The annual Chancellor’s Employee of the Year Award is presented to CU Boulder staff in recognition of and appreciation for exceptional job performance and remarkable contributions to the campus community. Recipients of this distinguished award join a rich heritage of past awardees who display outstanding performance, inspired leadership, extraordinary service to the campus and community and exceptional interpersonal skills.
CU Boulder is filled with passionate and dedicated individuals who day in and day out shape tomorrow’s leaders, inspire innovation and positively impact humanity. Congratulations to the 2019 award recipients: Jessie Kasynski, J. Javier Portillo, Melynda Slaughter, and Alex Viggio.
The award recipients will be honored at a private reception with Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano and guests.
Jessie Kasynski is the program manager for the President’s Leadership Class (PLC). The President’s Leadership Class (PLC) lost one of their students to suicide. This was a difficult time for the PLC community, as well as others in the CU community. Throughout the remaining semester, Kasynski ensured that students were aware of and connected to support resources on campus.
Several new programs and initiatives were implemented this year to teach students additional health and wellness skills, and provide multiple points of contact within the PLC program. Kasynski is transparent about the various impacts that the loss of a fellow student can have, and has committed to being a champion for student health and wellness.
Described as a life-long learner, she continues to pursue her own mental health training and development in order to better understand and be a resource for CU students.
Kasynski’s dedication to serve the community shines through her work to mentor high school students, the review of grant applications for nonprofits and the establishment of a culture of service. Through her efforts, the PLC sponsors service days with organizations such as PB&Lovin, Thorne Nature Conservatory and the Family Learning Center.
J. Javier Portillo
J. Javier Portillo is the assistant director for environmental services for Health & Wellness Services in the Division of Student Affairs. Portillo is recognized for a commitment to providing a clean, safe and welcoming environment for students, staff and providers at Wardenburg Health Center facilities.
Over the last year, he played a critical role in more than thirty remodeling projects in the health center. These projects impacted both facilities and the student experience. Through Portillo’s exceptional leadership, his team went above and beyond to minimize disruptions during core hours in order to limit the impact to patient care.
Portillo partners with the Volunteer Resource Center to work with students seeking community service hours. His commitment to providing a meaningful volunteer experience is demonstrated through his teaching and mentoring of not only day-to-day tasks within the health center, but competencies such as responsibility and accountability. Described as “the glue that holds the building together,” Portillo is continuously regarded as kind, extraordinarily service-focused and driven to have a positive impact on every person he encounters.
Melynda Slaughter is the program manager for the Program for Writing and Rhetoric (PWR). The PWR consists of over eighty faculty delivering 200 small seminars to nearly 4,000 students each semester. As the administrative center of the program, Slaughter serves as the registrar, events coordinator, problem solver, systems and process navigator, greeter and general student support staff.
Slaughter is highly regarded by colleagues for her dedication to helping each student she encounters feel that their individual needs are being met by PWR. For example, she helps international students navigate the enrollment system, going above and beyond to ensure that an international student’s class enrollment status does not have an impact on their visa status.
With service at the core, Slaughter participates in outdoor service events with PWR students and faculty involved in Boulder County Open Space projects; coordinates donation drives for Toys for Tots and Family to Family Holiday campaigns; and is an active member in Showing Up for Racial Justice, a national network of groups that work to support and collaborate with local and national racial justice organizing efforts.
Alex Viggio is the interim director of Faculty Information Systems (FIS) in the Office of Data Analytics. Described as a “master at connecting people and technology,” Viggio is recognized for community building and innovation within the tech and entrepreneurial communities at CU Boulder, Colorado and beyond. For example, he invited members of a local tech startup to share space, swap ideas and exchange inspiration in the FIS offices. As a result, the FIS team was invited to visit the company’s location to continue the collaboration taking place between the two groups.
This past year, Viggo collaborated with the Office of Information Technology to host Elastic Technology Day, which brought together IT professionals from the University of Colorado and Colorado State University. His ongoing work on open access and data with the University Libraries is described as “a rare combination of impressive technical expertise, big picture thinking, and collegiality of the highest order.”
Viggio is a core member of the VIVO consortium, a group of more than 140 institutions and agencies in over 25 countries that have built an innovative platform for the management of research data. Representing CU Boulder, Viggio presented an update on the latest VIVO Scholar Task Force initiative at the annual VIVO Conference in Podgorica, Montenegro. Perhaps most notable is Viggio’s dedication to mentoring junior developers. One colleague shares that “he could take a fully qualified, though not focused colleague and help him realize his full potential.”