PAEA Celebrates First Annual Staff Award Winners   

Co Written by Christine Vucinich, MA, instructional specialist, & Kendall Mealy, MPA, PAEA chief people officer (PAEA People & Culture Team) 

PAEA honored its inaugural PAEA staff award winners as part of the end-of-the-year virtual holiday celebration in December. The awards were designed to align with PAEA internal values, or “Service Behaviors” (Safe, Supportive, Trustworthy, Impactful), and to recognize excellence and leadership across the association.  

Join us in congratulating the following staff members:   

  • Melissa Bradley (Director, Finance), PAEA Safety Award winner   
  • Simone Stewart (Coordinator, Member Engagement), PAEA Supportive Award winner   
  • Chiquita Carey (Manager, Member Engagement), PAEA Trustworthy Award winner   
  • Gayna Smith (Executive Assistant), PAEA Impactful Award winner   
  • Tabitha Ratcliffe (Accounts Receivable Clerk, Finance), Emerging Excellence Award winner   
  • Ashley Tucker (Project Manager, Assessment Services), Peak Performer Award winner   

PAEA’s People and Culture team has worked hard to prioritize and enhance a culture of intentional recognition across the Association. The team wanted to build upon existing efforts, such as giving a “leading out loud,” which is an opportunity to acknowledge and give kudos to an employee at the beginning of every PAEA staff meeting and identify and honor recognition with employee preferences in mind.    

Focused on being inclusive and engaging PAEA staff, the team held listening sessions to understand what meaningful recognition looked like to the staff before designing an employee recognition program. During these sessions, the idea of awards for staff awards was born. Additionally, the team gained insights on celebrating milestones and life events and received helpful inputs to validate existing efforts. 

PAEA then solicited staff volunteers for an awards committee and encouraged staff to contribute their time so various perspectives would be a part of the program’s initial design. Ashley Bray, Maressa Hakos, Rachel Kuliani, Emma Sellers, Heather Storm, and Christine Vucinich worked alongside PAEA’s Chief People Officer, Kendall Mealy, on this newly formed committee. They collaborated throughout the summer and fall, designing the awards and defining eligibility, criteria, nomination, and judging requirements before presenting to the staff about this new recognition program and how to submit nominations.   

Mealy said the staff awards committee was “intentional about designing these awards and aligning them to PAEA Service Behaviors to ensure we recognized and celebrate the values that we uphold every day.” PAEA’s staff developed PAEA’s Service Behaviors (Safe, Supportive, Trustworthy, Impactful) in 2021 to reflect the ideal working relationship and culture.   

The awards committee met in early January to discuss ways to build upon the first year’s success and the committee members are looking forward to making staff awards an annual part of PAEA’s culture of recognition.   

A special thank you to the staff awards committee, Lynn Heitzman and Zachary Britt of PAEA’s People and Culture team for their input throughout the process, and Casey Johnson, PAEA’s psychometrician, for his consultation to ensure equity in the evaluation process.  

Congratulations again to all of our staff winners!