You are here: American University Human Resources Staff Appreciation Week 2023 University Staff Awards

Year of Service and Staff Performance Awards

American University Staff Award Winners 2024

The Staff Awards program is designed to recognize outstanding performance by staff at the university. Congratulations to all of the 2024 winners and nominees. Thank you for all you do for American University!

Collaboration Award


Community Garden Facilities Management Team: Michael Mastrota, Jonathan McCann, Jorge Morales, Ransom Schutt, Huijun Shang, David Wilson & Marcus Zito.

Due to construction plans for the new Meltzer Center, the community garden, a longstanding tradition at AU, needed to be moved. This team engaged in discussions with students and began searching for alternative locations. Together, they evaluated options and settled on a location between the Katzen Arts Center and Nebraska Hall. Construction of the new garden is complete, offering a beautiful new space with enhanced features.


Graduate Salesforce Implementation Phase I Team: Marco Castillo, Kim Teeple, Amy Zawada, Sarah Goldberg, Stephanie Rucker. 

OIT and the Graduate Admissions team implemented Salesforce CRM and Marketing Cloud for all units in 4.5 months.

Anselm Beach

Anselm was instrumental in developing, growing, and ensuring the success of the School of Education's (SOE) doctoral program by coordinating with campus partners.

Community Support Award


OIT Change Enablement Team: Jacqueline Palumbo, Ginnie Khamvongsa & James Purchase

The Change Enablement Team has been dedicated throughout the Workday HCM and Finance implementation by fostering relationships and offering support. They organized events, created training materials, and distributed communications effectively. They addressed customer concerns, facilitated discussions, and resolved issues. They were responsive to feedback, developed the Workday Support Portal, and emphasized self-service and user adoption.


Residential Operations Coordinators: Rileigh Thompson & Dionna Thompson

Outstanding service to ~4000 students who live in the residence halls by building relationships, assessing and improving processes, and advocating for student workers.

Brian Chepulis

Brian fosters strong relationships and delivers excellent service to support campus partners in hosting successful events.


Essential Support Award


John Boyle Ruiz

John, an American University alum, joined the Facilities Management team in 2023. To familiarize himself with the campus's 5000 trees, he launched "Tree Thursdays," a weekly initiative where he shares engaging images, videos, and facts about a selected tree on both the Facilities Management and Arboretum Instagram accounts. What started as a personal learning endeavor has grown into a valuable educational tool for grounds staff, students, and arboretum enthusiasts. John is also quick to provide technological and translation support to his colleagues whenever required, demonstrating his commitment to teamwork and assistance.


Mark Delpopolo

Mark provides WCL faculty, students, and staff with technology support and keeps classes and events running smoothly.

Jean Wogamen

Jeanie’s competencies and commitment have been critical to supporting the educational experience of our undergraduate and graduate communities.

Inclusive Excellence Award


Mac Crite

Mac joined the Disability+ Faculty & Staff Affinity group and enthusiastically dedicated themselves to revitalizing it. They have expanded the group’s offerings and are brainstorming more ways to serve our disabled, neurodivergent, and chronically ill community members. Mac has also been vocal in advocating for more inclusive policies at AU, always approaching this work with keen cultural awareness.


Nicholas Jones

Nick supports his staff with a focus on inclusion and creates a better experience for 170 student workers to serve students in the five residence halls.

Innovation & Change Award


ERP Steering Committee: including Abby Puskar, Ann Joiner, Beth Muha, Francesco de Leo, Jackie Palumbo, Jan Post, Laurie Ambach, Mo Mirzabeigy, Nicole Bresnahan, Prita Patel, and Tracey Hennemann. 

The ERP Steering Committee embraced change and led the Workday implementation for Human Resources, Payroll, Finance, and Budget. They worked collaboratively to adopt new capabilities, redesign business processes, and rethink university operations. In addition to their involvement in the project team, these leaders provided guidance, coaching, and acknowledgment to their staff, ensuring a successful implementation while managing their essential unit leadership responsibilities.


Rachel Weiss

Since its inception, Rachel has been the first program manager of AU’s largest externally funded award, which involves four AU schools and 15 universities and institutions.

Kogod Marketing Team: Sharon Coffman, Rym Faddoul, Emerson Igoe, Darby Joyce, Michael Matheny, Anna Morcerf, Katya Popova, Benjamin Root, Lianna Serko & Taylor Wilson

The Kogod Marketing team elevated social media, marketing, brand awareness, and event planning, meeting university-wide objectives.

Maria Bueno Lifetime Achievement Award


Arij Farran

With over 25 years of service to AU, Arij’s kindness, approachability, and unwavering work ethic as their senior administrative assistant have made her indispensable to the Chemistry department. Her guidance and support have facilitated seamless transitions for new staff members and enabled colleagues to navigate complex administrative tasks with ease, allowing them to focus on enhancing the student experience. Arij consistently goes above and beyond to assist with various departmental needs. Her selflessness, dedication, and positive attitude have left a lasting impact on the department, making her a true asset and deserving recipient of this esteemed award.


Sarah Hynes

Sarah’s unwavering commitment to patient care in the Student Health Center and AU has left an indelible mark on the lives of countless students.

Outstanding Supervision Award


Tiana Hakimzadeh

Tiana is an exceptional supervisor known for cultivating a close-knit and supportive community among professional staff and students. Her positive leadership has not only helped individuals through personal challenges but also significantly contributed to the success of the Admissions Welcome Center, managing over 30,000 annual visitors. Tiana's strong communication skills ensure everyone is well-informed, and her efforts have made AU's campus visits memorable.


Hilary Lappin

Hilary gives her staff opportunities to grow professionally, learn new skills, and plan for a future in their department.

Sara Hills

Sara is an inspirational leader who fosters learning, growth, and ownership in her staff.

Staff & Faculty Collaboration Award


Kristine Beran and Hannah Jardine

Kristine and Hannah’s development of the course "Food for Thought: Why Waste" has fostered a vibrant scholarly community but also led to national adoption and influence. Their inclusive design approach and collaborative efforts have propelled the course's success, with their curriculum serving as the cornerstone for a forthcoming public education campaign. Their impact extends beyond academia, aligning with federal initiatives to address food waste and greenhouse gas emissions, ultimately driving cultural change toward social justice and environmental sustainability.


Digital Humanities: Joanne Allen, Melissa Becher, Juliet Bellow, Kim Butler, Nika Elder, Leslie Nellis, Andrea Pearson, Ying Peng & Sam Sadow

The team created a digital caption option that combines research, writing, and digital skills sought by cultural institutions, attracting applicants and advancing alumni.