Posts in: HR News
By Alana Aamodt ’18
Courtney Blackmer ’16 synthesized her interest in film and Southwest studies for her 2016 thesis documentary “The Confluence,” which has been shown at venues across the Southwest and has been invited to screen at the Grand Canyon Youth Film Festival. This past fall, Robert Redford — actor, director, producer, environmentalist, and the founder of the Sundance Institute — joined the project as the executive producer, furthering the short film’s acclaim.
The film centers on the Navajo people local to the Grand Canyon area and the proposed Escalade Development, which would allow a hotel, RV center, restaurant, and other resort attractions to be built on the rim of the canyon, directly above the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. Even more invasive, the plan includes a 1.4-mile tramway that would shuttle thousands of visitors a day to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, to where the rivers join. This area is considered sacred to numerous Native American peoples, including Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni, and while proponents of the development say this will stimulate the local economy, many see it as desecration of a sacred site.
The film features members of the Navajo community as they speak about their lives and tell stories of their origin, many of which focus on the confluence, where legend says the Navajo people first came from. By combining these personal and honest conversations with striking shots of the Grand Canyon area and community around it, the film “explores how the physical landscapes of the Grand Canyon shape the cultural, emotional and spiritual landscapes of the Navajo people who inhabit it,” describes Blackmer.
“I am deeply concerned by the challenges facing native communities and I wanted to find a way to be an ally to them,” Blackmer says of her inspiration to start this film, “I am also intrigued and inspired by the wealth of land-based knowledge in native traditions. I saw this as an opportunity to learn from the Navajo people about land stewardship, environmental activism and the spiritual significance of the natural world.” Blackmer’s upbringing in Colorado helped fuel her film as well; by “growing up rafting and kayaking on the Colorado River, I have a deep love and respect for this river which has shaped my experience of myself and my world. In this way, my characters and I share the understanding that places make us who we are,” she says.
Blackmer, who majored in film and media studies and minored in Southwest studies at CC, recognizes that her film would not be what it is without the help of several people. “I have been collaborating from the very start with my friend from CC, Isaac Salay ’16, who grew up on the Navajo Nation. He had vital connections to the Navajo community and was a fantastic cultural liaison.” In addition, she had the help of two experienced cinematographers, Isaiah Branch-Boyle and Adam Amir, who devoted a month of their time to helping her shoot striking footage and develop the story further.
Redford joined Blackmer’s team in the fall and has encouraged her to make further edits; they have also begun to seek a larger audience for the film.
“Our shared interests in documentary filmmaking, environmental activism, and advocating for the rights of native peoples make this an excellent collaboration; I feel very lucky,” she says of the opportunity to work with Redford.
Finally, and most central to the film, is the Save the Confluence organization, which supplied the main characters of the film — the Navajo activists who are fighting for preservation. Blackmer acknowledges the importance of their involvement, saying “they took a risk and decided to trust me with their stories. This was a tremendous honor and a responsibility that I took very seriously.”
The film is receiving acclaim throughout the Southwest and has recently been invited to screen at Northern Arizona University and Prescott College. It has also been invited for submission to a number of other film festivals, including the Durango Film Festival, Reel Paddling Film Festival, and Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival. “A story isn’t worth much if there is nobody there to listen to it, so I feel very lucky and honored that my film is reaching so many people,” Blackmer says. “The most important audience to reach is the Navajo audience, because this is their story and they are the ones who get to decide whether or not this development moves forward.”
The Human Resources department is inviting all Colorado College staff – regardless of how long you have been at CC – to sign up for CCNEW or CC CONNECT (or both!) to experience the enhanced onboarding process developed for new CC employees. Both programs are part of Thrive@CC.
“Any employee can join the onboarding program at any time it’s offered,” said Lisa Brommer, senior associate director of human resources.
CCNEW is offered every month and focuses on the processes and procedures at CC, helping new employees navigate the technicalities: compensation, key policies, the strategic plan, and benefits. CC CONNECT, which is offered quarterly, is more relational, Brommer said. Its goal is to connect new employees with campus leaders and provide them with the opportunity to meet faculty, other staff, and students. Various campus resources, such as Staff Council, the Employee Assistance Program, and SARC (Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator) also are highlighted in the CC CONNECT sessions.
The next CC NEW session will be held from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., Monday, Nov. 3 in the WES Room on the lower level of the Worner Center. Upcoming future sessions will be held Dec.1, Jan. 6, Feb. 2, March 2, April 1, May 1, June 1, and July 1.
The next CC CONNECT session will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 12 in the Spencer Board Room, located on the first floor of the newly renovated Spencer Center, with breakfast and lunch provided. Future sessions will be held Feb. 25, April 28, and June 23.
Human Resources also will launch a CC ambassador program in January, in which newly hired staff members will be paired with a person who has been at CC for a while and can serve as a campus reserouce. The expanded programs are related to the workplace excellence initiative in CC’s Strategic Plan.
“Re-energize yourself,” Brommer said. “Be a new employee again.”
Colorado College’s Wellness Team
recently organized a “Walk the Block” to help promote healthfulness and get people on their feet, away from their desk, and out of the office.
The event, held on Tuesday, April 10, Colorado’s Culture of Health Day, featured a .93-mile walk. The walk began outside Tutt Library and went around the block (Cascade, Uintah, Nevada, and Cache la Poudre), beginning and ending at a table manned by the Wellness Team and laden with T-shirts, water bottles, pedometers, and snacks for the participants.
The idea originated during a meeting of the interdepartmental Wellness Team, chaired by Shaleen Prehm, HR manager/benefits administrator.
The group was discussing ways to encourage staff and faculty to exercise when Angela Hines ’82, P’12, P’12 , P’13, associate director of alumni and parent relations, mentioned that the New Mexico Department of
Health in Santa Fe, where she worked previously, encouraged staff to get away from their desks for a morning and afternoon break and go for a walk. “It became almost a craze down there,” Hines said. For there, the idea took form.
Ann DeStefano, psychology staff assistant, was one of the approximately 30 participants. “It’s a great way to get some exercise and build community,” she said. “I like the idea of building community in a healthy way.”
Jim Swanson, director of financial aid, was another who came out for the event. “This is the most stressful time in the financial aid office,” he said. “I owe it to myself to get out. Plus there’s great weather and great congeniality.”
“I’m doing it for the health benefits,” said Jayne Blewitt, alumni and parent relations specialist. “It’s a good way to get out of the office and get it in gear!”
The Wellness Team hopes that “Walk the Block” develops legs and becomes a part of people’s daily routine. “It would be great to look out the window and see people walking in groups,” Hines said. “It would also help develop a sense of community.”
“Walk the Block” was a collaborative effort. Gina Arms, director of purchasing came up with the T-shirt idea. Shaleen contacted Chris Coulter in facilities services about mile markers along the route. Kelly Hugger ’08, program coordinator for students and young alumni, worked on the advertising, posters, and the printed map. David White, help desk manager, created the notice for the events listserv. Linda Petro, assistant to the president and board of trustees, arranged for the food. Sara Rotunno, assistant director of resident life, plans on sending out occasional reminders about walking. Ryan Patterson ’12 donned the Prowler costume for the event. A raffle was held for three iPod shuffles and four smaller gifts, with everyone pitching in with the giveaway items.
The team’s hope is that staff and faculty will walk every day, clubs will form, and a campus walking community will hit its stride. “We hope everyone will have a pair of tennis shoes or walking shoes sitting under their desk, just waiting for a turn around campus at least three times a week,” Hines said.
There’s a growing rock pile at Colorado College, and it’s not on any quad, field, or building site.
The pile of rocks is mounting outside the Human Resources office, and HR anticipates it will continue to grow. The rocks are part of a new program called “You Rock!”, an initiative launched in late fall as a way for employees to show appreciation for one another.
HR staff members quietly kicked off the program by distributing a total of 11 small rocks with the words “You Rock” to CC employees HR wanted to recognize. The rocks didn’t necessarily go to people visible to everyone on campus. Often it is the quiet people working in their offices who get the work done and made a positive difference and contribution to the college.
The “You Rock” program is aimed at boosting employee morale and demonstrates just one way to show appreciation for others. It’s a way of telling people, “I’ve noticed the good job you’re doing, and what you’ve done for CC.”
“You Rock!” is designed to be a peer-to-peer recognition program, one that takes place at the grassroots level and proceeds at its own pace.
Recipients of the rock are given instructions: They become the “Keeper of the Rock” for two weeks and are encouraged to display the rock on their desk, bookshelf, or other work visible places where colleagues will notice. After two weeks, they are to pass the “You Rock!” rock on to someone else, and to either write a note or tell the recipient why he or she is being recognized.
When HR is notified that the rock has been passed on, the new recipient’s name is added to the “You Rock” wall of fame featuring a photo display of rock recipients outside the human resource office on the third floor of the Spencer Building.
To date, “You Rock” recipients are:
Colorado College held its staff recognition ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 15, in Bemis Great Hall. Following opening remarks by President Richard F. Celeste, the service awards were presented by members of senior staff. Among those recognized for their service were:
Susan Ashley (five years as staff)
Jeffrey Noblett (five years as staff)
* omitted last year
The human resources department has announced the following new hires, rehires, transfers, and promotions:
Michael Applegate, maintenance worker, residential life and housing
Andrew Benger, shift supervisor, campus safety
Aaron Cohick, printer of the press, The Press
Marina Eckler, assistant to the curator, I.D.E.A. Space
Jay Engeln, director of alumni & parent relations, advancement
Michele Klein, staff assistant, sociology
Amy Lareau, admission counselor, admission
Lisa Ly, program coordinator, office of minority and international students
Lauren Mocilac, residential life coordinator, residential life and housing
Jeffrey Moore, technical/statistical coordinator, economics and business
Una Ng, staff assistant, education
Sean Roberts, audiovisual support technician, media services
William Rogers, patrol officer, campus safety
Jean “Renee” Shipley, gift records specialist, advancement services
Sara Springer, assistant director of admission
Jason Tricket-Lammers, assistant men’s hockey coach, athletics
Stormy Burns, office coordinator, music
Laura Foster, office coordinator, Summer Programs
Jim Grey, office supervisor, advancement services
Brandy Lachocki, receiving coordinator, Tutt Library
Jason Taylor, special events technical supervisor, media services
As a result of the substantial improvements in dining services and the bookstore, and with a desire to use college resources even more effectively, CC is reallocating oversight responsibilities for several of the college’s auxiliary functions.
In 2006 the positions of legal counsel and director of business were combined when Legal Counsel Chris Melcher joined the college. The college benefitted from having one individual with significant legal and business experience manage both areas of responsibility, and achieved immediate salary and benefit savings. Now with dining services and the bookstore on firm footing, the college will eliminate the director of business position, and redistribute oversight of auxiliaries. Effective March 22, the dining service and bookstore contracts will be managed by Vice President of Finance and Administration Robert Moore, and the college’s managed properties and insurance and risk management functions will be managed by Legal Counsel Melcher, in addition to his current legal responsibilities.
In his business role, Melcher oversaw significant transformations and improvements in the dining service and campus bookstore. In 2007-08, the college completed a competitive new food service bid process, won by Bon Appetit, which was overseen by Melcher and the Campus Food Service Committee. The change to Bon Appetit has resulted in improved food service, progress on sustainability, an improved sense of community, and a contribution from Bon Appetit of $3.5 million toward the renovation of CC’s food service facilities.
Additionally, in 2008-09, the ad hoc Bookstore Advisory Committee composed of faculty, staff, and students and supported by Melcher, spent months exploring the future of campus bookstores and textbooks, ultimately reaching a unanimous recommendation to award a contract for management of the campus bookstore to Validis (Nebraska Books). The college secured a beneficial contract, and the transition took place in Block 6.
As a result of these improvements, the college now has an opportunity to reorganize these responsibilities and make permanent the savings realized from combining the positions of legal counsel and director of business.
Robert Moore and Chris Melcher will work closely to ensure a smooth transition and look forward to the greater effectiveness these changes will produce. CC is continuing its efforts to fulfill the Board of Trustees request that the college look for ways to improve efficiencies and operations. Feel free to call either Moore or Melcher, or others in their offices, with questions regarding these changes, or go to: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/welcome/presidentsoffice/melcher.asp
For personal and family reasons, Ed Eng has decided to leave Colorado College at the end of June 2010. A search committee will be formed to select a qualified individual to replace him as the director of facilities services. In his tenure at CC, he was able to shepherd the Long Range Development Plan through the city planning process, including, at neighborhood meetings, presentations to the City Planning Commission, and ultimately City Council for their approval. He successfully managed a 15 percent reduction in facilities staffing and planned for continued maintenance despite a $1 million reduction in the renewal and replacement (R&R) projects budget. Through his initiative, a Long Range Maintenance Plan is being developed to assist in guiding the college in the judicious expenditure of facilities operations and maintenance dollars. The college wishes him well in his future endeavors.
Jayne Blewitt, Alumni Parent Program Specialist, Alumni & Parent Relations
Tobias Brace, Staff Nurse, Boettcher Health Center
Justin Freeman, Database Records Specialist, Advancement Services
Sarah Jaecks, Database Records Specialist, Advancement Services
Monica Leahy, Admission & Financial Aid Specialist, Admission Office/Financial Aid Office
Brenda Maldonado, Staff Nurse, Boettcher Health Center
Kevin Morgan, Patrol Officer, Campus Safety
John Papuga, Groundskeeper, Facilities Services
Jon Ramsay, Patrol Officer, Campus Safety
Margaret Rustenbeck, Staff Assistant, Facilities Services
Kim Wigglesworth, Lab Supervisor, Boettcher Heath Center