5 chosen as UAB VIPs for third-quarter 2022

uab vip award squareAmber Anderson, organization development specialist in Organizational Learning and Development; Kristen Campbell, associate registrar in the Office of the Registrar; Jayme Hester, administrative projects specialist in the Center for Clinical and Translational Science; Kevin Speed, director of Administration and Fiscal Affairs for the Department of Neurobiology and Civitan International Research Center; and Donna Williamson, director of Research Safety Committees in the Office of Research, are the third-quarter 2022 honorees for the UAB Shared Values in Action Program. The UAB VIP Awards honor employees whose work exemplifies and embodies one or more of the university’s shared values — integrity, stewardship, collaboration, accountability, respect, excellence and achievement, and diversity and inclusiveness.

Typically, three employees are chosen for quarterly VIP Awards; however, during the third quarter, a three-way tie resulted in five awardees. Honorees are nominated by their colleagues and selected by a committee of individuals from across the campus and UAB Hospital. Nominations for fourth-quarter 2022 honorees are open through Dec. 1; submit a nomination online. One of 12 VIP honorees throughout the year will be selected for the new President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values.

Amber Anderson

amber anderson vip insideAmber AndersonAnderson has devoted much of her time and her career to helping students and colleagues reach their potential and often exceed their goals. 

“I have watched Amber over the past 14 years facilitate, teach and grow departments in building and fostering relationships to form communities. She’s creative, innovative and a problem-solver in conflict,” said Theresa Wynn-Wallace, Ph.D., retired program director in the Division of Preventive Medicine.

Anderson’s dedication to UAB’s shared values of collaboration and excellence and achievement has led to the development of several programs and resources focused on improving lives and building better futures throughout campus and beyond.

Anderson began her career as a biology teacher in Jefferson County before joining Preventative Medicine, where she worked on initiatives aimed at decreasing breast and cervical cancer rates among women in underserved areas. While working in the division, she created a curriculum focused on nutrition and physical activity for children from kindergarten through eighth grade, which was later presented to Michelle Obama, former first lady of the United States, during her 2021 visit to Birmingham.

Anderson then joined the Collat School of Business, where she led a student internship program for high school students in Birmingham and Wilcox County working to provide opportunities in both business and medicine; she also developed career programs for Collat students. In her current role in Organizational Learning and Development, Amber helps UAB employees across campus expand skill sets and grown their UAB careers.

Anderson’s commitment to collaboration and excellence, two of UAB’s shared values, also has been recognized outside of UAB.  In 2021, she was named one of Birmingham Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40.

Kristen Campbell

campbell vip insideKristen CampbellCampbell was nominated for this award by a collection of faculty representing the Heersink School of Medicine undergraduate biomedical programs, all of whom noted they rely on her to keep their majors and programs successful.

“Kristen has been critical in the implementation and ongoing administration of each of our majors; this is notable, because implementing and running novel joint programs requires constant innovation, unique processes and procedures, and inexhaustible patience, especially in dealing with parallel administrations,” said Cristin Gavin, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology.

“Being such a young program means that we frequently encounter new issues with regard to creating courses, managing current courses and navigating rules and processes involving the registrar’s office,” wrote one program director. “I email Kristen often with questions about problems activating courses in CLSS or changes in courses that cause workflow issues or require Catalog changes. But importantly, I have also asked Kristen for help figuring out more unique problems that she likely doesn’t see often.”

Campbell currently is collaborating on an automated research approval and registration tool for Heersink’s diverse programs.

“The tool has both student and faculty-facing interfaces and integrates with BlazerNet to facilitate overrides for mentored research,” Gavin explained. “[Kristen’s] ingenuity, attention to detail and understanding of UAB systems has saved us, our advisors, our faculty and our students countless man hours by designing this streamlined process.”

Campbell is known for her accountability, quality work and speed, a program director notes.

“She gets things done so fast,” they explained. “Accountability and dependability are through the roof.”

“Kristen always responds in the same day, often within the hour, and if she does not have the answer — which is rare — she copies someone in on the communication that can help me,” another colleague said. “Her timely and efficient responses help me solve problems quickly and effectively. Importantly, Kristen provides explanations for the solutions that she provides, which has allowed me to better understand and learn the processes so that I can continue to develop my administrative skills as a director of an undergraduate academic program.”

Campbell’s colleagues also praised the respect and patience she displays in all her interactions and collaborations.

“Regardless of if the question is big or small, or one we have asked once or for the hundredth time, Kristen is courteous, thorough and knowledgeable,” Gavin said.

Jayme Hester

hester vip award insideJayme HesterIn her role with CCTS, Hester implements special projects and events, manages facilities, helps recruit and onboard new members and serves as a liaison between the CCTS and other UAB departments, such as Human Resources. She has been a Blazer for more than 20 years, and in that time has inspired admiration and support among her colleagues; a dozen letters of recommendation are a testament to the impact she has made.

Many of her colleagues recall Hester welcoming them to the CCTS team, and her inclusive and respectful welcome left a positive impression.

“[She] welcomed me and made me feel part of the group,” said John Trombley, program administrator. “She made a great effort to help me coexist in my new environment and gave me very needed and appropriate suggestions on how I can assimilate into the office culture of the CCTS.”

 “Ms. Hester was a key contact early in the hiring and onboarding process. She made sure that I had all the information that I needed to make the transition smooth and welcoming as I joined the CCTS team,” said Jessica Bumpus, Ph.D., program director for the Training Academy.

Hester is also willing and able to collaborate, nominators say.

“Jamye is always willing to help and is the ultimate collaborator,” said Katie Bradford, communicators director. “Recently, our center celebrated a large-scale event where I was leading planning efforts. It was our first in-person event post-pandemic, but also my first-ever large event to plan since my arrival at UAB. When planning became a bit overwhelming for me, Jamye stepped in to create the most wonderful outcome I could have imagined. She respected and supported all my ideas and encouraged me constantly along the way. She worked so hard alongside me. I felt so confident and was able to have fun as we got closer to the event. The support was incredible, and Jamye was so happy to help me. It was not her project or responsibility, but she saw an opportunity to help and stepped in. We are a better team because of her.”

“As the CCTS is an interdisciplinary center, she works extremely hard to be sure everyone is appropriately included and the communications are reaching all those it should,” said Geoff Gordon, chief technology officer. “She works very well with SOM administration and HR as well as other areas around campus; there is no problem she won’t help to address.”

Kevin Speed

speed vip insideKevin SpeedSpeed has worked at UAB for more than 25 years and is a crucial member of his department and a valued resource, nominators note.

“Kevin Speed is an unassuming, understated hero at UAB,” said Craig Powell, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair in the Department of Neurobiology.

“Kevin Speed personifies multiple UAB Sshared values and particularly excels in the areas of stewardship, integrity, respect, excellence and achievement and accountability,” said Linda Wadiche, Ph.D., professor of neurobiology.

 “His financial stewardship in the departments of Neurobiology, and now Biomedical Engineering — a dual departmental administrator program that he was the first to initiate and experience — is unparalleled,” Powell said. “Our faculty consider him their most trusted advisor, not only on financial and administrative matters, but also on grant application strategies and approaches. Anyone that can manage the issues of two very different departments, their faculty members and their diverse staff is clearly collaborative.”

Speed’s integrity and breadth of knowledge is noticed by many of his colleagues.

“He responds promptly to any question about the workings of our department, often within seconds. He has the answers usually from memory, and if not, he knows where to find out the answers,” said Kristina Visscher, Ph.D., associate professor of neurobiology.

“In addition to conducting his financial and management activities with grace, he often goes above and beyond with innovative solutions that make everything operate smoothly here in [the department],” said Scott Cruikshank, Ph.D., assistant professor.

“Kevin Speed has played a critical role in growing and sustaining our undergraduate summer research experience. What began as a scholarship initiative for 5-7 students now supports close to 20. His fiscal responsibility and planning for sustainability has been key in the program’s success,” Gavin added.

“He is appreciated by all department members for his long-standing, often behind-the-scenes contributions to the mission of the department,” Wadiche said.

“Kevin does not seek or take credit; he simply does his job impeccably well and lets everyone else around him shine,” Powell explained.

Donna Williamson

williamson vip insideDonna WilliamsonIn her role as director for Research Safety Committees, Williamson directly contributes to UAB researchers securing research funding and staying safe. Many funding resources require certain safety standards, which are ensured by her department.

One committee — Institutional Biosafety — is mandated by the National Institute of Health, a colleague explained.

“Donna has led the UAB IBC for over a decade now, working tirelessly to ensure UAB researchers perform their work safely according to the NIH guidelines,” they continued. “During her time, UAB's research funding has grown exponentially, which would not be possible without the establishment of these safety committees to help secure funding.”

Notably, UAB’s research funding increased at an unprecedented pace during the pandemic, to the tune of a one-year increase of 33%. This increase was made possible in part by the administration behind the research that includes the Research Safety Committees, nominators say.

“Donna worked especially hard during the past two years as COVID-19 decimated the world and researchers across campus scrambled to secure funding to combat the novel virus,” said Nicholas May, research health and safety coordinator. “[Under Donna’s leadership,] IBC worked through these projects at a much faster pace than their normal schedule to make sure that UAB would emerge as a leader and a major biological research institution searching for COVID treatment and the eventual vaccines.

 “Without research funding, UAB would not be the university it is today, and those research funds would be a fraction of what they are without UAB stewards like Donna Williamson working diligently to keep UAB safe for students, researchers and the general public,” he continued.

Nominations for fourth-quarter 2022 honorees are open through Dec. 1; submit a nomination online. One of 12 VIP honorees throughout the year will be selected for the new President’s Award for Excellence in Shared Values.