Outstanding staff recognized at awards ceremony

Author: Imran Ghori
June 10, 2024

A dozen UC Riverside staff members were honored by UCR Staff Assembly as part of its annual Outstanding Staff Awards recognizing those who go above and beyond their duties.

The awards were presented at a Monday, June 3 ceremony at the Barn Stable. 

The awards recognize staff members for excellence in their work, commitment to the university’s mission, and making UCR a better place for all.  

Staff and faculty nominated staff members for the awards, and the UCR Staff Assembly Recognition Committee chose the recipients. The awards were given in five main categories. 

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox and Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Elizabeth Watkins attended the ceremony and presented trophies and posed for photos with the winners.

Four people were recognized with the Staff Who Make a Difference Award, which honors staff in four different areas: administrative support, professional, service, and technical. The Tartan Soul Award, the Commitment to Diversity Award, the People Helping People Award, and the Volunteer of the Year Award were presented to individual winners.

Here are the honorees:

Valerie Batlle, cooking program coordinator and chef at the Student Recreation Center, won the Staff Who Make a Difference award in the service category.

She was praised for her support to student workers and commitment to student well-being. In particular, she has been active in working to end hunger and food insecurity within the campus community.

She was praised for her support to student workers and commitment to student well-being. In particular, she has been active in working to end hunger and food insecurity within the campus community.

Valerie Batlle. (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Monica Martinez-Daniels, assistant director of customer service in the Financial Aid office, won the Staff Who Make a Difference award in the professional category.

She’s credited as being instrumental in enhancing the student experience with several financial aid programs as well as making research and employment opportunities available for students who receive financial aid.

Monica Martinez-Daniels with Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Joseph Bradfield, a web application developer with the dean’s office at the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering, or BCOE, won the Staff Who Make a Difference award in the technical category.

Bradfield was praised for helping improve BCOE and other campus websites and sharing those solutions with others. He found a way to display open faculty positions on the BCOE and School of Medicine websites and ensure that the information remains updated.

Joseph Bradfield (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Javier Ramirez, assistant director of major advising at the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Undergraduate Academic Advising Center, won the Staff Who Make a Difference award in the administrative category.

Ramirez worked with supervisors and advisers to develop a new advising coverage plan that increased efficiency. The plan is credited with helping staff wellness by reducing burnout while delivering high-quality advising for students.

Javier Ramirez

Ricky Haro, assistant direct of events and operations at the Student Recreation Center, won the Tartan Soul Award.

He was praised for his collaborative and supportive leadership, dedication to detail, and integrity, which ensure smooth operations and elevate the quality of service to patrons.

Ricky Haro. (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Maite Zabala-Alday, a senior executive director in corporate foundation relations in the Office of Development, won the Commitment to Diversity Award.

Zabala-Alday is credited with fostering an inclusive environment that celebrates diversity. She’s a founding member of University Advancement’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Committee, a member of the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution, and the DEI Climate Council.

Maite Zabala-Alday (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Stephanie Sandoval, a health educator with the UCR Center for Healthy Communities, won the People Helping People Award.

Sandoval oversees the center’s Unsheltered Outreach Program, organizing efforts to provide resources to the homeless community and partnering with other community-based organizations. She organized a monthly resources fair in Riverside and volunteers Spanish translation services to a non-profit that serves the Latino community.

Stephanie Sandoval. (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Demetrius Patrick, director of benefits, health and wellness in Human Resources, won the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Patrick was recognized for volunteering at nearly every Staff Pantry event, assisting with setup, distributing food, and cleaning up. He has also helped recruit other volunteers and strengthened the pantry’s financial outlook.

Demetrius Patrick. (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Hung Wu, wellness coordinator with the workplace health and wellness department in Human Resources, received a special recognition award for volunteering with Staff Assembly on a number of efforts. He has shared wellness information, donated prizes for raffles, facilitated the board’s annual team-building exercise, and led wellness exercises such as a stretching event for Thank Goodness For Staff Week.

Hung Wu

Gerry Bomotti, vice chancellor for planning, budget and administration, received a special recognition award for his support for Staff Assembly. Bomotti hosted a town hall organized by the group, sponsored several staff recognition events, and donated a fridge to Staff Pantry.

Gerry Bomotti. (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Staff Assembly also presented the Mary Johnson Outstanding Retiree Award in conjunction with the UCR Retiree Association, which honors a retiree with an outstanding record of service to UCR.

Kathy Barton, who retired in 2018 as chief of staff and assistant dean for strategic initiatives, returned to the School of Medicine as a special assistant to the dean to provide support for the school's accreditation efforts with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. She is described as playing a pivotal role in the accreditation process and was praised for her expertise and passion for advancing medical education.

Kathy Barton. (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)

Staff Assembly also recognized Jeff Girod, assistant dean for marketing and communications at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, for winning the Kevin McCauly Memorial Outstanding Staff Award from the Council of University of California Staff Assemblies. The system-wide award honors UC staff members who are inclusive, forward- thinking, and dedicated to quality service.

Girod, a former Staff Assembly president, helped establish Staff Pantry and remains an active volunteer for Staff Assembly events. He also serves on the Feeding American board in Riverside.

Jeff Girod. (Aronne Chan for Staff Assembly)