Winners, who were nominated by colleagues, express humility and gratitude for the recognition
Five outstanding colleagues have been named employees of the year by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.
The honorees are:
- Nick Conant, programming and presenting specialist in Fiske Planetarium
- Pamela Halstead Williamson, graduate program manager in the Biochemistry Department
- Patricia Holcomb, PhD program manager in the Department of Economics
- Anna Parsons, manager of finance and operations in the Department of English
- Megan Stephenson, operations and business process analyst in the Office of Academic and Curricular Affairs
The winners were nominated by their peers and selected by Interim Dean James W.C. White and the college’s Staff Advisory Committee (SAC). Dean White recently notified the recipients of the awards, which include a $1,500 bonus. Two of the five winners agreed to do video interviews, which are posted below in lieu of photos.
Conant began working at Fiske in 2011 as a student employee and later earned his BA in astrophysics in 2014 from CU Boulder. Since the planetarium's 2013 remodel, it has been Conant’s passion to develop both astronomical visualizations for classes, and special effects for the Fiske music shows.
Conant works tirelessly to support the educational needs and entertainment-based activities of the university students, staff and their family by hosting—and sometimes teaching—university classes and events under the dome, colleagues said.
Fiske is run by a team of passionate, inspiring planetarians without whom Conant says he would be incapable of doing his job. Their combined commitment to sharing the beauty of CU's geodesic jewel is unrivaled, he said. It is with them that Conant said he shares this “humbling recognition.”
On behalf of Team Fiske, Conant said, "It is our profound pleasure to bring audiences and learners closer to the things we love."
Halstead Williamson joined the biochemistry department September 2015 and is fortunate to work in a “very special department,” she said. “Our faculty members and their labs are highly collaborative, and that commitment extends through to the graduate students and staff, creating an incredible sense of community.
“I am so honored to have been nominated by my department for employee of the year; it meant a great deal to me,” she said, adding: “I work with an amazing group of people and we work really hard, so I was very humbled that my leadership and peers would write letters of support—especially during one of the busiest times of the year (graduate recruitment).”
Halstead Williamson added that the recognition acknowledges her department's hard work to build and maintain a collaborative, supportive, and inclusive community. “It's like a positive feedback loop.”
Holcomb has worked with doctoral students in economics since early in 2007. Holcomb works closely with an average of over 70 students at a time, from the time they begin asking questions about applying to the program, through their new student orientation and the beginning of teacher training in year one, preliminary exams in year two, comprehensive exams in year three, proposal defense exams in year four, job market placement processes, and dissertation defense and completion in years five and six.
“It has been my absolute pleasure to support these students over all these years,” Patricia said, adding, “I am in constant admiration for their ability to overcome challenges they face—sometimes unrelated to academic studies—to persevere, complete their degree, and experience success in the job market.”
Parsons’ career at CU Boulder began in the Department of Art and Art History before she transferred to English in 2016. Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and their four furry children.
She also volunteers at the Longmont Humane Society and her goal is to read 40 books this year.
Stephenson said she was blessed to have been born and raised in Colorado. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human communication from the University of Northern Colorado and a Professional Mediation Certificate at CU Boulder.
“Since I was young, I have loved solving problems and helping people. My job here at CU allows me to do both, as I get the opportunity to analyze current processes and innovate ways to improve them, all in the name of student and staff success.
When not at work, she says she stays busy with her two young daughters and amazing husband. “I love traveling and spending time on warm, tropical beaches and when I’m not able to do that, I can often be found spending time with friends or enjoying a delicious cup of coffee!”
The Employee of the Year Award is presented annually during the spring semester to College of Arts and Sciences staff in recognition and appreciation of exceptional job performance. Learn more about the Employee of the Year Award and SAC on the College of Arts and Sciences’ Faculty and Staff site. Questions? Please email SAC at firstname.lastname@example.org.