Staff celebrated for impact, innovation at U-M and beyond


Founding an international professional organization. Doubling student voter turnout. Creating a model of workplace flexibility. Teaching thousands of middle school students how to live healthy lives.

These are a few of the remarkable accomplishments of the 2019 University of Michigan Staff Impact Award recipients.

Eleven individuals and three teams were presented with Staff Impact Awards on Monday. Among the recipients, one individual and one team also were recognized by President Mark Schlissel for innovative contributions to the university.

President Mark Schlissel presents the individual President’s Staff Awards of Distinction to James Zajkowski of Information Technology Services. (Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography)

Project Healthy Schools received the team President’s Staff Award of Distinction. From left are Nathan Saulter, Jean DuRussel-Weston, Ben Ransier, Jana Stewart, President Mark Schlissel, Miriam Dineen, Jacob Robidou, Jennifer Alexander, Brad Newman and Julie Nelson. (Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography)

Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources, opened the presentation ceremony at the Michigan League Ballroom and presented certificates along with members of the award selection committee, and videos provided by nominators.

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“This award is about celebrating our staff who innovate, collaborate and do amazing work in support of our university and the greater community,” Thomas said. “We all play our part in making U-M great, and it’s important to recognize those who excel and acknowledge that their passion is emblematic of the effort of our entire staff community. “

Schlissel presented President’s Staff Awards of Distinction to James Zajkowski of Information Technology Services, and Project Healthy Schools at MHealthy. The two special awards specifically honor recipients whose accomplishments displayed innovation.

“I am continuously impressed with the incredible dedication and innovation demonstrated by staff across the University of Michigan,” Schlissel said. “Our staff have developed new ways to collaborate and problem solve, making our campus more diverse, more welcoming, more efficient, and — above all — more excellent.”

Other individual Staff Impact Award recipients are:

  • Patrick Armatis — UM-Dearborn, Mardigian Library.
  • Christine Asidao — Counseling and Psychological Services.
  • Mary Ceccanese — Stephen M. Ross School of Business Office of Tax Policy Research.
  • Cathy DeMars — UMH Psych Nursing Mental Health.
  • Yuri Fukazawa — Center for Japanese Studies, International Institute.
  • Gerald Hoff — Patient Business Services.
  • Blaire Moody Rideout — Ross School of Business Office of Undergraduate Programs.
  • Lilly Fink Shapiro — School for Environment and Sustainability.
  • Will Sherry — Spectrum Center.
  • Tim Wood — Staff Human Resources.
Individual Staff Impact Award winners are, from left, Blaire Moody Rideout, Tim Wood, James Zajkowski, Gerald Hoff, Dr. Christine Asidao, Lilly Fink Shapiro, Will Sherry, Cathy DeMars, Mary Ceccanese. Not pictured: Patrick Armatis, Yuri Fukazawa. (Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography)

Other team Staff Impact Award recipients are:

  • The Big Ten Voting Challenge Team — Ginsberg Center.
  • HR Communication Management Team — University Human Resources.
The Big Ten Voting Challenge Team, from left, is Dave Waterhouse, Erin Byrnes, Edie Goldenberg, Alton B. H. Worthington and Logan Woods. (Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography)

Laurita Thomas presents Nick Kaleba with the Staff Impact Award for the HR Communication Management Team. Not pictured: Dave Reid. (Photo by Austin Thomason, Michigan Photography)

Thomas provided closing remarks with encouragement for attendees to make new connections and continue their exceptional work.

“Thank you for your passion and commitment,” she said. “Thank you for being a shining example of how we can all make a positive difference.”

The Staff Impact Awards celebrate those who champion volunteerism and service within the university, and who find ways to collaborate across units and find solutions to make the workplace better for all. It recognizes those who create flexible workplaces and who excel at innovation. The award recognizes staff, supervisors and teams that make an impact with their work, locally and beyond.

The awards were developed from recommendations of a Voices of the Staff committee and are sponsored by the Office of the Chief Financial Officer in partnership with University Human Resources.



  1. Patricia Preston
    on May 14, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Where can we find (text) information on what these wonderful people Did?
    Thank you.

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