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State Recognizes HR Director for Job Well Done

Workplace Learning and Development’s Lee Ann Alden Receives Top Public Service Award

Lee Ann Alden holds her award with Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito Photo by courtesy
Director of Workplace Learning and Development Lee Ann Alden, center, receives her Eugene H. Rooney Jr. Public Service Award from Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at the State House.

By Ed Brennen

As the university’s director of workplace learning and development, Lee Ann Alden is usually the one handing out awards and certificates to employees for a job well done.

This time, it’s Alden’s turn to be recognized.

Alden received one of the state’s top honors for public employees, the Eugene H. Rooney Jr. Public Service Award, for her outstanding work in human resource development at UMass Lowell.

Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito presented Alden with the award at a recent State House ceremony, where 13 other public employees were also recognized by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance’s Human Resources Division.

“Receiving this award is truly the highlight of my career,” says Alden, who has worked in the human resources field for more than 30 years – including the last 18 at UML with Workplace Learning and Development. “I am privileged to have been recognized by my peers and colleagues, and I am honored to be a part of a great leadership team that truly cares about the professional growth of the employees.”

Alden develops, manages and runs dozens of programs, workshops and seminars that support faculty and staff at every stage of their UML careers – from their first day on the job at new employee orientation to leadership and management development training years down the road.

Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, Lee Ann Alden, Lauren Turner and Joanne Yestramski pose for a photo Photo by Ed Brennen
Lee Ann Alden, second from left, accepts her Performance Recognition award from, left to right, Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, Senior Assoc. Vice Chancellor Lauren Turner and Senior Vice Chancellor Joanne Yestramski at University Crossing.
“Lee Ann’s amazing work enables employees to develop knowledge, skills and abilities that allow them to perform their jobs more effectively and efficiently,” says Lauren Turner, senior associate vice chancellor for human resources and organizational strategy and effectiveness. 

In the past two years, nearly 700 faculty and staff have taken advantage of Workplace Learning and Development programs – encompassing everything from workshops on diversity and inclusion to online technology training.

The six-week Supervisory Leadership Development certificate program, meanwhile, has provided in-depth learning to nearly 300 campus supervisors and managers since 2016.

“Our faculty and staff are very receptive to lifelong learning,” says Alden, who finds that by fostering collaboration and continuous learning in the workplace, “our students ultimately are provided with better support and services.”

Alden recently launched the UMass Lowell Leadership Academy, a year-long program for 20 faculty and staff currently serving in leadership roles on campus. Several members of the academy’s first cohort raved about Alden’s efforts.

“What Lee Ann understands better than anyone else I know is that leadership is a skill that can be learned,” says Assoc. Chief Information Officer Steve Athanas. “There are many on our campus who can attribute much of their career success to Lee Ann, and I am fortunate to include myself in that group.”

“I recall meeting Lee Ann on my first day and recognizing from her orientation presentation that she was someone I needed to connect with about the work ahead of me,” says Susan Puryear, executive director of the Office of Research Administration. “Lee Ann’s tremendous energy and passion for her work are reflected in everything she does here.” 

Alden also manages employee recognition programs such as KUDOS, which have been awarded to more than 1,100 people since 2014, and the Pillars of Excellence, which recognized more than 200 faculty and staff this year.

Performance Recognition Program winners pose for a group photo Photo by Ed Brennen
UML's Performance Recognition Program honorees pose for a group photo with Chancellor Jacquie Moloney at University Crossing.
Turner, who nominated Alden for the Rooney Award, says that because the university can offer employees such relevant, high-quality programs that support professional growth, it can retain a highly talented and diverse workforce.

More than two dozen other UMass Lowell faculty and staff members received citations for outstanding performance as part of the commonwealth’s Performance Recognition Program:

The Financial Wellness Team of Brenda Evans, Tara Krch, Amy Liss, Joyce McLaughlin, Steve O’Riordan, Someris Rivera, Christine Robbins and Dawn Williams was recognized for developing a comprehensive, campus-wide financial literacy initiative to expand awareness and develop strategies to assist undergraduate students with reducing student loan debt. 

The Strategic Cost Savings Subcommittee of Monica Galizzi, Elaine Keough, Saira Latif, Karen Morin, Chris Mullin, Gary Nolan, Nick Piscitello, Nancy Ritchie, Athanas, Evans and O’Riordan  was recognized for its work in identifying cost controls and other non-personnel savings to free resources for strategic reinvestment.

The UMass Online Grading Integration team of Patrick Driscoll, Donna Mellen, Mai Nguyen, Lisa Panagopoulos, Carrie Powanda-Croft, Lois Reynolds, Matthew Wishart and Alena Woods was recognized for helping to develop a process that allows faculty to grade students within the learning management system, then have the data exported to the Student Information System grade rosters. The project is a collaboration with members of the UMass Boston and Dartmouth campuses, University Information Technology Services and UMass Online staff from the President’s Office.

And the UM-Plan Implementation Team of Jamie Calloway, Andrea Cyr, Andrew Dewing and Ritchie was honored for helping implement the university’s first system-wide budget and forecasting tool.