Role Models: Meet the 2019 Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award Winners

Role Models: Meet the 2019 Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award Winners


Patience, professionalism and a proficiency for problem-solving are just some of the qualities that the University of Virginia’s winners of the 2019 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Awards possess in large measures. Whether they’ve worked at UVA for five years or 45, their attention to detail, dedication and strong work ethic reflect the ethos of the longtime University leader for whom the award was renamed about 10 years ago.

Eleven employees – five from the Academic Division, five from the Medical Center and one from UVA’s College at Wise – were nominated and selected to receive the annual awards, the highest honor the University bestows upon its staff. Their outstanding service makes them role models in fulfilling the mission of the University.

The awardees were honored at a June 7 luncheon with the Board of Visitors. In addition, those from the Academic Division were recognized Tuesday alongside employees who have 25-plus years of service. Health System awardees and employees with similarly long careers will be honored at a dinner on June 24.

The awards are named for Leonard W. Sandridge, a former executive vice president and chief operating officer who was known for his concern for, and advocacy of, University employees.

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2019 Outstanding Contributor Awards

Nikki Carey, Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center

Kay Christopher, Department of Biology, Arts & Sciences

Daniel A. Griffith, Department of Emergency Medicine, Health System

Janie Hamilton, UVA’s College at Wise

Alena Herklotz, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

Deborah Hoffman, Office of the University Registrar

Bobbie Meadows, Urology/Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic, Health System

Michael Redwine, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Crockett Stanley, Quality and Performance Improvement, Health System

Iris Welsch, Outpatient Surgery Center, Health System

Teresa Wimmer, ITS/Human Resources Ufirst project


Nikki Carey

Nikki Carey is a Patient Friendly Access team member in the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, where she has worked for 17 of her 22 years with the Health System. Her coworkers said she’s a great role model as someone who works tirelessly to support the Cancer Center in giving patients a seamless and effective experience as they go through treatment. Those efforts, in turn, also help health care professionals.

She is part of the Health System initiative, “Patient Friendly Access,” that aims to better meet the needs and expectations of patients. She also trains other team members, emphasizing how to be organized, diligent, persistent and caring.

For example, when it comes to scheduling what are usually multiple or ongoing appointments, Carey works with each patient to make these appointments convenient, taking into account their transportation and travel distance.

“Nikki is known for her compassion, reliability and determination in patient service,” wrote Hannah Spencer, manager of patient access in oncology. “While in the Cancer Center, she has helped countless patients through some of the most difficult times in their lives. She has the highest volume of physicians and patients to support across the cancer service line and consistently provides services with a smile.” 

Kay Christopher

When it comes to equipment, lab preparatory coordinator Kay Christopher keeps it all in good working order, from fluorescence microscopes to tissue culture incubators to vortex mixers, for the biology department’s lab sections for upper-level courses.

Friendly, supportive and professional, Christopher has worked in biology for almost 17 years, outfitting from four to nine different kinds of labs each semester, depending on the courses offered. Those courses cover anatomy and physiology, microbiology, functional genomics and experimental plant biology, among other topics.

Her duties include assisting professors in planning lab activities, ordering supplies, helping set up each lab and working with the graduate teaching assistants. She takes the initiative to test new methods for experiments and works weekends to check on live organisms.

One initiative she undertook on her own saved students $4,000 last semester and will continue to help future students: she noticed that lab coats were thrown away each semester, so she started collecting them and sterilizing them to give to the new group of students, who then didn’t have to purchase a lab coat.

Associate professor Dorothy Schafer, who also serves as associate chair of biology, said, “She has a golden touch when it comes to inspiring students in the lab.”

Daniel A. Griffith

Dan Griffith, the Department of Emergency Medicine’s operations manager, “shines as a mentor … [with] his relational skills, broad knowledge spectrum, divergent thinking, common sense and life experiences,” according to his nominator, Kathleen Acevedo, administrative director of the department. She noted that he served in the U.S. Army for 20 years prior to his UVA employment.

As operations manager, he participates in financial and strategic planning; oversees equipment purchases, installations and maintenance; keeps the schedules of the department chair and administrator; and maintains the technology equipment in conference rooms and faculty offices.

On the staff for five years, Griffith also serves as the department’s Human Resources officer, sits on numerous committees and helps with administrative transitions, including changes to the new Workday administrative software system. He oversees the Scribe Program, which comprises 40 full-time and more than 80 part-time scribes – student workers and temporary employees who work in 12 clinics, supporting physicians and easing the workflow of medical documentation.

“He’s everyone’s go-to person! If he doesn’t know the answer, he’ll connect you with someone who does,” Acevedo wrote.

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Janie Hamilton

Janie Hamilton, academic services facilitator and course information manager, has been a valuable part of UVA’s College at Wise for more than 30 years.

She has worked in several offices and departments, starting in the Office of the Registrar in the early 1990s. Her keen attention to detail and her strong work ethic have made her an invaluable member of the department, according to her nominators. She handles grade entry and course schedule planning, and she sets a good example for her co-workers. She also manages a new student information system and maintains excellent relations with faculty, staff and students.

Hamilton is “patient and kind and works diligently to accommodate the needs of employees and students,” her supervisor, Narda Porter, wrote in nominating her.

“Janie is a good friend, trustworthy, kind and very personable and sincere,” Porter added.

Alena Herklotz

Although Alena Herklotz, program administration manager for the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, has only been on the job for a couple of years, she is already being called a role model by her coworkers.

Previously at Fordham Law School, where she was executive director of summer law programs, Herklotz exceeds in collaborating and solving problems. She balances academic quality, accreditation compliance, financial restrictions and instructional design with the needs of nontraditional students and faculty requirements.

Last year alone, Herklotz worked on the creation and approval of eight new programs and 16 new courses in the school. In addition to the Master of Public Safety program, the new programs include six bachelor’s concentrations and one technology certificate.

Her efforts helped win state approval of the Master of Public Safety program, the first master’s program to be offered by the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

She worked on the program’s proposal with its director, Timothy Longo, retired Charlottesville chief of police. “This critical task extended well beyond the mere writing of a document and included an incredible amount of research and analysis regarding the labor market, evidence-based practices and a clear understanding of the needs of America’s 21st-century public safety officials and the vast organizations and communities they serve,” Longo wrote.

Deborah Hoffman

She’s been called a goddess and a magician; Deborah Hoffman has worked for the Office of the University Registrar for 44 years, scheduling courses and managing academic classroom space. She’ll be able to hang up her wand when she retires this summer.

Laura Hawthorne, who became University Registrar a year ago, said Hoffman delayed her retirement for at least a year to support the transition under her leadership. “I have been grateful for that decision every day since,” Hawthorne wrote in nominating her.

“Her extensive, highly detailed knowledge of classroom space and faculty needs come together each semester to ensure that the institution is not only using its academic spaces effectively, but that faculty members are, whenever possible, placed in rooms that best support their pedagogical practices,” Hawthorne said.

Wynne Stuart, associate provost for academic support and classroom management, pointed out that early in Hoffman’s career, all the work was paper-based and her attention to detail was excellent and as essential then as it is now.

Hoffman learned and managed classroom scheduling with UVA’s evolving computerized systems, including SOURCE in 2004 and SIS in 2009. She also led the process of bringing in the automated system to schedule exams.

Both Stuart and Hawthorne, who have worked for Leonard W. Sandridge in the past, said that Hoffman deserves this recognition for her similar work ethic.

Bobbie Meadows

Bobbie Meadows is a patient care technician in the Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Clinic, where the patients frequently comment on how friendly, knowledgeable, caring and funny she is.

From answering the phone to scheduling appointments to providing an extra pair of hands when needed, Meadows “represents the UVA Health System in an exemplary manner” and acts as a role model to her whole team.

“Bobbie Meadows exemplifies all that is right in health care,” wrote ambulatory manager Laurie Wright, who nominated her. “She comes to work with a positive attitude, is proactive in her approach to her coworkers and goes above and beyond to ensure that our patients have an exceptional experience.”

Michael Redwine

As a coordinator of instructional technologies in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Michael Redwine works on UVA Engineering’s online graduate degree programs. But it’s the work he’s doing above and beyond his job description for which he’s being recognized with this award. It’s for a project that could have a huge impact on teaching – at UVA and universities across the nation.

Several years ago, Redwine contacted Karen Kurotsuchi Inkelas, a professor in the Curry School of Education and Human Development, about a “protocol for observing college teaching” that she had worked on, Inkelas wrote in her nomination. He came back a year later and “astounded me with a new and improved digital application-based version of my observation protocol” that he had tested in dozens of UVA Engineering classrooms, Inkelas said. It got her reenergized for this research, and now, she, Redwine and Lindsay Wheeler, assistant director of the Center for Teaching Excellence, are developing a “suite of digital tools designed to improve college teaching and student learning.” The team secured internal funding from the Jefferson Trust, the Curry School and 3 Cavaliers, a new seed-funding program from UVA’s Vice President for Research.

They say there’s no suite of digital tools like this in U.S. universities that combines institutional data, observation data and data representation.

In addition, Redwine is a role model and positive influence for students. Several students also nominated him because Redwine offered computer science undergraduates the chance to work on the programming involved.

The digital tools, wrote Rahat Maini, will “give professors deeper understanding and analytics of their teaching methods, captured and computed through the software we write, furthering UVA’s image as a world-class university and place of learning.”

Crockett Stanley

As the Medical Center strives to be “the safest place to give and receive health care, we are so lucky to be ‘coached’ along the way by Crockett Stanley!” said one of his nominators, Donna Via, an administrator in perioperative services.

Stanley, who has worked at UVA for 12 years, is a “Be Safe” coach for the hospital’s Quality and Performance Improvement Department, with primary responsibility for serving Perioperative Services. That includes the different phases of surgery – before, during and after – plus how supplies and equipment are used and maintained.

The “Be Safe” program is dedicated to ensuring a safe environment for patients and the frontline health care providers who tend them – nurses, doctors and technicians.

Stanley’s nominators noted how adept he is in getting people to talk about difficult things and to successfully navigate problem-solving. Thoughtful and considerate, his humble approach “can draw feedback from even the sternest of participants,” one nominator wrote.

Quality Improvement Coordinator Adriana Schwendt, another participant in the Be Safe program, wrote, “As I learned the various tools that can be used for quality improvement and how they can be applied to my specific project, Crockett was always there, willing to meet and answer questions, sometimes the same questions again, and always with patience.

“He is committed to the staff and patients as he works through every initiative to move frontline clinicians toward continuous improvement,” she said.

Iris Welsch

“When I think of Iris Welsch, I think of freezing mornings in November, standing by the side of the road, handing out water to the Bill Steers 4-miler runners,” said Ashley Shilling, associate professor of anesthesiology, who nominated Welsch for the Outstanding Contributor Award. Welsch, nurse manager of the Outpatient Surgery Center, recruited her and a “huge group” of staff to volunteer their help because “Iris is the type of person who motivates others.”

The fact that her door is always open and she always has chocolate might also help her in overseeing about 130 employees. She is known to work tirelessly for her staff, as well as for the patients. She has helped organize the moves of several operating room units to the Outpatient Surgery Center over the past few years, prompting one nurse to credit Welsch “for her vision, leadership, guidance, and mentoring her team through change.”

“From moving schedules to fit urgent cases, to moving equipment from the Outpatient Surgery Center to the main OR to accommodate patients, she is someone who always looks for a solution rather than an excuse,” Shilling wrote.

But it’s not just big projects that she devotes her time to orchestrating smoothly. Not long ago, Welsch helped work out a safe care plan for a homeless patient who needed cataract surgery. Shilling said it was “touching to see how much thought and love and time” she put into this one patient – just one example of how she pours her heart into caring for others, patients and colleagues alike.

Teresa Wimmer

For the first time in its 200-year history, UVA has the data of all of its 22,000 employees – in the Academic Division, the Health System and the University Physicians Group – in one system, thanks in part to the efforts of Teresa Wimmer, assistant vice president of enterprise applications, who worked as the Information Technology Services leader for the Ufirst Human Resources transformation project.

Wimmer still oversees the technical aspects of Workday, the cloud-based system now used to manage most human resources activities, to make sure that the 100-plus functions are integrated and working.

Sean Jackson, associate vice president and executive director of the Ufirst HR Transformation Project, said the transition to Workday was “one of the most complex, yet smoothest system implementations” in his 25 years of project management. Wimmer’s “institutional knowledge, technical acumen and strong work ethic” helped ensure a successful launch, he wrote.

Over 18 years, Wimmer “has held leadership roles in important projects that benefit the University community in significant ways, touching all corners of the Grounds,” wrote Jennifer “J.J.” Wagner Davis, executive vice president and chief operating officer, in supporting her nomination.

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Anne E. Bromley

University News Associate Office of University Communications