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Distinguished Staff Award Winners

2023 Distinguished Staff Award Winners

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Kyle Austin

KCAD Communications Coordinator

Kyle leads communications processes for KCAD, with duties including creative development and brand management, vendor management, performance tracking, and web and social media services. His nuanced understanding of KCAD’s community, educational value and ethos assures authenticity in the college’s communications and promotes the best of KCAD to wider audiences. Kyle brings an admirable combination of enthusiasm and professionalism to all his projects—among them, service on the KCAD President’s Cabinet, Leadership Team and Emergency Management Leadership Team, as well as the Wege Prize team, which has engaged 700 participants from 200 higher education institutions across 49 nations since 2013. Kyle’s community service centers around the person he calls “the guiding light” in his life, his daughter, Ruby, who was born with severe cognitive and physical impairments. In his family’s journey to empower her, they received help from multiple advocacy and assistance programs which they now support.

Ashley Hawley

Secretary Level 3, Educational Counseling and Disabilities Services

Ashley is a self-motivated, empathetic team member who understands the work of her department may be the difference between failure and success for the Ferris students it serves. Known by coworkers for her warm smile and willingness to take on extra work, Ashley is often the first face that students who are struggling without disability accommodations see when they seek help, and she is ready to put them at ease and efficiently connect them with the support they need. Ashley creates a safe, welcoming space, not only in her department office but across campus, in her service to such groups as the Liaison Committee for Students with Disabilities, the Ferris Women’s Network, and the Alliance for First Generation Students. She also is a recipient of a 2020 Pat-on-the-Back Award and a 2021 Woodbridge Ferris Award. In her community, she and her husband volunteer for the American Youth Soccer Organization.

Mary Kolenda

KCAD Coordinator of Academic Records

Mary began at KCAD as a receptionist in 1990, and in her service has risen to assistant positions in the Records and Registrar’s offices before serving as Interim Registrar and, finally, Coordinator of Academic Records for KCAD. She is responsible for ensuring accuracy in records of grades, transfer credits, graduation audits and degrees, as well as building schedules, new courses, catalog information and multiple other related functions in support of academic recordkeeping for the KCAD community. Known for her energy and magnetic personality, Mary most values the opportunities her job affords her to meet new people each semester—with many of whom she has built lasting friendships—and to take on challenging scheduling issues to support students. She serves on the FEI Transfer Team, the MyDegree Advisory Board and the Curriculum Committee, and in too many off-campus volunteer roles to mention, serving Feeding America West Michigan, Kids Food Basket, ALS Walk of Grand Rapids and as a poll worker for Kent County elections, among many other activities.

Susan Roberts

Secretary Level 3, College of Business Dean’s Office

In her more than 20 years at Ferris, Susan has served the Accounting Office and colleges of Business, Engineering Technology and Health Professions. Known for her dependability and effectiveness, Susan is celebrated by her coworkers for her humor, kindness and knowledge of university protocols, as well as administrative and internal communications best practices. In the College of Business, she has seamlessly taken on the work of two staff who retired after 30 or more years of employment and manages the college’s unique centralized budget. She also completed Microsoft Office Certification and was asked to teach ISYS 105 for the college. She has served on multiple college search committees, as well as on the Customer Interactions Subcommittee of the university’s COVID-19 Re-entry Committee. Outside of Ferris, Susan also maintains an amateur radio license and supports the Reed City Schools Band Boosters and her church, serving as secretary to both.

Previous Recipients