Focus on People Updates

2021 President’s Awards for Staff Recipients

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the President’s Service Awards for Excellence and the President’s Staff awards, presented by the university annually to recognize staff members who demonstrate outstanding achievement and excellence within the UBC community.

President’s Service Awards for Excellence

The President’s Service Awards for Excellence are presented each year to up to five outstanding staff members. The PSAE acknowledges staff who have made outstanding contributions to UBC, and who excel in their personal achievements.

The 2021 President’s Service Awards for Excellence recipients are:

President’s Staff Awards

The President’s Staff Awards at the Vancouver campus recognize the personal achievements and contributions that our staff make to UBC, and to the vision and goals of the university.

The 2021 President’s Staff Awards recipients are:

President’s Staff Award for Leadership

President’s Staff Award for Emerging Leadership

President’s Staff Award for Advancing Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence

President’s Staff Award for Community Engagement

President’s Staff Award for Enhancing UBC Experience

  • Jennifer Chin, Associate Registrar & Director, Enrolment Services, and the Student Support and Advising Team
    The team includes Enrolment Services Advisors: Maureen Bailey, Laura Beaulac, Ines Belic, Selene Buendia, Cheryl Celenk, Liyan Derman, Tara Drage, Alberto Guzman, Richard Ho, Jeffrey Hum, Linda Hallam, Fran Hannabuss, Andrea Jerome, Brian Leavitt, Cara Low, Holly Ma, Hung Mai, Sabrina Materie, Bushra Mirza, Colleen Mooney, Willie Moss, Kathryn Mudie, Nicole Nagel, Hala Nugent, Daria Patrusheva, Paul Poole, Scottford Price, Nikki Reine, Joshua Robertson, Frishta Safi, Ethan Semple, Drew Senay, Shaun Shan, Erica Shimizu, Kimberly Sicoli, Matthew Stevenson, Dorothy Tran, Cheryl Tyler, Corey Wesley, Judy Wong, and Rachel Wu; Associate Directors: Michael Becir, Aaron Cunningham, and Heather Mitchell; Associate Enrolment Services Advisors: Melissa Kuipers, Jordan Lee, and Ashley Li; Enrolment Services Coordinators: Phoenix Chung, Jenny Li and Maggie Wang; Managers: Julie Foran and Edenia Lai, and; Former Youth in Care Advisor: Christopher Rambaran.

President’s Staff Award for Creativity and Innovation

President’s Staff Award for Wellbeing


President’s Service Awards for Excellence

Tamara Baldwin, Director and Acting Assistant Director

Office of Regional and International Community Engagement; and School of Public Policy and Global Affairs

Tamara Baldwin is a compassionate leader who fosters ethical, equitable and community-centred engagement. This is shown through her pedagogical work, as well as her relationships with staff, students, and community partners.

Over the last decade, Tamara has worked with her team at ORICE to build unique experiential learning opportunities and bridge the gap between academia and society. ORICE offers a range of interdisciplinary and experiential programs and courses focused on building collaborative relationships to address complex community challenges. Tamara works in partnership with faculty and instructors to incorporate community engagement within coursework; she co-developed the interdisciplinary Wicked Problems in Community Development course providing opportunities for students to collaborate remotely with international community partners on complex problems.

With the transition to online learning, Tamara led her team in innovating virtual experiential learning opportunities – engagementships – for students. Students were involved in projects such as embedding data justice principles and gender+ concepts into data collection; working with a community partner in India on enhancing access to education for children during the pandemic; and working on a project in Uganda on services for deaf children during the pandemic.

An advocate for marginalized communities, Tamara co-founded the Collective for Gender+ in Research. The collective promotes capacity building and dialogue in which gender and other identity intersections, including race, class, sexuality, and ability, are considered when conducting community-engaged research. Tamara also co-developed the SDG Praxis Institute with the BC Council for International Cooperation to prepare young people speak to the government about sustainability development goals and climate change.

Tamara is committed to building an inclusive, respectful environment at ORICE. She acknowledges her positional power and privilege and often steps back to allow space for others in collaborative projects/discussions or with complex and sensitive tasks.


Rohene Bouajram, Associate Director

Strategic IBPOC Initiatives, Office of the VP Students

Rohene Bouajram is a sought-after expert in the policies and programs that affect international education in Canada, positioning UBC as an engaged local and global partner.

As one of the first Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants (RCIC) employed at a post-secondary institution, Rohene was a pioneering instructor for the new national certificate program for the Regulated International Student Immigration Advisor (RISIA) designation, and mentored the first generation of RISIAs. Over the past decade, Rohene has lent her expertise to national and provincial working groups, presented at for-credit seminars and conferences, and is publishing a book chapter based on her Master’s research into international students’ transition out of post-secondary education.

At UBC, Rohene led a team providing exceptional service to over 16,000 international students at the Vancouver campus. She managed a comprehensive UBC International Student Guide website that became a blueprint for international students navigating their Canadian immigration status. The impact of this work resulted in stronger understanding of immigration literacy among students, staff, and faculty across UBC.

Rohene is an advocate for international student supports with a lens on social justice. Rohene created new opportunities to support international, Indigenous, and domestic students through UBC’s Global Lounge. Furthermore, as an executive member of the Black Caucus, Rohene shows grace and strength to look at the institution strategically and elevate the needs of Black students, faculty and staff. Building an anti-racist institution requires a commitment to ongoing learning and action, and it requires deep care in leadership practices. Rohene demonstrates this in spades as she holds space for important conversations and accountable actions.

Rohene volunteers as an executive board member on the Society of Intercultural Training and Research BC Chapter. She led programming for its first congress hosted on Sts’ailes First Nations territory that critically examined identity and its connection to the land, people, and systems from Indigenous and immigrant perspectives.


Cheryl Niamath, Communications and Administrative Manager

International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD)

Cheryl Niamath is committed to promoting excellence within ICORD, a world-leading health research centre focused on spinal cord injury (SPI), and enables researchers to do what they do best by ‘taking care of everything else’. Her meticulous work ethic and artistic sensibility have been instrumental in creating the sense of community and collaboration that UBC is recognized for in the spinal cord injury community in BC and around the world.

Caring, humble and energetic, Cheryl aims to create an ecosystem at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre that facilitates collaboration, innovation and agility. In 2018, Cheryl created opportunities for Indigenous high school students to get real-world research experience. She co-developed ICORD’s Indigenous Summer Student Program, offering paid six-week summer placements in ICORD labs. With Cheryl’s sustained commitment, this program then expanded in partnership with the School of Biomedical Engineering.

Cheryl is integral to ICORD’s knowledge translation activities. She hosted Community Research Nights to connect members of the spinal cord injury community directly with ICORD researchers. She developed and led workshops on scientific poster design, including providing one-on-one feedback to trainees, and lends her considerable artistic abilities to enhance their papers and grants. Cheryl plays a key role in the Annual Research Meeting, organizing the Spinal Cord Fundraising Gala, and producing the Blusson Buzz newsletter and the quarterly ICORDian.

Cheryl plays an integral role in making the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre a healthy, inclusive and welcoming community. She organizes events and content to celebrate the annual UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science and to promote marginalized communities including Indigenous students, women in science and individuals with spinal cord injuries. She developed ICORD’s Healthy Workplace Program to host inclusive lunchtime fitness classes at the Blusson Spinal Cord Centre.

Through personal volunteerism, Cheryl organizes the Douglas Park Community Soccer Association, a co-ed recreational soccer club for adults.


Amy Perreault (Bae), Senior Strategist

Indigenous Initiatives, Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology

Amy Perreault (Bae) innovates to bring Indigenous content into curriculum in a respectful and meaningful way.

Her commitment to relationship building, community engagement, and amplifying Indigenous voices has advanced Indigenous strategic priorities across the university.

Her approach to Indigenous initiatives is exemplary and models what is possible in building generative relationships. Amy leads with a genuine dedication to learn from and about Musqueam.

Amy created the Classroom Climate workshop, a pedagogical series grounded in research-based principles that encourages supportive learning environments for socially contentious topics. Through this series, Amy has reached UBC’s teaching and learning community, many of whom have become partners and collaborators on related initiatives, and more importantly, created opportunities to center Indigenous expertise and resources. This substantive engagement with Musqueam is a direct result of Amy’s approach to relationship building with Musqueam elders and community members. Amy has co-published and presented on this work, garnering further professional and academic recognition.

Taking a long view towards institutional change, Amy is committed to accessible public resources and increasing Indigeneity within the teaching and learning environment at UBC. She is the driving force behind developing and embedding projects – such as the Indigenous Foundations website, Time and Place at UBC, and the Berger Inquiry resource – in units across campus. Amy’s strategic thinking, leadership, and collaboration skills have led to the growth of the CTLT Indigenous Initiatives team to meet shifting institutional needs.

Grounded in her own experiences as an Indigenous student at UBC, Amy is committed to making UBC a welcoming place for Indigenous students, faculty, and staff. She mentors both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students as well as colleagues, empowering many to thrive in their careers within and outside of UBC.


President’s Staff Awards

President’s Staff Award for Leadership

George Firican, Director, Data Governance and Business Intelligence

Development & Alumni Engagement

A passionate advocate for the importance of data, George Firican championed the shift towards a data-driven culture for fundraising and alumni engagement. His foundational work is creating a world-class data governance program with specialties in business intelligence, data analytics, data quality management and data stewardship. His innovations in this area are recognized at UBC and within the data governance industry at large.

George brings people together and identifies opportunities that lay within our data. For example, his Business Glossary initiative fosters common understanding across teams at DAE, reduces work at cross-purposes, and enables the university to better serve and engage donors and alumni. This award-winning initiative was adopted by others in higher education and fundraising and spotlights UBC as an industry leader. George built upon this foundation to develop opportunities such as Segmentation Models and Geo-Markets Dashboards, which allow fundraisers and alumni engagement officers to explore location-based information and create effective strategies in key markets. His work has resulted in numerous industry awards; including Gold and Platinum awards from the Council for Advancement in Support of Education.

A calm and empathetic leader, George fosters an open and respectful environment that inspires diversity in opinion. He encourages his team to leverage their lived experiences to consider new ways to understand, analyze and present constituent communities, allowing for deeper engagement with the community but also a more diverse mindset within DAE.

Outside of work, George founded the Lights On Data YouTube and LinkedIn channels where he provides a forum for sharing knowledge, best practices and experience among industry leaders and peers.

George’s vision, determination, partnership and creativity are an asset to DAE and UBC as well as peer institutions across Canada and the community at large.


Lani McGill, Human Resources – Product Manager

Integrated Service Center

Lani McGill’s unwavering commitment to excellence and doing what is best for the UBC community played a key role in UBC’s successful transition to Workday in 2020. Lani was responsible for distilling the myriad of complex and disparate HR processes down to a set of consistent, logical, and easy-to-understand business processes in the new system – now used in thousands of transactions daily.

Lani has a talent for understanding complex processes and engaging others in the conversation. Cheerful and full of energy, Lani worked directly and in collaboration with others to develop new rules and processes and align them to university requirements, employment standards, and collective agreements.

From the early days of the project, Lani was a champion for ensuring that the UBC community had access to information and that training sessions would effectively prepare administrators for the transition to Workday. For example, Lani ensured trainees had access to a copy of the system to practice initiating HR processes in real time with her team available to answer questions. This attention to training lessened the burden on other teams, such as the ISC Service Centre, who faced high demands during the launch of the new system.

Lani demonstrated patience and a willingness to listen to competing views, respecting the needs of units that differ from mainstream processes. Adaptive and agile, Lani found creative solutions to meet the community’s diverse needs. Her ongoing optimization through thoughtful systems change and simplification enables the university to be agile in academic support and administration.


President’s Staff Award for Emerging Leadership

Letitia Englund, Programmer Analyst II

Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology

With her expertise in user experience and a commitment to inclusive practices, Letitia Englund enables a better learning environment for both student and instructors.

Letitia was critical in the development of an innovative, award-winning learning tool called ComPAIR. Designed in collaboration with cross-disciplinary faculty members, ComPAIR is a pedagogically driven peer assessment and feedback tool that allows students to learn by comparing peer submissions, respond to them, and reflect critically on their own work. The success of ComPAIR is in large part due to Letitia’s effort and leadership. Letitia ran extensive usability studies and interviews to ensure the tool work seamlessly for students. Based on the project findings, she later co-authored a paper with faculty members. Not only is ComPAIR is changing the way people teach and learn at UBC but it is now open source software and has been used at more than a dozen institutions worldwide.

A champion for online teaching and learning, Letitia was the architect of the LT Hub website, a website developed in partnership between CTLT and UBC IT to promote and provide information in support of teaching and learning technologies at UBC. She was a driver of the faculty-led Learning Technology Working Groups to coordinate evaluation and recommendation of learning technology priorities.

As part of academic continuity preparation at the onset of the pandemic, Letitia led the rapid development of the Keep Teaching and Keep Learning websites. She coordinated content development, user experience design, and iterative development with tight timelines and changing requirements. Letitia’s ideas and leadership were key in supporting instructors in the shift to remote teaching.


Hélène Frohard-Dourlent, Strategist

Equity and Inclusion Office

Hélène Frohard-Dourlent’s work is broadening of how we think of gender categories, how our university systems address these issues, and is creating transformational change in how transgender and gender diverse people are included and feel welcome at UBC.

Hélène stepped into leadership roles to advance inclusive practices and environments for trans-, two-spirit and gender-diverse faculty, staff, and students. In their work, Hélène deftly balances the urgent need for institutional compliance and the limitations that the university works within.

Examples of their advocacy include working with the Registrar’s Office to consider how to include chosen names on diplomas and during the graduation ceremony; working with HR on guidelines for employees transitioning in the workplace as well as managers supporting someone through their transition; and supporting a group of students in creating a university-wide student mentoring program for trans, two spirit and non-binary students. Hélène also brought together a cross-campus group to consider the inclusion of trans and non-binary students in our information systems and student awards.

Hélène has a leadership role in the coordination of the Trans, Two Spirit, and Gender Diversity Taskforce. The taskforce brings together trans, Two Spirit, and gender diverse faculty, staff and students from both campuses to consider the current environment and make recommendations for a more inclusive UBC. Hélène has fostered a trusting, inclusive atmosphere in the taskforce through their dedication to community, prioritizing personal connection and relationships, and making space for all voices.

Beyond UBC, Hélène works with colleagues from other institutions through the Canadian Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Harassment in Higher Education to consider the experiences of trans and non-binary faculty, staff, and students at large.


President’s Staff Award for Advancing Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence

Tiffany Hill, Research Analyst

Department of Family Practice – Innovation Support Unit

Tiffany Hill’s leadership in advancing anti-racism and decolonizing practices within the Department of Family Practice and at UBC is enhancing inclusion of systemically underrepresented and marginalized communities.

Many British Columbians do not have the same opportunity to be healthy as others, given disparities in   social factors like working or living conditions, income, and education. Tiffany has actively sought out, advocated for, and facilitated opportunities for the Innovation Support Unit to build competencies in equity, inclusion and anti-racism practices.

Tiffany shares her knowledge, her lived experience and her facilitation skills to create space to intentionally explore and build capacity in decolonizing and anti-racist theories and practices. She organized a transformative workshop for her team to explore decolonizing practices, and offers teaching and facilitation on decolonizing research practices and methods. Tiffany co-leads and co-facilitates an internal Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) workstream designed to support and build equity, inclusion and anti-racist competencies within project design.

Beyond UBC, Tiffany is involved in many community-based initiatives. She facilitates workshops on grief, belonging and leadership with IBPOC youth, currently supporting First Nations in BC. Tiffany created an anti-racist curriculum on Power and Privilege for post-secondary institutions. She contributes to research projects dedicated to land back initiatives such as Youth in Relation to Land and Case Studies Returning Indigenous Land, and is a researcher with the Land Relationships Super Collective.

Tiffany is the new co-host of the Henceforward Podcast. The podcast explores past – and reimagines future – relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island.

Further demonstrating her personal commitment, Tiffany is pursuing a PhD on Indigenous, Black and Queer Studies at OISE at the University of Toronto in Social Justice Education.


Emi Sasagawa, Communications Manager

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Faculty of Arts)

Emi Sasagawa cares deeply about society and seeks to advance anti-racism and inclusive excellence through her communication and collaboration with others.

During the pandemic, with policies and practices changing rapidly, Emi transformed communication with the graduate community in topics such as student funding and changes in immigration policies. Emi advocated for clear and strong messages and was a consistent voice of reason and kindness.

At the same time, following the events that led to anti-racism protests around the globe, Emi was a strong advocate in G+PS for a unified response, renewed commitment, and sustained action towards inclusive excellence and the elimination of systemic racism. Her leadership was instrumental in bringing forward the concerns of her community into the broader institution response.

Across UBC, senior leaders and colleagues turn to Emi for her knowledge and insights on issues of equity, diversity and inclusion. Emi further lends her expertise through her role on the President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence.

An exceptional storyteller, Emi’s stories reveal her commitment to vulnerable populations. At UBC, she creates opportunities to tell Black and Indigenous student stories and achievements. Beyond UBC, Emi’s written about topics such as the Downtown Eastside, housing insecurity and inequitable access to healthcare, and her work has been published in The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and others.

Emi strives to educate herself further in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion, attending conferences and enrolling in certificate programs, and generously shares back with her team and colleagues. Emi is also a graduate of The Writer’s Studio at SFU and pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC.

Emi volunteers at the Vancouver Film Festival and works with Sunny Hill, where she produces videos and organizes storytelling workshops for families and healthcare professionals on radical empathy.


President’s Staff Award for Community Engagement

Tze Hern (Caden) Poh, Research Coordinator

Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine

Caden Poh reduces barriers to information and healthcare for people living with bipolar disorder through creative use of social media, advertising, and graphic design.

The Collaborative Research Team to Study Bipolar Disorder (CREST.BD) is an international research network dedicated to supporting health and quality of life for people with bipolar disorder (BD). The network is unique in that everything from research and writing applications to publishing results is in collaboration with people living with BD and other mental health conditions – groups historically and systemically marginalized.

Because of Caden’s resourceful and conscientious efforts, CREST.BD significantly expanded its reach and community participation among the underserved and people living with BD. Caden facilitated #TalkBD LIVE, a series of online Q&A events designed to provide mental health support and education during the pandemic. His efforts in increasing the accessibility to this resource have been successful, reaching thousands of people living with mental health conditions and their supporters via Facebook Live, Zoom, and social media.

Caden leads and supports community engagements that benefit local and global communities. Notably, Caden initiated and annually facilitates a Reddit Ask Me Anything on World Bipolar Day. This has become the biggest international Q&A for bipolar disorder ever hosted – and this year, Caden assembled an international panel of over 25 psychiatrists, psychologists, people with lived experience, and other mental health experts to answer questions from around the world. This promotes significant community engagement globally with individuals experiencing or affected by BD, and highlights UBC’s presence in the global mental health community.

An avid volunteer, Caden demonstrates exceptional commitment to serving underprivileged members of the community. He is an active contributor to three crisis and distress lines – CHIMO Crisis Line, SUCCESS Chinese Help Lines, and Crisis Text Line. A skilled crisis intervener, Caden also serves as a mentor to over 20 crisis line volunteers.


Yukiko Stranger-Galey, Exhibit & Design Manager

Beaty Biodiversity Museum

As an exhibit curator, Yukiko Stranger-Galey demonstrates the power to affect change, work with marginalized communities, and elevate the voices and work of people who have historically been underrepresented.

Yukiko’s exhibitions at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum are a visual expression of the museum’s mission to promote the importance of biodiversity and our collective responsibility for protecting it. Yukiko makes complex ideas and controversial realities approachable for visitors.

Yukiko devotes time to building respectful and thoughtful relationships, including with Musqueam, researchers, and local artists and associations. These relationships are valuable in better communicating science and strengthening UBC’s community. One of her exhibit collaborations, Perspectives on Biodiversity: Sturgeon Harpoon Knowledge Web, was the result of active and sustained contributions from Musqueam. This innovative, immersive web-based exhibit acts as a living resource for the housing and transfer of knowledge about the importance of sturgeon to Musqueam.

In her commitment to seek varied perspectives, Yukiko broadens the museum’s community within and beyond its scientific scope to include students, emerging professionals, and female artists. She encourages artists to access the collections for their explorations of natural history. This is further evident in the Researchers Revealed video series, which explores biodiversity research and how museums are used in research. In producing this series, Yukiko ensured representation of women and People of Colour in science at all levels of research, demonstrating that contributions to science can come from a range of age and education.

Yukiko volunteers with the Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology, and three British Columbia Museum Association committees and working groups. She mentors grade 7/8 Norma Rose Point students in their own museum exhibit development project, and also mentors emerging professional artists as their first exhibits are often the most challenging to receive and can make the most positive change to the start of their careers.


President’s Staff Award for Enhancing UBC Experience

Jennifer Chin, Associate Registrar & Director, Enrolment Services, and the Student Support and Advising Team

The team includes Enrolment Services Advisors: Maureen Bailey, Laura Beaulac, Ines Belic, Selene Buendia, Cheryl Celenk, Liyan Derman, Tara Drage, Alberto Guzman, Richard Ho, Jeffrey Hum, Linda Hallam, Fran Hannabuss, Andrea Jerome, Brian Leavitt, Cara Low, Holly Ma, Hung Mai, Sabrina Materie, Bushra Mirza, Colleen Mooney, Willie Moss, Kathryn Mudie, Nicole Nagel, Hala Nugent, Daria Patrusheva, Paul Poole, Scottford Price, Nikki Reine, Joshua Robertson, Frishta Safi, Ethan Semple, Drew Senay, Shaun Shan, Erica Shimizu, Kimberly Sicoli, Matthew Stevenson, Dorothy Tran, Cheryl Tyler, Corey Wesley, Judy Wong, and Rachel Wu; Associate Directors: Michael Becir, Aaron Cunningham, and Heather Mitchell; Associate Enrolment Services Advisors: Melissa Kuipers, Jordan Lee, and Ashley Li; Enrolment Services Coordinators: Phoenix Chung, Jenny Li and Maggie Wang; Managers: Julie Foran and Edenia Lai, and; Former Youth in Care Advisor: Christopher Rambaran.

Student Supporting and Advising, Enrolment Services

The Student Support and Advising (SSA) team empowers students throughout their academic career by providing opportunities that aid social and personal wellbeing, promote academic and professional development, and encourage leadership and community engagement.

From the onset of the pandemic, the SSA team lowered barriers, improved access to services and resources, and provided positive and supportive experiences for students.

The team recognized that the students disproportionally impacted by the effects of COVID are those historically excluded and marginalized in higher education and society. For this reason, the team initiated a call campaign to all incoming Indigenous students to ensure students had the technology and supports necessary for online learning. In partnership with UBC Learning Commons, the team created a central resource webpage specifically for Indigenous students and offered technology set-up tutorials. Recognizing the importance for campus partners to work collectively and collaboratively in support of Indigenous student success, the advisors participate in a variety of other committees and working groups including the Indigenous Working Group and the Indigenous Wellness Committee.

With intentionality, care and compassion, the team quickly implemented a toll-free helpline to help students – and received about 300,000 emails and phones calls. The advisors went above and beyond to provide resources to students and families in BC as well as those located around the world. The team distributed $3.3 million in emergency support for food, rent, and other urgent needs including unexpected quarantines and travel changes. The connections formed among students, families and the SSA team solidified UBC’s reputation as a caring institution.

The SSA team managed the first ever technology bursary, supporting over 400 students with the basic technological resources for online learning like web cameras, specialized accessibility technology, or internet access. While created as an emergency response, this bursary is now an ongoing resource for students.


Ross Sheppard, Manager, Student Services and Engagement

Electrical and Computer Engineering

When new Electrical and Computer Engineering students arrive at UBC, Ross Sheppard is often their first point of contact providing a welcoming, inclusive and informative environment.

Ross shows initiative in his approach to student advising. He created interactive orientation sessions and an onboarding package with resources for students’ mental, academic and social success. He launched a graduate student newsletter that covers career opportunities, award information, and a student-focused wellbeing spotlight. Taking a leading role in supporting student wellbeing, Ross also ensures students who are demonstrating signs of distress are provided with appropriate resources and in reporting such cases to UBC’s Early Alert program.

Ross is a driving force in improving student engagement and experience – taking on challenges big and small.

Ross recognized the need to develop resources specifically for students in the course-based Master’s program who, compared to other cohorts affiliated with research labs, needed more one-on-one support. After meeting with MEng students to gather feedback, he created a Welcome Back Event after the program’s first term to increase a sense of community and improve their graduate experience.

To foster communication and connection among the department and lab groups that students felt was otherwise missing, Ross consulted with faculty and created a Lab Ambassador program. The program surveys students and improves transparency about the department’s student life initiatives.

At the outset of the pandemic, Ross created a drop in online advising schedule – and when zoom fatigue became a reality for students, Ross piloted a new platform for more engaging advising sessions for students.

Ross is an active participant on Grad Council with G+PS and contributes actively in discussions, especially focusing on student wellbeing, based on feedback from his discussions with students.


President’s Staff Award for Creativity and Innovation

Ryan Thomson, Systems Architect

Advanced Research Computing

Ryan Thomson is an innovator and driver of change. Fascinated by the technology-related challenges the scientific community has to overcome to facilitate research and discovery, Ryan recognized the role for a technologist in the world of scientific research beyond what was provided by most computer experts, technicians and analysts.

Early in his career at the Pacific Parkinson’s Research Centre, Ryan was part of a global movement to develop specialized technology services and standards for the research community. He participated in user groups and societies that pushed the limits of technology and shared their findings openly with the global community. Shortly, medical technologists, computing professionals and researchers began looking to Ryan for expertise.

Ryan then became the lead architect for the technical design and implementation of UBC ARC Sockeye and Chinook, an $18.6M investment for the first institutional High Performance Compute cluster and storage grid. The innovative architecture allows researchers to leverage unprecedented processing power and integrate with the national research platform Compute Canada and public platforms such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure. Developing scalable processes and procedures, Ryan ensured what was being built would be of immediate and ongoing benefit to the community. Ryan set up a multitude of complex systems including infrastructure for the enterprise Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) service and other projects to keep the ARC Team functioning.

Ryan is actively involved in institutional, provincial and national committees and working groups to promote the use of Digital Research Infrastructure to accelerate time to discovery and innovation and continues to innovate ways technology can help support research.

Ryan has made a positive impact to UBC, assisting faculty and students with research, showing passion and enthusiasm for innovation and discovery, and being a fundamental part of the growth, development, and success of ARC. His outstanding technical skills, customer service and his caring personality make him a valuable leader in the technical community.


Nickoletta Giannopoulos, Flexible Enhanced Learning Provincial Manager

UBC Undergraduate Medical School

Nickoletta (Niki) Giannopoulos’s creativity to solve problems, improve processes and innovate approaches has been invaluable to the success of the undergraduate medical program and community.

The Flexible Enhanced Learning (FLEX) series of medical program courses is unique in the world, with an aim of cultivating student as scholars and life-long learners while immersed in their training to become future physicians. With courses across three undergraduate years and at four provincial sites, the program administration is complex and varies substantially from most other courses within the medical school. Niki’s problem-solving approach to work is one of the reasons behind its success.

Every year, FLEX requires the support of nearly 1,000 mentors, teaching faculty and other stakeholders who are distributed across the province. Niki’s organizational skills and proactive nature are instrumental in its success. For example, when the school’s learning management system lacked the required database management and student project tracking features, Niki recommended a cost-effective solution to link three separate systems (Entrada, WordPress and the FOMIDM registry) together into one.

Niki continuously seeks input to meet the community’s evolving needs. She created the FLEX Advisor Community website with all required resources for teaching faculty; created work-aids and navigational documentation to help staff and teaching faculty with complex tasks; and arranged for provincially shared team drives.

One particular course has one teaching faculty mentoring eight students in weekly small group sessions. To enable the inclusion of teaching faculty with varied career and life experiences, especially those whose medical practice is based in communities more than an hour commute from Point Grey, Niki piloted a remote teaching and learning option – this was before remote work was common. Niki sought donated carts and computers and created mobile, webcam-enabled computer units that could be wheeled into the classrooms. This proactive and innovative thinking eased the transition for students, faculty and staff during the onset of the pandemic.


President’s Staff Award for Wellbeing

Eli Koleva, Executive Coordinator, Faculty Affairs

Dean’s Office, Faculty of Forestry

Eli Koleva is a leader in creating an atmosphere that values wellbeing and belonging. With her quiet efficiency and positivity, she displays her creativity and care for her colleagues’ wellbeing with various, thoughtful initiatives. Eli seeks to engage and inspire community members to foster connections and create networks of care for themselves and each other.

Eli takes initiative to design and implement events and activities that contribute to the health and wellbeing of faculty and staff as well as students and postdoctoral fellows. She coordinated faculty and staff retreats; organized a Living Well with Stress workshop with Morneau Sheppell; and involved student volunteers in National Forest Week and National Tree Day.

During the pandemic, Eli created the Forestry Wellbeing Initiative to promote social physical and mental health. This included a variety of events and campaigns including a Peer/Self Wellbeing Month, an Alphabet Place Hunt, 30-minute exercise snacks led by a certified trainer, and a Seven Days Tall as a Tree Challenge to bring awareness to maintaining a positive mindset.

Eli creates welcoming spaces to nurture community and personal connection. During remote work arrangements, Eli engaged staff and faculty through Lunch like a Peer – an activity where team members all cooked the same simple and healthy meal recommended by colleague.

She highlights cultural and community events, promotes exercise, creates engaging activities, fosters online connections. She has been a proponent of wellbeing initiatives in particular, either leading or taking part in many of them herself and encouraging us to join her.


Andrea Reynolds, Manager

Student Academic Services, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA)

Andrea Reynolds fosters a workplace environment where SPPGA staff and faculty feel safe and comfortable learning and talking about mental health.

For many years, Andrea advocates for and organizes faculty and staff participation in campaigns including UBC Thrive week, Faculty and Staff Sports Day, Not Myself Today (NMT), and Vancouver’s Bike to Work Week. She leads the SPPGA Mental-Health Awareness Resource Team to plan local activities and share resources around these campaigns.

Despite many of these campaigns or initiatives being short-term, Andrea leads in inspiring her community to reflect on the importance of mental, emotional and physical wellbeing throughout the year. She encourages faculty and staff as well as Postdoctoral Fellows, Liu Scholars and visiting faculty to enjoy activities such as eating lunch together, taking walks in the nearby forest, enjoying the UBC Dog Days Pop-Up Lounge and joining a free UBC Zumba class. Getting people involved is half the battle – Andrea then goes the extra mile to build comradery and make memorable moments, such as coordinating costumes for Faculty and Staff Sport Day.

Andrea is an advocate of the Healthy Workplaces Initiative Fund, regularly applying for and using funds to improve workplace wellbeing. She’s used the fund for a nutrition workshop series, the purchase of a community bike, and purchasing office plants.

A champion for mental health, Andrea has created a safe space to speak about mental health, to connect socially and to provide support to one another. She actively role models her commitment to wellbeing in ways that inspire others to join or lead their own initiatives.

With her collaborative leadership, continual encouragement, positivity, Andrea has fostered a safer, more supportive workplace – one that is profoundly supportive and empathetic.


Congratulations, all!

Respect, Sincerity and Responsibility: Land Acknowledgement at UBC

sʔi:ɬqəy̓ qeqən (double-headed serpent post), Brent Sparrow, Musqueam

The University of British Columbia is committed to mending, creating, and sustaining good relationships with Indigenous peoples, in particular the Indigenous people on whose unceded, traditional, and ancestral lands our campuses are situated on. As UBC community members, we are all responsible for engaging thoughtfully, consistently, and humbly in this process.

Part of this work is reflected in our ability to acknowledge these lands and their history in a sincere, respectful, and meaningful way.

To support this process, the Indigenous Initiatives at the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT) and Human Resources developed a 60-minute self-paced course for the UBC teaching and learning community.

The course, Respect, Sincerity and Responsibility: Land Acknowledgement at UBC, explores what land acknowledgements are and why we do them, and helps participants develop their own land acknowledgement. After this course, participants will:

  • Recognize why land acknowledgements are an important part of our work at UBC.
  • Identify your positionality and responsibility when offering land acknowledgements and engaging with Indigenous communities.
  • Utilize resources and educational tools needed to deliver land acknowledgements.

Access the course (CWL required).

Our ability to acknowledge land and their history in a respectful way is one way that we are creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace for all, including Indigenous Peoples and other historically underrepresented groups. Learn more about how we’re making UBC an inspiring place to work through Focus on People 2025.

New workplace learning ecosystem for faculty and staff

Today’s learning opportunities come in a variety of forms and styles, with something to suit every learner. At UBC, we encourage faculty and staff to further their professional and personal development by taking part in our learning opportunities.

Launched in spring 2020, the Workplace Learning Ecosystem (WPL) is a new central location for faculty and staff to browse, enroll, and track internal training, learning opportunities and programs including orientation, wellbeing, professional development and more.

Through WPL, faculty and staff can:

  • Discover new learning opportunities available at UBC, including browsing by topic
  • Register for workshops and courses offered by units across all campus locations
  • Learn in-person (as available), online, or using a blend of both
  • Track completed training records and any expiry dates

A year at a glance

In the first year of the WPL, there were 31,045 active users with 135,314 enrollments in learning opportunities with something for everyone. Those who recently joined UBC may be looking to enroll in the Welcome to UBC orientation or complete their mandatory training. Others may be interested in a particular topic area, such as wellbeing, and explore WPL for related offerings such as Mental Health First Aid or a self-guided course on wellbeing in the workplace.

Supporting learning needs

In response to community needs and interests, courses are continuously refreshed by learning providers. In the first year, 29 departments, programs and units were creating and delivering 762 courses and/or programs. All learning providers and administrators are invited to join a community of practice to share best practices in learning design and system use.

Earlier this year, the Workplace Learning team hosted the Tech Expo, a series dedicated to exploring technology enhancements compatible with WPL, such as Appointy and Articulate, and consider how others are using them. Recently, the community of practice was invited to participate in the Refreshments & Refinements series, a deconstructed conference event with community presentations held each morning for one week. Peer presenters shared how they align their courses to UBC strategic plans, frameworks and initiatives.

The Workplace Learning Ecosystem and its community of practice are one way that UBC is supporting faculty and staff to be creative and innovative and grow in their careers. Learn more about how we’re making UBC an inspiring place to work through Focus on People 2025.

A community of practice for change and transition supports people through change

 

From transformational systems changes to temporary remote work arrangements, our community has faced unprecedented shifts in workplace dynamics this past year. As part of the university’s investment in change management and transition resources, the UBC Change and Transition community of practice was established to support faculty and staff in navigating change effectively.

Supported by a team of staff in HR, this community of practice connects faculty and staff who have a passion for fostering wellbeing, resiliency and capacity for change.

“Our goal for the coming year is to continue to advance the discipline of Change Management at UBC by increasing change literacy and building capacity and resilience for change,” says Marianne Boyles, change management consultant within HR. “We are especially excited to be rolling out a brand new set of UBC change management resources and tools through the community of practice this coming fall”.

Since its inception in November 2019, the community of practice has grown to around 180 members with representation from 25 units across both campuses. Participants enrich and elevate their change and transition expertise by joining monthly sessions. Topics include:

  • Communicating for Engagement
  • Change by Design
  • Workforce Planning and Change
  • A Pechakucha event
  • An overview of the Influencer Model for Change

Responding to community needs

To provide change support during the pandemic, HR developed the Foundations of Change Series – three courses focused on guiding individuals, teams and leaders with navigating change and transition through the lens of wellbeing and mental health. The series was offered weekly from May through to November.

The Foundations of Changes series included:

  • Change Methodologies: Applying common change theories and models can proactively help to guide, structure and simplify the process for those leading and implementing change.
  • Change, Wellbeing and You: Looking at the different journeys an individual may take and the stages of transition they can encounter as they navigate change, through the lens of wellbeing and mental health.
  • Leading Change and Caring for Others: Sharing the different journeys a team may take as they navigate change, and how leaders can support and guide their teams through the lens of wellbeing and mental health.

Questions about the community of practice? Please email change.transition@ubc.ca

The Change and Transition community of practice is one way that UBC is supporting faculty and staff to navigate change effectively. Learn more about how we’re making UBC an inspiring place to work through Focus on People 2025.

IBPOC Connections: building community, increasing representation at UBC

 

IBPOC Connections seeks to increase representation and cultivate belonging among staff and faculty who self-identify as Indigenous, Black, and/or People of Colour (IBPOC).

Through luncheons, speaker series, and book and coffee clubs, IBPOC staff and faculty are invited to come together and celebrate their multiple and intersecting identities as well as speak candidly about the challenges they face at UBC. The goal of IBPOC Connections is two-fold: to build community and to leverage existing networks to push for systemic change.

“IBPOC Connections isn’t about building something anew,” said Dr. Maryam Nabavi, a staff and faculty strategist with the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office who has been leading and championing the initiative since 2019. “Partnership is the bedrock of how we do our work.”

Read this feature story on the Equity and Inclusion Office website to hear from people in our community about some of the work being done, including from:

  • Dr. Maryam Nabavi, a staff and faculty strategist with the UBC Equity & Inclusion Office
  • Dr. Handel Kashope Wright, Professor and Senior Advisor to the President on Anti-racism and Inclusive Excellence
  • Dr. Sheryl Lightfoot, Senior Advisor to the President on Indigenous Affairs
  • Dr. Sara-Jane Finlay, associate vice-president for equity and inclusion
  • Valentina Ruiz-Leotaud, a communications officer with the Sea Around Us initiative

IBPOC Connections seeks to enhance the experiences and outcomes of staff and faculty through capacity building, leadership development, recruitment and retention, and mentorship. Learn more about how we’re making UBC an inspiring place to work through Focus on People 2025.