An In-depth look at our 2019/20 Staff Appreciation Award Recipients

January 13, 2020

Congratulations to all our 2019/20 Staff Recognition Award Recipients! We work with INCREDIBLE staff! As we recognize our dedicated staff this year, please take a moment to read these expanded descriptions of our award recipients. We asked our nominators to speak to how staff has demonstrated any of the following: innovation, mentorship, service, resource stewardship, ethics, social justice or sustainability. See what people are saying about our amazing co-workers! 


Susan Brater, Sponsored Programs Foundation

Innovation: Susan pioneered the effort that moved IRB applications from paper to an online form, by working closely with drupal programmers and maintaining elements of the web interface herself. Any IRB applicant or member will attest that this innovation greatly improved the speed and ease of the IRB process. Susan also helped write the official HSU IRB policy and operating procedures, which required judgement and innovation. Finally, Susan oversaw HSU’s adaptation to the new federal IRB regulations which went into effect in January 2019. This required new training for IRB members and adapting procedures such as IRB renewals to conform to the new regulation.  

Mentorship: Susan directly mentors HSU students by presenting lectures on IRB policy in multiple courses every semester, and by mentoring new staff or faculty IRB members. Susan also oversees partnerships between the IRB and other HSU units including the office of risk management (by communicating about higher risk IRB applications to that office), the CPS Associate Dean and President’s office (as both are official IRB administrators), and the Sponsored Programs office (by managing IRB compliance for funded research and student research competitions). 

Ethics and social justice: IRB’s are based on the founding ethical principles of justice, beneficence, and respect for persons, as outlined in the Belmont Report of 1979. IRB work is essentially applying these ethical principles to diverse situations that arise in research. While these principles exist to protect research subjects, Susan’s role in applying IRB policy at HSU requires a sense of empathy to both subjects and researchers, many of whom have deep professional and emotional investments in their projects and rely on Susan’s help to ensure their plans comply with IRB regulations.

The IRB’s strong performance owes much to Susan Brater’s outstanding work in innovating new policies, mentoring students, staff and faculty on their IRB applications, and applying ethical principles with fairness, clarity, and constructive engagements with stakeholders. Under her stewardship, IRB reviews went online, review times decreased, campus outreach efforts increased, adverse incidents have been rare, and the IRB has provided thorough ethics oversight for human subjects research at HSU.


Liz Deck, OSL: YES

 Liz demonstrates community building in the compassion and connection they share with students. The heart Liz brings to their role at YES transcends their professional duties. Their devotion to the YES program, to coworkers, and to the students is evident in many ways. For instance, Liz single handedly manages meal prep and cooking for 25-30 students during the three-day YES retreat. Liz plans the menu (taking into account many dietary restrictions), shops for groceries (often visiting three or more stores to minimize expenses), loads and unloads supplies, and prepares five delicious, hot meals in an industrial kitchen. They successfully spearhead this massive effort every semester. The result in not simply that students are fed during an intensive leader training, but rather that they feel nourished and welcomed during a new experience. 

Liz builds community through the meals they prepare and the conversations, jokes and daily interactions they share with students. Many YES alumni credit their relationship with Liz as one of the reasons they developed a sense of belonging at HSU. The energy, intention and care Liz brings are critical ingredients to the strong bonds created within YES.  Beyond YES, Liz has built positive working relationships with colleagues across campus. For the past several years and again this academic year, Liz has served on the Outstanding Student Awards committee. Members of this working group rely on and appreciate her commitment, problem solving abilities and amiable nature. 

Liz Deck has contributed time and talent to HSU for fourteen years and has enriched the YES program for six years. Liz’s tireless office management and dedication to improving the experience of student volunteers and leaders make her so deserving of this recognition. Liz champions the mission of YES, building community and fostering relationships with students and colleagues across campus. 


Masterful camp chef 

Keeps many YES plates spinning

Serving up goodness

Kyle Leitzke, Academic & Career Advising

Kyle has demonstrated innovation, mentorship and service, specifically. He is constantly reviewing articles and staying abreast of opportunities to better serve students and translating that into new programming, resources and approaches.  He has revamped ACAC website that relates to exploring majors, adding numerous resources to help students on their major exploration journey. He created and implemented a Canvas Undeclared Advising Course focused on developing student sense of belonging, timely advising information, and major exploration resources. He has offered advising in multiple formats, to better meet students where they are at, including Zoom meetings, workshops, and presentations for current and prospective students. He created and offers skillshops around major and career exploration, identity development, and decision making. He strives to take the stigma of undecided away so that students have a greater sense of belonging on campus and feel good about their choice to explore. Kyle has created a strategic plan and an assessment plan for Undeclared students. Kyle provides mentorship to his students—helping them feel safe and comfortable as they are exploring their major and career paths. He offers non-judgemental guidance that is entirely focused on what is in the students’ best interest. He provides support and encouragement to explore their academic, career and personal interests while working to identify, and declare, the best major fit for them. This process develops decision making and goal setting skills and fosters a sense of confidence and belonging while undeclared at HSU. Kyle has partnered with the Global Humboldt Learning communities and other departments on campus to share his expertise and help them better support students. He provides invaluable information about supporting students through their major exploration and developing confidence in their major decision.  He attends their classes and provides personal and career assessments and enhances the curriculum focused on major exploration. 

Kyle developed the undeclared core values:

 •  diversity and pluralistic ways of knowing and living that represent individuals experiences and who they are and want to be.

 •  curiosity and inquiry. 

 •  intentional exploration of one’s values, interests, and goals. 

 •  resilience to overcome adversity. 

 •  individual responsibility for making decisions. 

 These form the basis for how Kyle approaches working with, and for, undeclared students. 


Raven Palomera, HSI Stem

 Rapid growth and institutional change have thrown a number of unexpected challenges into the nominee’s planning, and they have adapted each time with a level head and careful logic. They make concerted efforts to solicit feedback from all stakeholders on Summer Immersion activities (students, student staff, faculty, community members, and professional staff) to continuously improve upon programmatic elements. They have worked tirelessly to make programming accessible, equitable, and above all a positive and fulfilling experience for all incoming students. The nominee has developed clever solutions with strategic scheduling to minimize strain and demand on collaborating departments and divisions while also making the Summer Immersions more sustainable in design and more economical so they can continue to support students for years to come. The Placed Based Learning Communities have developed intentional partnerships with several local tribes, and the nominee stresses the importance of a reciprocal relationship by organizing service events. Hundreds of students have visited Klamath or Trinidad Rancheria in the spring to clean up illegally dumped trash and pull invasive plant species.

In less than two years the nominee has built key relationships across campus to successfully run four simultaneous Summer Immersions for over 250 incoming STEM students. This requires an impressive degree of organization, clear communication, and leadership which they tackle with ease. They have worked tirelessly to make programming accessible, equitable, and above all a positive and fulfilling experience for students. 


STEM Students Arrive

Raven’s Meticulous Plans

Humboldt is Now Home.


Courtney Proctor, Academic Personnel Services

Courtney’s primary responsibilities involve lecturer faculty. She performs her responsibilities with compassion, fairness, and consistency. This is particularly important for the group of faculty members that she is primarily responsible for, who often are not as heard as other groups in the university community. In the last year, Courtney has been the voice of these employees in our office, asking the important question “how is this going to affect lecturer faculty?” or “how can we get this message out to lecturer faculty?” Courtney genuinely cares for the people around her.  She remembers birthdays. She remembers the names of your family members and fur-babies. When you are having a tough day, her empathy is immediate. She is just a nice person to be around, and her positive attitude creates a friendly work environment. Her attention to detail and sharp memory for the specifics of various business processes quickly gained the attention of senior leadership, and she took the initiative to advance her own knowledge of processes and policies. When the Collective Bargaining Agreement changes, she undertakes the sometimes massive and complicated task of updating APS documents and procedures to adjust to these changes. Recently she updated the Range Elevation process for lecturers in a way that makes adjustments for contract changes, but also streamlines the application process for employees. This kind of consistent dependability can often go unnoticed in a university with so many processes, but are very important to the individual employees that are affected by these processes. We have been able to utilize this in-depth knowledge to have her take a lead role in cross training our own staff on several instances.


Grateful for Courtney 

Office would not be the same

Thanks for all you do.


Betsy Rogers, Academic & Career Advising

Betsy Rogers serves as an academic advisor for students who have been disqualified and are seeking reinstatement to the university. In her 3+ years working in this capacity, she has worked in collaboration with the Reinstatement Committee to make the process more supportive, accessible and welcoming for students hoping to regain their dream of a bachelor’s degree from HSU. Compassion and empowerment are guiding principles in how Betsy approaches her work with the students she advises; honoring their lived experiences while guiding them through a process that is often fraught with anxiety. She is their advocate, their resource for accurate information about the reinstatement process, their partner in creating a successful plan to achieve their personal, academic and professional goals, the conduit through which they get connected to campus resources, their support if they encounter obstacles, and the loudest one cheering at their success. As a member of the Reinstatement Committee, Betsy has been integral in helping to change the process by which students apply for reinstatement to the university; streamlining the petition form and making it more user friendly. She stays current with the literature regarding best practices in advising students through academic recovery, trends and research that support those practices, and how those practices might be incorporated here at HSU.


Funny, wise and kind,

Betsy helps them reclaim dreams

and graduate, yay!


Danielle Trapkus, Environmental Science Management & Oceanography

 I would focus primarily on mentorship and especially service for Danielle; not that she doesn’t demonstrate many of the others (she does), but in her position as an ASC in an academic department, mentorship and service is what she has the most opportunity to show. Danielle is extremely focused on helping students succeed, and she does this every day by spending much of her day directly helping the many, many students who find their way into our department office needing assistance.  I see and hear her as she spends a lot of her time each day, time which easily could be spent on other more mundane tasks, patiently listen to students describe the issue or problem or question that brought them into our office, and then efficiently and effectively answer their questions or help them solve their problem, whether it’s completing paperwork, navigating sometimes very byzantine university processes, or directing them to the correct office where the correct person can help them. She is incredibly patient and incredibly helpful, and the students are almost without exception extremely appreciative of her time and attention and help. Danielle helps our students succeed every single day, and she makes that the main focus of her job.

Danielle is always willing to share her expertise and knowledge. She doesn't hesitate to take on tasks that others could accomplish. She consistently shows leadership by suggesting more efficient ways of accomplishing tasks. She contributes to student success every day by making sure her job performance is focused on helping students. She is the ultimate team player who understands that ASCs play an incredibly important role in the success of our students.


Jaime Tripp-Carter, Housing

 Jaime has streamlined our Housing application process to make it much simpler for students. She’s created online electronic fillable forms to eliminate the former use of paper forms. As a veteran Housing employee with multiple area experience, she’s been able to help new employees streamline their roles and add automation and electronic systems where possible to eliminate manual work.  Jaime’s experience in Housing makes her an excellent mentor to not only help new staff, but also to help guide students through tough situations in support of student success. 


One young girl believes. 

Generous friendship spreads, 

a shine into the light.

We want to recognize a true shining light in the Housing & Residence Life organization—Jaime Tripp-Carter.


Kumi Watanabe-Schock, Library

Kumi is exceptional in every way. She works tirelessly to support our students and our community. She is deeply involved in many efforts to promote equity, inclusion, and social justice in our local area. She miraculously seems to be present at—and many times leading—every event that forwards these goals. From her L4HSU workshop to her hosted webinar screenings to her coordination of key exhibits and educational opportunities in the library, Kumi’s work and impact goes beyond measurement. She expertly leads the Campus and Community Dialogue on Race planning committee and mentors the committee members through the process each year.  Her wisdom and capacity for partnership-building on campus, and her deep commitment to transformative education is an inspiration.

Kumi is deserving of this recognition, and she represents all of the values associated with this award. Kumi is a dedicated mentor and educator, with a deep commitment to equity and social justice. She demonstrates this commitment every day, in how she supports students who come to her office and how she supports faculty who are seeking to augment their curricula. Kumi always knows the right film to suggest to help someone have meaningful classroom discussion of a social issue. She demonstrates a commitment to social justice also in her service work. Some of her most recent work includes her continued coordination of Fred Korematsu Day, in conjunction with the upcoming Taiko Swing Humboldt and San Jose Taiko events, and her sustained work with the Equity Alliance of the North Coast. Kumi is constantly seeking more ways to serve our students. She is a true model of what it means to be a student-centered educator. 


Who I turn to is

Kumi Watanabe-Schock

She cares and she knows. 


Travis Williams, Development

Travis has demonstrated innovation in donation processes. Building a team responsible for online giving, event registration, etc, he has helped to update HSU’s Giving to a more technologically savvy mode, which includes donors being able to initiate their own gifts through our website, as well as being able to help Clubs, Departments, etc, fundraise with Crowdfunding resources. Travis has mentored many club leaders and fundraisers, in their own small campaigns, and also by giving them access to resources within our office, including use of the Call Center for different Athletic Teams to have Phone-a-thons. Travis has been extremely diligent in creating an environment that is comfortable and welcoming to all. He is constantly staying up to date with social issues, and uses the knowledgeable people and resources around him to make sure the language and behaviors both inside the Philanthropy Office, and what we send out to donors is correct and inclusive. Travis exhibits so many qualities that exude his desire to understand, discover and learn how to not only be accepting and appreciative of other people, but how to incorporate that into a working environment. 

Travis is kind, encouraging, socially minded, energetic, busy, silly, open, honest and hard working. His dedication to students is especially impressive and inspiring. His wisdom, creative ideas, and strong communication skills will continue to help the University meet all its Fundraising goals! 


January 2, 2020

The Office of the President, in collaboration with Staff Council, would like to congratulate and recognize the following 2019/20 Staff Recognition Award recipients! 

2019/20 Individual Award Recipients (in alpha order, by last name):

Susan Brater, Sponsored Programs Foundation

Liz Deck, OSL: YES

Kyle Leitzke, Academic & Career Advising

Raven Palomera, HSI Stem

Courtney Proctor, Academic Personnel Services

Betsy Rogers, Academic & Career Advising

Danielle Trapkus, Environmental Science Management & Oceanography

Jaime Tripp-Carter, Housing

Kumi Watanabe-Schock, Library

Travis Williams, Development


2019/20 Team Award Recipients (in alpha order, by last name):

ACAC & CCBL Family: Sarah Bacio, Stacey Becker, Shannon Berge, Gilly Black, Loren Collins, Dana Deason, Kelly Fortner, Devon Hernandez, Kristina Hunt, Sei Hee Hwang, Kyle Leitzke, Amy Martin, Nora Montoya, Kelda Quintana, Betsy Rogers, Joy Soll, Anna Thaler Petersen, Kathy Thornhill

Associated Students Support Staff: Kendra Higgins, Jenessa Lund, Casey Park

CAHSS Office Allstars: Shannon Collart, Lauren Lynch, Gina Pierce, Janine Woolfson

CTLTOAA - Center for Teaching & Learning Team of Awesomeness & Accomplishment: Sue Armitage, Morgan Barker, Xandra Gradine, Terry Georgopoulos, Enoch Hale, Kim Vincent-Layton, Becky Williams

Extraordinary EOPers!: Sharrise Faleofa, Tania Marin-Zeldin, Armando Mendoza-Quiroz, Elias Pence, Rama Rawal, Celeste Roberson, Dan Saveliff, Liz Silver

Superlative Desktop Support: Ed Gordon, Warren Hardison, Tim Kohberger, Andy Pierce, Toby Walker, Rocky Waters, Robert Yunker


In place of the Spring Welcome 2020, the Presidential Investiture will occur on January 15. To honor our Individual Award recipients and their nominators, there will be a private reception hosted by President Jackson coupled with a basketball game on Thursday, January 9, beginning at 4:30 p.m. More details about this private event will be communicated soon with our recipients!

The Team Award recipients will be honored at a Celebration Luncheon hosted by Staff Council in spring. More details about this celebration will be communicated soon with our recipients!

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Staff Recognition Awards process, including a very special thank you to the President’s Office staff, to each person who took time to nominate a staff member, and to our 2019/20 Staff Council members who conducted the review of all nominations. And a big shout out to our incredible Humboldt State University staff members who do outstanding work to support our campus community and continue to lift each other up each day. Thank you!



Jessica Welch, President, Staff Council

Dr. Tom Jackson, Jr., President, HSU

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Staff Recognition Awards: 2019/2020 

The success of Humboldt State University depends on the dedication and experience of our staff. The Staff Recognition Awards began over 35 years ago and continues to be the primary recognition of staff contributions to the University. We welcome nominations of both state and auxiliary employees. These awards are not for students, management, or faculty employees, nor are the current members of Staff Council eligible (visit the Staff Council website to Meet Your Council Reps). Individuals may receive this award multiple times, but not in consecutive years. Please visit our Staff Recognition Awards webpage to see past winners.

There are two components that are new to the awards program this year. The first is the option to nominate teams! Awarding teams acknowledges and supports what many staff are already doing; partnering and collaborating across campus. The second is a question that distinguishes the career level of an individual staff member recognizing the valuable perspectives that come with new employment and that which is developed over time.  Staff Council and the Office of the President are excited to support the recognition of the strengths and achievements of individual nominees and teams, especially highlighting areas of innovation, mentorship, service, resource stewardship, ethics, social justice, and sustainability.  

Nominations should be submitted using our Online Nomination Form. The nomination deadline is Friday, September 27, by 5:00 p.m. Preliminary review of nominations will be made by Staff Council, followed by final consideration by the President’s Cabinet. Awards will be presented as part of the Spring Welcome on January 15, 2020. For questions or comments, please contact Michelle Collins in the Office of the President,, 707-826-3311. 

Thank you for recognizing the value contributions of our incredible staff members!


Jessica Welch, President, Staff Council
Tom Jackson, Jr., President, HSU


These awards are coordinated by the Office of the President and HSU Staff Council. The awards to individuals are supported by private funds contributed by alumni and other friends of the university. Staff Council will award teams in the form of a hosted luncheon in the spring.

Staff Education Awards

Information about the 2019-2020 Staff Education Awards will be coming soon!