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College celebrates Dionne Henderson Staff Excellence and Staff Service Awards 2023

Dionne Henderson's daughters and Mary Beth Jordan
Mariah Henderson, assistant dean and director of human resources Mary Beth Jordan and Brionna Henderson at the ceremony. Photo: Carol Jennings/CVM

Dionne Henderson Staff Excellence awardees

On October 13, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) held their annual award ceremony recognizing the dedication, compassion and excellence of the college’s staff through the Dionne Henderson Staff Excellence Award Ceremony. Established in 2018, this award recognizes individuals who consistently demonstrate the same kindness, collaborative and compassionate nature, dedication to community and professional excellence as its namesake Dionne Henderson. The award is a joint endeavor between the CVM Office of Human Resources and the CVM Staff Council.

Lorin Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. ’94, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, recognized and congratulated the three recipients:

  • Kelly Sams, lab manager in the Baker Institute for Animal Health.
  • Carol Merkur, director of business operations in the Department of Clinical Sciences.
  • Cristina Carter, assistant to the chair and executive director of the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences.
Kelly Sams holding her award
L to R: Brionna Henderson, Lorin Warnick, D.V.M., Ph.D. '94, Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, Kelly Sams, Mariah Henderson and assistant dean and director of human resources Mary Beth Jordan. Photo: Carol Jennings/CVM

Dr. Ximena Olarte-Castillo, a postdoctoral researcher who works alongside Sams in the laboratory of Laura Goodman, Ph.D. ’07, assistant professor at the Baker Institute for Animal Health and in the department of Public and Ecosystem Health, praised Sams for supporting her colleagues, both at work and in personal matters, thus creating an uplifting environment in the lab and reducing stressors for the graduate students and employees.

Carol Merkur holding her award
Carol Merkur with Warnick, Jordan and Mariah and Brionna Henderson. Photo: Carol Jennings/CVM

Carol Merkur was nominated by several members of her team, including Ashley Payne who described Merkur as supportive of her team in “more ways that I can count.” Payne also shared that “Carol is an incredible mentor to anyone she supervises. She is kind, compassionate and a true role model.”

Christina Carter holding her award
Cristina Carter with Warnick, Jordan and Mariah and Brionna Henderson Photo: Carol Jennings/CVM

Steve Osofsky, D.V.M. '89, Jay Hyman Professor of Wildlife Health & Health Policy and director of the Cornell Wildlife Health Center, read part of the nomination he submitted for Carter. Osofsky described Carter as “a treasure and an unsung hero with a fantastic attitude, someone who make us more productive day in and day out.” Osofsky shared a “little secret” with faculty members in the audience: “Department chairs kind of matter, but the administrators really matter.”

Staff Service Award recipients

In the same event, 39 staff members were recognized for their service at Cornell.

20 years of service:

  • Mesa Ackley-Munson

  • Renee Anderson

  • Nicole Belcher
  • Patrick Brennan
  • Paul Ebner
  • Matthew Freer
  • Lee Ann Goodridge
  • Tina Hlywa
  • Laura Kappler
  • Samantha Koba
  • Heather Marsh
  • Tara Mercure-McKenzie
  • Teresa Steigerwalt
  • Clarence Thompson
  • Jackie Wright

25 years of service:

  • Michelle Armstrong
  • Lynette Degouff
  • Esref Dogan
  • Jamie Gardner
  • Shannon Kellogg
  • Melissa Laverack
  • Leslie Planck
  • Alicia Rollins
  • Christie Sayre
  • Edward Thompson

30 years of service:

  • Laura Barlow
  • Kerry Case
  • Rebecca Harman
  • Julia Hertl
  • Greg Mitchell
  • Leslie Phelps
  • Valerie Salerno
  • David Schaffner
  • Kathleen Strickland
  • Gerald Welch

35 years of service:

  • Wilhelm Elmore
  • Angela Struble
  • Sue Williams

 40 years of service:

  • Lisa Mitchell

In reason of her notably long-standing years of service, Mitchell received a special thank you from Jonathan Cheetham, Ph.D. ’08, associate professor in the large animal surgery section. His message, read by Mary Beth Jordan, assistant dean and director of human resources at the college, acknowledged Mitchell for “her attentiveness to others, her courage to try new things, learn new skills, speak truth to power and stand up for what’s right, and her wonderful care and compassion for the horses and dogs you’ve trained.”

In a message that echoed these words, Jordan said that “our world, now more than ever, needs kindness, caring and compassion,” and thanked those who remember to make the CVM community one “that I’m so proud to support.”

Written by Elodie Smith