Lesley Wirt Wins 2017 University Award for Excellence

University Awards of Excellence winners

Twelve NC State staff members received University Awards for Excellence last week for contributions to the university and the community. They are eligible to win the Governor’s Awards for Excellence, the highest honor awarded to a state employee. Following is a list of the winners and excerpts from their nomination submissions.

Mary Catherine Cole

Mary Catherine Cole
Chancellor’s Office
Administrative support specialist

Cole has worked in the Chancellor’s Office for 10 years. She is the first person people see when they come to the office and the first person callers speak to when trying to reach someone, resolve an issue or get information about NC State. She has diffused potentially contentious situations with customers, informed and prepared her colleagues and covered for two people out on leave. Cole volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and Garner’s Citizens and Police Together program.

Adina Stock

Adina Stock
Athletics – Game Operations
Assistant athletic director for operations

Stock serves as the athletics department liaison for concerts, political rallies and campuswide events. She and her staff quickly and quietly meet the needs of event organizers and attendees. Stock was the point person for organizing the transition in and out of Reynolds Coliseum during the renovation project. For 17 months, she worked to find both day-to-day and competition homes for affected teams, striving to keep the inconvenience to coaches and student-athletes to a minimum. She transformed spaces, including Broughton High School and Dorton Arena, into temporary homes for NC State teams and fans.

Brian Green

Brian Green
Lonnie Poole Golf Course
Director of golf course maintenance

Green works with turf pathologists to manage diseases without excessive pesticide use. He has pushed to close the course for short periods to prevent turf loss – and save the university thousands of dollars in potential costs. Green uses sustainable practices to promote the landscape and protect the natural habitat. Through his efforts, Lonnie Poole is one of only two university-owned golf courses to receive Audubon International Signature Golf Sanctuary designation. Chosen as one of the top six golf superintendents in the nation, Green helps coordinate instructional, research and work opportunities for students in the turfgrass management program.

Melissa Cardez

Melissa Cardez
Registration and Records
Student financial services representative

Cardez leads by example through her service to NC State and to the greater Raleigh community. She has led University Cashier’s Office staff to give through initiatives such as Toys for Tots, the NC State food pantry and the Interfaith Food Drive honoring “Our Three Winners.” “I would say I am inspired by change,” Cardez said. “I truly want to make a difference in the world and lead by example. I noticed at a young age that my personality had an impact on people. What better way to use that quality than to serve others?”

Lindsay Hester

Lindsay Hester
Campus Enterprises
Public communications specialist

Hester juggles a complicated position, supporting NC State Dining with its locations, nutrition and sustainability programs. Her role requires advance planning, maximizing student opportunities and managing graphic design resources. Hester and her husband recently welcomed a baby, but the excitement of the pregnancy was clouded by her husband’s cancer diagnosis, which required multiple surgeries, radiation and recovery. Despite these strains on her personal life, Hester coordinated with unit managers and the graphic design team and used staff resources to keep initiatives running smoothly.

Rudy Lopez

Rudy Lopez
Capital Project Management
Senior construction project manager

Lopez is NC State’s expert for large and complicated construction projects. Recent projects for which he was responsible include the Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center, Engineering Buildings II and III, the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, the Talley Student Union addition and renovation and the Reynolds Coliseum renovation. In these six projects alone, Lopez managed more than $350 million in capital expenditures encompassing more than 1 million square feet of facility space.

Amy Parker

Amy Parker
Office of Technology Commercialization and New Ventures
New ventures program coordinator

Parker joined the office as a temporary receptionist in 2014, became permanent administrative support in 2015 and has since advanced to become a new ventures program coordinator. Parker supports faculty in their entrepreneurial endeavors and works with external entrepreneurs, investors and regional innovation ecosystem partners to ensure NC State’s startup companies are connected and supported.

Mike Cuales

Mike Cuales
DELTA
Associate director, creative and multimedia instructional technology support and development

Cuales’ enthusiasm for educational innovation led to the integration of 360 video/virtual reality into NC State courses, building a bridge between gaming principles and educational endeavors. His passion extends beyond the university’s borders, and via his external collaborations with AT&T and local museums, a new generation of learners will have access to and find inspiration in virtual reality learning environments.

Labin Woodlief

Labin Woodlief
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering research specialist

Woodlief has accepted a wide range of project assignments during 45 years of service to NC State. His contributions include monitoring stations in hot, bug-infested wetlands; planting and harvesting crops; hauling and maintaining field equipment; and providing sound technical advice. His work ethic, technical competence and attitude have made a significant impact on the BAE programs that have helped the people, the economy and the natural resources of North Carolina.

Tammy Kelly

Tammy Kelly
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Lenoir County extension director

Extension employees had to move fast when the Neuse River overflowed after Hurricane Matthew passed through in October 2016. Under Kelly’s leadership, staff and dozens of community volunteers worked quickly to move office machines, supplies and critical documents to higher ground. Kelly also rallied employees and volunteers to fill sandbags and place them around the office and farmers market to protect against flooding. Kelly’s actions minimized water damage to the extension center and adjacent livestock arena.

Lesley Wirt

Lesley Wirt
College of Education
Associate director of the Northeast Leadership Academy

Wirt and a coworker were on their way home from a conference when an emergency arose in the San Francisco airport. The coworker, who was in her second trimester of pregnancy, suffered a miscarriage. Wirt notified the airline and airport authorities, rode with the coworker to the hospital and held her hand most of the night. “During one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, Lesley took the time to be there for me, not as a coworker, but as a fellow human being in dire need of support,” the coworker said. “She is my hero, and I will never forget what she did for me that day.”

Stephanie Teeter
College of Engineering
Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering
Research technician

Teeter has volunteered extensively with STEM causes, including Science Olympiad and the Science House. She has led competitions at the regional and state levels, helped develop training materials for coaches and led STEM summer camps. She helped raise $30,000 and run more than 20 community service projects as vice president in charge of community development for the Raleigh Jaycees. This is her 10th year at the Saint Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity that fights against childhood cancer.

Campuswide Effort

Every year, the university’s 17 units and colleges collectively nominate about 90 employees for the awards in recognition of their hard work and service above and beyond the call of duty. Each unit and college then submits its award recipients, totaling about 50 staff members, to the University Awards for Excellence selection committee to determine the university-level winners. The number of winners increased from five to 12 this year.

Winners at the unit and college level receive $250 and eight hours of paid leave. The university-level winners receive an additional $1,000 and eight more hours off.

The nomination process for the 2018 Awards for Excellence program will begin Jan. 1.

This post was originally published in NC State News.