As a director for programs and leadership at Thwing Center, Colleen Barker-Williamson is well known as adviser, mentor and friend to students, but she has made, perhaps, an even greater impression on her staff.
In recognition of her service to students and her programs and leadership team, Barker-Williamson -- along with Ramona David, admissions and program manager for The Institute for Management and Engineering (TiME), and Michael Yeager, analyst programmer at the Kelvin Smith Library -- received the President's Award for Distinguished Service from President Barbara R. Snyder during the university's 2008 Staff Awards Brunch yesterday in the Thwing Center ballroom. David was featured in Case Daily yesterday, and Yeager's story will appear tomorrow.
During her nearly 20 years in student activities and leadership, Barker-Williamson has worked with thousands of undergraduates. She has helped them along their way to becoming doctors, lawyers, CEOs, educators -- and a princess down in Disneyland. She encourages students to follow their dreams as well as work for the greater good.
Barker-Williamson was vital to bringing Relay for Life to Case Western Reserve for the first time this year. The idea to conduct the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society at the university was actually the recommendation of a former student with whom Barker-Williamson developed, and continues, a close relationship.
"She aims to teach students the skills and abilities necessary to become active global citizens, ethical leaders and lifelong scholars," a nominator wrote. "She . . . wants to do everything she can to make sure they are empowered."
Barker-Williamson inspires and leads students by example, especially with her abilities to build bridges and embrace collegiality across departments, divisions and the university as a whole.
The most important team she nurtures, however, is her own.
Like with students, Barker-Williamson aspires for her staff to meet and exceed their potential as professionals and as people. She keeps the development of her team top of mind, creating opportunities for them to take on additional responsibilities and grow as leaders themselves.
She also makes them an integral part of her home away from home.
"She celebrates with us, she laughs with us, she cries with us -- all the things that you would do with your family," the nominator continued. "Her blend of challenge and support, combined with her genuine feelings for her staff, make you want to work harder for her."
The university's staff awards event is conducted each year to recognize and honor employees with 10 and 25 years of service, along with the recipients of the President's Award for Distinguished Service. Each President's Award recipient receives a $1,000 cash gift and a certificate of recognition. Ten- and 25-year service award recipients receive a gift of their choice and a certificate of recognition.
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