Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Champion awards given at VOICES annual meeting with team-building focus

Four employees recently were honored with VOICES Champion awards at the Voices of the Staff annual meeting, which also featured speakers and activities that focused on collaborative brainstorming, team building and planning.

The Champion awards recognize an individual, group, or unit that has supported and carried forward the VOICES mission of staff engagement in a visible way. Tony Denton, executive director and chief operating officer of U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, presented this year's awards to:

• Jeff DeGraff, clinical professor, Management and Organizations, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, for his generosity and support of VOICES. Promoting the program through his classroom, he provides opportunities for his MBA students to evaluate the program and make recommendations to move it forward to the next level of innovation and creativity.

• Reva Frye, Hospital Security Services, a member of the VOICES Career Development team honored for her wisdom, compassion, activism and determination in promoting career development and taking the lead in organizing the "Developing Your U-M Career" pamphlet, which has been widely used on campus.

• Ann Ross, University Human Resources Strategy and Planning, a member of the VOICES Program Management team honored for coordinating efforts behind the scenes, and ensuring that the program continues to thrive, strengthen relationships, build connection and improve communication at the university.

• Denise Stegall, Human Resources Records & Information Systems, co-adviser for Technology & Best Practices and a member of the Program Management team honored for being an integral part of VOICES since its inception and greatly contributing to the success of the StaffWorks Technology Conference in May.

More than 150 staff volunteers attended the annual meeting June 2 at the North Campus Research Complex, for collaborative brainstorming, team building and planning.

Associate Vice President for Human Resources Laurita Thomas welcomed the group, thanking them for their commitment to the university and to VOICES, now entering its seventh year. Thomas said VOICES has flourished and become a powerful and respected staff forum, tackling pertinent staff issues and providing a sounding board for leadership to better understand staff interests.

In his keynote address, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Brandon focused on change, challenging the members of VOICES to understand the importance of the work they're doing at the university and to continue to be change agents, individually and collectively.

"If we want to get better, we have to embrace change," Brandon said.

Afternoon activities included team video presentations highlighting accomplishments over the year, interactive polling using participants' personal smartphones, a U-M history-themed scavenger hunt, and a presentation of Thomas' plan for VOICES to help commemorate the university's bicentennial in 2017 by showcasing the outstanding contributions, accomplishments and service of staff over the university's 200-year history.