previously nominated be nominated again this year?

      Previous nominees can be nominated again this year if the nomination represents new accomplishments from the past year. Accomplishments should be from the calendar year 2023.

      Can previous winners be nominated again this year?

      If an individual won an award by themselves and not as a member of a team, they cannot be nominated as an individual winner for another three years. However, if the individual who won is now being nominated as a member of a team, or won previously as a member of a different team, they can be submitted for consideration. Our intent is to ensure as many people are recognized as possible and we do not want to disqualify an entire team if just one individual has won recently.


      How many people are considered a team?

      A team is considered a group of two or more people.