Problem Solvers and Care Givers: Top UVA Employees Honored

February 13, 2023 By Mike Mather, Mike Mather,

The University of Virginia has honored 11 employees for exemplary service, presenting them with Outstanding Contributor Awards. The awards are granted in honor of former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Leonard W. Sandridge who, in his 44 years of service to UVA, was a consistent champion of University staff.

The winners, who each receive $1,000 and an engraved gift, were honored at a reception last month.

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Scott Adams, UVA Finance

Adams was lauded for efforts to keep Carruthers Hall open and accessible during the pandemic, overseeing technical upgrades of conference rooms and offices so remote workers could efficiently coordinate with in-person staff.

“The Carruthers Zoom Rooms are the envy of many at UVA for their reliability, ease of use and the seamless integration with personal devices,” colleague Bill Ashby wrote.

Adams also facilitated the installation of video doorbells and cameras so visitors could be greeted and directed to their destinations while minimizing contact when COVID-19 was a high threat to public health.

“Scott’s mantra was it should not matter which guest showed up … or which office they were looking for,” Steve Kimata wrote, “they should be warmly welcomed and treated with consistent excellence.”

Melissa F. Clarke, Business Operations

Clarke, a 28-year employee, oversees finances for a vast array of University services, including housing, dining, parking and child-care centers. She has also served in working groups to improve and modernize the University’s finance and business operations.

Colleague Collette Sheehy called Clarke’s contributions to the University “remarkable but often overlooked.”

“Melissa is always willing to go above and beyond to help colleagues resolve complicated issues with patience and rigor, no matter how much extra time is required of her,” Sheehy wrote.

Jane T. Pace, McIntire School of Commerce

Pace also was recognized for efforts during the pandemic, keeping the Commerce School thriving during the challenging time. The work included transitioning students to online-learning platforms while helping faculty members learn how to use them.

In her 36 years at UVA, Pace has been at the forefront of several important endeavors. Colleagues described her as “unflappable” and “energetic.”

“Mere mortals can’t keep up,” co-worker Rob Patterson wrote.

Delores B. Roberts, Office of the Provost

Like other award winners, Roberts was praised for her pandemic efforts. She is credited with keeping the provost office staff virtually connected with the rest of the University and staff off Grounds.

Roberts also helped facilitate several professional-development opportunities for faculty across Grounds and assisted in planning multiple special events, including everything from “small office gatherings to national conferences.”

Four women lined up for a photo

Delores Roberts, second from left, was honored for her efforts during the pandemic to keep the Office of the Provost connected with the rest of the University and to staff working remotely. She is joined by Jennie Knight, Margaret Harden and Anda Webb, all from the Office of the Provost. (Photo by Coe Sweet)


“It would be impossible for us to deliver the quality faculty development programs that we are able to provide without her expertise and proactive, positive attention to every detail,” colleagues wrote in a nomination letter.

Gail Shirley-Warren, Virginia Humanities

Shirley-Warren, who recently retired after serving the University for 39 years, was the chief financial officer and the steward of funding that averages $5 million yearly. Virginia Humanities helps produce a number of community events and resources, including the Virginia Festival of the Book and the “With Good Reason” radio program.

“Gail is often the behind-the-scenes person that keeps our work and department not just running, but thriving,” Matthew Sweegan Gibson wrote in a nominating letter.

Known for her “precision and clarity” in budgeting, Shirley-Warren was also recognized for pursuing diversity and equity in hiring decisions.

Leigh A. Gauriloff, Nurse, Patient Care Services

Gauriloff, a nurse who has grown to manage a team of medical professionals, was applauded for several initiatives at the UVA Medical Center that made the facility a more efficient and safer place.

Colleagues who nominated Gauriloff for the award noted she led her charges through the difficult circumstances of COVID-19, managing a sometimes-thin staff that covered wider areas of the hospital, and navigated the challenges of increased staff turnover.

Her nursing colleagues wrote that, although Gauriloff as a supervisor “may be wearing slacks and business shoes instead of scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck,” she is quick to jump into bedside care when needed.

“Leigh has been the bridge between senior leadership and front-line care,” a co-worker wrote in Gauriloff’s nomination letter. “She values and encourages the opinions of others and is quick to partner or provide guidance in breaking down barriers.”

Tabatha R. Gilbert, Nurse, Outpatient Surgery Center

Mike Marquardt and Tabatha Gilbert posing for picture

Mike Marquardt, chief financial officer of UVA Medical Center, poses with nurse Tabatha Gilbert, who helped develop and lead a campaign to educate other nurses about a rare but potentially fatal reaction to anesthesia. (Photo by Coe Sweet)

As a nurse who assists with anesthesia, Gilbert discovered during a procedure that neither she nor many of her nursing colleagues knew about an uncommon but potentially fatal condition called local anesthetic systemic toxicity. It’s a reaction to anesthesia that can look like a heart attack but must be treated differently.

Gilbert gathered a team and launched an initiative to educate herself about this condition and to spread the word to her co-workers. She and her team led presentations, created simulations and prepared educational materials that have been widely adopted in several UVA medical facilities.

Gilbert plans to “take the show on the road” to educate other nurses who work with anesthesia and nerve blocks.

“Tabatha’s goal is to spread this work as widely as possible to help make patient care safer,” Rebecca T. Gilbert wrote. “This is life-saving work and Tabatha has done an amazing job from implementation to continuous follow-through.”

Marissa C. McKay, Nurse, Epic Core Clinical Apps

McKay is a nurse informaticist, which is someone who combines the knowledge and practice of nursing with information technologies to improve health care.

When she and her co-workers faced an increase in urinary tract infections in patients with catheters, she helped launch an effort to collect data, uncover the cause and improve the process. The result has been a drop in infections.

McKay “leverages ideas from the bedside and translates them into action using technology,” Kathleen Rea, who helped study the problem, said. “Marissa is an innovator who sees possibility where others see barriers.”

McKay also has used data and technology to improve the organ donation process, “thus decreasing missed opportunities to offer donation at end-of-life.”

Monte S. Parsons, Office Manager, Asthma, Allergy and Immunology Division

Parsons is credited with supporting at least 100 medical students, residents, fellows, graduate students and postdoctoral students in his career with UVA.

In addition, wrote Dr. Michael R. Nelson, Parsons has been an ongoing resource for all UVA Health members.

“As his office is adjacent to mine, I quickly got a glimpse as to how much he means to this organization by the volume of personnel from outside the division seeking advice and information in person and by phone,” Nelson wrote.

Teresa Radford, Nurse, Population Health

According to colleagues, Radford works tirelessly to find ways of keeping patients out of the hospital, focusing on finding health solutions for patients who lack the resources to receive consistent preventative care.

Radford piloted UVA Health’s “HOME” program that identifies chronically ill patients in the community who may be low-income or homeless and connects them with vital health care services. The program is designed to break the cycle of continued emergency room visits for conditions that could better be treated in other settings. The program has cut hospital readmissions within 30 days by 65%.

“Almost every week I receive multiple communications recognizing the awe-inspiring efforts of Teresa on behalf of the patients served” through these programs, wrote Novella W. Thompson, a hospital administrator.

“Through these patient placements, the lives of these patients now exceeds the team’s hopeful outcome,” Thompson wrote. “She’ll tell everyone, ‘It takes a village,’ but there is no doubt the success of these patient placements and care is happening through her tenacity and skill.”

Meghan Dennehy, Women’s Lacrosse Coach, UVA’s College at Wise

Dennehy has been the school’s women’s lacrosse coach for 10 years, building the program from scratch into a championship team. But, according to colleagues at UVA’s College at Wise, she is just as known for helping her players achieve success off the field.

‘Inside UVA’ A Podcast Hosted by Jim Ryan
‘Inside UVA’ A Podcast Hosted by Jim Ryan

For the past seven years, the team has maintained an average GPA of greater than 3.0. She also requires her team to participate in community service projects, encourages them to attend arts performances on the campus, and has walked with them in marches honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

“Aside from having one of the winningest records among her coaching peers,” associate professor Ronald Floridia wrote, “Meg dedicates countless hours to the college through her participation in various programs” including search committees for open positions, teaching a freshman orientation seminar and representing the college at NCAA conferences.

“Meg proves herself not only as a competent and successful coach,” he said, “but as an overall asset to the school.”

Media Contact

Mike Mather

Managing Editor University Communications