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Candidates in the Spring 2016 Employee Assembly Election

College of Arts and Sciences - Kristy Long

Personal Statement: I have been an Administrative Assistant for my entire twelve years of service here at Cornell. I feel that the administrative staff play a key role in the functioning of the University as a whole. They are the ones that know how their department and/or college runs, and are usually the “go to” people for faculty, mangers, students, and whoever else across campus has a question or concern. The College of Arts and Sciences is the biggest undergraduate college on campus with a great number of staff. I would like to run for a seat on the Employee Assembly to be an advocate for them all. I would like to see them have a louder voice so their expertise, experience, thoughts, and ideas get heard. If elected I will do my very best! I will work hard to make sure all staff in the College of Arts and Sciences get treated like the very important people they are!

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences - Tamara Payne

Personal Statement: I would be honored to represent CALS on the Employee Assembly. As a member of both College and University committees, I’ve been able to build strong relationships across campus. Having worked up through CALS, from an Admin Asst III to an Administrative Manager, I have a unique blend of experience that spans varying positions. I’ve always been interested in representing the unit/department perspective on committees; bringing to light issues that decision-makers may not be aware of. I possess an innovative spirit; one that allows me to solve problems creatively and efficiently. We all know that things change, and they seem to change constantly here at Cornell. It’s time to embrace the change; see it as an opportunity rather than a barrier. Circumstances should challenge us to do things better, not discourage us in our roles. Employees need to realize they have power over their futures here at Cornell. Managers need to trust their employees; support and encourage innovation. Cornell needs to provide resources and outlets to foster this innovation, which will ultimately lead to higher productivity and employee job satisfaction. We all want Cornell to succeed and grow - let’s rise to the occasion and make it happen, together.

Human Ecology - Kristine Mahoney

Personal Statement: Twelve years ago, I arrived at Cornell to fill a facilities position in the College of Human Ecology. During this time I have been actively involved in committees for change and policy making in both the College and Facilities Services. I feel deeply involved with these communities. The mission of Human Ecology to improve lives by exploring and shaping human connection to natural, social, and built environments rings true for me personally. I believe staff have a key responsibility in not just supporting but engaging in the mission of the university through programmatic collaboration with our faculty and students in our daily work. While I have found my place at Cornell within the College of Human Ecology, I am interested in gaining a broader perspective of the University, its governance, and the role that staff can play in leading the University to a strong future. The privilege of representing the College of Human Ecology on the Employee Assembly would allow the voice and interests of my community to influence the Cornell community at large and would provide me the opportunity to extend our programmatic engagement into the broader context of policy-making and governance of the University.

School of Industrial and Labor Relations - BJ Siasoco

Personal Statement: My name is BJ Siasoco, and I am excited to run for the Exempt seat on the newly restructured EA! I am the current chair of the EA and excited to be a part of the staff voice in the Cornell Community. This year, I led the restructuring of the Employee Assembly into a new format that I believe better represents staff members on campus. I am a current staff member in Alumni Affairs & Development and have also worked in Student Campus Life. I came to Cornell as an undergrad almost 13 years ago and fell in love with the community. I hope to be a part of this organization and continue to advocate for staff members and the benefit of the everyone in then Cornell Community.

Graduate School / Law School / Johnson Graduate School of Management - Babatunde Ayanfodun

Personal Statement: As a member of this community I want to do more. I asked myself how can I contribute, be more involved, be part of the solution, share my ideas and volunteer my time and talents while here at Cornell University? Employee Assembly. As part of the assembly I can be part of the solutions, I can be part of pulling us together, I can be part of the growth and improvement of our community.

College of Veterinary Medicine - Michelle Stefanski-Seymour

Personal Statement: Hi, my name is Michelle Stefanski-Seymour and I have been employed at the Veterinary College for 22+ years. It has been exciting to watch the college and university evolve over this time and my interests include scientific progress, life-long learning, and community involvement. This would be a continuation of my second term of Employee Assembly; I joined in 2012. My family is also involved in volunteering for our local fire department and this year we launch our child into higher education (literally since he’s going to study Aerospace Engineering). This can be a concerning time to be a university employee, and I attempt to work a part in keeping the veterinary college staff’s concerns university concerns. These include education opportunities and benefits, wellness concerns, and work appreciation; I have served on sub-committees addressing these topics. I look forward to providing a continuum on the Employee Assembly and I am thankful for the opportunity and support to serve.

Alumni Affairs and Development - Matthew Carcella

Personal Statement: One of our many unique features as an institution is our system of shared governance. I am running for the Employee Assembly to participate fully in our system and represent the interests of my fellow staff members. Entering my eighth year of service, I have been fortunate to have worked with colleagues all across campus in my former position as Associate Dean of Students and Director of the LGBT Resource Center. In my current role as Director of Diversity Alumni Programs, I have been able to work directly with our external audience and our alumni community. My experiences make me particularly suited for the Employee Assembly and my understanding of our campus, community, and shareholders allows me to be big picture thinker. As the major employer in this region, I am committed to making sure our town-gown relations remain positive and employees of Cornell feel at home in Ithaca and the surrounding communities so that they can have long careers with our organization. I am committed to increasing the diversity among our staff and making sure that current staff of color and other marginalized backgrounds have opportunities for advancement and growth at Cornell.

Student and Campus Life - Imani Allen

Personal Statement: I am interested in serving on the Employee Assembly, and running for the Student and Campus Life seat. I have been an employee at Cornell University for a little over 9 years, working with staff throughout Residential and New Student Programs (RNSP) and with our campus partners. During that time, the institution has gone through a number of changes and departmental re-structuring. There continue to be changes and transitions across the university. This is an exciting time to be an employee at Cornell University, as the institution continues to grow and develop. We have an opportunity to look at practices, where we can be efficient, and where we can enhance the experiences of Cornell employees. I feel I would be a valuable contributor to the Employee Assembly, and a valuable representative for Student and Campus Life. As a Residence Hall Director, I will continue to support students and work with campus departments, and as part of the EA, I would be in a position to support employees who help support students directly and indirectly.

Health and Safety - Kevin Fitch

Personal Statement: My name is Kevin Fitch and I work with Environmental Health and Safety as a Radiation Safety Associate. I am going on 25 years at Cornell University. My first 12 years was in research at the Veterinary Medical Center working in Vet Immunology and the last 13 years has been at EH&S. My work experience has given me the pleasure to interact with the employees of Cornell University and I have made many great relationships through the years. When I came to Cornell University in 1991, I knew nothing about the contributions the Employee Assembly has given the Cornell Community. As my years have deepened in the Cornell University community, I have seen what the assembly has done for the employee. It is because of that continued contribution and commitment, I feel I can help in continuing the Employee Assembly tradition. I would be humbled to be a voice for the employee and sit on the Employee Assembly offering my experience in order to tackle the issues that our employees face here at Cornell University.

University Relations - Carrie Sanzone

Personal Statement: I have been at Cornell for 13 years, but worked remotely for 8 of them; giving me a unique perspective on non-traditional work arrangements. I’ll use this to advocate on behalf of other employees seeking similar opportunities to strike a work-life balance.

Human Resources - Tanya Grove

Personal Statement: As a current member of the Employee Assembly I have been a strong advocate for staff across our campus community. Working with my staff colleagues on the Assembly we created opportunities to interact with members of the Board of Trustees, developed the employee Kudos program and partnered with Human Resources on the Employee survey. In a leadership role I had the opportunity to work closely with University leadership and committees to move forward several initiatives from that survey including; a method to provide supervisor feedback, a staff recognition program, career development and growth opportunities and a process for employees to request review of their position descriptions. Over the years the Assembly has made great strides to reach out to the staff community, improving communication channels and this year expanding our membership from 19 to 28 members but there is still much work to be done in these areas. Being an active voice for my staff colleagues has been an important part of my 20 years at Cornell and as a part of the Assembly I’ve found a way to bring that voice to a larger constituency. With your support I hope to continue to bring my energy, tenacity and staff advocacy to the Employee Assembly.

Library / Museum - Laura Johnson-Kelly

Personal Statement: I’ve worked with museum collections at Cornell for over 20 years, in two different academic departments—nearly 8 years in Near Eastern Studies and 11 years in Anthropology— as well nearly 2 years at the Johnson Museum. I’ve collaborated closely with students, scholars, and community organizations at the local, national, and international level; I’ve been involved with mentoring students, academic research support, outreach to local school groups, and alumni and donor relations in addition to collections management and curation. Although the importance of the University’s collections are often overlooked by students and faculty, our library and museum collections impact everyone on campus. Because of Cornell’s wide-ranging research interests, the University’s handling of sensitive museum collections has the potential to impact and influence the national and international dialogue about repatriation and safe-haven issues as well. I hope to be allowed to voice the concerns of the library/museum community on the Employee Assembly.

Facilities - Hazel Hall

Personal Statement: I’ve worked for Cornell for 14 years and serviced on Employee Assembly for a total of 7 years. EA is a strong group of people that work very hard to see that employees have a voice and that the President, HR and the Trustees hear that voice. I’ve been on the EA for the last year and as group we have become stronger and are currently handling several items that have come forward to the group. One of our goals is to make sure every department on every campus is heard and represented that is the reason the number of members has increased. I am very proud to be a part of this Assembly and hope to continue. Thank you.

Research / Tech Transfer - Jeramy Kruser

Personal Statement: My focus is communication and transparency. I would like the Employee Assembly to be as open and accessible as possible to all CU staff. I will be looking into more ways to reach out to our community and let their voices be heard. I also bring a unique veteran perspective to the EA, having served in the US Marine Corps and now participating with Team RWB Ithaca and the Veterans Colleague Network. I have a passion and commitment to diversity and equality, which I have shown over my last term, drafting and sponsoring Resolution 3, in direct opposition to racism on campus and promoting further diversity training at Cornell.

Financial Affairs - Kathy Sheils

Personal Statement: I have been an employee of Cornell University for over 20 years. In that time I have had the opportunity to work with and for many terrific people and my experience here has been overwhelmingly positive. I would like the opportunity to serve on the Employee Assembly so that I can help to ensure that others have the same positive experiences that I have enjoyed.

Administration - Liz Field

Personal Statement: I am running for the EA to advocate for all staff on campus, particularly for my fellow IT staff. Information Technologies are always changing, and therefore staff positions, job descriptions, training needs, and job requirements are often changing. I am a communicator, facilitator, diversity trainer, strategic planner, and the mother to three daughters. What do all these things have in common? They’ve all taught me the value of open and transparent communication, how to have difficult conversations, manage conflicting emotions, and the value of each person’s unique contributions. I strive to use my facilitation skills every day in the workplace. Cornell can be a wonderful place to work, and it can also have a lot of challenges. As a full-time staff member on the EA, I will always ask what we can do to promote a healthy work environment for all. Cornell staff are in a unique position. We support some of the best and brightest faculty and students in the world. If staff aren’t treated fairly or well, we can’t offer the support and services the university needs, and it wastes time and money. As an EA member, I will explore options for making Cornell one of the best universities to work.

Geneva - Shelly Cowles

Personal Statement: I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Shelly Cowles. I have been with Cornell for almost 19 great years. I started in the Facilities department in Ithaca as a customer service representative in the call center and went on to become an accounts rep in the PDC electric shop. From there I moved to the School of Electrical Computer Engineering where I received my first experiences of the academic side of Cornell. I also worked for the Public Services and Assessment department in Olin Library before I made my move to the New York State Experiment Station in Geneva to work in the Administrative Service Center. I came on board with the Employee Assembly this past fall in hopes to be the voice for Geneva but this experience has turned out to be so much more than that. Although I am still learning the ropes, faces and policies, I feel I have gained a better understanding of how the assembly members work together to address staff issues. I feel my presence on the EA has only just begun to flourish and would like the opportunity to continue being the Geneva EA representative. So I seek your continued support in the upcoming election. I hope to continue to be your employee assembly rep to serve you and Cornell.

International - Pilar Thompson

Personal Statement: My name is Pilar and I am running for the newly created International representative seat of the Employee Assembly. I moved to Ithaca in the spring of 2010 from Italy. I have greatly enjoyed moving to Ithaca and working at Cornell. I am from Miami but was born in Chile from an Italian/Spanish Family. Globalization and international movement have been an integral part of my life, my parents lives and even my grand parents lives. My studies and professional career have been focused on International Development. Here at Cornell I work at the College of Veterinary Medicine specializing on International & Visiting Relations. Having representation on the Employee Assembly for our International Community here at Cornell is very important to me and those Cornell employees I work with. My last three years working within Cornell’s shared governance have given me the opportunity to voice employee concerns. I look forward to the newly created structure of the Employee Assembly. My goal is to represent the unique opinions and needs of our growing International staff. Thank you, Pilar.

Diversity - Linda Majani

Personal Statement: I’m invested in the general well-being of Cornell Staff — in highlighting our needs and continuously working to improve the environment and conditions we work and live in. Additionally, I would like to support staff retention initiatives, especially among minority groups. As the voice of staff well-being, I hope to - Bring our needs to the surface, and work on improving staff support and services - Explore avenues that create a supportive workplace that brings out the best in us, making us more effective at work - Examine options for both physical and mental wellness of individual staff I am interested in initiatives that bring about personal and professional development, stress the value of work-life balance, all while meeting the needs of Cornell University. Considering that the University already has a number of programs in place, I am working with colleagues on raising awareness of these said programs to different groups within the university community.

Women - Tammy Shapiro

Personal Statement: Having worked in a wide range of positions at Cornell, from administrative assistant to researcher to academic advisor, I am deeply committed to the principle of the dignity of work and respect for all workers. I want to be an advocate for women at Cornell and bring attention to the particular issues that working women confront across a variety of jobs, careers, lifestyles, and life challenges/opportunities. Because women’s experiences and opportunities differ fundamentally across job categories and levels, policies must recognize and accommodate those differences to be fair. I would like to find ways for all women’s voices to inform the initiatives of the Employee Assembly and the university administration. I am also committed to promoting awareness of how the structure of the workplace and interactions in the workplace often reinforce gender stereotypes in unconscious ways. I look forward to collaborating with fellow employees to address these issues.

LGBTQ - Ulysses Smith

Personal Statement: My name is Ulysses Smith, and I am the Lead Diversity and Inclusion Strategist in the Department of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity. As a professional at Cornell, and even as an undergraduate, my focus has been organizational diversity and creating inclusive environments. Much of my work is centered on participatory governance structures and creating access to institutions and decision-making processes for under-served and underrepresented groups. Being openly gay, or identifying along the LGBTQ+ spectrum, in the workplace presents a set of unique challenges. As the LGBTQ representative, it is my goal to work collaboratively with the LGBT CNG and leadership of the institution to bring these challenges to the forefront, and to devise solutions, be they policies or otherwise, to these challenges. Over the last few years, I have authored resolutions and spearheaded initiatives to promote LGBTQ inclusion at Cornell. These include gender-inclusive housing, preferred name and gender identity updates to Workday, and universal and all-gender facilities. I hope to continue to be an advocate for this community and to see measurable gains in our journey to inclusion.

Veterans - Robert Morris

Personal Statement: Greetings Colleagues! My name is Rob Morris, and I am running for the Veteran’s Representative seat on the Employee Assembly. I would like to share a little bit about my background — I am an honorably discharged US Navy veteran, I served from 1983 to 1987, with most of my service being aboard the USS Guadalcanal, LPH-7. I have been working at Cornell, in IPP (Facilities) since 2007, currently as the Preventive Maintenance Program Manager. I have served on the Veteran’s Colleague Network Group since its inception approximately 5 years ago, with my present role being the Vice-Chair; I have been involved with advocating for many veteran concerns on campus, I am most recently involved in planning a veteran’s resource fair, and I have co-hosted and represented Cornell at veteran related events such as the Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebrations. I have a passion for advancing Veteran’s causes, and want to ensure veterans are a well-represented part of the Cornell community.

Less than 5 years of service - Atu Darko

Personal Statement: My name is Atu Darko. I am the Associate Director for Communications in the Department of International Programs, CALS and I am a native New Yorker. It is with great passion and enthusiasm that I submit my candidacy for a seat in the category of “Less than 5 years of Service”. I do so with the firsthand knowledge that I gained as an employee at several large organizations, and as a newcomer in different countries and cultures. In my one year at Cornell, I have seen firsthand all of the wonderful resources and opportunities that this institution has to offer. As a member of the Employee Assembly, I would work to ensure that such access remains available to the entire university community. I have 15+ years of experience working as a professional communicator in large organizations, both public and private, abroad and in the United States, and have gained valuable experience in how to create actions and policies that are fair, inclusive and provide opportunities for those who need them most. I am running for this seat in order to get further involved in life at Cornell and to use my expertise to engage the community in all its diversity. I vow to serve the community with dependability, integrity, and distinction.

Exempt - Suzanne Willcox

Personal Statement: Please consider me for representation in the employee assembly. I wish to serve on this board to make informed decisions regarding issues that will affect me and my peers positively and fairly. I have been employed by Cornell for over 12 years starting as a purchasing and project manager for TCAT and most recently in procurement services as an agent. Thank you.

Non-Exempt - Brandee Nicholson

Personal Statement: I am running for the Employee Assembly to represent the Student and Campus Life staff community. I have served on the EA for the last year. When I first joined the EA I was interested in becoming more involved in my community and was interested in the moral and appreciation of staff as we are all working very hard. I have learned a great deal about the inner workings of the University and where employees fit in to the mission. I am even more passionate now about supporting my staff community. The area of Student and Campus Life in particular is comprised of only staff members and supports the student experience in a wide variety of ways. I think issues of moral are still hugely important. Since 2008 I have seen many positions left unfilled and staff members who take on more and more work. In addition there is often a need to choose between having funding for staff and having funding for the student programs we care about. Many staff members in this area also work very directly with students in crisis, which along with being stretched thin can lead to staff burn out. I believe that the EA can be a strong advocate and help leadership to understand how important staff are to University success.

Contact Elections

109 Day Hall

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853

ph. (607) 255—3715