DSA 2020 profiles
8 individuals, 5 teams recognized

Five teams and eight individuals from UW Facilities will be honored at this year’s Distinguished Staff Award Reception, joining other nominees from across the UW in recognition of their outstanding contributions to their departments and the University.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce will speak at this year’s reception alongside the award’s executive sponsor, Vice President for UW Human Resources, Mindy Kornberg. The reception, which is open to the UW campus community, is Tuesday, Feb. 25 in the HUB Ballroom, from 2 – 3:30 p.m. (space is limited, however, so reservations are required).

In March, up to five individuals or teams will be chosen as the award winners by a selection committee which includes staff from Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma campuses. They will receive $5,000 and be honored at the University’s Annual Awards of Excellence reception in June.

Five Facilities teams were nominated:

Gerberding Hall Custodial Team: Maryan Farah, Aniceta Gabuat, Custodians

Padelford Custodial Team: Ui-Hak Chong, Neghisty Habties, Laine Noah, Tekea Tesfaldet, Custodians

Regulated Materials Office: Rose Alfano, Program Support Supervisor 2; Russell Browne, Industrial Hygienist 2; Amanda Grace, Program Coordinator; James Parsley, Industrial Hygienist 2; Daniel Schwert, Industrial Hygienist 2; Ramon Soliz, Records Project Manager; Andrew Wong, Industrial Hygienist 2

UW Real Estate: Lauren Bell, Transaction Services; Rada Bounyarith-Hall, Leasing Manager; Flo Bradley, Administrative Assistant; Kristen Cash, Property Services Manager; Jeremy Eknoian, Asset Services Manager; Gary Eng, Senior Asset Manager; Carol Haire, Administrative Services Manager; Jeanette Henderson, Executive Director; Cassidy McCrabb, Student Project Assistant; Anais Munoz, Business Analyst; Ben Newton, Property Operations Manager; Ron Oestreich, Contracts Manager; Janelle Ortega-Lieb, Business Operations Manager; Sakriti Vishwakarma, Runstad Real Estate Intern

UW Window Washing Team: Daniel Jung, Window Washer Lead; Joe Kitka, Jessee Retherford; John Simmons, Neil Vernon, John Watson, Justin White, Window Washers 2

Eight individual Facilities employees were nominated:

Russell Baker, Fire Sprinkler Lead, Campus Utilities & Operations

Brent Curtis, Parking Operations Manager, Transportation Services

Uma Dutt, Program Support Supervisor, Maintenance & Construction

Norm Kwasinski, Grounds Supervisor 1, Maintenance & Construction

Cindy Magruder, Project Integrator, Project Delivery Group

John McClung, Custodian, Building Services Department

Jeannie Natta, Senior Project Manager, Project Delivery Group

Gerry Regan, Electrician, Maintenance & Construction

We asked nominees to tell us more about themselves and their work. Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

Team nominations

Gerberding Hall Custodial Team

What helps you work well together as a team?

Good communication and agreeing with each other. 

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Aniceta Gabuat

Aniceta Gabuat, Gerberding Hall custodian


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Maryan Farah

Maryan Farah, Gerberding Hall custodian

Do you have a goal that your team is working towards?

Yes, our goal is to finish the job or work to meet the customer’s expectation that the building is ready for faculty and staff.

What motivates your group each day?

Every day, we plan to clean the building and restrooms well and shine the floor.

What does this recognition mean to you personally and/or professionally?

Thank you for appreciating us. It means that our customers appreciate what we’re doing and how well we do our jobs.

Is there anything else your team would like to mention?

I miss Maryann a lot. You know, when we laugh and joke, it makes the day better.

[At this writing, Maryan is on leave, and Aniceta answered our questions]


Padelford Custodial Team


Padelford custodial team

Padelford Custodial Team, left to right: Laine Noah, Ui-Hak Chong, Tekea Tesfaldet, Neghisty Habties

 You’ve been working together for almost 10 years—what helps you work well together as a team?

Communication. We talk together and we communicate every day.

Do you have a goal that your team is working towards? If so, what is it?

Our goal is to make the client and office staff feel welcomed. We want the residents to be happy and that our bosses, all of the visitors, find that it’s clean.

What is your favorite part of the job?

Neghisty: “We have a good team. If somebody needs help, we join in and help. We never fight, we always smile together and help each other. I love to come to Padelford to work and meet these guys. I miss them if I don’t come into work.”

Tekea: “My favorite part is in the morning when we see each other as a team, and at the end, when we finish together and the work is accomplished.”

What does this recognition mean to you personally and/or professionally?

We know we are hard workers, and this means they notice it, too. Padelford does a great job of appreciating us.

Is there anything else your team would like to mention?

Mark Dickey and Victor Cardona – they are super bosses. They are so good to us. If we need something for work, they bring it anytime, right away.


Regulated Materials Office

First, can you tell us what “Regulated Materials” are?

Hazardous materials and regulated materials are often used interchangeably.  Whenever a campus client wants to alter or modify anything that impacts the inside or outside of a building, approval must be received by the RMO. That’s because there may be hidden dangers behind building walls.

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Regulated Materials Office

Regulated Materials Office: back row, left to right: Andrew Wong, Russell Browne, Dan Schwert; middle row: Ramon Soliz, James Parsley; front row: Rose Alfano, Amanda Grace

Our team tests and removes biohazards like asbestos, lead, PCBs, mercury, and other regulated materials harmful to people, property or the environment. Due to the age of many campus buildings, our group is never short of work.

Our group conducts hazmat surveys on all buildings, oversees and monitors the abatement contractor, and provides asbestos and lead work practices training. We provide assistance, communication and scheduling for all UW clients regarding regulated materials (including all three campuses and UW hospitals). We also schedule and coordinate all safety training for Maintenance & Construction employees.

What’s the most interesting thing about your job that most people would be surprised to learn?

Although we are located on the main Seattle campus, we respond days, nights and weekends to requests and emergencies at all UW locations in western Washington (including Friday Harbor, Pack Forest at Mount Rainier, and Tacoma and Bothell campuses). We inspect things like crawl spaces, tunnels, and even baseball fields. We also assist Housing & Food Services and Capital Projects. We get to meet everyone and go everywhere.

What motivates you each day?

We care that the work we do makes the University a better and safer place for everyone: employees, students, staff and visitors. We are all proud to work for UW.


UW Real Estate team

What’s the most interesting thing about the work UWRE handles that most people would be surprised to learn?

Our work is all over the world, supporting UW research and teaching in every location. This includes leases in Africa, easements in Alaska, property permits for seismic stations all around the Pacific Northwest, gifts of real property of all kinds, and the UW’s Rome Center Lease in Italy. 



UW Real Estate team, from left to right, first row: Floline Bradley, Rada Bounyarith-Hall, Nicole Kerr; second row: Gary Eng, Jeanette Henderson, Janelle Ortega-Lieb, Cassidy McCrabb; third row: Ben Newton, Jeremy Eknoian, Anais Munoz, Lauren Bell; back row: Andrew Fenzl, Carol Haire, Ron Oestriech, Kristen Cash. Not pictured: Sakriti Vishwakarma and Tiffany Grant.

UWRE also support the Chief Real Estate Officer, the Director of the Metropolitan Tract and provides administration of the Advisory Committee for Real Estate (ACRE) whose members are appointed by the Board of Regents. 

What is a favorite aspect of your job or working for the University in general?

The people we get to work with every day and knowing that our work supports the mission of the University and its researchers who make important discoveries and differences the world over. We touch on all aspects of property owned or occupied by the University, and that makes the work varied and interesting.

What motivates you each day—any words of advice or inspiration to share?

Our coworkers! Our office family keeps work fun, no matter how crazy things may get for us (which happens often) it’s great to know that we are coming to work to a supportive group of people. It makes the world of difference when you work in an environment that values you, your input and that cares about you personally. We all play a part in making this a good team which requires honesty, respect, understanding and openness. 


UW Window Washing Team 


UW Window Washer crew

UW Window Washing team, back row, from left to right: Jessee Retherford, Justin White, John Simmons, John Watson; front row: Neil Allen Vernon II, Joe Kitka, Daniel Jung

What helps you work well together as a team?

Humor - you have to have good humor to work here. Also with the risk involved in our work, you have to be a little more on top of what each other is doing.

Do you have a goal that your team is working towards?

Our goal is to get through our rotation faster and access more parts of the University than we ever have before. So far, we’ve cut the time on our rotation while staying safe, so we look forward to doing that even more.

What motivates your group each day?

We try to brighten customers’ days every day.

What is your favorite part of the job?

The views are pretty amazing. There’s also an instant gratification of being able to see the before and after product of what we’re doing.

What does this recognition mean to you personally and/or professionally?

We want to thank the University for recognizing us. Not everyone is willing to hang off a building. This nomination helps erase the stigma associated with our profession and casts a better light on our crew.

Is there anything else your team would like to mention?

We’d like to give a shout out to all of the building coordinators who work with us and the accommodating customers who help make our pathways to windows more accessible.

Individual nominations

Russell Baker, Fire Sprinkler Lead, Campus Utilities & Operations


Russell Baker

Russell Baker, Fire Sprinkler Lead, Campus Utilities & Operations

How did you end up in this specialty?

I started out in November 2016 at the University. I asked to come along and watch a steam fitter test a valve fitting but things weren’t measured correctly. I told Mark Kirschenbaum [assistant director of the Power Plant] and he said, “Why don’t you do it?” That’s when the fire sprinkler shop got started, officially in late 2017. It was just me for about a year in the Fire Sprinkler Shop, but now there are four of us.

What’s one thing most people would be surprised to know about your job?

The amount of systems on the campus and the amount of code we have to know. I have 17 National Fire Protection Association code books in my office. There’s a ton of stuff to know. I could read every day and I don’t think I’d know everything there is to know about codes.

What motivates you each day—any words of advice or inspiration to share?

It’s getting up every day knowing that the life safety systems you’re working on are working correctly. Doing the things that need to get done so staff, students and visitors can walk into any building and know they’re safe. It’s also nice going to work at place that you enjoy going to work to. Not everyone can say that.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I spend a lot of my time with my wife. She’s an amazing person — I cherish the time I spend with her. We travel, spend time with our new dog, a German shepherd, and we do everything together.


Brent Curtis, Parking Operations Manager, Transportation Services 


Brent Curtis

Brent Curtis, Parking Operations Manager, Transportation Services

How long have you been at the UW?

I started with UW Parking Division in 1992 as a lot counter — riding a bicycle around campus all day counting parking spaces.

What is a favorite aspect of your job or working at the University in general?

Though I can’t claim I’m always successful with this, my favorite part of the job is pushing away roadblocks for our team, partners, customers and stakeholders. I enjoy when a seemingly impossible obstacle lands on my desk, and my favorite people in Transportation Services and elsewhere on campus help me brainstorm multiple options and then we move right through that obstacle and on to the next challenge.

What motivates you each day? Any words of advice or inspiration to share?

I love working on such a gorgeous campus with diverse people who have all dedicated themselves to supporting our students and visitors as our highest priority. As a manager, what motivates me each day is a paraphrased quote I keep in my office: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” 

What is one thing about your job that still surprises you?

It never ceases to amaze me how brilliant and creative my team is when faced with a challenge. Anytime I’m at a loss for how to solve a problem, I can toss it out to our staff and get dozens of great ideas. The professionalism, skills and artistry of the Parking Operations team is unparalleled. 


Uma Dutt, Program Support Supervisor, Maintenance & Construction

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Uma Dutt

Uma Dutt, Program Support Supervisor, Maintenance & Construction

What’s the most interesting thing about your job that most people would be surprised to learn/hear?

Maintenance and Construction is known by many as a male-dominated industry. I am happy to represent the growing number of women in this field and I am very proud to work at UW with them. My job entails communication and coordination with Northeast Zone department units, leadership teams, and other departments within UW Facilities as well as many external UW stakeholders. For this reason, I must employ a great deal of diplomacy, flexibility, and behind-the-scenes wrangling to help ensure efficient results that please our clients. My job is never dull, and I am motivated and determined to provide my best service to everyone with whom I work.

What is a favorite aspect of your job or working for the University in general?

The Northeast Zone specializes in general maintenance and repair to keep the buildings in safe and acceptable operating conditions. This can involve everything from emergency repairs to installations of entirely new systems. As a Program Support Supervisor, I enjoy working with the diverse group of people who make up our client base as well as my Facilities team. I provide support with administrative duties and network with amazing colleagues within the UW and its business partners as a whole.  People with whom I interact are supportive and willing to share their work experience, knowledge, and skills in a friendly manner that not only teaches me new things daily but also helps me feel like part of an operational team that shines a positive light on UW Facilities in general and the Northeast Zone specifically.

What motivates you each day—any words of advice or inspiration to share?

Each day is a new opportunity for me to share what I know as well as learn new things. I wake up and know that I have a beautiful family who are always supportive, and this sends me out the door with the confidence to perform my best efforts toward our shared organizational goals in Facilities. I take pride in my work, knowing I am part of great team, both at work and at home.


Norm Kwasinski, Grounds Supervisor 1, Maintenance & Construction 

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Norm Kwasinski

Norm Kwasinski, Grounds Supervisor 1, Maintenance & Construction

You started out here 33 years ago as a gardener — what is a favorite aspect of your job this many years later? 

As supervisor of the Grounds Shop, I supervise the gardeners and the irrigation staff.  I enjoy the people in our shop as well as everyone I meet around campus.

What motivates you each day — any words of advice or inspiration to share?

I want to come to work and do the best possible job I can do, I want people to have a positive experience when they come to campus. I am extremely humbled by being nominated for the Distinguished Staff Award. There are a lot of very hard working folks around campus that probably deserve it more than I do.  

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I enjoy cooking, I try to do a new recipe each week.  I’m also a beer brewer. My beer was selected by Lazy Boy Brewing to brew as part of a pro-am competition. The beer will be released later this spring. 


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Cindy Magruder

Cindy Magruder, Project Integrator, Project Delivery Group

Cindy Magruder, Project Integrator, Project Delivery Group

What’s one thing most people would be surprised to know about your job? 

Maybe how long I have been doing this job — 32 years and counting!  Also, the diversity of the job — from understanding public works statutes to administrative functions, project integrators are involved from concept to design to construction to closeout.

What motivates you each day — any words of advice or inspiration to share?

Students and faculty. Providing the spaces to learn, teach, and perform research lays the foundation for them to make a difference in this world. Playing a small part in that makes me proud.  I am also blessed to be part of a group that encourages professional growth; provides the motivation to do one’s best work; champions and acknowledges individual, team and project successes; and believes that fun should be a part of each day.  I am also a big believer in positive thoughts, starting each day with a warm “good morning” to your colleagues, and saying “yes” to new challenges. 

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Spending time with family and friends, cooking, playing pinochle, and reading a good book while snuggling with my dachshunds.


John McClung, Custodian, Burke Museum, Building Services Department 


John McClung

John McClung, Custodian, Burke Museum, Building Services Department

How long have you been a part of the University?

I’ve been an employee for Custodial Services since 2016 and prior to that I was a student here from 2012-2015.

What is the favorite part of your job?

My favorite thing is being a custodian in the Burke Museum. I love the culture here.

What motivates you each day when you come to work?

My co-worker and I feel blessed to be in this building because you know, there’s 60 something million years of history in this building and we get to see it all. If we can deliver our best by keeping the bathrooms clean, keeping the supplies stocked and keeping the building free of debris, then the more we can get those done and out of the hair of anyone else in the building, the more those folks can concentrate on that research.

How did you feel when you were nominated for the award?

I was surprised. I didn’t think the things I do would be noticed.

What do you like to do for fun?

Labor and community organizing. That’s sort of my main forte when I’m off the clock.


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Jeannie Natta

Jeannie Natta, Senior Project Manager, Project Delivery Group

Jeannie Natta, Senior Project Manager, Project Delivery Group

You’ve worked at the UW for almost 10 years. What made you want to join Project Delivery?
I was a union electrician for 10 years— it’s very physical and I knew it wouldn’t work in the long haul. So I got a certificate in construction management, came back to the UW, first as an associate construction manager for SafeCampus, and then earned my master’s degree in construction management.

What’s one thing most people would be surprised to know about your job?
The number of entities and departments that project management interfaces with to complete a project. It’s not just Facilities, but also UW Finance, academic clients, Environmental Health & Safety — it’s a large pool of stakeholders and that’s what I love about it.

What motivates you each day — any words of advice or inspiration to share?
The mission of the institution. We get to build buildings for researchers creating innovative solutions to global problems who are educating the next generation of leaders in their academic disciplines. That’s pretty motivating.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I love the outdoors and am an avid snow skier. I like to hike and paddleboard as well.


Gerry Regan, Electrician, Maintenance & Construction

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Gerry Regan

Gerry Regan, Electrician, Maintenance & Construction

Can you describe what you do?

I work as a maintenance electrician in the Northeast Zone. We are responsible for lighting, power and a wide variety of buildings, including all sports facilities. During football season we work the games to provide backup for any electrical and plumbing issues that may arise during games.

What’s the most interesting thing about your job that most people would be surprised to learn?

I think most interesting thing has to be the wide variety of tasks that we do here. The UW has its own unique buildings with all sorts of challenges, depending on the age of the structure and the type of equipment inside. Over time you get an instinct for troubleshooting each building as you become more familiar with it. People outside the UW are often surprised to learn how big an operation Maintenance & Construction is and what it takes to keep the University running every day.

Your manager, Steve Snyder, commended your for your inclusiveness and embracing of diversity. He said, “I am reminded of how open he is and how well he can work and communicate with people from any culture or background.” How would you respond to him?

Being part of a team that supports the University in its delivery of a great education and research is a very good feeling. We know we do a good job because the feedback is always positive. Over time we develop good relationships with our clients, and they trust us to get the job done. WIth respect to this nomination, I would like to thank those who nominated me and all my co-workers in Shop 15 as it’s all a team effort.


Alice Ven, Amanda Dassoff and Ina Dash contributed to this article.