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The School of Engineering bestows staff awards

The school recognizes recipients of awards for citizenship, client services, innovation, diversity and inclusion, leadership, and its highest staff honor, the Shah Award.
Photo by Tamer Shabani

The Stanford School of Engineering is pleased to recognize the exceptional accomplishments of team members through the School’s annual staff awards.

“It brings me great pleasure — especially during such a unique and challenging time — to announce the recipients of this year’s awards,” said School of Engineering Dean Jennifer Widom. “Choosing the award winners was particularly difficult this time around, given the extraordinary resilience, grace, and performance our entire staff demonstrated in 2020, and continues to exemplify today. Please join me in congratulating each of these outstanding individuals.”

The award recipients are:

Citizenship Award - Vinny Toth

As Building Manager of the Shriram Center, Vinny’s job became significantly more challenging as he supported the occupants of one of our busiest lab buildings in difficult and dynamic circumstances. Those who nominated Vinny did so because of his “leadership and constant support” of all the labs and their essential research. They described him as indispensable during the shutdown, a “clear and timely communicator” who “anticipates our needs before they even become needs.”

Client Services Award - Kumiko Jacobs

Earning marks for her attention to detail, efficiency, and sense of ownership, Kumiko is exemplary in her role as Faculty Affairs and Staff Administrator for the Chemical Engineering Department. Greatly appreciated for the help she provides to new and junior faculty, Kumiko is known as “a consummate professional” who “goes above and beyond to support our team, our faculty, and her peers.” Kumiko proactively built, scaled, adapted, and streamlined new administrative systems and protocols that have greatly improved operations. Nominators described her as a wonderful person who is meticulous, caring, and “exactly the kind of team player we want.”

Innovation Award - LaToya Powell

Through her time spent with undergraduates, LaToya realized there is a steep learning curve for some students and took it upon herself to help solve the problem. Building on her experiences in the Electrical Engineering Department as Graduate Admissions Officer, LaToya conceived, championed, organized, and now spearheads the “dEEbug” program: a resource for underrepresented students encountering basic electrical engineering principles for the first time. She is passionate about motivating these students to achieve and, for both graduate and undergraduate students, remains a “very welcoming presence who cares deeply about their success and comfort in the department.”

Diversity-Inclusion Award - Linda Esquivel

In a year when anti-racism, belonging, and diversity efforts gained critical momentum, Linda’s work was exceptional. As the Career & Affiliate Services Officer for MS&E, Linda built on her past record of organizing successful Women in MS&E panel discussions to organize, launch, and moderate both the inaugural MS&E Black Alumni panel and the Latinx alumni panel event. A founding member of the department’s new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee, and a BRIDGES member as well, Linda is also instrumental in supporting diverse students and alumni through her work on the MS&E career website and through communications focused on the educational experience and career paths of alumni from underrepresented student populations.

Leadership Award - Linny Le

In her role as Lead Research and Finance Administrator in Bioengineering, Linny has created a highly effective team that is trained and equipped to support BioE faculty, students, and staff. Leading by example, Linny took charge of a difficult, time-sensitive process to roll out funding for several COVID-related research teams, maintaining “relentless professionalism and pleasant attitude even when the days were long and emails too many to count.” Nominators also noted the way she built a collaborative, inclusive environment, and highlighted successful career development mentoring on her team.

Shah Award - Kirsti Copeland

The Shah Award, the school’s highest staff honor, is given each year to a staff member who exhibits outstanding competence, dedication, and accomplishment. As Associate Dean of Student Affairs in the Dean’s Office, Kirsti stood out for her tireless efforts as the go-to person on all matters involving students in the School of Engineering. She marshalled resources for student programs and aid, created outlets for student and staff voices on racial justice matters, and was indispensable to SoE leadership in navigating numerous student-related challenges over the past year. Kirsti has been a generous and compassionate advocate for students during the pandemic, as they experience unprecedented levels of uncertainty and anxiety. She’s also been a leading voice on the SoE academic policy group, helping guide issues ranging from grading policies to project kits to commencement.