Carissa Tuliraba

Staff Spotlight: Carissa Tuliraba helps ensure the community’s health and safety through compliance

March is Employee Appreciation Month. In that spirit, each week we will put the spotlight on an outstanding staff member who is instrumental in keeping our institution moving forward—even when faced with monumental challenges like those presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 2, 2020, Carissa Tuliraba was hired as the inaugural youth programs compliance coordinator in the University Compliance Program. Two weeks later, the job duties she was expected to perform didn’t exist anymore. 

Carissa Tuliraba

As a global pandemic began raging throughout the United States, all campus events came to an abrupt halt, including the youth programming that Tuliraba had been hired to keep compliant with university policies. 

“Her job became 90% compliance with COVID-19 requirements and following up on people who had accommodations,” said Tuliraba’s supervisor, University Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer Lisa Palazzo. “She really showed her commitment to the university by being open to it and embracing it and doing a great job.” 

Tuliraba found herself working with units across campus—from Human Resources to the Office of the Provost and many others—to ensure that the more than 15,000 members of the Case Western Reserve community followed university COVID-19 mandates related to vaccinations and testing. 

When dealing with so many people, Tuliraba, who has worked in compliance roles at the university since 2018, has remained a calm and steady presence under the pressure, Palazzo said.

Key to this approach, Tuliraba explained, is trying to put herself in their shoes and understand their points of view—while still holding firm to what needs to be done.

“She just has a good way of communicating, where she is patient and she explains what the expectation is and the rules of the road,” Palazzo noted. “She’s such a hard worker and goes above and beyond so much that I think she inspires people to follow through and do what she’s asking.” 

Tuliraba also has an impeccable ability to keep the data straight—following a largely manual process to track compliance, Palazzo explained. 

“I don’t know many people who have the ability, the detail-orientedness, and the patience and the perseverance to do that,” Palazzo said. “She’s really impacted the university in this COVID crisis by giving leadership the data they need to know to make decisions.” 

What keeps her pushing forward? Director of Audit Services Rose Kelly, who Tuliraba has worked closely with over the past two years, has an idea. 

“I think Carissa just charges ahead and keeps her eye on the end goal of 100% compliance,” Kelly said. 

Her role hasn’t just involved compliance, though. Tuliraba has been there every step of the way to keep the university moving forward during the coronavirus crisis. Early on in the pandemic, for example, she was on campus—when most were working at home—completing site inspections so departments could safely return. 

When the vaccine was rolled out, she assisted with Case Western Reserve’s vaccine clinic, recruiting and training vaccinators. And when it was time for the majority of the university community to return to campus for class and work, Tuliraba was there to help ensure the smooth operation of COVID-19 testing centers.

Now, as coronavirus cases decline, restrictions ease on campus and around the country, and in-person programming ramps up, Tuliraba is looking forward to getting started on the job she was originally hired for two years ago—and beginning a new one completely: parenthood.