Winners of annual staff awards: Baker, Turner, Armour, Scott, St. Peter

September 27, 2022
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

Five Saint Michael’s people – two unsung heroes, a distinguished leader, a valued servant and a notably creative thinker — received special staff awards during an assembly Tuesday morning in the McCarthy Recital Hall.

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From left, accepting the Buff Lindau Award for Angela Armour was Sydney Rybicki of Alumni and Parent Relations; next is Ouellet Award winner Lara Scott, then Unsung Hero Leslie Turner, then, Seed Planter Award winner Heidi St. Peter ’96, and, accepting an Unsung Hero Award for Gary Baker, Alison Close of the mail room. (all photos by Lauren Read)

This year’s honorees were “Unsung Heroes” Gary Baker of physical services and Leslie Turner of academic enrichment; Angela Armour ’99 of alumni & parent engagement (with the Buff Lindau Leadership Award); Lara Scott of the MOVE office (with the Ouellet Service Award), and Heidi St. Peter of Purposeful Learning (with the Edmundite Founders’ Award).

Eben Widlund, co-chair of the staff welfare committee and director of the Adventure Sports Center, kicked things off as emcee for the event. Vicky Castillo of the MOVE office offered an invocation focused on common values, united action and harmony in the community.

More than 50 in the live audience and many more on Zoom then heard a message from President Lorraine Sterritt thanking everybody for all they do to support students and one another with hard work and positive energy. The president spoke of the spirit of collaboration and dedication that she witnessed during highly successful events the past weekend with a well-attended Admission open house and a vibrant Alumni & Family Weekend that had campus buzzing. She noted how thoroughly staff had made new students this year feel cared for and welcome from pre-arrival through orientation — all crucial in light of pressing enrollment pressures that mean, “We must do all-out, all the time,” the president said.

Widlund introduced fellow members of the Staff Welfare Committee, organizers of the assembly: Allison Close Anna Lester, Anthony Bassignani, Chris Lei, Kyle Redding, Lauren Read, Meg Andrews, Megan Ohler, Shannon Bollhardt, Sydney Rybicki, Tina Cioffi and Sasha Keck. The committee members touted a new monthly draw for staff to win prizes such as gift cards.

Joe Pawlaczyk of Information Technology then came forward to talk about cybersecurity risks, and how to avoid them. Shannon Bollhardt, the head women’s basketball coach, spoke about the UpLift program to promote campus events. Lauren Read described various upgraded marketing resources for community members to use.

Here were the staff awards, with the presenter’s name and words from the citations:

Unsung Hero Award: Kyle Redding presented to Gary Baker, who was not able to attend.

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Gary Baker

From the citation: “As many people may already know, Gary has started working at Ben and Jerry’s and is unfortunately able to attend today, but that doesn’t mean we are not going to recognize his contributions to Saint Mike’s. Gary is one of the most humble, caring, kind, hard-working and dedicated individuals that anyone will ever meet. One nominator wrote “Miracle Worker” as Gary’s job title, and it is because Gary always goes above and beyond every day in his work, that we must recognize all he gave to our community. Did you know that his man lives an hour away and still was always willing to arrive early or stay late? Gary truly has a work ethic to admire, and as one colleague noted, “The care he puts into all he does has been incredibly impactful in the work I do and it’s important to me to share that…And, I can say without a doubt, he profoundly makes this community stronger for me.” Gary never complains, is always willing to lend a helping hand, and “has an incredible ability to bring together dedication with deep care.” In addition to his work in facilities, he has also lead many MOVE service trips over the years, and has shown an unparalleled ability to connect with faculty, staff, and students to build genuine relationships. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone on this campus who Gary has not had an impact on. For his tireless commitment to our community, we proudly present Gary Baker with the Unsung Hero Award.

Unsung Hero Award: Anthony Bassignani presented to Leslie Turner:

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Anthony Bassignani, left, presents an Unsung Hero Award to Leslie Turner.

From the citation: “My friend Leslie here has been working for the college for over 35 years, and never seeks recognition for her work to make sure our students succeed. She truly cares about students from the bottom her heart, going the extra mile to provide a warm environment to all. One colleague wrote in their nomination of Leslie, ‘In addition to her own job managing and coordinating all the accommodations for tests and quizzes, Leslie also helps students who require additional assistance (whether it’s staying HOURS to write out a linear algebra exam for a student who broke her wrist, or whether it’s reading out loud the questions for students who are more auditory learners). She goes above and beyond in her duties.’ Leslie always puts others before herself, comes to work with a positive outlook on life, and supports others with kindness and patience. As another colleague wrote, “’here isn’t any job too small or too big for Leslie Turner.’ Speaking personally, I feel honored to have come to call Leslie a friend, or as the library staff has come to know the AEC staff, our upstairs cousins. Generous, kind-hearted, a lover of Rolling Stone magazine and camping, Leslie Turner embodies what it means to be an Unsung Hero. In honor of her years of dedicated work for this college and its students, we proudly present the Unsung Hero Award to Leslie Turner.

The (Buff) Lindau Leadership Award

Tina Cioffi presented to Angela Armour’ 99

This award is given to a member of our staff who is seen as a relationship-builder and servant-leader; one who offers space for various perspectives and encourages collaborations. Named in honor of Buff Lindau, one of the first female leaders of the College who spent 40 years building and nurturing relationships to share the stories of our community, this recipient embodies the understanding that leadership is grounded in respectful relationships, honest communication, and hospitable inclusion.

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Angela Armour ’99

From the citation: “It is a privilege to present this year’s Lindau Leadership Award to Angie Armour, executive assistant of Institutional Advancement. In their nomination of Angie for this award, one colleague wrote, ‘Like Buff, she has spent her career building relationships with alumni, current students, and staff members to better the institution and facilitate connections inside and outside of the Saint Michael’s community.’ Graduating from St. Mike’s in 1999, Angie first began working in Athletics as the Sports Information Director before transitioning into the Alumni Office in 2003. She has been at the helm of Alumni Engagement since 2010, and was just recently promoted to be the Executive Assistant of Institutional Advancement. Another colleague writes, ‘Angie is ALWAYS representing Saint Michael’s College! No matter where she is she is always looking to recruit a student, connect with alumni or former faculty and staff. She respects those who came before her and has the future of the college always present in her mind.’ During this year’s Alumni Awards Ceremony held at Reunion, Angie was recognized for the work she has done over the years fostering relationships, with many alumni admitting the only reason they volunteer and give as much as they do is because of Angie. Yet another colleague recognizes that ‘Angie cares deeply about this institution and has an incredible ability to help others feel that same sense of care and pride.’ Her love and dedication to Saint Michael’s College is seen by everyone, and her commitment to our campus community is one of the reasons we are proud to present Angie Armour with the 2022 Lindau Leadership Award.

The (Fr. Maurice) Ouellet Service Award 

Anna Lester presented the award to Lara Scott

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Anna Lester ’98, left, presents the Fr. Maurice Ouellet Service Award to Lara Scott, right.

This award is given to a member of our staff who is dedicated to service and committed to justice in the Saint Michael’s community or broadly in the wider community. Named in honor of Edmundite Fr. Maurice Ouellet, Class of 1948, the first director of the Student Resource Center, who fought for justice as he served in Selma, AL during the civil rights movement and closer to home when he returned to campus, this recipient is an example to others of action, dedication, humility, and authentic presence in service to our world.

From the citation: “It is a privilege to present this year’s Ouellet Service Award to our director of MOVE Lara Scott. Ever since joining the St. Mike’s community, Lara has become a leader and a constant calming presence on our campus. One colleague writes, ‘As a servant leader, Lara continues to drive forward expanding what it means to be of service to the community. She willingly steps into roles beyond her own department. Her door is open for students and employees to walk in and engage in thoughtful dialogue, and Alumni return regularly to the small corner of Alliot that has had such an effect on their lives and the leader that provided those opportunities for growth and discovery.’ Lara truly inspires students and employees alike, and encourages us all serve others through her example. Despite an international health crisis, Lara was able to keep the MOVE program driving ahead in finding creative solutions to stay connected and serve those in the community who were in need. Lara is truly remarkable. Her dedication to service and her commitment to justice is simply who she is. She authentically cares, listens deeply and compassionately, and brings both joy and hope to those lucky enough to know her. With sincerity, humility and kindness, we are honored to present the 2022 Ouellet Service Award to Lara Scott.

The Edmundite Founders’ (Seed-Planter) Award

Shannon Bollhardt presented the Award to Heidi St. Peter ‘96

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Heidi St. Peter ’96, left, and presenter Shannon Bollhardt

This award is given to a member of our staff who thinks creatively, outside-the-box, and very often ‘plants seeds’ that flourish. Named in honor of the small group of Edmundite founders who took a farmhouse and created a transformative, educational institution, this recipient thinks thoughtfully and critically, with equal parts intellect, heart, and faith, resulting in impact both big and small.

From the citation: “It is a privilege to present the Edmundite Founders’ Award to our director of Purposeful Learning, Heidi St. Peter. An alumna of the class of 1996, Heidi has given more than 15 years of service to Saint Michael’s College. Director of MOVE, coordinator of Peer Tutoring, Director of Academic Support, and now Director of Purposeful Learning, Heidi has worn many hats and influenced the lives of numerous students and employees alike. In their nomination of Heidi for this award, one colleague wrote, ‘The way that she works with students is by genuinely listening, uplifting them, and watering those seeds of potential that she can so easily point out in each person,’ AND later, ‘At the center of her heart, Heidi acknowledges and respects the innate dignity of all people she comes across.’ Heidi St. Peter has an infectious smile, enormous heart, and an ability to provide caring and poignant foresight in her interactions with others. One person notes that ‘Heidi deserves enormous praise for her work building the Purposeful Learning department from the ground up’ and ‘Her years of service to St. Mike’s students in the various different roles she’s held make her the very best trailblazer to be leading the Purposeful Learning initiative.’ Heidi serves as a model we can all aspire to and her impact both big and small are why we are so proud to present the 2022 Edmundite Founders’ Award to Heidi St. Peter.

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