2020 Outstanding Supervisor Award Recipients

Happy Boss’s Day! (Oct 16, 2020)

Monte Pride

Zoom call with Monte and coworkers and WLO office to celebrate Monte being the Outstanding SupervisorMonte Pride is a Project Delivery Supervisor with Infrastructure, Planning, and Facilities (IPF) in Planning, Design and Construction (PDC). As a supervisor, Pride leads PDC’s Planning Team, a diverse group of subject matter experts. He leads with character, candor, foresight, and a willingness to listen. Pride is responsive to the needs of his staff and continually looks out for their interests, while simultaneously meeting the needs of Michigan State University. It’s not one or the other. Pride does it all.

Honesty, integrity, respect. These are just some of the character qualities that have been used to describe Monte Pride and his leadership style.

Monte and coworkers in construction vests around a table“Monte’s management style and integrity has earned his staff’s trust and provides an avenue for open conversation and ideas to be discussed amongst his team,” said Scott Gardner, project manager in Planning, Design and Construction. “Monte does a great job listening to his staff, trusting his staff to do their job, providing the right balance of employee oversight, and getting involved when required.”

During times of extreme stress, Pride has maintained a positive attitude, listening, showing respect and compassion to staff as well as being open and up front with information and discussions. The experience and communications skills he brings to the table allows him to navigate difficult situations in an inclusive and transparent way.

“His respect for staff, genuine nature and calm demeanor set his staff at ease and has also led to employees that aren’t a part of his staff seeking his council,” said Brain Mullen, senior estimator/project manager in Planning, Design and Construction. “Without exception, Monte patiently accommodates all who come to him with an open-door policy.”

He’s supportive both in and out of the office. Once even helping a team member pursue a promotion outside of his department. Pride was on the forefront of instituting a “four-tens” work schedule for his staff members allowing his team to be able to spend more time with family. The extra day off provided one staff member the opportunity to pursue and receive a master’s degree.

Pride is a rock that his team members can lean on. He is an outstanding supervisor who has and will continue to make a positive impact on MSU’s campus.  

Kelly Millenbah

Kelly in a large teams call with banner to celebrate winning the outstanding supervisor awardDr. Kelly Millenbah is Associate Dean and Director for Academic and Student Affairs (OASA) within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR). She is a manager who demonstrates her integrity with every interaction. People want to work for Millenbah – and they work hard for her. She is someone who makes Michigan State University a better place for several reasons.

Honorable, kind, flexible, and inclusive are some of the character qualities used to describe Dr. Kelly Millenbah and her management style.

“Kelly isn’t afraid to be real with people – and, as someone who feels the same way, this is incredibly humanizing. We’re taught – especially as women – not to cry at work or be angry or emotional. I’ve done all three in the confines of her office – about work issues, and I know she understands. And, I’ve seen her do all three too. Kelly made me realize that bringing my whole self to work is how we show up best to get the job done.”

Kelly outside holding the outstanding supervisor award banner“Kelly reminds me, and many others around her, that the students are the reason we are all at MSU, and the reason she works so hard. It’s inspiring to roll up your sleeves and work next to her – that’s exactly how and who she is. Kelly is willing to do the work to get a job done.”

“She treats everyone with dignity, respect, integrity, and puts people first in all interactions. She is incredibly busy but makes time to have one-on-one meetings with all her employees on a biweekly basis. During these meetings, she checks in both personally and professionally and shows that she cares not only about my work but for me as a person.”

“Her natural ability to bring people together towards a shared vision not only empowers the staff in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs, but it also pushes us to put students at the center of every decision we make.”

Millenbah takes the time to pay attention to the humans on her team, work hard, be available, and ask people for their expertise. These characteristics make her an outstanding leader, especially at an institution of higher education.

Millenbah is a leader that exemplifies the ideals of innovation, empathy, grace, and compassion; she is more than deserving of this award.

Sarah Handspike

Sarah on a zoom call with lots of coworkers and the WLO team, with the outstanding supervisor banner, holding a certificateSarah Handspike is a Coordinator of Advising and Undergraduate Services for the Psychology Department. As a supervisor, Handspike understands the job roles of everyone in the office and is an excellent trainer and mentor. She is detail-oriented and oversees each employee with respect and care. She is also a great source of motivation and encouragement every day. Handspike is a huge asset to the department and is so deserving of this award and recognition for several reasons.

Some character qualities used to describe Handspike are empathy, compassion, thoughtful, and family-oriented, these are all seen in the way she leads.

“I admire Sarah in many different aspects of life in the short two years I have been working with her. She is someone who exemplifies the ideal balance between work and home life. Sarah is often the first to arrive and the last to leave. She is willing to go the extra mile for her staff and students. Her willingness to help others and students become successful as possible while at Michigan State is unmatchable. Sarah has created many programs for students to participate in and made a point to make our office open inviting space for students and faculty to come and share their concerns.”

Handspike is someone who cares not just about her staff’s work-life but also about their personal life. She understands that though her team is there to get a job done, things at home can occasionally be weighing, and Handspike is always available to offer a perspective or an idea on how to come up with a balance.

“I believe it takes a mentally strong person to manage a group of individuals who all have different needs and wants and is there to balance them all so an office works in harmony. For that, I am truly proud to have Sarah Handspike represent the entire Psychology department as a truly amazing supervisor. Without her, it would be a very different environment that I know I would not enjoy as much.”

“As a professional, Sarah is an empathetic and servant-leader. She demonstrates her leadership through her detailed communication where everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Sarah is an innovative thinker and uses past experiences to improve future programming and events. Sarah would never ask one of her employees to complete a task that she wouldn’t be willing to complete herself. Sarah never turns down a question or makes you feel like you shouldn’t ask it. Her answers always include a detailed rationale or explanation, and additional conversation about the answer is welcomed. Every day I go to work, I feel fortunate that Sarah is my supervisor.”

Handspike’s commitment to being an outstanding supervisor has impacted ALL of her employees and the MSU community in a positive way.

Julie Libarkin

Julie very happy on a zoom call with coworkers and WLO team to celebrate being an outstanding supervisorDr. Julie Libarkin is a professor/advisor for the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. She is also the Director of the MSU Geocognition Research Lab (GRL), an interdisciplinary lab that focuses on investigating how people perceive, understand, and make decisions about the planet. Libarkin goes above and beyond as a supervisor and mentor. By putting her students first, even if that means sacrificing time dedicated to her scientific contributions as a researcher. Libarkin is so deserving of this award and recognition for several reasons.
Goal orientated, compassionate, community-driven, and cares deeply about her fellow collages are a few words used to describe Dr. Julie Libarkin.

“She has provided me with guidance, wisdom, and support through some of the toughest transitions throughout my college and graduate career. Dr. Libarkin’s dedication to making time for her students and being available when needed has never failed to impress me, and I have never seen this type of dedication in another supervisor or mentor before.”

Libarkin’s real distinction that sets her apart as an advisor and a supervisor is her intentional investment in her mentorship skills. She is a compassionate soul who gives her all with the understanding that she does not require a reward. Each one of her students has had time to know, understand, and love the person Libarkin is, which is truly a unique powerhouse for the natural science building.

Libarkin’s drive is that she has compassion towards student’s success and research opportunity through undergraduate research.

“Over the year of knowing her, she has always been the most compassionate soul, helping towards student’s success while having a secure network of support willing to help.”

“Her compassion is unmatched, and her unwavering support towards topics that affect each lab member is undoubtedly what makes her stand out against the rest of her peers.”

“Her goals are not maximum productivity of her own lab and research (which is, incidentally, very productive) but rather to maximum benefit to her students. Dr. Libarkin structures her supervision and mentorship style to value people’s needs and mental health.”

Libarkin is an exceptional supervisor! She prioritizes mentoring in all of her professional interactions at MSU. She dedicates a tremendous amount of time to supporting her students and workers, both professionally and personally. Lastly, she does not treat her colleges like work partners but like family.

Deb Martinez

Deb on a zoom call with lots of coworkers and the WLO team to celebrate being an outstanding supervisorDeb Martinez is Deputy Director of the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE). She has a drastic and positive effect as a supervisor and a leader in the Office of Institutional Equity. Martinez is an asset to MSU, a role-model, and a passionate and developmental member of the OIE team.
Positive, thoughtful, authentic, and engaging. These are just some of the character qualities that have been used to describe Deb Martinez and her supervising style.

This award recognizes individuals with a positive leadership style that empowers others, which is observed in how Martinez has coached individuals. Martinez is relentlessly positive, while still giving herself and others grace when a day gets someone down. Positive leadership is the ability to reframe a set of circumstances and make the best of the situation at hand. Martinez does this so naturally and guides others to do the same. It is hard to emphasize one skill Martinez has because she holds so many as a leader.

“Deb ensures that I feel supported in work by checking in frequently, practicing with an open and approachable management style, and generally caring about her team. I have never felt insecure or fearful to tell her I had a family obligation. I have never felt that my performance was being affected by the fact that I have a family. In fact, Deb ensures just the opposite. She understands the demands of a family and openly praises and encourages me in my work, given that additional constraint”

Martinez is not only liked for her warm and welcoming personality but values the importance of the family-work balance. Martinez, a mother to five children herself, understands the constant struggle of balancing work and motherhood. She has found a way to manage her department that allows staff to feel confidently committed to both. Besides, Martinez has taken in the pandemic and adjusted her sails to meet the unique needs of her team. She has allowed flexible scheduling, cleared her schedule to make sure each of her staff feels heard, listened to, and accommodated. Her heart is in the work, but also in the health and safety of her staff. She understands her team are all people with families who need them, especially during unprecedented times like these.

“Deb celebrates our different social and cultural identities. Deb is curious, kind, and always admits when she does not understand something one of us brings to the table. I appreciate her efforts to learn more about the different groups represented on campus at large and within her own staff. She conducts searches for new team members with an eye to bringing in diverse perspectives.”

Martinez is the kind of person that fights for her staff and supports them through all circumstances. She is an outstanding supervisor who has and will continue to make a positive impact on MSU’s campus.