Staff contributions honored during annual awards

November 16, 2022

The Chancellor’s Staff Recognition Awards ceremony honored more than 80 staff members for their contributions to campus.

 Chancellor Grasso, center, is pictured with 2022 Chancellor Award winners Tuere Wheeler, Mai Qazzaz, Kari Kowalski, Greta Valmassoi, Claudia Lugo-Meeks and Jennifer Irwin. Photos by Sydney McKinney-Williams
Chancellor Grasso, center, is pictured with 2022 Chancellor Award winners Tuere Wheeler, Mai Qazzaz, Kari Kowalski, Greta Valmassoi, Claudia Lugo-Meeks and Jennifer Irwin. Photos by Sydney McKinney-Williams

Almost like on a game show, Maintenance Mechanic Winston Cannon gave high-fives to seated colleagues as he walked up to get a photo honoring his two decades of service at UM-Dearborn.

“I’m coming on down,” he said. “I’m proud to say I’ve worked here for 20 years.” Cannon was one of the more than 80 staff members recognized during the 2022 Chancellor’s Staff Recognition Awards.

The Nov. 9 event, which took place in Fairlane Center North, was the first in-person staff awards since 2019. More than 150 people attended to cheer for and support their Dearborn Wolverine colleagues.

Chancellor Domenico Grasso welcomed the group and applauded the dedication of campus staff. “Whether it’s getting support from our financial aid team, finding help in the library, or walking safely to class and seeing the beauty of our campus, making sure our websites function and everything in between, our students know they can count on you to guide them on their journey to a degree,” he said. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that the median number of years that wage and salary workers stayed with their current employer was 4.1 years. With 2022 milestone anniversaries totaling 825 years and people celebrating up to four decades on campus, Grasso remarked that the awards reception shows how dedicated UM-Dearborn staff are to serving students. 

“Without all of the effort from dedicated employees like you, we simply could not change the futures of so many for the better,” he said.

In addition to the milestones — which are listed below — five awards honored individuals or teams who went above and beyond UM-Dearborn’s mission. Chancellor’s Staff Recognition Awards co-chair Sheryl Kubiak, Enrollment Management executive assistant, said 24 nominations were received.

“It is always extremely difficult for the committee to select award recipients from such strong candidates,” she said. “Congratulations to all of our nominees and thank you to their nominators.”

Here are the 2022 award winners.

Advancing the Mission
The Career Connections Implementation Team: Joel Mangao, Mai Qazzaz, Tuere Wheeler

Here’s an excerpt from the nomination:

“This team worked together to determine the data needed from Banner, customized fields to fit UM-Dearborn's needs and communicated regularly together and with the vendor throughout the process. This involved working through differing viewpoints to determine which solutions and settings would be the most advantageous for all students, not any particular group. This implementation process was in addition to all of their regularly scheduled duties, and all of them put forth extra effort to accomplish the implementation before the start of fall semester.”

Community Engagement 
Kari Kowalski, COB iLabs academic program specialist

To quote an excerpt from her nomination:

“Kari manages the iLabs survey project for Rochester Hills Public Library. The RHPL project brought students and faculty together with this partnership. A faculty made it a class project to give their students hands-on experience. It led to one faculty member now providing mentorship for an iLabs independent study project.”

Greta Valmassoi, ITS AND CRM Team CRM project coordinator

To quote excerpts from the nomination:

“...she is one of the most professional people on campus. She handles challenges with patience and a positive attitude. With the Early Warning Program, there were times when we needed things done on a tight timeline or the technology had issues/bugs. Greta remained level-headed in every instance.”

“She is an absolute joy to work with and someone I can count on for anything. She is creative, understanding, patient, hardworking and always positive.”

Staff Development
Claudia Lugo-Meeks, External Relations web project specialist

Here’s what a nominator said:

“The university transitioned its content management system this year. During this time the entire web team left the university. The External Relations team reached out to various web editors from across campus to assist with issues that occurred after the migration. Many editors stepped up to help external relations maintain a strong web presence. Claudia Lugo-Meeks provided exceptional assistance to ER and the entire campus. She was able to help others with broken links and provided assistance with working in a new system.”

Student Success
Jennifer Irwin, Office of Financial Aid officer administrator senior

To quote an excerpt from the winner’s nomination:

“Jenn is one of the most hardworking people I've met in my time working for UM-Dearborn and she takes her work extremely seriously…Jenn has gone the extra mile while her department was severely understaffed and is dedicated to ensuring that students in our diverse population have the opportunity to receive financial assistance.”

Here are the staff service milestone honorees.


5 Year Anniversary staff members.

5-year milestone anniversary
Joy Adkins, Rita Agius, William Ashford, Nada Bachir, Lisa Ballard, Ian Beattie, Miles Booker, Sara Byczek, Jaclyn Daniels, Gwendolyn Darga, Amanda Donovan, Belen Garcia de Hurtado, Michael Gibson, Kal Haddad, Sharon Harris, Zachary Hay, Linda Jacoby, Mary Jones, Donna Kerry, Kari Kowalski, Jessica LaGrange, Jennifer Macleod, Shari Marshall, Liz McDowell, Amanda McLaughlin, Beth Medere, Autumn Muir, Willis Peavy, Thomas Pitock, Suzette Schimm, Lindsay Siesel, Shane Sullins, John Taylor, Michelle Wilson, Rebecca Wren, Jocelyn Young Huinde

10-year milestone anniversary

10-year milestone anniversary
Angela Acosta, Lindsey Bookman, Christopher Casey, Jo-Anne Donfried, Carol Glick, AJ Haduch, Adrienne Janney, Kyle Kenyon, Michael Kovach, Lisa Remsing, Scott Riggs, Trista Wdziekonski, Ryan Worden

15-year milestone anniversary

15-year milestone anniversary
A'Kiesha Andrews-Reid, Diane Gulyas, Jennifer Makas

20-year milestone anniversary

20-year milestone anniversary
Michelle Barnes, Cathy Boatin, Helene Boldarini, Perry Boyd II, Winston Cannon, Ross Grzywacz, Joseph Lubomirski, Elisa Madrigal, Theresa Malcom, Urana Pridemore, Mai Qazzaz, Julie Tigani

25-year milestone anniversary

25-year milestone anniversary
Patrick Armatis, Matthew Brown, Monique Davis, Lynda Dioszegi, Kelly Ledingham, Lori Petrick, Deborah Stark-Knight

35-year milestone anniversary

35-year milestone anniversary
Susan Guinn, Diane Sigler

40-year milestone anniversary
James Hilsabeck, Charles Leskie, Lori Lewis

Event co-chairs were Linda Jacoby, Sheryl Kubiak and Rachel Buzzeo. Additional committee members included Nada Bachir, Arlo Clark-Foos, Andy Dean, Tony DeLaRosa, Mary Jones, Sharon Lobdell, Nina Loveberry, Shari Marshall, Molly McCutchan, Celia Robinson, Sarah Tuxbury and the Chancellor’s Office liaison Jackie Kortes.