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Five receive Staff Impact Awards

This holiday season, I am grateful for the hard work of all of our staff, without whom we could not accomplish our School’s mission. In particular, I want to recognize our recent Staff Impact Award recipients Samuel Deal, Tommy Howell, Barbara Leach, Mags Ramon and Yvette Thompson. Below are some of the warm words used to describe each of their unique contributions to the School.

— Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson

The awards and their recipients are listed here, along with excerpts from their nominations:

Above and Beyond

This award recognizes a staff member who goes beyond the call of duty to get the job done.

Magdelene “Mags” Ramon, Research Assistant

“Mags goes above and beyond the job responsibilities and did a stellar job with our IRB application and our mixed-methods study, which has many data elements that involve quantitative data, qualitative interview and visual data, and visualization. Mags made many improvements to our protocols and materials, the type that I would expect from a seasoned and creative doctoral-level researcher. Mags is sensitive to participants’ needs, including generously adjusting her calendar to accommodate their schedules. Mags is so deserving of the Above and Beyond Award.”


This award recognizes a staff member who is integral to school operations.

Samuel Deal, Facilities Manager

“Sam has stepped into the role of the School’s facilities manager with kindness and grace. He makes me feel like I work in a safe space. He communicates clearly and has already created many efficiencies. I run into him all over the Tate-Turner-Kuralt building, where lifting boxes, moving plants, and wiping floors are among the many tasks he takes on to ensure the building looks good and stays functional. Although he’s only been with us a short while, he has become an expert on our School and is always making himself available to lend a helping hand. I can’t imagine how we functioned without him.” 

Behind the Scenes

This award recognizes a staff member who quietly gets the job done, exhibiting reliability and grace.

Thomas “Tommy” Howell, Administrative Support Specialist

“Tommy is the team member who picks up loose ends, learns new systems, and keeps everything moving. He exhibits both reliability and grace in tackling new tasks and skills, including website development and many other talents. He is flexible about meeting the needs of the team. We could not have accomplished all we have over the past year without his steady, reliable presence. He is truly a behind-the-scenes asset to the work we do and exactly the sort of kind, gracious person we should all be so lucky to have as a colleague.”

Esprit de Corps

This award recognizes a staff member who fosters morale and helps build a sense of community.

Barbara Leach, Family Support Project Coordinator

“Every person I talk with wishes Barbara Leach was their life coach. She advocates for the families that we work with in the Family Support Program and encourages them to raise their voices even as she lifts them up herself. She builds authentic relationships with people in the School and from our community. She is dedicated to making sure the quietest voices are heard and that the loudest voices understand why those quiet ones are so important. When she isn’t offering smiles or encouraging words, she’s offering baked goods and laughs. The School is a better place for having her in it.”


This award recognizes a staff member who is upbeat and exhibits a can-do attitude.

Yvette Thompson, Administrative Support Specialist

“Yvette is always a bright spot in the day. She is always happy to see me and brings joy to every interaction. The Jordan Institute has a small staff, so Yvette plays a big part and tackles a lot to keep the Institute running. She is always upbeat and positive in every interaction and makes me feel that I have her full attention and that she authentically enjoys her time talking with me. Yvette brings a wonderful energy to her work, and every single interaction I have with her is tremendously positive and rewarding. She is a major asset to the School.”