Kathleen Powell Is January 2010 Employee of the Month

Posted: January 5, 2010 at 1:03 am, Last Updated: January 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

By Robin Herron

Kathleen Powell. Photo by Evan Cantwell

Kathleen Powell, administrative assistant for Mason’s National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases (NCBID), is coming up on 10 years of service to the commonwealth and says she fully intends to spend the next decade with Mason. That’s just one indicator of the January Employee of the Month’s dedication to the university and the job she holds.

Powell’s service to Virginia actually began at Old Dominion University, where she earned her undergraduate degree and worked for a couple of years before joining Mason’s School of Management. In SOM she assisted the accounting faculty until 2006, when she moved to her current position with NCBID at the Prince William Campus. She admits she took the job partly for the shorter commute (she lives near Dumfries, Va.), but has stayed because she likes her job and the people with whom she works.

Powell’s main responsibilities are taking care of all budget-related items and human resources-related matters. She also coordinates work with the Office of Sponsored Programs on the center’s grants as well as “miscellaneous” administrative duties.

What does she like best about her job? “I like the people,” she says, adding with a chuckle, “And I like spending other people’s money!”

Powell’s skill at “spending other people’s money” leads Monique van Hoek, assistant professor of molecular and microbiology, to praise her highly.

“The most critical contribution that Kathy makes to my work is that she does all the purchasing for my grants,” van Hoek wrote in a letter nominating Powell as employee o f the month. Van Hoek noted Powell’s speed, her facility at handling paperwork, and her ability to track down lost orders, return items and even negotiate better prices on large orders.

“This has relieved me of a tremendous administrative burden,” van Hoek wrote. “This service that Kathleen provides to me and my lab is greatly appreciated every day.”

Charles Bailey, executive director of NCBID, wrote in his nomination letter that Powell is “one of the most competent and dedicated administrative assistants I have ever met.”

Bailey noted Powell’s initiative, positive attitude and enthusiasm as well, which “provide for an excellent atmosphere and reflect very favorably on her and the organization that she serves.”

“It’s an honor. It’s really nice that I was nominated,” Powell says of receiving the Employee of the Month award. A team player by nature, she admits to being a bit uncomfortable in the spotlight. “I really don’t like being the center of attention!”

Powell’s future plans include taking an introductory course as a possible prelude to pursuing a master’s of public administration (she already has a master’s in international relations), which she says would be useful in her current job. And with the new Biomedical Research Lab set to open this summer, she is busy with those preparations. As the telecom coordinator for the center, she has been overseeing the system for the new building as well as related issues, such as hiring and ordering equipment. When the new building opens, she expects her duties will be almost entirely hiring- and financial-related.

What does Powell do in her spare time? “I haven’t had any spare time,” she laughs, noting that she just finished her master’s degree in 2007 and is now house hunting. With a move to organize and a new course for which to study, Powell says that free time is a ways off.

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