Showcasing the 2021 Staff Award Winners

Staff Awards 2021-hero.png
Posted 2022-02-25

Eight UBC Sauder employees were recently recognized for their tireless commitment and valuable contributions in 2021. To capture all of the incredible work being done across the school, two new award categories were introduced this year: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Leader of the Year.

Earlier this month, UBC was named one of BC’s Top Employers, a recognition that could not have been achieved without the strong sense of community and collaboration created by employees who go above and beyond for their colleagues and stakeholders.

These employees embody UBC Sauder’s values of rigour, respect and responsibility. They work hard every day to deliver the best experience possible for our students, colleagues and alumni.

On behalf of everyone at UBC Sauder, we extend our collective thanks and congratulations to the following 2021 award winners:



Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Award

Jesse Grimaldi (they/them)

Manager, BCom Careers
Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre

  • Influenced change with Beyond the Binary project at UBC
  • Developed career resources for BIPOC students, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ2SIA+ students
  • Demonstrated leadership in the Trans, Two-Spirit and Gender Diversity Task Force and the UBC Sauder Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee

“This award is a great honour. I have immense gratitude for our wider community of difference-makers at UBC Sauder who amplify voices and help us live up to our values in EDI. The students, staff, and faculty who work to make UBC Sauder a better place than when they found it are my everyday inspiration.”



Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Award

Jennifer Hooper (she/her)

Director, Ch'nook Indigenous Business Education
Ch'nook Indigenous Business Education

  • Designed initiatives to transform UBC Sauder into a welcoming place for Indigenous business students and one that centres Indigenous business values in its core curriculum
  • Led the initiative to make UBC Sauder the first PAR (Progressive Aboriginal Relations) certified business school in Canada
  • Strengthened UBC Sauder’s relationship with Musqueam, on whose land the school sits, and developed partnerships with other Indigenous units at UBC

“Receiving this award was a huge surprise to me. Throughout my career I have been a champion of Indigenous participation in the economy. Being recognized made me realize just how far things have come, even in my time. There is still a long way to go, but it’s great to know that others support the journey.”



Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Award

Becky Paluch (she/her)

Assistant Professor
Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources

  • Served as a valued member on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee
  • Authored a report on the EDI activity in business schools
  • Assisted in the development of students’ expertise of EDI issues, enabling them to be strong future leaders

“I am truly honored and humbled by this recognition. It has been exciting and encouraging to see the growing awareness of equity, diversity, and inclusion in society, and I hope to continue supporting and advancing EDI in the UBC Sauder community in the future.”



Leader of the Year Award

Gabriela Aragay (she/her)

Associate Director, Academic Services
Undergraduate Office

  • Developed new processes for scheduling alternate exams to accommodate students in different time zones and to provide invigilation and tech support for exams
  • Offered online training in Canvas for Teaching Assistants
  • Implemented the Management in Times of Crisis Certificate

“I am honoured to be a recipient of this prestigious award and I am grateful to be able to use this as an opportunity to recognize my colleagues in the Canaccord Learning Commons, the Dean’s Office, Learning Services and the Undergraduate Office, who are key to the success of the projects that I had the opportunity to participate in. This award is recognition of the fact that I am surrounded by a group of people who strive to support students, faculty, and staff who are part of UBC Sauder as well as all other faculties, schools, and departments on campus. They are willing to go above and beyond the call of duty for others and it is a pleasure to work with them.”



Rising Star Award

Amadon Coletsis (he/him)

Manager, Alumni Engagement
Development & Alumni Engagement

  • Navigated and managed the introduction of the Peter Lee Asia Initiative
  • Developed partnerships with alumni UBC to strategically align events
  • Completed the Managing@UBC program for his own professional development

“Knowing how hard my colleagues at UBC Sauder work adds to the weight and responsibility of receiving this award. I couldn’t be more honoured by the recognition, and now must do all I can to ensure I continue to live up to the title!”



Lesley Wilkins Award - CUPE 2950

Bryan Keizer (he/him)

Facilities Coordinator
Admin & Office Support

  • Played a key role in preparing the school to re-open safely for in-person classes
  • Served as Worker Co-Chair on the UBC Sauder Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee
  • Supported the Events Management team in execution of events


“My work has always been about delivering the best customer service to all the faculty, staff, and students at UBC Sauder. I want everyone to feel welcome in the building for as long as they are here. It’s an honour to see my efforts recognized by the UBC Sauder community through this award.”




Lesley Wilkins Award - M&P

Lillian Lam (she/her)

Marketing Manager
Marketing & Communications

  • Developed a strategic approach to social media by using video that played a crucial role in bringing UBC Sauder’s graduation and Last Lecture experiences to life
  • Supported the Undergraduate Office with its incoming and current student Facebook groups
  • Contributed heavily to the success and growth of UBC Sauder’s social channels


“It is such an honour to be recognized for my contributions. I couldn’t be where I am today without those who supported me, taught me, and cheered me on! I appreciate all of you.”



Lesley Wilkins Award - M&P

Marja Harmer (she/her)

Manager, MBA Careers
Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre

  • Demonstrated significant effort and commitment to Professional MBA recruitment
  • Supported students as a consistently ranked top career manager
  • Leveraged her role in the business community to support the Robert H. Lee Graduate School and faculty with experiential learning

“This award allows me to reflect on what inspires me. I’d like to recognize my dedicated and committed colleagues who enhance students’ experiences on campus. Similarly, the group I work with: the Part-Time and Professional MBAs, are truly inspiring. They question their career status quo with intention and drive.”