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These 5 Employees are Making a Noticeable Difference

March 29, 2024

Often the unsung heroes of university life, staff employees nonetheless quietly go about making all the requisite parts work in order to enhance the student experience. One way to recognize their efforts is through a Staff and Administrative Employee Recognition Awards (SAERA). Krista Mortensen, Jennifer Nelson, Josie Fillmore, Sarah Rogers, and Amy Foote each received a SAERA award since the beginning of 2024 for work that exemplifies values outlined by the acronym ‘CRITERIA’:

C- Competency
R- Respect and Belonging for All Individuals
I- Integrity
T- Teamwork
E- Exceeding Customer Expectations
R- Responsible Use of Sacred Resources
I- Innovation
A- Accountability and Results

Krista Mortensen: “Competency”

Professor Kirk Hawkins explained that he nominated Krista Mortensen for her vital and impressive contributions as the Political Science Department manager despite her only being hired a few years ago.

Image of Krista Mortensen

One of Mortensen’s most important responsibilities is to plan the course schedule for the semester. It’s a job with an extensive process that includes coordinating with the department curriculum committee and being really good at teamwork. This was made even more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fortunately, we have Krista Mortensen to help,” Hawkins says.

As the Political Science associate chair for teaching and curriculum, Hawkins notes that “Krista has identified several ways of streamlining our process and eliminating errors, including developing a centralized, web-based document for the committee.”

According to Hawkins, in addition to careful tracking of scheduling deadlines, Mortensen sends reminders of deadlines to the committees involved, and keeps up with the most difficult part of this process — drafting the final schedule, including assigning classes to time slots and classrooms.

“My committee and I could not have completed this process over the past few years, especially during the tumultuous semesters of the pandemic, without Krista’s steady, coordinating hand,” says Hawkins.

Mortensen says she was surprised to receive the award since the majority of her work “takes place behind the scenes and may not be immediately visible or noticed by others.”

“It was humbling and gratifying to be officially recognized by the university for my dedication and hard work, and to feel the support and gratitude of my colleagues,” Mortensen added.

Mortensen received the award during a department meeting that all faculty attended to give her a standing ovation. She looks forward to making more meaningful contributions to the Political Science Department and to BYU.

Jennifer Nelson: “Respect and Belonging for All Individuals”

Jen Nelson is the History Department manager and according to Brian Cannon, history professor and department chair, Nelson’s acts of service and loving countenance make a great impact on those around her.

Image of Jennifer Nelson

“Shortly after she was hired, signs began appearing each month in our department workroom listing the birthdays of staff and faculty for the coming month. In my 30+ years in the History Department, this is the first time this has been done,” Cannon says.

With every birthday, Nelson used her own money to provide a sign, a birthday card, and a birthday treat for the lucky individual.

“She says she does this because it is fun and because she cares. This is just one of many reflections of her genuine concern for each faculty and staff employee,” Cannon explained.

He added that people stop by Nelson’s office throughout the day with questions, requests for assistance, or to share triumphs or challenges they are facing. She laughs and cries with them. She works hard to find answers to their questions, and she greets everyone with a smile and an inquiry about how they are doing.

Josie Fillmore: “Teamwork”

Josie Fillmore, Economics Department manager, doesn’t only take initiative to implement needed change, but finds ways to highlight the efforts of students.

Image of Josie Fillmore

Lars Lefgren, Economics Department chair, nominated Fillmore because he’s noticed how her attention to detail greatly impacts the department.

Last year, Fillmore walked passed the university’s Major Fair and noticed that the Economics Student Association (ESA) table had low visibility and wasn’t receiving as many visitors as other booths.

After bringing this issue to Lefgreen’s attention, Fillmore then met with the department student services committee and the ESA to offer some solutions for the club.

They created ways to make the table easier to see, set up interesting games with cool prizes for people to participate in, and helped prepare the ESA student members with information to easily answer questions.

“As a consequence, this year our team did a wonderful job at the Major Fair with substantially higher levels of engagement,” says Lafgreen, adding that this example is just one of many of how Fillmore works effectively in a team setting.

Sarah Rogers: “Accountability and Results”

As the events coordinator for the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, Sarah Rogers has shown exceptional ability to hold others accountable while performing remarkably on her own.

Image of Sarah Rogers

Nominated by Associate Dean Jeff Nokes, Rogers has been a driving force behind the college’s biggest event of fall and winter semesters: the Mary Lou Fulton Mentored Student Research Conference.

This conference features hundreds of research projects students have worked on throughout the semester, with several awards determined after a rigorous judging process. With overall responsibility for planning and running the event, one specific area of focus for Rogers is ensuring that all the posters are judged prior to the conference.

According to Nokes, Rogers works tirelessly to “coordinate the judging of the conference entries, help train judges, make sure they were assigned to the proper posters to judge, and complete the judging.”

To do this, Rogers works with about 20 faculty members accountable for judging about 200 posters before impending deadlines.

This is a “monumental challenge,” Nokes adds., And although multiple judges usually don’t complete their work on time, he notices that Rogers handles the setbacks with “remarkable professionalism and kindness.”

Nokes feels that Rogers’ ability to maintain “Christlike charity in even the most frustrating cases,” holding others accountable for their responsibilities sets her apart as an excellent example of a BYU employee.

Rogers recently left her position in the college to pursue graduate studies. We’re sure her ability to get results will benefit her there too!

Amy Foote: “Exceeding Customer Expectations”

According to Brittany Freeze, the college’s research development specialist, Amy Foote, former assistant controller for the college, goes the extra mile to be kind, helpful, and efficient.

“She is quick to reply to emails and is very clear in her answers,” says Freeze. “I was new to BYU and she helped me understand the process, regulations regarding spending, and countless other questions. She answered my never-ending questions via email and phone with kindness and patience.”

Foote’s ability to help Freeze with such composure and affection helped “[ease] many of my anxieties. I was very grateful to her and feel that she went above and beyond to ensure that I had my answers and felt comfortable with the new information she was giving me.”

Foote currently works in Student Life and we’re sure her talents will be noticed there as well.

Want to express your appreciation for a staff employee, faculty member, or student? Take a minute to send a note of thanks on this webpage

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