Congratulations to the 2021 recipients and finalists!
Since it has been an extraordinary two years, this year the award was planned to honor TWO extraordinary staff members. However, due to the remarkable number of stellar submissions, the committee is pleased to announce THREE winners.
Recipients of the 2021 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
- Angela Haley
- Cathy Seay-Ostrowski
- Carissa Van Heest
- Kenneth Ester, Jr.
- Dyan Jenkins-Ali
- Tamara Kutter
- Debra Mexicotte
- Meegan A. Novara
- Tammy Sindlinger
- Julia Weinert
Read about the recipients of the Candace J. Johnson Award in this University Record article.
Congratulations to Erin Stephens, the recipient of the 2019 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence.
Erin Stephens’ office door is almost always open. As the director of human resources at the Life Sciences Institute, she strives to provide outstanding service — a quality that led to her winning U-M’s 2019 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence.
Anna Schork, the managing director of LSI, wrote in a nomination letter that Stephens is both a team player and a leader. She said she “outshines expectations.”
“Over her tenure with LSI, which started with the origination of the institute in 2002, Erin has progressively proven to be an effective, efficient and integral part of the success of our unit,” Schork said.
Read more about Erin in the University Record.
Congratulations to Jeff Craft, the recipient of the 2018 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence.
Jeff is the Chief Administrator for both the Department of the History of Art, and the Department of Classical Studies. Jeff was nominated by Elizabeth Sears, George H. Forsyth Jr. Collegiate Professor of the History of Art and Chair of History of Art and Artemis Leontis, C P Cavafy Professor of Modern Greek and Chair of Classical Studies and Comparative Literature and Chair of Classical Studies.
Many others from across the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts also wrote letters of support for Jeff. In recognizing Jeff, his nominators stated that, “Jeff’s unfailing compassion is certainly one reason why he is so much liked and appreciated in the department. He is kindness personified.”
It was also stated that “Jeff is a math wiz and a very approachable, likable person who shares his knowledge freely and makes others feel happy and competent.” Others wrote:
“Jeff has had a transformative effect on the environment, operating not only as the administrative person, but a/so as a kind of ‘glue’ for the department,”
“He is in many ways the heart and soul of the department. Everyone posses through his office regularly whether to seek counsel and advice, or just to chat. He cares.”
“He has been central to the dramatically increased efficiency and functionality we now enjoy, as well as to an obvious boost in morale among faculty and staff alike.” • “Jeff has been approachable, kind, and willing to go above and beyond to ensure that graduate students in the department have what they need to succeed.”
“Jeff has been more supportive, empathetic & compassionate than I could have imagined...
“Everyone needs a Jeff!”
Congratulations to Anna Cihak, the recipient of the 2017 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence!
Anna Cihak, student administration manager for the LSA Program in Biology and Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience, receiveed the Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence for 2017.
In her role, Cihak oversees all functions of undergraduate advising services for 12 majors and minors. Other duties include managing events and communications, providing training for undergraduate support staff and student workers, overseeing the undergraduate budget, and generating reports on student and course data.
Read more about Anna in the University Record.
Congratulations to Lisa Dodge, the recipient of the 2016 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence!
The 2016 winner of the Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence is Lisa Dodge. Lisa is a Student Administrative Assistant Senior at the School of Dentistry. Lisa was nominated by Will Giannobile, Amy Storey, Janet Kinney, Anne Gwozdek, Wendy Kerschbaum, Connie MacKinnon, Elizabeth Pitts, Emily Hill, and Kendall Sattelberg. In recognizing Lisa, her nominators stated that she is a continual source of support for faculty, students, and staff. Lisa is the consummate ambassador for all three of our Dental Hygiene Programs, the School of Dentistry, and the University of Michigan. Her positive attitude and genuine concern for the well-being of others is evident to all who interact with her. The “Lisa Difference” exemplifies the “Michigan Difference.”
Lisa is the ultimate team player. She is upbeat, respectful of all, and dedicated to every project, activity, or event. She provides quality service with kindness, respect, and compassion.
No matter what the project, whether her initiative or not, Lisa gives it her all and shares her enthusiasm with others. This positive approach is contagious and helps to spread comradery among faculty, staff, and students.
The tone Lisa sets daily reflects a balance of professionalism and warmth. Those with whom she interacts always feel that Lisa genuinely cares about them and that she is willing to help in any way she can.
Lisa always has an open door policy. Any time I would see her, she would invite me to stop into her office to catch up and see how I was doing. Lisa is dedicated to helping others and always goes above and beyond.
A true blessing, Lisa enriches our work place and personal lives by making sure everything she tackles or encounters is touched with kindness and professionalism.
2015 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Assistant to the Dean
U-M School of Public Health
Read more about Slyvia in this University Record article.
2014 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Jan Berry, Periodontics and Oral Medicine
The Following is excerpted from the University Record. Read the full article here.
Jan Berry, a research laboratory specialist senior in Periodontics and Oral Medicine in the School of Dentistry for 38 years, has been selected to receive the 11th annual Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence. Officially retired from Dentistry, Berry currently is a part-time biosafety training specialist in the U-M Office of Research.
In a nomination letter, School of Dentistry Dean Dr. Laurie K. McCauley spoke of the parallels between Berry and Johnson.
"Candy started at the university in 1972, Jan Berry started here as a student in 1971 and on staff in 1978," McCauley said. "Candy worked many years in the Medical School, Jan Berry worked many years in the Medical School. Candy loved this university and inspired those around her. Jan Berry loves this university and continues to inspire those around her. I'm not sure if Jan and Candy ever met, but if they did they would be kindred spirits."
- Daniel Miller, LSA Paleontology Museum
- Erin Stephens, Life Sciences Institute
- Brian Wallace, Department of Psychology
2013 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Candy Ellis, Unit Administrator, Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering
The following is an excerpt from “Engineering staffer to receive Candace J. Johnson award” in the University Record.
Candy Ellis, unit administrator for the Department of Industrial and Operations Engineering, College of Engineering, has been selected to receive the 10th annual Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence.
Ellis will receive the award at a reception from 2-3 p.m. Wednesday in the Lurie Engineering Center Johnson Rooms.
In nomination letters, those who work with Ellis spoke of how she demonstrates strong work qualities, such as initiative, dependability and commitment.
"Candy is, simply put, an outstanding employee and a key member of the IOE community," said Mark Daskin, Clyde W. Johnson Collegiate Professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering and department chair for IOE. "She is the glue that holds the faculty and staff together."
"Candy has a breadth of knowledge spanning all areas of the department," said Brian Denton, associate professor of industrial and operations engineering. "She is extremely proactive, organized and committed to excellence in her own work, as well as creating an environment for her staff that promotes excellence."
- Denise Alton
- Irene Esposito
- Jacqueline Blake
- Sherry Cattell
- Robyn Hodges
- Buda Martonyi
- Beth Minors
- Merlis Nolan
- Erin Stephens
- Brian Wallace
- Joseph Zichi
2012 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Dawn Marie Cooper, Assistant Residency Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry
The following is an excerpt from “Cooper to receive Johnson staff award” in the University Record.
Lauded as someone devoted to helping the helpers in the Department of Psychiatry, Dawn Marie Cooper has been named the 2012 recipient of the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence.
Cooper, assistant residency coordinator in the department, is the ninth recipient of the award, which she will receive at a reception from 3:30-5 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Rachel Upjohn Building.
In nominating letters, those who work with Cooper cited her care and concern for colleagues, her encouragement, positive manner, wisdom and enthusiasm for tackling a range of tasks. They range from leaving the office to secure last minute parking permits for psychiatry residents to sorting out issues regarding visas for foreign residents.
“Despite having to juggle a variety of tasks and demands, she always would bend over backwards to do everything she could to help someone as much and as thoroughly as she could do,” wrote Dr. Chris Anandappa, psychiatry house officer, in his letter nominating Cooper.
The Candace J. Johnson Award is a tribute to Johnson’s commitment to excellence and to the warmth and caring she brought to her work, says Provost Phil Hanlon. “Dawn Marie Cooper exemplifies the qualities we recognize with the Johnson Award. Letters nominating her for the award highlight her deep commitment she has to her colleagues, her unwavering support that helps others to succeed, and the high standards she sets for herself in every aspect of her job.”
- Pardip Bolina
- Karen A. Curtis
- Pamela Derry
- Mary Gilbert
- Mary Korr
- Daniel J. Miller
- Catherine Mitchell
- Donna Mulkey
- Merlis Nolan
- Erin Stephens
- Candace Terhune-Flannery
- Ann Vollano
- Brian G. Wallace
2011 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Stephen McClatchey, Manager of Information Technology Services, U-M College of Pharmacy
Stephen was nominated by Dean Frank Ascione and fellow faculty and staff members.
In recognizing Stephen, his nominators praised his work and the spirit he brings to it. They wrote:
- Stephen’s professionalism and service ethic make all of our lives better on a daily basis.
- Throughout his career, Stephen has persistently performed at our highest level and is widely respected among our staff and faculty for his positive attitude, leadership, and willingness to address their IT needs.
- The smooth operation of our IT systems and the prompt resolution of any problems are a direct reflection of his performance and the performance of the team he leads.
- Through Stephen’s willingness to collaborate, share his knowledge, and encouragement to be
- proactive, he has made a positive and measurable impact on the information security efforts not
- only within the College of Pharmacy, but also in other collaborating units.
- The College of Pharmacy is highly dependent on employees who are creative and are self-starters, and Stephen has both of these characteristics.
- I have been extremely impressed with his ability to bring a sense of customer service and excellence to our IT services. In addition to his own personal performance excellence, he has inspired his colleagues to do the same.
- We are appreciative of his innovativeness and determination in finding solutions.
- Stephen is always upbeat and constructive, which greatly impacts the people around him and enhances his effectiveness.
- Stephen’s contagious optimism was always a dependable source of encouragement, even through some very challenging periods.
- The dynamic between Stephen and his employees promotes a positive atmosphere -- one that is conducive to a strong work ethic and a camaraderie between employees.
- He is truly committed to excellence, and ensures that each of his staff members has the support, resources, and encouragement that they need to reach those heights.
- Stephen embodies the spirit of this award, and his workplace ethic and hard work deserve recognition.
- Roger Arnett
- Devyn Baker
- Patricia Brainard
- Lynne Crandall
- Nancy Harris
- Janie Knieper
- Susan Monroe
- Antoinette Morales
- Laura Reynolds
2010 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Mary Ceccanese, Research Process Coordinator of the Office of Tax Policy Research, Stephen M. Ross School of Business
Mary was nominated by Jane Dutton, the Robert L Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business at the esearch process coordinator of the Office of Tax Policy Research at the Stephen M. Ross School of Busines and LSandA. Here is an excerpt from “Ceccanese to receive Johnson staff award
” University Record announcement.
Praised for facilitating high-quality connections among U-M employees, Mary Ceccanese has been named the 2010 recipient of the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence.
Ceccanese, research process coordinator of the Office of Tax Policy Research at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, will receive the award during a Jan. 25 ceremony at the Ross School of Business.
In the 22 years Ceccanese has worked at U-M, she has expanded her job to become a change agent and educator, in the university and beyond, about the importance of creating and sustaining connections between the staff and faculty, managers and staff, and various other employee groups, colleagues say.
She actively participates in Voices of the Staff, a volunteer-based program offering U-M staff members an opportunity to share ideas and define the campus community issues that matter most to them. She also is involved in the design and delivery of training workshops, mentoring relationships with staff in a variety of units, and the development of original tools for creating positive workplaces. Four years ago Ceccanese initiated a task force at the Ross School called FAST Connections, which promotes high-quality relationships between faculty and staff.
“At this point, it is clear that Mary is providing a highly impactful experience for staff,” Jane Dutton, Robert L. Kahn Distinguished University Professor of Business at the Ross School and LSA, wrote in a nomination letter. “In fact, word of mouth about the value of the workshops has spread, with other groups including an educational institution, a media company and the Michigan Assisted Living Association requesting the workshops. She has taught me an amazing amount about how to deliver these ideas with impact in a context (staff-faculty relations) that really matters.”
- Lorna M. Altstetter
- Sondra Auerbach
- Amy Buege
- Brian Bush
- Vicki Davinich
- Linda Fink
- Harry Granito
- Judith Gray
- Angela Haley
- Janie Knieper
- Judy Lawson
- Karen Liska
- Stephen McClatchey
- Ann Schafenacker
- Carol Ziegler
- Erin Zimmer
2009 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Patricia Hodges, Executive Assistant to the Dean, School of Art and Design
The following is an excerpt from “Hodges to receive Johnson staff award” in the University Record.
Described as a “humanistic spark plug” and an “unfailing source of good will for the university,” Patricia Hodges has been named the 2009 recipient of the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence. Hodges, executive assistant to the dean in the School of Art and Design will receive the award during a ceremony 4-5 p.m. Jan. 26 at AandD.
“(Hodges) continues to be the humanistic spark plug for the School of Art and Design, and to contribute in ever expanding ways throughout the university,” AandD Dean Bryan Rogers wrote in a nomination letter.
“Even more remarkable is her unfailing grace, patience, good will and humor — all of which make her invaluable, irreplaceable and, in my opinion, an ideal candidate.”
“The university was named a ‘Great College to Work For’ by the Chronicle of Higher Education. People like Pat Hodges have done a great deal to help us achieve this recognition,” says Teresa Sullivan, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.
“On a daily basis Pat brings intelligence, imagination and good humor to the work of the university. We are pleased to recognize her contributions by presenting her with the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence.”
Hodges has worked at U-M for 22 years, and at AandD for the last five years. A nomination letter describes her as “the administrator with a hand in every project; the go-to person for staff, faculty and students; the starting point for solving any problem, addressing any issue, answering any question, organizing any task.”
- Catherine Boblitt
- Hedieh Briggs
- Linda Carver
- Mary Ceccanese
- Kim Elliott
- James Halt
- Kathy Hatfield
- Abayomi Israel
- Stephen McClatchey
- Judith Morris
- Camille Mrozowski
- Lara Nelson
- Sara Weir
- Kendra Williams-Gollman
2008 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Christine K. Black, Grant Proposal Writing Specialist, School of Nursing
Christine was nominated by Carolyn Sampselle, the Carolyne K. Davis Professor of Nursing. Here is a sampling of comments from the nomination:
- “Chris has worked for UM for 33 years. She greatly exceeds the performance expectations for her job, typically going well beyond the extra mile and we attribute the success of several National Institutes of Health and other grant applications directly to her skill and expertise.”
- “Chris’ help has always been of the highest quality and offered in a professional and constructive manner. She is a jewel and a joy to work with.”
- “Chris is able to keep faculty and staff alike focused on the immediate goals of excellence in science, impeccable preparation of materials, and the ultimate goal of bettering the health of the public.”
- “Chris’ calm demeanor, collaborative spirit, and warm interpersonal skills make a major contribution to reducing stress of the proposal submission process while still ensuring that deadlines are met. She is also a team player in addition to being a special colleague.”
- “She is someone who can “get it” about a particular project and understand the key elements regardless of the topic.”
- “Chris Black is an exceptional Professional. She not only has superb writing skills, but is able to assist faculty to develop their ideas in their specialty areas with great effectiveness. She is timely in her input and a pleasure to work with. She is a true credit to the University.”
- “Chris more than exceeds the high standards that have been set for the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence. Her long and distinguished service to the School of Nursing, the University of Michigan, and the community at large offers a model to be emulated. She truly exemplifies the body and the spirit of this award.”
- Lisa Cayen
- Mary Ceccanese
- Beth Goodwin
- Judith A. Gray
- Angela Haley
- Nancy Herlocher
- Marilyn Hollier
- Jane Johnson
- Andrew Lemarbe
- Joan McNeice
- Jamie Palmby
- Kay Pauley
- Lynetta Smith
- Stephen Strobbe
2007 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Marga Schuhwerk-Hampel, Student Services Coordinator in the Germanic Languages and Literatures Department in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Selected Comments from Marga's Nomination:
- Marga is the person at the heart of our department: she is the person to whom everyone turns to solve problems, and she is the person whose office everyone is most likely to stop by for a chat or to get something off their chest. We have been tremendously fortunate to have Marga in our department.
- Marga cares. She cares about the people in the department, she cares about the tasks she is entrusted with, she cares about the overall climate within the unit. Yet her caring, and her ability to establish good working relationships with all the different people she sees during the course of one day is always wedded to an admirable comprehension of complicated administrative matters.
- She is an outstanding staff person. Competence, friendliness, and commitment are her hallmarks.
- Marga is a team player. She coordinates with others and conceives of her work as a part of a larger whole. It is the big picture she has in mind.
- Her optimism and her devotion to the well-being of everybody who depends on her have made her this department’s center.
- She has two strengths that one does not often see combined in one person, namely absolute competence and reliability on the one hand, and genuine, warm concern for the people she works with on the other hand.
- Christine Black
- Lisa Cayen
- Joann Crescio
- Mary Anne Drew
- Florence Elkin
- Laura Harlow
- Patricia Hodges
- Elizabeth Humpert
- Judy Lawson
- Alicia Lixey
- Lynn Massey
- Lara Nelson
- Lesley Newton
- Barbara Niemi
- Sythinia Pryor
- Jackie Simpson
- Janet Stevens
- Candace Terhune-Flannery
2006 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Pennie Rutan, College of Pharmacy
Pennie started at the University of Michigan in 1982. She has spent most of her career here in the College of Pharmacy and is currently Human Resource Officer for the College. Here’s what her nominator says about her:
- “Pennie is one of those rare "gems" who make the work environment around her much better because of her presence.”
- “She has a wonderful, supportive "can do" attitude, great judgment concerning the capabilities of her fellow staff and an unswerving loyalty to both the College and the university.”
- “Pennie is one of those rare persons who never seems rattled, is always kind.”
- “She is commonly described as ‘the heart and soul of the college,’ ‘irreplaceable’ and ‘awesome.’”
- She always takes the time to listen to whoever may pop into her office for advice.
- She is considered the ‘go to person’ whenever questions arise.
- She puts a human touch on the College. Her professional and caring nature helps enhance the College in an infinite number of ways including morale, productivity and justice. Her enthusiasm and positive attitude are contagious, thus helping make the College a better place to work for everyone.
- Pennie is considered the most valuable employee by the four Deans she worked with at the College of Pharmacy – a stellar endorsement, indeed!
2005 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Recipient - Meghan Genovese, School of Dentistry
A self-proclaimed "organizational maven" described by co-workers as optimistic, inspirational and a source of positive energy is the 2005 recipient of the Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence.
Meghan Genovese, project coordinator in the Office of Academic Affairs in the Dental School, was honored Dec. 13 for making a difference at the University through a combination of enthusiasm and excellence.
Dr. Marilyn Lantz, professor of periodontics and oral medicine, nominated Genovese with encouragement from other faculty, staff and students in the school.
Colleagues praised Genovese for encouraging everyone to do his or her best work, and for her ability to work with diverse personalities and "get them all to cooperate," extreme productivity, calm and reassuring nature, and commitment and devotion to the work.
Interim Provost Edward Gramlich presented Genovese with the award at a December 2005 reception.
- Valerie Amo
- Robin Sarris
- Katherine Jones
- Pennie Rutan
2004 Candace J. Johnson Award for Staff Excellence
Three Staff Members Selected for the First Annual Candace J. Johnson Award
Dedication, commitment and enthusiasm—these are some of the words used to describe the three recipients of the first annual Candace J. Johnson Staff Award for Excellence, honored by Provost Paul N. Courant during a December celebration.
Shirley Culliton, School of Information
Shirley Culliton, executive secretary in the School of Information, has served admirably as the school has gone through two name changes and six deans, according to her nominators. Faculty members describe her as the heart of the school. She is lauded for her knowledge, commitment, efficiency and cheerfulness.
One of her nominators wrote, “Shirley is the glue of our school. She is always ready to help. With a smile on her face, empathy in her voice, and energy in her motion, Shirley calms students, fields faculty demands, welcomes each visitor, and remembers every detail.” Another faculty member reported, “At alumni receptions, Shirley is the one most asked about and most fondly remembered.
Cora Horgrow, Michigan Medicine
Cora Horgrow, nurse’s aide on 4West Peri-natal Unit at the Medical Center, interacts with a wide range of people—doctors, nurses, medical students, parents and newborn babies. Her nominators have the highest praise for her work. Doctors speak of her skill and dedication. One of them wrote, “The staff (here) is one of the best I have ever seen, with many, many superior employees, and Cora still stands out.”
Students in the residency program expressed: “We, as OB residents, adore Cora. She was one of the shining lights that helped us navigate through the challenges of intern year.” One nurse wrote, “Cora always comes to work with a beautiful smile, gentle hands, and a kind heart. It makes me happy to think of the thousands of babies who have had the gift of the ‘Cora touch.’”
Pablo LaValle, College of Engineering
Pablo LaValle, senior engineer for the Department of Chemical Engineering in CoE, organizes and maintains undergraduate teaching labs and provides assistance to research labs and other facilities in the department. Faculty and students are enthusiastic in their praise of LaValle.
Describing his work in the large undergraduate courses, one faculty member said, “What he did single-handedly for our undergraduate laboratories has been nothing short of phenomenal.” LaValle didn’t just maintain the equipment being used—he built much of it, the faculty member said. The equipment is so well suited to undergraduate education that other universities have replicated it, members of the college said. Students have high praise for him as well. As one student put it, “Perhaps even more important than his knowledge of the equipment was his enthusiasm for the experiments.”
The office received 268 nominations for the award, and because of the strong pool from which to choose, the committee opted to give three awards in this inaugural year.
“The committee received many outstanding nominations for people across the university who are dedicated to excellence and to having a positive impact on the workplace, just as Candy was,” Courant said.
Courant presented the awards on Dec,17. The nearly 60 people in attendance included members of Candy Johnson’s family: Rick, Carey and Adam Johnson, Don and Jean Carey, and Sandy Knight.