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Staff Council's 6th Annual StaffCon | June 8 & 9

AU Staff Council is pleased to announce our second virtual convening in honor of the 6th Annual StaffCon, a forum for AU Staff to digitally connect, engage and reenergize with their colleagues.

This year, StaffCon 2021 is paying special homage to the parts of the ourselves and campus community that we must rediscover and reconnect with as we begin to envision seeing each other in-person.


StaffCon 2021 is taking place during AU’s Staff Appreciation Week, June 7 – 11. Visit their webpage for more opportunities to engage with our colleagues!

Welcome Message from Andrew Toczydlowski, Council Chair


Schedule of Virtual Events

All AU staff are welcome to participate! Please register in advance.

Tuesday, June 8

9:00 a.m. - 9:45 a.mEDT: Leveraging Nature in your Workspace and Workplace
Sponsored by AU Office of Sustainability

Sponsored by Office of Development & Alumni Relations

11:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. EDT: HTML and How to Love Your Inner Tech Barbarian
Sponsored by Office of Campus Life 

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. EDT: Virtual Coffee Chat with AU Affinity Groups
Sponsored by Human Resources and AU Affinity Groups

Wednesday, June 9

9:00 a.m. - 9:45 a.m. EDT: Mindfulness Meditation with Dr. Ruth T. Zaplin
Sponsored by Key Executive Leadership Program, SPA

11:00 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. EDT: Rock Painting & Kindness Message Project
Sponsored by CAS

12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m. EDT: Summer Cupcake Baking Demo with Tierra Murray
Sponsored by AU Staff Council


Event: Leveraging Nature in your Workspace and Workplace and Workplace

Event Description: As more staff look to return to campus, we are all looking for new, safe ways to connect with each other and with campus itself while staying safe. Staff from the sustainability office will share some ideas for ways to get outside and engage with campus while you’re at work as well as some green office tips for your home office.

Speakers Bio: Megan Litke is the Director of Sustainability Programs at American University. Under her leadership, American University became the first university, first research university, and first urban higher education institution to achieve carbon neutrality in 2018. Prior to leading sustainability efforts at American, Megan ran the sustainability office at University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. There she completed and executed the university’s first carbon action plan. Megan previously worked with the New Orleans Recovery School District and UMass-Dartmouth on sustainability efforts as well. She began her career as a financial analyst at Harvard University. Megan holds an undergraduate degree in accounting from Tulane University and masters in sustainability and environmental management from the Harvard University Extension School.

Moderator: Jordan Harris, Coordinator, Student Involvement, Center for Student Involvement


Description: CHANGE CAN’T WAIT: THE CAMPAIGN FOR AMERICAN UNIVERSITY empowers our community to take on society’s most complex challenges. With a $500 million goal, Change Can’t Wait will create transformative educational opportunities for students, advance research with impact, and build stronger communities locally, nationally, and globally. Why us? Changemaking is in our DNA. Why now? We know change can’t wait.

What are you waiting for?

Join us to hear more about how you can advance the Campaign, your role as an advocate and expert member of the AU Community After leaving the session you should be able to answer Why AU? And Why now? You will know the goal of the campaign, the pillars, and the case for support.

Speaker: Lee Holsopple, Assistant Vice President, Lifetime Philanthropy and Special Campaigns

Moderator: Andrew Toczydlowski, Director Student Development and Services

Speaker Bio: Lee Holsopple is Assistant Vice President, Lifetime Philanthropy and Special Campaigns. As AVP she serves as a Senior Team member, manages a principal gift portfolio and works closely on projects with the Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations. Lee graduated from Old Dominion University, Norfolk Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts where she is a member of the College of Arts and Letters Community Advisory Board. She joined American University in 2007 and has had a long-standing career in higher education and non-profit fundraising over the past 20 years including work at The George Washington University, WETA Public Broadcasting, the University of Washington, and Penn State University.

Event: Learn HTML and How to Love Your Inner Tech Barbarian

Description: Do you often say "I’m not a tech person"? Find yourself having to work with tech and websites anyways? If yes then don't worry and learn to love your inner tech barbarian. 

During this session you will receive a quick breakdown of how pages are constructed with HTML, CSS, and Javascript. The purpose of this session is not necessarily to teach enough to make a website from scratch but you can learn how to do minor fixes and repairs. Think of it terms of a house, you will learn how to fix a hole in the wall or a leaky sink, but not necessarily how to build an entire home. 

Additionally there will be specific examples of how to use HTML to improve and edit AU webpages. This session is for everyone, no prior experience or knowledge of HTML or web editing required.

Speaker: Cole Wrampelmeier, Web & Student Systems Manager, Office of Campus Life

Speaker Bio: Cole has been at AU since 2012 and has personified the science fiction trope of the tech barbarian, using technology regardless of understanding. Outside of work at AU Cole codes web games for a National Endowment for the Humanities contract. He also has the misfortune of being the family “tech guy” and can be found pleading with printers and wifi routers to work, sometimes they listen.

Event: Virtual Coffee Chat with AU Affinity Groups

Description: Please join the Faculty & Staff Affinity Group for our Virtual Coffee Chat during StaffCon. As we continue to navigate these uncertain times, it's important to maintain connections and offer support to others in our community. American University’s Affinity Group program continues to serve as a platform for faculty and staff to connect with and empower each other collectively. 

Whether you are a current member, want to know more, or are interested in forming a new group, join us on Tuesday, June 7 at 12:00pm for a virtual Coffee Chat session. Learn about the program history, hear updates from group leaders, and explore opportunities for collaboration and growth. If we have the opportunity we will then break out into your selected affinity group for a small group discussion.

Speakers: Speakers: Featuring leadership from the Black Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, Latino & Hispanic Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, People of Color Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, International Faculty & Staff Affinity Group and the Disability+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group (D+ FSA)

Moderator: Andie Rowe, Director, Employee Wellness and Work-Life Human Resources

List of Speakers and Bios:

Black Faculty and Staff Affinity Group:

  • Chair, Danette Burgess, Assistant Director, Financial Aid
    Danette Burgess is an Assistant Director in the office of Financial Aid. Danette is the chair of the Black Faculty and Staff Affinity Group. Danette is also a member of the AU Connects Facilitator team that facilitate conversations regarding race across campus. Danette also represents the Black Faculty and Staff Affinity Group on the IDEA committee. She serves on the Veterans Liaison Network (VLN) , which serve as a resource group for veteran students on campus. Danette is the Graduate Coordinator and Veterans Liaison in the Financial Aid Office.

 Latino & Hispanic Faculty & Staff Affinity Group:

The Latino and Hispanic Faculty & Staff Affinity Group (LHFSA) serves to organize, develop, and elevate our community on campus through advocacy, support, and education. In 2019, LHFSA launched the AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship program with the support of Inclusive Excellence Mini-Grants in 2019 and 2020. With over 75 participants, the program has connected two cohorts of Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx students with similarly identified faculty and staff.

  • Chair, Jacqueline Garcia, Communications & Graphics Coordinator Jacqueline Garcia joined American University in 2014 and currently serves as the Communications & Graphics Coordinator in the Office of Human Resources. With a background in graphic design, Jacqueline uses her expertise to contribute to the branding and communications of multiple initiatives from HR Communications, AhealthyU, Staff Appreciation Week, and more. For the past 3 years she has been serving as co-chair of the Latino & Hispanic Affinity Group and guided the implementation of the AU Latino & Hispanic Mentorship Program which bridges the gap between faculty/staff and undergraduate students in the Latino, Hispanic, Latinx community. She hopes to continue to use her experience at AU to get involved at various levels while joining diversity and inclusion conversations at the University not only as a staff member, but also as a Latina woman in the creative industry.
  • Claudia Blount, Senior Program Coordinator, WCL
    Claudia Blount is an Educational Senior Coordinator, working at American University Washington College of Law, organizing, administrating and coordinating human rights capacity building initiatives and programs geared toward the training of lawyers, activists, and law students. She oversees the operational execution of programs and initiatives at the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, which include a multilingual Master of Laws Program (LL.M.), a three-week human rights training program, a human rights writing competition and Human Rights Month, an annual event that features conferences and workshops. Claudia has 8+ years’ experience developing and managing international and domestic education programs, including online and hybrid curriculums, as well as outreach and recruitment programs. Claudia is passionate about providing access to education to disadvantaged and underserved communities. She has focused her research on migrant youth and access to education coupled with their experiences in the US. More recently, as a mom of a 5-year old multiracial daughter, she is currently working on developing race and equity initiatives that would create open spaces for the training of parents, educators, and administrators. Claudia hopes to create open spaces for honest conversations about the intersection of race education and institutions of learning. Claudia completed a Masters of Arts in International Training and Education at American University and has a Bachelor of Arts in History, focusing on African American history and Women’s Studies, from California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB). 
  • Milton Garcia, Technical Trainer, IT Customer Service
    Milton Garcia is a DC Posse Scholar, graduate from Grinnell College, and former DIII Midwest Champion diver. He joined the University in 2016 serving at AU’s Office of Student Accounts (OSA), and now as a Technical Trainer for the Office of Information Technology (OIT). Garcia has been with LHFSA since it began in 2018 both as contributing leader and team member for affinity group events and initiatives.  

LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group 

  • Co-Chair, Nabina Liebow, Director of CAS Leadership Program & Professorial Lecturer
    Nabina Liebow is the Director of the College of the Arts and Sciences Leadership and Ethical Development Program (CAS LEAD) and a Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at American University. Nabina is passionate about making philosophy accessible and exciting to students from all backgrounds. In addition, Nabina helps lead the LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Affinity Group and is a member of the CAS DEI Committee. 
  • Co-Chair, Richard Duncan, Program Manager University College
    Richard Duncan is the Program Manager for Complex Problems & University College in the Office of Undergraduate Education. Richard’s background and passions in higher education focus around student engagement, student success, and retention strategies. In addition to his professional role at AU, he also serves at the co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group. 

People of Color Faculty & Staff Affinity Group 

  • Co-Chair, Arthur Stallworth, AUx Instructor & Advisor
    Arthur Stallworth (he/him/his) has a dynamic background in Higher Education. He has earned a Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Interdisciplinary Leadership, Masters of Biomedical Sciences (MS), and Bachelors of Arts in Psychology (BA) all from Creighton University in Omaha, NE. He is currently a First Year Advisor and Instructor for AUx 1 & 2. He has made it his goal to help eliminate barriers to higher education for all those that want to take part in expanding their knowledge. He has done so in part being involved with the People of Color Affinity group serving as the Co-Chair and a member of the Black Faculty & Staff Affinity group.
  • Co-Chair, Filemon Palero, Systems Administrator, OIT
    Filemon Palero is a Systems Administrator with the Office of Information Technology. Filemon is an alumni of American University and a member of the 20 Year Club. He has served on Staff Council and is currently co-chair of the POC Staff Faculty Affinity Group at American University where he works to raise awareness of the issues experienced by POC Staff and Faculty.

International Faculty & Staff Affinity Group (AU Global) 

  • Co-Chair, Anna Olsson, Associate Director of Programs & Events
    Anna Olsson is the Associate Director of Programs and Events at the Center for Teaching, Research & Learning. Anna originally came to AU as an international graduate student and has translated her passion about building inclusive communities into creating the International Faculty & Staff Affinity Group, where she is now co-chair. She also represents CTRL on the university-wide IDEA-committee, and participates in the work of the Inclusive Pedagogy Working Group to deepen AU’s commitment to Inclusive Excellence.
  • Co-Chair, Carthy Boston, Instructor
    Carthy Boston is an Adjunct Faculty in Spexs – ELTA Training Academy. Before coming to Spexs, she worked as an Instructor, Cross-Cultural trainer, and academic administrator. Her positions have ranged from International Affairs, Student Services, Activities, and Admissions. Throughout her administrative roles, she was responsible for coordinating programming, housing, student services, and counseling international students, adjusting to life in the United States. Her international work and living experience has taken her to various countries and cities. She has a passion for volunteerism and is actively involved in community organizing and emergency management services in Maryland.  

Disability+ Faculty & Staff Affinity Group (D+ FSA)

Mission/Purpose statement
Our mission is to create spaces for disability and neurodivergence culture to thrive at American University. As disabled/neurodivergent/autistic/blind/mad/chronically ill faculty and staff, we unite to foster community and celebrate our differences. We envision a campus where disabled and neurodivergent faculty and staff are fully included and welcomed in our campus culture and communities. Centering the voices of those with lived experience, we seek to educate, advocate, and contribute to a better AU. Our affinity group is anti-racist, anti-colonial, and feminist and welcomes all who want to learn more about disability and neurodivergence. While our founding members identify as disabled/neurodivergent/chronically ill, anyone is welcome to learn more about disability justice, mad pride, and neurodivergence.

  • Tanja Aho, Faculty, CRGC
    Tanja Aho is a Professorial Lecturer in American Studies in the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies, where they also teach Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies classes and are developing a certificate in Disability Studies. Tanja is a faculty affiliate of the Institute on Disability and Public Policy and has served on the CAS DEI Committee. Since coming to AU and Washington DC three years ago, Tanja has been building disabled, autistic, and neuroqueer community here and is excited about starting the Disability+ FSA.
  • Charley Fogel, Staff DAR, AUCC
    Charley Fogel is the Assistant Director of Alumni Career Programs in the AU Career Center and Office of Alumni Relations. They are most passionate about increasing equity and access in places of work, education, and life. They are in SPA's MS in Organization Development program, learning how to break down barriers and build new systems that are inclusive, accessible, and equitable. They are a member of DAR's and AUCC's DEI committees, among others, and are helping lead the creation of the Disability+ Faculty/Staff Affinity Group.
  • Marc Medwin, Faculty, DPA
    Marc Medwin received his undergraduate degree in English literature from Ithaca College in New York. He went on to earn a MA and PhD in musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, completing a dissertation on the late works of John Coltrane. Marc became an assistant professor in the music program at American University in the fall of 2008. Additionally, he maintains an active career as music journalist, writing for such magazines as Cadence, Coda, Signal to Noise and for the jazz journal Jazz Perspectives. Marc has also played keyboards in several experimental ensembles in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, North Carolina. His research and performative interests include contemporary classical music, improvised music and electro-acoustic music.

Schedule for Virtual Events: Wednesday, June 9th

Event: Cultivating Happiness: A Workshop on Mindfulness Meditation

Event Description: What is happiness? How can we get more of it? This talk explores these questions and introduces mindfulness meditation practices to help us become more familiar with how our mind works, move beyond our natural “Me” frame of reference, and gain a more accurate insight into our inherent awareness, the true source of lasting happiness.

Speaker: Dr. Ruth T. Zaplin, SPA, Department of Public Administration and Policy

Moderator: Jennifer Tether, SPA, Assistant Director, Key Executive Leadership Programs Department of Public Administration and Policy

Speaker Bio: Professor Zaplin is a Senior Executive-in-Residence in the School of Public Affairs, Department of Public Administration & Policy. She teaches courses in leadership, ethics, managing conflict, organizational analysis, and leader as coach, a course designed to help Federal executives become the kind of leaders we need to face today’s complex challenges. Professor Zaplin is an Executive Coach and directs coaching for Key Executive Leadership Programs. She is a longtime student of meditation and an authorized teacher in the lineage of the Tibetan meditation master Chögyam Trungpa. Professor Zaplin integrates mindfulness meditation as part of coaching and the courses she teaches for American University. She regularly conducts mindfulness meditation workshops for Federal agencies, both nationally and internationally.

Event: Rock Painting & Kindness Message Project

Event Description: Find a rock! Leave a rock! Join Haely Jardas and your AU colleagues for a morning of crafts and kindness (kids and family are welcome to join). Please watch the “how to” video (link here) for list of supplies and instruction at The Kindness Rocks Project website. Then come prepared to paint, chat, and share your rocks and where you plan to leave them. All are welcomefor those who would prefer to doodle or sketch a kindness message to leave on campus please come prepared with only a pen and paper!

Speaker: Haely JardasSpecial Assistant to the Dean, CAS

Moderators: Julie Coe, Academic Counselor, SPA; Ophira Bansal, Student Services Counselor, AU Central

Event Title: Summer Cupcake Baking Demo

Event Description: Join Staff Council member Tierra Murray for a summer virtual baking activity and fun for the whole family! Gather your baking supplies, your sunny and summer spirit, and come create with other staff. Participants will be lead through step-by-step instruction on baking and decorating summer cupcakes for you to eat and share! All are welcome to join, even if you do not participate in the activity! Two recipes will be offered for both the novice and advanced bakers!

Speaker: Tierra Murray, Financial Aid Counselor, Office of Enrollment

Moderator: Rima Sifri Assist Dir, Administration & Community Training Coordinator Univ Police & Emergency Mngmnt

Information for Conference Attendees AU StaffCon is a part of the university's Staff Appreciation Week

Advanced registration is encouraged. Day-of registration will be available.

Good to knows:

  • Register to attend at least one StaffCon session and receive access to ALL StaffCon events throughout June 8 and 9.
  • Within 12-24 hours of the event, you will receive a master list of Zoom links and passcodes, as well as any session prep materials provided by our speakers.

StaffCon is housed within Staff Appreciation Week. You will be required to register separately for events taking place outside of StaffCon, please view the full Staff Appreciation Week schedule of events HERE.

Questions? Contact the 2021 StaffCon Organizing Committee