- Author: Pam Kan-Rice
“After careful consideration, I have arrived at an interim leadership structure to address these two important functions,” said Tran. “Effective July 1, 2022, the interim CECO and interim LDO responsibilities will be delegated to Brian Oatman and Robin Sanchez, respectively.”
As Interim CECO, Oatman will facilitate and lead communication of compliance risks and advise senior management on matters of compliance and ethical standards of practice. Oatman comes to this role having served for several years as UC ANR's deputy CECO.
Finally, at Tran's recommendation and with the endorsement of the Senior Leadership team, Jennifer Bunge, executive director for Resource Planning and Management, will assume additional responsibilities as the interim deputy associate vice president for business operations, effective Aug. 1, 2022.
“In this role, Jennifer will provide support to me and the leadership team for a number of critical strategic projects, including the implementation of our future business system and capital financing projects,” Tran said. “In addition, Jennifer will oversee day-to-day management of various units within Business Operations, allowing me to focus on real estate and facility development projects.”
Winners of the 2020-21 ANR Staff Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) program were announced June 17.
The outstanding contributions of 18 individual UC ANR staff members and six teams were recognized and celebrated at an online town hall. The honored staff members will receive plaques and cash awards for their exceptional performance, creativity, organizational abilities, work success and teamwork.
The STAR winners are named below, followed by a quote from their nominator.
“With recommendations from the task force, Valerie significantly overhauled our process for selecting Master Gardeners. This included significantly updating the application and including a diverse committee of Master Gardeners in the review and selection process. This process, while time consuming for Valerie as our Master Gardener coordinator, led to recruitment and selection of Master Gardener trainees that are more diverse than in prior years.”
“She has shown exceptional creativity and success this year during the COVID-19 stay at home order. She was the first EFNEP educator across our two-county team to recruit and deliver a completely virtual nutrition class series. Guadalupe also identified needs in the community and creatively addressed them by making her own recipe and food safety videos. To make her online classes engaging, she has conducted live online cooking demonstrations and incorporated activities to include youth who are learning at home with their parents.”
“Vanity developed an innovative two-day format for the 2020 Grant Essentials Summit that capitalized on academic engagement with state agencies to facilitate building relationships with programs while increasing grant- seeking capacity to identify and successfully apply for funding. In 2021, Vanity is expanding the program in collaboration with UC Merced to promote research and extension collaborations across the two institutions through presentation of agency grant programs and faculty research interests and needs.”
“Kim quickly established expectations and guidelines to transition staff for the remote work environment in order to successfully continue to process proposals, award and subawards without interruption of service and workflow.”
“Her work this year was transformative with guiding our office through challenging times and ensuring our programs were having high impact on making our communities great places to live and work.”
“Darrin successfully managed 30 demanding research projects. Under a normal year this a huge accomplishment, but Darrin was forced to find innovative ways of completing the fieldwork in a manner that fit COVID-19 safety guidelines and frequent staff absences due to family and childcare needs. Even more impressive was that IREC staff completed the projects under budget and on schedule… The 2020 growing season at IREC was particularly challenging due to a water shortage and wildfire smoke.”
“One year ago, the two Business Operation Center Locations were consolidated. Maru has been instrumental in building the team of 9 new members since last July, many of whom have never met each other. She has taken on additional responsibilities of the vacant Budget Analyst position, and has demonstrated a commitment above and beyond what would be expected of her as Supervisor of Business Partner Teams 1-4.”
“Without Laurie's diligence and support the move could have been disastrous! Laurie was a key point of contact over the course of three county directors with Madera County and she helped with design, layout and setup of the new office.”
“In the last year, she has continuously put effort into making ANR a more equitable and inclusive organization. She has served on the DEI advisory committee, is a founding member of the DEI council, contributed to the establishment of Employee Resource Groups, and served on the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month planning committee. She has participated in multiple trainings through ANR and is now pursuing training on the Intercultural Development Inventory to build intercultural competence within her IPM program and our larger organization.”
“Julie not only rapidly transitioned to providing nutrition education online, she also found ways to move our policy systems and environmental change work forward, despite the fact that many of our settings effectively did not exist during the pandemic. Her café promo videos, which encourage children to try new fruits and vegetables, have been recognized statewide.”
“Throughout his career with ANR this candidate has sought to find creative solutions for complex problems… Early in the pandemic when cleaning and disinfecting supplies were low, he worked with his staff to sort out what material county offices needed. He acquired these materials from a variety of sources and shipped them directly to county offices, so staff had cleaning supplies in a time when they were not available locally.”
“She immediately recognized the need to support staff capacity to facilitate virtual education, and she has provided training on dozens of topics and new tools. Carmela also led the development of educational videos by the whole team, including an entire nutrition curriculum. She developed a YouTube channel that now hosts over 50 educational videos, which have been viewed more than 1,250 times in all. Carmela was involved in determining the content, reviewing, and sharing each of these videos, although they also represent the collective efforts of the entire talented team”.
“Rita's proactive approach to continue programming as stay at home orders were issued resulted in new program partnerships, the hosting of a large virtual Student Agricultural Field Day event and CFHL, UC staff with new communication skillsets and abilities to engage others in their work. The day after stay-at-home orders were issued, Rita was delivering a Zoom presentation to food service staff in one of the largest school districts in the Butte Cluster region.”
“We have nominated Stephanie for a STAR award because of her work during the past year to bring diversity, equity, and inclusion to the forefront within UC IPM and ANR on top of her current role and duties. In ANR, she has been the voice for people who felt their voices weren't being heard. For UC IPM, Stephanie is instrumental in operationalizing our diversity, equity, and inclusion objectives, and getting us closer to achieving our overall goal to be an equitable organization.”
“Jodi is the primary person to receive reports when an employee is diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19. Jodi's work to track cases, employee leave, and return to work has been outstanding and is vital to keeping ANR operational. Jodi developed new processes to receive private medical information, store it securely, and track employee status. This often requires urgent response at all hours and on off days.”
“Vince is being recognized for his leadership and contributions that underpinned the formation of the Bay Area Rancher Cooperative, known as BAR-C. He has been the primary coordinator and facilitator, resourceful in recruiting allies and partners like the California Center for Cooperative Development and Conservation Works, and organized the business plan development, including a confidential peer review process.”
“During the pandemic, he conceived of and spearheaded three events for ANR employees that had never been done before. Ricardo and his NOS team put together a series of well-attended educational online events for Hispanic Heritage Month September-October. Ricardo produced a video of ANR colleagues and 4-H members sharing how they were affected by COVID-19. On Cesar Chavez's birthday, Ricardo hosted a webinar about the life of the civil rights icon.”
“Early into the shutdown, Nancy brought forth various opportunities and ideas to expand our program reach by leveraging relationships so that we could continue to serve our community… Additionally, Nancy volunteered to participate in state-level workgroups. She chaired one of the workgroups and made valuable suggestions on the equity and access challenges faced by the population we serve.”
COVID-19 Hands-on Operational Support Team: David Alamillo, Barbara Bellieu, Alan Chavez, Tammie Erhard, Melissa Figueroa, Veronica Geiger, David Hatter, Brian Oatman, Bart Sapeta, Kathryn Stein, Ron Walker, Rhett Woerly and Michael Zwahlen
When most UC ANR employees transitioned to working remotely, the COVID-19 Hands-on Operational Support Team ensured that employees had necessary equipment and that ANR business operations continued to function.
Alameda/Contra Costa Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program Team: Nelly Camacho, Jennifer Ferreira, Eli Figueroa, Santo Lopez, Carla Moore, Jesus Osoria, Molica Sim and Leah Sourbeer
“Despite the challenges imposed by the pandemic, they collectively exhibited resilience, creativity, teamwork, and exceptional performance to execute the mission of EFNEP through virtual programming.”
Financial System Implementation at UCOP: Connie Tadesse and Jin Yu
“This past year, UCOP partnered with UCSD and UCM to undertake a major high risk business systems implementation replacing their legacy business systems and infrastructure with Oracle Cloud Financials. UCOP and the two campuses were the first, systemwide, at UC to take on something this broad in scope and magnitude for a business system transformation. Working with the Huron consultants, and the UCOP project team, their efforts ensured that UC ANR requirements were met.”
CalNat CES Team: Sarah Angulo, Eliot Freutel and Brook Gamble
“The California Naturalist Program's three Community Education Specialists not only adjusted to the changing conditions, but made structural changes to the program that actually put it in a stronger position moving forward. Specifically, they made investments in online delivery, shared the best practices throughout our diverse network, diversified our delivery model to include direct delivery, and remained focused on maintaining a strong service orientation and building community among our clientele.”
UC West Side REC Team: Merf Solorio and Mark Strole
“We acknowledge the exceptional service, teamwork, and creativity of Rafael “Merf” Solorio, Superintendent, and Mark Strole, Chief Mechanic, of the ANR's West Side Research and Extension Center. Time and time again, they both go well beyond the routine demands and expectations of their respective job classifications in ways that are uncommon and greatly appreciated by all who work at the West Side. On behalf of the many ANR researchers who work at the West Side REC, register our sincere thanks to both Merf and Mark for their forward vision, skills, and attention to detail in getting things done in support of our efforts.”
Office of Contracts and Grants Team: Kim Lamar, Vanity Campbell, Andrea Davis, Heidi von Geldern, Kendra Rose and Suzanne Burton.
“This team processed a record-breaking FY2020 award total of over $46 million, an increase of almost $11 million, or 30% from the prior year. This was possible because this team is a solid and cohesive group of extremely remarkable research administration professionals.”
More than 50 ANR people got their daily steps in while participating in the annual UC Walks on May 12. They gathered online for light stretching to warm up, then went outside to walk or stayed on Zoom for group yoga. After the invigorating activity, participants reconvened on Zoom to do cool-down stretches and to share comments about the exercise.
UC ANR promotes wellness by encouraging employees to take time out of their day to be physically active.
The UC ANR Staff Assembly Wellness Committee, which organized the event, offered raffle and photo contest prizes.
Winners of the UC Walks raffle were Laura Gonzalez, who won a $25 gift card, and Christopher Wong and Jan Newman, who each won a Fitbit.
The UC Walks photo contest attracted 29 entries in the categories of fashion, urban and nature. Two winners were selected per category. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to a sporting goods retailer of their choice.
Fashion photo winners were Elia Escalante with two dogs sporting UC ANR branding, and Susan Weaver at Martial Cottle Park.
Nature photo winners were Ryan Keiffer at the Mailliard Redwoods State Natural Reserve and Sonia Rodriguez with her 6-year-old granddaughter at Horseshoe Lake.
Urban photo winners were Sarah-Mae Nelson and Grilda Gomez.
Carrie Yarwood won Walking Bingo and Lauren Borges, Pam Kan-Rice and Brian Oatman topped the #UCANRmoves social media posts.
Thanks to Vanity Campbell, David Ritz, Scott Brayton, Nora Lopez and Molica Sim for organizing the UC ANR Walks activities.
California will be dealing with the effects of the October 2017 wildfires for years to come. The Northern California wildfires that ignited Oct. 8 grew into urban conflagrations and burned for days, killing 43 people and destroying at least 8,400 structures.
In Southern California, Niamh Quinn, UC Cooperative Extension human-wildlife advisor, tweeted a photo after outrunning the Canyon Fire 2, which burned over 9,000 acres and destroyed 25 structures.
Brian Oatman, director of Risk & Safety Services, contacted UC Cooperative Extension employees in Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Mendocino, Lake, Butte, Sutter, Yuba and Orange counties and at the Hopland, Sierra Foothill and South Coast research and extension centers.
On Oct. 10, Oatman sent an email to the ANR community giving a status report on the UC ANR offices in the fire zones, saying, “We have heard that all employees are safe.” He added, “In many counties, staff know of 4-H or Master Gardener families who have lost homes or suffered damage.”
In Solano County, 17 UC Master Gardener volunteers, maybe more, lost their homes in the fires. The UC Master Gardener Program quickly set up an online form to connect Master Gardener volunteers throughout the state who wanted to offer lodging, supplies and words of support to fellow volunteers impacted by the fires.
In Sonoma County, UC Cooperative Extension staff and 4-H members helped rescue livestock.
ANR suffered no significant property damage, but some offices closed due to local evacuation orders.
Kaan Kurtural, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture specialist based in Oakville, said the viticulture research station went without electricity for 16 days. They brought in generators from UC Davis.
To help evacuated Californians who returned to their homes recover from fires, Strategic Communications created a story map with links to UCCE county resources.
News reporters sought out several UC ANR experts to explain why the wildfires spread so quickly and burned so intensely and how the fires would affect agriculture. See the ANR News blog for the monthly news roundup for October.
If you would like volunteer or donate to fire recovery efforts, check with local food banks or organizations such as Sonoma County Recovers to find out what is needed. If you would like to contribute to UC Master Gardener volunteers who are in need, you can fill out a survey that was created to connect resources with the affected volunteers: ucanr.edu/mgrelief.