Four CWRU staff members recognized for their outstanding contributions

Staff members play a vital role in ensuring Case Western Reserve University achieves its mission in education and research. Whether by facilitating services that help students succeed or keeping the campus grounds safe, more than 2,800 full-time staff members contribute to the day-to-day functions of the university’s operations.

And today (June 29), the university community will show its appreciation for those efforts during the annual Staff Service Awards ceremony. Among the achievements celebrated will be the President’s Award for Distinguished Service and the Robin Kramer Volunteer Award, two of the most notable honors bestowed upon university staff members.

Earlier this year, the Staff Advisory Council (SAC) solicited nominations for these awards from members of the university community. SAC reviewed the nominations and recommended winners to the Office of the President for approval.

This year’s President’s Award winners are:

  • Jon Donze, director of the Office of Grants and Contracts at the School of Medicine;
  • Joyce Helton, department assistant in the School of Medicine’s Office of Faculty Affairs; and
  • Felicia Moss, director of postdoctoral affairs in the Office of Graduate Studies.

Brian Gray, librarian for collections, strategies access, research and engagement at Kelvin Smith Library, is this year’s Robin Kramer Volunteer Award winner.

Additionally, staff members with 50, 45, 35, 25 and 10 years of service to Case Western Reserve will be recognized during the ceremony.

Read more about the winners of the President’s Award and Robin Kramer Volunteer Award below.

President’s Award 

Recommended by the Staff Advisory Council and approved by the university president, the winners of these awards are selected for the transformational impact their work has to the CWRU community.

Each year, up to three honorees are selected for the award, which comes with a $1,000 cash award.

Photo of Jon Donze

Jon Donze

Director, Office of Grants and Contracts

School of Medicine

Jon Donze’s work is critical to the School of Medicine’s research endeavors. A former researcher himself, Donze now manages all of the grants that support more than $400 million in research in the medical school.

After receiving his undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve, Donze remained at the institution to begin his research career in a laboratory where he spent nine years researching DNA repair. Earning a Master of Business Administration degree from Weatherhead School of Management spurred a move from the lab to research administration. He filled various positions before being named to his current role in January.  

When recommending Donze for this award, his nominator shared: “In every project, issue, and problem Jon is involved in, he never displays anything but integrity, honesty (most important, in his current position), and excellent critical thinking skills.”

Donze has been instrumental in ensuring that the office efficiently meets grant deadlines with decreased staff—from five to eight—which occurred with shifts in the job market during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I endeavor to request that this humble, kind and knowledgeable CWRU staff member be recognized for keeping the tent poles up despite a very heavy tent canvas,” wrote his nominator.

Photo of Joyce Helton

Joyce Helton

Department Assistant, Office of Faculty Affairs

School of Medicine

Joyce Helton’s smile and welcoming presence in the Office of Faculty Affairs at the School of Medicine sets a tone that makes everyone feel at home. In her role as a department assistant, Helton serves as the initial point of contact for the more than 8,900 full- and part-time faculty members at the school—and she has been characterized as the friendliest person you will ever meet.

“Joyce continues to lead by example and be an effective steward of our office, keeping everyone on track, recognizing everyone for their accomplishments, supporting them in their struggles, and overall bringing joy to the office,” said her nominator.

Helton works tirelessly, is flexible, and wears many hats, which often requires her to take on responsibilities outside her job description when the office experiences a gap in coverage. Even when she doesn’t know the answer to one of the many complex questions that come her way, her dedication to being as helpful as possible drives her to find someone who does. 

Her nominator added: “Not only is she kind, but she is thoughtful and brings fun and entertainment to the office with her witty banter and jokes.”

Photo of Felicia Moss

Felicia Moss

Director of Postdoctoral Affairs

School of Graduate Studies

Felicia Moss has wasted no time making her mark as the director of postdoctoral affairs. After less than a year in the role, Moss has elevated the postdoctoral presence on campus, provided reliable support and helped celebrate the accomplishments of the postdoctoral community at CWRU.

In addition to facilitating community-building activities and professional development for postdocs, Moss has transformed the postdoctoral affairs website, focusing on providing information and resources for everything a postdoc needs. She also successfully leveraged social media platforms to share activities, opportunities and job postings for CWRU postdocs.

“Felicia is intelligent, creative and motivated, and she uses these attributes to help those she serves, her co-workers and the greater campus community,” a nominator wrote. “She is the type of person who makes things happen, finds solutions and pitches in wherever needed—whether it is her job or not.”

Moss also has been equally devoted to advocating for the postdocs she supports, working with them to understand the healthcare benefits available to them, and making sure they receive the financial support they need from the university.

“Working with Felicia simply feels good,” a nominator noted. “She makes you feel cared for and important.”

Robin Kramer Volunteer Award

Case Western Reserve University created the Robin Kramer Volunteer Award to celebrate a staff member who is an active volunteer in the CWRU community like its namesake. Kramer was a university employee who set a standard for distinguished service. 

Each year, one recipient is selected for this award, which comes with a $500 cash award. The Staff Advisory Council recommends the honoree to the president’s office for approval.

Photo of Brian Gray

Brian Gray

Librarian for Collections, Strategies Access, Research and Engagement

Kelvin Smith Library

Brian Gray is known for being patient, reliable, steadfast and enthusiastic both in his role at Kelvin Smith Library—as librarian for collections, strategies access, research and engagement—and behind the scenes, keeping Garden@Case running smoothly.

Under his leadership, the garden—located at Mistletoe and Magnolia Drives near Mather Park—has become part of Cleveland’s community garden initiative, Summer Sprout. The program provides fresh vegetables for local food bank donations; educates the community about the benefits of eating fresh foods; and encourages support for, and the creation of, community gardening programs.  

Gray’s nominator said he is key to the day-to-day operations of the garden. He helps to coordinate volunteers, serves as liaison with Summer Sprout, chooses plant and seed types, turns over garden beds, works with facilities and grounds staff, replaces hoses, finds plant supports, manages organic pest control and arranges for produce delivery. 

Gray even found ways to keep the garden operational when the pandemic reduced the number of people on campus, always stepping in if the volunteer spreadsheet had holes in it.  His nominator said Gray is responsive to community needs, listens to feedback and is generous with his gardening knowledge, ensuring the Garden@Case can continue to serve the community for years to come.