The Excellence in Support Services award recognizes staff/non-faculty employees who demonstrate exemplary leadership and dedication to serving the College community while performing their duties in alignment with the College’s mission, vision, core values, and strategic goals and priorities

The award recipients will be employees who are consistently excellent in fulfilling the responsibilities of their positions while engaging collaboratively and thoughtfully with students and colleagues. The recipients will be customer-focused lifelong learners who provide leadership far beyond the stated functions and duties of their roles. The recipients will be proactive innovators willing to share their time and expertise to advance students, colleagues, and the College as a whole. 

2023 Excellence in Support Services Award

Full-time Recipient

President Buxton, recipient O'Dell Hill, and Angela Davis pose with plaque

O'Dell Hill, Network Administrator, is the recipient of the 2023 Excellence in Support Services Award.

For the past 15 years, O'Dell has provided leadership, stellar service, and excellent support to Durham Tech through the College’s Technology Infrastructure service area. He leads by example by demonstrating ways to troubleshoot and resolve issues, while maintaining a positive attitude and empathy. 

O'Dell serves Durham Tech with a focus on the core values. Specifically, he exhibits “The Standard for Excellence”, which all Durham Tech employees should display. He is professional in all that he does by completing projects in a time and manner that is mindful of others. He is keenly aware of the importance of his work to students and the college’s overall success. 

Part-time Recipient

Wanda Sutton, Administrative Assistant, Human Resources Development, is the recipient of the 2023 Excellence in Support Services - Part-time Award.

Wanda has served the College for 20 years. In her role, she provided laser like focus on the organization and completeness of continuing education program files to adhere to state compliance regulations. Our winner retired in 2021, but once the requisite 6 months expired so that she could come back to the College to work as a part-time employee. 

Employees still seek out her administrative excellence in ensuring that students are registered correctly and that files contain the requisite documents. Her motto "if we stay audit ready, we don't have to get audit ready" still rings in the ears of those who were trained and seek out her tutelage. She provides context for how systems should work for compliance purposes as when she worked with one director to ensure the equitable development of an electronic registration form to reduce a barrier to timely registration for students.

Her knowledge and use of state board codes serves as a training tool to those who seek her assistance. She has long demonstrated a dedication to institutional excellence by working at a high standard of professionalism.

Past Recipients

2022 Excellence in Support Services Award

Jamaal Walker, Chief/Director of Campus Police and Public Safety, is the recipient of the 2022 Excellence in Support Services Award. Walker has been described as the glue that holds the department together and went above and beyond during COVID-19. There were days he worked an overnight shift and then reported to work to cover day shifts when officers were out due to COVID-19 exposure or illness.

His support during outdoor graduations and pinning ceremonies ensured the College was able to celebrate its graduates safely, and his leadership played an integral role in Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Durham Tech on short notice. He demonstrates the core value of “collaborator” as he models servant leadership and is always willing to help other departments, which inspires his team to respond similarly.  

2021 Excellence in Support Services Award

Jes Dormady Jes Dormady, Coordinator, Center for College and Community Service, is the recipient of the 2021 Excellence in Support Services Award. Jes seeks to improve equity and access to all by ensuring students facing food insecurity, housing insecurity, or other financial hardships are connected with on- and off-campus resources. By finding ways to continue to offer services remotely — including connecting students to benefits screenings, diligently and creatively working to ensure we have stock in the food pantry even when COVID complicated supply chains, and providing referrals to other campus resources — Jes is making sure that all students are welcome at Durham Tech and have a chance to succeed even while challenged by COVID.

When the COVID pandemic suddenly closed the college, Jes recognized immediately how it would impact some of our most under-resourced students who relied on the supports they get from the food pantry. Jes spent countless hours in the evenings and on weekends making wellness calls to regular food pantry shoppers, students who submitted the Food Assistance Request Form, and students who did not qualify for the CARES Act grants to make sure they stayed connected to the college and had what they needed to stay enrolled. 

Collaborating with Chef Jordan in Durham Tech’s café, Jes led the creation of a frozen meals program for students. These weekly frozen meals particularly help students who parent to provide some relief and much-needed extra study time. Over 1300 meals were distributed from May 2020-March 2021.

Jes also collaborated with Whitney Riddle and Durham Tech’s Mobile Health Lab to provide pantry delivery to students who could not leave their homes due to health concerns or transportation challenges due to COVID. Almost 250 deliveries have been made to home-bound students in Orange and Durham Counties, connecting students to much-needed supports while learning remotely.

In addition, Jes collaborated with Durham Tech's Student Life, Student Wellness and Basic Needs, the library, and others across campus to distribute their support services through the food pantry. Jes graciously shared and welcomed loaner laptops, wellness items, diapers, baby food, activity kits, and other items for distribution through the pantry to provide critical resources to students. She also sourced household supplies such as cleaners and sanitizing wipes as well as kids’ snack and hygiene for free or or at a nominal cost, providing peace of mind and helping students maintain their health.

Zachary Mills, Tutor in the Center for Academic Excellence, was selected as the recipient of the 2021 Excellence in Support Services Award (part time). He went above and beyond during COVID-19 to help colleagues learn how to use Zoom for tutoring and engaged with students using any software easiest for them. He also served as a tutor in the MAT 171 study group and in the Early Childhood Intergenerational tutoring program. Students describe Zac as patient, understanding, and determined to figure out a solution to any problem.

2020 Excellence in Support Services Award

Amy Netzel HeadshotAmy Netzel, Instructional Designer/Web Accessibility Specialist, is the recipient of the 2020 Excellence in Support Services Award. Amy holds a firmly-held belief that it is our duty to design environments and experiences in which all students feel included and welcome and in which all can learn and succeed. She exhibits excellent judgment, work ethic, and her communications are always clear, positive, respectful, and helpful.

The Covid-19 crisis brought many challenges for Instructional Technologies, as it became necessary to prepare hundreds of faculty to teach online in just two weeks. During that transition period, she worked long days to train instructors in using Sakai, created a guide for faculty with ideas for recreating classroom activities in Sakai, quickly converted faculty training workshops into a video format, and created a video for students on how to access a meeting on their mobile device. She maintained an unwavering positive outlook during the stressful time approached each new problem with a “can do” attitude.

Amy served as co-chair of the College’s Digital Accessibility Task Force that produced a multi-year Digital Accessibility Plan for Durham Tech. She contributed valuable research and information as well as developing a detailed guide for vetting software for accessibility prior to purchase, filling an immediate College need. She provided training to task force members and College leaders on what digital accessibility is, what the College’s responsibilities are, and why it matters. Amy also created a two-week online digital accessibility training now required for all faculty.

Amy participates regularly in Teaching-Learning Center events and NC Community College Association of Distance Learning (NC3ADL) conferences (both as an attendee and a presenter) and was an active participant in a Teaching-Learning Center FIG on Hybrid Instruction. She has shared her expertise with other community colleges and provided advice on how to make Warpwire’s video tool more accessible for faculty and students.

2019 Excellence in Support Services Award

Liz Filipowski, holding plaque, poses with President IngramLiz Filipowski, Web Designer and Developer, received the 2019 Excellence in Support Services Award due to her gumption and regularly exceeding her daily job duties.

Liz was chiefly acknowledged for her extensive work and dedication to completely overhauling the school’s website for the first time in the College’s history. It took two years to accomplish this feat, two years of meticulous planning, collaborating with a team in different parts of the U.S. at various times of the day and night, and occasionally encountering setbacks and delays.

Liz not only handled each hurtle with grace and professionalism but spearheaded the whole project, despite spending most of the prior 15 years creating and expanding the former website. This endeavor required learning a new software and tapping into her extensive Durham Tech knowledge.

Though the new website is up and running, she continues to work with the outside consultant to keep the site in line with federal accessibility requirements and make changes when needed. She also has served as a vital part of the Durham Tech digital accessibility task force, which is planning the college’s first digital accessibility five-year plan.

A way to describe Liz is as the woman behind the curtain at Durham Tech who moves at a pace that one would think there was a whole team behind that curtain. She is a person who is seen as an example of how to keep Durham Tech evolving towards the future.

2018 Excellence in Support Services Award

Toni-Brown, holding plaque, poses with President Ingram

Toni Brown, Administrative Assistant for the Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer department, is the recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Support Services Award. Toni has gone above and beyond her job description on numerous occasions.

This year’s winner uses her time and effort to enthusiastically promote many programs on campus, which increases participation in the programs and thereby makes the programs more successful.

Toni has a special facility to gain support from others, getting faculty and staff to rally around whatever she calls them to support. People listen to Toni, respect her and appreciate all she does, and, therefore, are more willing to serve the programs she promotes on campus.

She works hard to keep the Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer staff, faculty, and students informed in many ways, some of which are not required of her. One example is when she sent emails to faculty and staff about the construction at the Edward L. Phillips Building when the building was getting a new heating and air conditioning system. Her sending the emails helped the recipients plan accordingly.

Toni takes an optimistic and upbeat approach to any leadership role she holds. She is also a strong problem-solver and knows who to contact when the Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer department needs assistance from another department.

Toni supports students by attending and assisting with service projects, arts events, and activities both on and off campus.

She bends over backwards to help faculty secure supplies without wasting products while still meeting classroom needs. If her colleagues need any materials, Toni will send out emails to see who might have the supply and then will often pick it up. She also made contributions to the new Associate in Fine Arts program by acquiring supplies and materials needed by the art instructors and secured a new vendor for materials at a 25-percent savings from previous vendors used for art materials.

2017 Excellence in Support Services Award

Valerie-Whitley, holding plaque, poses with President Ingram

Valerie Whitley, Colleague Systems Analyst, is the recipient of the 2017 Excellence in Support Services Award. Valerie has extended far beyond her job description and beyond our campus as she offers assistance to colleagues at other colleges within the system.

In the past few years the campus has experienced multiple turnovers in some key departments. During this time, this year’s award winner has been there to pitch in. The effort she expended is far above her duties. She attended system office training sessions with personnel in these areas to ensure that they could carry out their duties, and she spent a significant number of hours correcting data in the system that were preventing other systems and processes from working correctly.

Valerie's recent work with our ConnectSession process, as it relates to technology, is a good example of her initiative, innovation, and leadership. She observed that we had many issues coming to our ITS help desk from students attending ConnectSessions. She took it upon herself to attend these sessions and discover firsthand the nature of the issues, and assist students when possible. Many of the visits were after hours and some on weekends. As a result of these visits and based on her recommendations, ITS temporarily assigned additional personnel to attend the sessions to support incoming students. She then assisted in the development of a plan to help staff and session leaders troubleshoot students’ technology issues.

Colleagues across the system have learned to appreciate her as much as we do, as she is frequently called upon for advice on maintaining upgrading and implementing systems. Her willingness to help out here and across the system is deeply appreciated.

Part-time Recipients


Left to right:
Dr. Ingram; Heather Remley, Production Manager, Marketing and Communications; Dianne Affleck, Mathematics Tutor, Center for Academic Excellence

2016 Excellence in Support Services Award


Teresa Holder, Health Technologies Program Specialist/Accreditation Support Specialist, is the recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Support Services Award.

It's been said that when Teresa Holder says she will do something, she will do it and exceed any expectations you have for her on any project. Other accolades include:

truly believes in Durham Tech and the work she does, and she goes above and beyond to make the impossible happen sees the good in everyone and everything she touches is someone who wants to know more to better herself and the college is a self-initiator who is internally motivated by her love and dedication to Durham Tech is willing to help whenever and wherever help is needed. When she commits to a project, she is all in with enthusiasm, optimism, hard work, and dedication to excellence.


2015 Excellence in Support Services Award

Karen McPhaul, holding plaque, poses with President Ingram

Karen McPhaul, Senior Director, Instructional Technologies, is the recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Support Services Award.

Faculty know if they need something related to teaching and technology they can always count on Karen. Because of her attention to service, she positively affects the teaching practices of faculty who interact with her, thus improving the learning experience for students as well.

She serves on the Sakai Teaching and Learning Group, an open group of higher education practitioners who want to innovate and share best practices in teaching and learning with Sakai.

Her dedication to supporting excellent teaching and learning extends beyond the Durham Tech campus; the NCCCS system benefits from her expertise and willingness to lead.

Karen represents Durham Tech on the NCCCS Office Virtual Learning Committee (VLC) Streaming Media Research Team. She participates with the North Carolina Community College Association of Distance Learning (NC3ADL) and has served as president of this organization in the past.

Her committee and leadership appointments to the Distance Learning Advisory Committee, Learning Management Taskforce, and SACSCOC 5th Year and Reaffirmation Taskforces demonstrate the college’s trust in this staff person to take initiative and be innovative to the college’s benefit.

Karen is dedicated to helping faculty identify and use low cost and low barrier technology tools to improve their instruction. She provide annual workshops to introduce faculty and staff to software, web-based supports, and apps that have improved teaching and service.

2014 Excellence in Support Services Award

Tina Ruff, Coordinator, Institutional Assessment, Planning and Policy in Research, Evaluation, Assessment, and Planning, is the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Support Services Award.

The candidate should demonstrate outstanding performance in service to Durham Technical Community College or in one or more categories, including dedication, innovation, collaboration, safety/heroism, human relations, excellence, and other achievements. Tina was nominated in five of these seven categories. Her nomination was based on her work with the following:

Planned and facilitated a four-month, college-wide listening tour (gathered supportive data for the revision of the college’s strategic plan). Managed the seven Continuous Improvement Work Teams that were charged with addressing the issues identified during the listening tour. Assumed the responsibilities associated with coordinating the college’s policy and procedure process (including the development of the template and work flow). Assumed the responsibilities for coordinating the college’s Service Area and Program Review processes. Coordinated the revision of the college’s general education learning outcomes (GELOs). Began the process for aligning the planning and budgeting processes as the chair for the college’s Planning Council. Provided curriculum mapping presentations (Fall 2013 and Spring 2014) in the Teaching and Learning Center. Co-authored an article for the Learning Matters (Volume 6, Number 1, Spring 2014) publication. Served as a peer reviewer (Institutional Effectiveness) for SACSCOC (on-site review team, Fall 2013). Co-presented at the SACSCOC Annual Meeting (Atlanta, Fall 2014). Demonstrated continued dedication to the concept that the more people involved in the creation and implementation of projects, the better the outcomes of those projects will be.

Beyond the work, Teresa volunteers on campus and in the community. When morale among the Health Technologies faculty and staff was low, she organized and led a team of over 40 colleagues and raised over $2,100 through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of Sandra Grady. Her colleagues say that “her leadership and ownership of this very special project gave the department the boost [they] needed so badly” at that time.

Past Recipients  
2013: Mary Kennery 2008: Candice Capers
2012: Melissa Chapell 2007: Tina Webb
2011: Patrick Hines 2006: Megan Nicholson
2010: Julie Humphrey 2005: Sylvia Hunt
2009: Robin Lamb 2004: Cynthia Davis