Human Resources announces 2021 Presidential Award recipients

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The Presidential Awards recognize staff members for their significant contributions to the betterment of the University and whose actions exemplify Notre Dame’s Core Values: Accountability, Teamwork, Integrity, Leadership in Excellence and Leadership in Mission. Any Notre Dame employee can nominate a staff member for an award. A selection committee reviews the nominations and presents recommendations to the Executive Vice President and the Vice President of Human Resources for final approval. There are nine recipients of the award for 2021.


Presidential Achievement Award 

This award recognizes breakthrough initiatives, extraordinary innovations and significant contributions to the University’s long-term success.


Birgit Deymann
Birgit Deymann

Birgit Deymann is the graduate studies coordinator in the Department of Economics. Deymann was nominated for the Presidential Achievement Award because: “Although she has only been here for a few years, she has made an enormous impact in the department. The number of times she has stepped up in the past year to help graduate students or improve how the department operates is simply too many to count. She holds a regular, weekly coffee time with the graduate students over Zoom in order to encourage community among them. She also organizes a faculty member to join the coffee time in order for students to feel like a part of the University. Birgit has helped several students get help for their medical problems by finding the appropriate resources on campus. The Department of Economics is incredibly lucky to have her.”


Tom Purekal
Tom Purekal

Tom Purekal is the program director of innovation and practice at the Pulte Institute for Global Development and is the muscle behind the winning proposal for the $40 million USAID Supporting Holistic and Actionable Research in Education (SHARE) award, the largest federal grant in Pulte’s and Notre Dame’s history. Purekal was nominated for the Presidential Achievement Award because: “It was through Tom’s incredible proposal development leadership, dogged pursuit of excellence and innovative approach to program success that the team was able to pull together such a fantastic application in a short amount of time. Over the course of several years, Tom has built a high-caliber team and formed partnerships with faculty and staff across the University to enhance the impact and the external grant awards at the Pulte Institute in partnership with USAID and other donors. Tom makes a unique contribution to Notre Dame and works tirelessly to leverage his background and connections to further the mission of the University. He has been an inspiration to others.”


Devon Sanchez Ossorio
Devon Sanchez Ossorio

Devon Sanchez-Ossorio is the assistant director for events and services in the Student Activities Office. Sanchez-Ossorio was nominated for the Presidential Achievement Award because: “He has been an instrumental part in the planning and executing the Library Lawns and Lodges (during the pandemic). There have been many individuals involved in this project, but Devon has worked tirelessly to make it happen. He has been in charge of the staffing and planning of events for the spaces that have kept our students busy during this difficult time. He has also handled the purchasing of all of the games available to students in the spaces and the systems to keep track of them. He has done all of this without a single complaint, while maintaining his regular work. Without Devon, the Library Lawns and Lodges would not have been nearly as successful or enjoyable. The amount of communication and work put into this endeavor has been truly impressive. Devon has done a tremendous job in helping to keep our students happy and healthy.”


Presidential Leadership Award

This designation celebrates staff supervisors and exempt or non-exempt staff for outstanding servant leadership.


Chris Fuchs
Chris Fuchs

Corresta (Chris) Fuchs is a supervisor in Building Services. She was given the task to create a team to handle the cleaning of the quarantine and isolation rooms for the students during the pandemic. Fuchs was nominated for the Presidential Leadership Award because: “While the Covid Response Unit does the testing and processing, Chris leads the team that does the dirty work behind them. Chris leads her team with the vision to get the job done right and with urgency so that the rooms can be ready for the next occupant. She has taken on this task while still managing her original team of workers all over campus. She is a shining example of the right person, in the right place, at the right time.”


Pamela Herron
Pamela Heron

Pamela Herron is the second and third shift supervisor for housekeeping at the Morris Inn. Herron was nominated for the Presidential Leadership Award because: “She truly understands how to manage a team. She brings in many years of experience, in both the hotel industry and working with people. She is able to offer great guidance and direction on what needs to be done and how to work smarter, not harder. She listens to her team with an open mind and open heart. Because of this, the second shift is like a well-oiled machine. Her team looks forward to coming to work and has an incredible dynamic. Pam is a woman of faith and represents the Notre Dame mission very much in teaching and supporting others. She often shares life experiences to help others learn and grow. She has earned respect and trust from others around her. Her department feels proud to know Pam and work with her.”


Sue Vissage
Sue Vissage

Sue Vissage is the business manager for the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. She leads eight staff members who are responsible for supporting all elements of the department mission, including research, undergraduate and graduate education and training, academic service, communications and outreach and personnel administration. Vissage was nominated for the Presidential Leadership Award because: “She effectively delegates to her staff and provides them the resources they need to succeed. She helped reorganize the operation of the departmental staff, implemented new training and cross-training methods, and worked hard to build camaraderie among the staff. She implemented a new budgeting system within the department and helped plan and track finances effectively to manage department resources. Most recently, she was the point person helping the department manage staff and financial matters related to COVID. Sue is an inspirational leader who consistently demonstrates the values of servant leadership in service to the mission of the University.”


Presidential Values Award

This award recognizes staff members whose performance reflects the University’s core values.


Dan Allen
Dan Allen

Dan Allen is the associate director of spirituality and service with the Notre Dame Alumni Association. Allen was nominated for the Presidential Values Award because: “This past year, he has undertaken extraordinary responsibilities to extend the University’s mission beyond the borders of our campus. As the world drastically changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dan provided leadership, vision and direct action to offer spiritual resources to the Notre Dame family through a variety of channels. The pandemic dramatically increased the need for digital engagement, and Dan responded by strengthening existing offerings through FaithND and expanding the scope of its content to an audience of over 100,000 subscribers. He also created a vision for engaging the extended Notre Dame family in direct service in the challenging context of the global pandemic and served as the hub of prayer intentions for the global Notre Dame community of faith. In a time when we found our world deeply in need of inspiration, healing and hope, Dan rose to the occasion and met those needs.”


Eva Nabuufu
Eva Nabuufu

Eva Nabuufu is the pre-award program manager of Notre Dame Research. Nabuufu was nominated for the Presidential Values Award because: “Eva performs her job at an exemplary level and demonstrates great commitment to her University community as well as to the general Notre Dame public. She takes it upon herself to provide exceptional support and service to new faculty and staff. Eva discerns their individual needs and moves efficiently to provide key information, recommendations or direction. Beyond this, she provides quiet leadership and instruction and provides the support needed to successfully develop and submit successful proposals. Through many changes over the course of Eva’s tenure at Notre Dame, she has made a difference at our University, exemplified the mission of the University and has positively impacted the people of our community.”


Lee Town
Lee Town

Lee Town leads the COVID-19 hotline team for the COVID-19 Response Unit within Campus Safety. Town was nominated for the Presidential Values Award because: “She was tasked to create and implement and then manage this amazing hotline. Without the 24/7 COVID hotline, the Notre Dame community and the families of students would not have a central way to reach out about COVID-related questions. She and her team were often the first point of contact for student, parent and staff concerns about all things COVID during the 2020-21 academic year. Lee and her team have responded to thousands of calls and emails. Lee assembled and managed this team with great skill and an even better attitude. It’s a demanding role and Lee would regularly field angry calls and deal with difficult situations. She brought joy to her work and joy to all of those who worked with her.”