Patriotic Employer Award awarded to UAB employee

Karen Iles, Ph.D., director of the OCIRB, was awarded with the ESGR Patriotic Employer Award from the Department of Defense.

inside karen iles award 230803 012 8960From left to right, Nancy Waller, Karen Iles, Ph.D., and Staff Sgt. Christian Foster
Photography: Andrea Mabry
Presented by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve under the Department of Defense, University of Alabama at Birmingham Director of the Office of the Conflict of Interest Review Board Karen Iles, Ph.D., was awarded the ESGR Patriotic Employer Award. Iles was nominated by Staff Sgt. Christian Foster, a program administrator II in the OCIRB.

Initially told she was needed for a last-minute meeting, Iles was not expecting to walk into a room full of her colleagues waiting to greet her with warm smiles and applause.

Foster, who serves as a budget analyst for the United States Army Reserve’s Deployment Support Command in Birmingham, nominated Iles for her generosity and understanding toward his military obligations, which he says she supported even before he was hired full time in the department.

“Dr. Iles recognized me for what I had to offer and was willing to still welcome me on,” Foster said. “A year ago in August, I told her I had to be gone for a month after being here for only a couple of weeks; but she was very supportive and receptive of my service obligations.”

Visibly stunned, Iles expressed her honor and initial shock, grateful to be recognized as the leader she set out to be.

inside karen iles award 230803 021 9008Photography: Andrea Mabry“I can say I feel overwhelmed at this moment, but I am extremely humbled and honored to be presented with this award,” Iles said. “This honor is a testament to the goal I set for myself as a director because I’ve had both good and bad bosses throughout my life; but I’ve always aspired to make sure that everyone who gets to experience me as a leader will be able to leave me and say that I was a great, kind and the type of boss people desire to work for.”

The award was presented by ESGR District 6 Area Chair Nancy Waller.

“ESGR strives to ensure that the communication and relationship between service members and their civilian employers remain cooperative and efficient,” Waller said. “Service members deserve the privilege of keeping their military obligations, and we have this award to honor those employers who are understanding of that.”

In addition to the Patriot Award and accompanying lapel pin, Iles was presented with a Statement of Support that could be displayed in her office or along the halls of UAB.

Foster has served in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve and has been active in the military for a total of 16 years. He has also served as a military police officer and a combat medic and has been deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and Germany. Foster is an alumnus of UAB having earned his master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance and was recently featured in UAB’s Spotlight on UAB Veterans.

inside 2 karen iles award 230803 006 8933Photography: Andrea Mabry“I commend Dr. Iles for not shying away from military service members and recognizing that members of the Guard and Reserve are highly trained and skilled individuals, who bring integrity, proven leadership and a global perspective that allow us to exceed is our jobs,” Foster said.

Iles says she has always had great respect for military service members. Apart of the UAB family for nearly 24 years, Iles explained her feelings after receiving this award.

“This award is heartwarming to me because it is a testament that I am living up to the standard I set for myself as a leader,” Iles said. “This will serve as proof to me that I am doing something right here at UAB, and I hope to continue to be an example of considerate leadership.”

The Patriotic Employer Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individual supervisors and bosses who demonstrate unwavering support directly to the nominating servicemember and his or her family. The award reflects the efforts made to support citizen-warriors through a wide range of measures, including time off prior to and after deployment, flexible schedules, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence if needed.