2024 Staff Recognition Award Recipients

Staff Council, in collaboration with the Office of Administration and Financial Affairs would like to congratulate and recognize the following 2023/24 Staff Recognition Award recipients!


Top (left to right): Aubrey Emmons, Benjamin Funke, Deserie Donae, Elizabeth Lujan, Bernie Levy, Jennifer Gomes, Jim Woodhead

Bottom (left to right): Kimberly Vincent-Layton, Laurie Marx, Marissa "Mari" Holguin, Kristen Radecsky, Stacy Becker, Sulaina Banks, Marisa "Meeka" Day  

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Staff Recognition Awards process, to each person who took time to nominate a staff member, and to our 2023/24 Staff Council members who conducted the review of all nominations. A big shout out to our incredible Cal Poly Humboldt staff members who do outstanding work to support our campus community and continue to lift each other up each day.

About the Recipients

Aubrey Emmons, Administrative Support Coordinator,  Redwood Coast K-16 Educational Collaborative

Aubrey Emmons brings a wealth of institutional knowledge, deep understanding of Cal Poly Humboldt procedures, and mastery of institutional processes as an administrative support coordinator for the Redwood Coast K-16 Educational Collaborative. Aubrey's leadership shines through in her role as a coordinator as she fosters a sense of community through collaboration and enhances the organization's ability to fulfill its mission of creating a college-going culture along the Redwood Coast.

Benjamin Funke, Instructional Support Technician, Sculpture, Department of Art + Film

Ben is described as “indispensable” to the Sculpture Program as the foundry technician whose institutional memory, niche knowledge of the equipment, and ongoing mentorship of students are invaluable. Often working with very hot and heavy things, especially while pouring bronze, Ben keeps the foundry running while staying up-to-date on the latest 3D printing technology through intensive research and application. As nominator Sondra Schwetman describes, Ben has gone out of his way to be dedicated to this institution. 

Bernie Levy, Special Education Program Coordinator, School of Education

As program coordinator, Bernie is the advisor, fieldwork coordinator, head cheerleader, and community organizer. They always have the best interests of students, the profession, and the department in mind. Bernie applies Cal Poly Humboldt institutional knowledge and the TK-12 public special education institutional knowledge to find great placements for our students and resources when they struggle. Bernie mentors students in the program and helps make programmatic decisions focused on inclusion and social justice. They work from the assumption that local children deserve diverse and excellent inclusive education and acts accordingly. They recruit diverse students and advocate for inclusive instruction models. 

Deserie Donae, was: Registrar of The College of Extended Education & Global Engagement now: Director of Enrollment and OLLI, The College of Extended Education & Global Engagement

Deserie’s nominator describes her as a true asset to the Cal Poly Community. An expert at operating in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, her extensive knowledge of business and non-traditional learning contributed to her excellent service as the Extended Education Registrar. Deserie is a rebel at heart, challenging any answer that involves the phrase “we’ve always done it this way” and introducing innovation to the College of Extended Education and Global Engagement. She understands, participates, and teaches DEI principles of excellence to create safe spaces and trains others to create safe spaces. By actively engaging in mentorship, Deserie is helping her team members and colleagues navigate their career paths and acquire new skills. Her dedication to students, colleagues, and the Cal Poly community drives her desire to go above and beyond and set an example for others to do the same. 

Elizabeth Lujan, Student Financial Analyst, Student Financial Services

Elizabeth is rich in knowledge and speaks from a deep well of campus knowledge and procedures. She is warm and welcoming and speaks from a place of humble calmness. She comes from a culturally diverse background and has worked tirelessly as a student and employee to become who she is today. She practices environmentally conscious work ethics and has mentored students to follow these same practices. Liz is the most dedicated and reliable worker you can have on your team. Liz’s use of conscious language and her concerted efforts to be sustainable and socially sensitive have raised the bar for the team and contributed to our success.  Most of all, Liz is simply a blast to be around and will brighten up any room she sets foot in. 

Jennifer Gomes, Lead Dispatcher/Records Manager, University Police Department

Jennifer is an indispensable asset to the Cal Poly Humboldt University Police Department and the broader campus community. She dedicates herself tirelessly to ensuring the safety of our students, staff, and faculty, serving as a steadfast advocate for their well-being. Jennifer works 12-hour shifts and has worked in dispatch 18 days straight with no weekend breaks due to a staffing shortage.  Jennifer has been at the forefront of modernizing departmental record-keeping, demonstrating exceptional proficiency in monitoring, writing, and updating standards and procedures. Her meticulous efforts contribute to the seamless workflow of the department. Beyond her operational roles, she extends her mentorship to UPD dispatch and department staff and makes herself readily available to anyone seeking assistance, advice, or support.  

Jim Woodhead, Studio Art Technician, Department of Art + Film

Jim is an art lab safety, materials, tools, and classroom tech support expert and works collaboratively with our 2D art faculty to improve the faculty working and student learning spaces within our department. He keeps up to date with university safety expectations, software updates, and other changes that may impact the curriculum or student support. He is always available to help improve processes, mend equipment, or provide emergency classroom technical help and does so in a genuinely friendly and supportive manner. His colleagues don't know how they would manage without him - he's an essential member of the team.

Kimberly Vincent-Layton, Educational Developer, Center for Teaching & Learning

Kim embodies the benefits of institutional knowledge while successfully and consistently mitigating its risks and limits.  Kim has the intellectual flexibility to make sound judgments, provide sound recommendations, and, most importantly, shift their thinking when evidence necessitates. One example is their crucial key role in cultivating the human and program connections necessary for the center to be positioned to launch a very innovative and impactful portfolio that directly links faculty development with student success. Their work on this portfolio will help prepare Humboldt for institutional goals but, more importantly, cultivate and prioritize the humanness of our work as educators. The center team thanks Kim Vincent-Layton for their work in enabling the Center for Teaching & Learning to expand its impact and scholarship. 

Kristen Radecsky, Senior Research Engineer, Schatz Energy Research Center

Kristen's skills and expertise in renewable energy engineering, competent project management, and compassionate mentorship impact many at the Schatz Center, the campus, and worldwide. In the 2022-2023 academic year, Kristen completed a large project for three new labs in Nigeria, Zambia, and Ethiopia to test off-grid solar products. Kristen has made significant technical contributions to local microgrid projects led by the Schatz Center and continually supported internal efforts to improve equity, communication, and mentorship within the Schatz Center. Kristen's contributions in their time at the Schatz Center have helped further the Center's stated vision of a healthy planet with thriving, equitable, resilient communities powered by clean energy.

Laurie Marx, Department Coordinator, Department of Geology

Laurie creates a positive work environment for the entire College of Natural Resources and Sciences by sharing her invaluable institutional knowledge through the mentorship and support of numerous new staff members integrating onto the campus. Through this open colleague-to-colleague support, she exemplifies a commitment to service and mentorship, and by extension, she exemplifies the values of the whole university. 

Marisa "Meeka" Day, Scene Shop Technician/Scenic Painter, Department of Dance, Music & Theatre

Meeka has been a part of the theatre production staff for many years, working tirelessly on building sets, helping with props and lights, conducting technical rehearsals, and supporting all of the events in the Van Duzer theater. Everything Meeka does, she does with a smile and positive attitude, making her everyone's favorite person in the department. In addition to her technical expertise, she's also an incredible artist who shares her skills with the university and all of us. Our students in the scene shop love working alongside her, building sets, and doing all the backstage work that makes the magic. To say she goes above and beyond is an understatement, but that she does so with warmth and care makes her an invaluable member of Cal Poly Humboldt.

Marissa "Mari" Holguin, Transfer Coordinator, Office of the Registrar

Mari brings institutional knowledge from their time as a transfer student to Cal Poly Humboldt to working with Staff Human Resources, Dean of Students, RAMP, Admissions, and now the Office of Records and Registration. Through their experience, Mari supports their students and staff peers, making them one of the most versatile professionals on campus. In Mari's most recent roles, they are dedicated to championing transfer students from vulnerable and underserved populations. Anyone who knows Mari knows they can be trusted to provide exceptional work while ensuring that our Cal Poly Humboldt community members are treated equitably.

Stacy Becker, Community Partner Coordinator, Center for Community Based Learning

During a challenging transition year, Stacy has harnessed years of institutional experience and knowledge to meet the center’s needs. The center’s interim director relies on Stacy's knowledge and skills to assist them in uncountable ways. Stacy exemplifies a strong commitment to their team, community partners, students, faculty, and the growth and betterment of Cal Poly Humboldt. Stacy has been a remarkable leader, mentor, and colleague, leading important cross-departmental and community partner collaborations. They mentor the center’s student support coordinator, CPS’s student placements and community engagement specialist, and even our interim director from a place of care and willingness to share their years of institutional knowledge and experience. We, Stacy’s colleagues, cannot imagine how the CCBL could have functioned this past year without them.

Sulaina Banks, Visit Experience Coordinator, Office of Admissions

Sulaina may be one of the most informed staff regarding institutional knowledge as their current role requires them to know a bit of everything about each aspect of Cal Poly Humboldt. They extensively coordinate across campus, collaborating with each academic department, most of the departments under Enrollment Management and Student Success, and much of Administrative Affairs to plan programs to educate and welcome incoming students. Sulaina is the face of campus for most incoming students and, in that capacity, is a great representative of what Cal Poly Humboldt students should expect. Additionally, they are a staff advocate, currently a Staff Senator, and a past president of the Staff Council. Sulaina’s extensive leadership is rare on campus, making them such a vital member of our community.

Past Award Recipients


2022/23 Award Recipients (in alpha order, by last name):

Gillian Black, Academic Advisor, Academic & Career Advising Center

Shannon Collart, Advancement Events Coordinator, University Advancement

Kim Coughlin-Lamphear, Accessibility Advisor, Student Disability Resource Center

Kelly Fortner, Student Support Coordinator, Center for Community Based Learning

Brec Ronis, Administrative Support Coordinator, Art + Film

Kali Rothrock, CARE Services Case Manager, Office of the Dean of Students

Douglas Smith, Coordinator, Umoja Center for Pan African Student Excellence

Rene Smith, Department Coordinator, Anthropology; Geography, Environment & Spatial Analysis; World Languages & Cultures; Center for Translation & Interpretation

Peggy Stewart, Administrative Support Assistant; Environmental Studies; Environment & Community M.A.; History; International Studies; Politics; Religious Studies

Anna Thaler, Academic Advisor, Academic & Career Advising Center 


2021/22 Award Recipients (in alpha order, by last name):

Alexander Bippus

Jessica Citti

Kristina Hunt

Rob Keever

Pamela Kirschner

Samantha (Sammi) Martinez

Nora Montoya

Janeth Serrano

Laura Sullivan

Nicki Viso

Susan Wright

 *This year there are 11 award recipients as there was a tie for the 10th spot.


2020/21 Award Recipients (in alpha order, by last name):

Yvonne Doble

Marlette Grant Jackson

Michele Miyamoto

Amie Rodriquez

Karen Selin

Michael Serrano

Melea Smith

Annette Troxel

Corrina Wells

Sabrina Zink


2019-2020 Award Recipients (in alpha order, by last name):

Susan Brater

Liz Deck

Kyle Leitzke

Raven Palomera

Courtney Proctor

Betsy Rogers

Danielle Trapkus

Jaime Tripp-Carter

Kumi Watanabe-Schock

Travis Williams


2018-2019 Award Recipients (in alpha order, by last name):

Travis Fleming

Sei Hee Hwang

Gay Hylton

Molly Kresl

Pedro Martinez

Steve Monk

Kelda Quintana

Debra Ryerson

Paula Tripp-Allen

Erika Wright