President’s Staff Innovation Award winners announced


Ashley Harris, research laboratory specialist intermediate in the Translational Oncology Program, and the U-M Crowdfunding Taskforce have been selected as the winning individual and team recipients of the President’s Staff Innovation Award.

President Mark Schlissel presented their awards Thursday at the Voices of the Staff 10th annual meeting, which took place in the Crisler Center. Harris will receive a $2,000 award; the members of the U-M Crowdfunding Taskforce will share a $3,000 prize.

Harris’ innovation, the One Day Closer initiative, is a community outreach effort on behalf of the Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Translational Oncology Program that offers insights into cancer research and serves as an opportunity to enhance community and academic partnership, awareness and pride.

The idea behind One Day Closer was for researchers to donate a Saturday to come to work, for companies to donate supplies to support that work, and to engage the public in this special day of research to see firsthand the important research done at U-M that each day moves scientists one day closer to a cure.

Harris’ proposal culminated in the first One Day Closer event on June 7, 2014, and a second event, expanded to include science, technology, engineering and math groups from across the university and the local region, on May 9.

President Mark Schlissel presents President’s Staff Innovation Awards to Ashley Harris, above, and to the U-M Crowdfunding Taskforce (below). (Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography)

The U-M Crowdfunding Taskforce was selected for the team award for Giving Blueday, the university’s first large-scale crowdfunding effort involving schools, colleges, units and student organizations across all three U-M campuses , which took place from midnight to 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2014.

New systems, communications platforms and creative approaches were key components of the plan for Giving Blueday, which exceeded its fundraising goal by 225 percent, yielded the greatest number of first-time donors of any prior annual giving appeal and exceeded its goal of creating more than 1 million campaign impressions by more than 2000 percent through innovative use of social media and peer-to-peer sharing.

Members of the taskforce include Adam Dunn, David Morris, Denise Cope, Emily Mathews, Helen Harding, Hunter Greenfield, Janice M. Glander, Jillene Kristy Verdier, Karen Scimeca, Katy Wallander, Kelly Lee Roan, Laura Arendsen Rowe, Linda Douglas, Lora K. Newmeyer, Matthew J. Adams, Matthew Rizner, Melissa Cox, Peggy Powers, Regis Vogel and Susan St. Charles.

Commenting on the creativity of the winning nominations, Schlissel said, “I am continually inspired by the creativity, passion and commitment demonstrated by our Michigan staff. It is my great pleasure to support this well-deserved recognition of our staff.”

Nominations were reviewed by the Voices of the Staff Program Management Team to select the individual and team finalists. Schlissel selected the winning individual and team.

The award presentation was the capstone event of the Voices of the Staff 10th annual meeting. Voices of the Staff is a volunteer-based employee-engagement initiative that works on special projects, including this award, to improve the U-M workplace for all. More than 600 staff members have served as members.

“I am so grateful to all of the amazing people who work at making Michigan the best it can be,” said Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources. “Together we’ve made a difference. And moving forward we will continue to do so by helping prepare U-M for the future of work.”

The President’s Staff Innovation Award was created in 2013 to honor staff members who find creative solutions to improve efficiency, productivity, cost savings, health or culture at the university. Two awards are presented annually and both teams and individuals may be nominated.

Finalists for the individual and team awards also were recognized at the award ceremony.

Individual award finalists

  • Andrei Duma
  • Alex Fischter
  • Renju Jacob
  • Jeffrey Micale

Team finalists

  • Lauren Ranalli, Margaret Riley, Jennifer Lane and Vani Patterson for the Adolescent Health Initiative
  • Daniel Eisenberg, Trish Meyer, William Heininger and Barbara Hansen for the Athletes Connected Initiative

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