Everyday Hero: Martha Reiner

Posted: July 29, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Jeremy Lasich

Editor’s note: This Daily Gazette feature profiles key people at Mason who “make it happen.”

Name: Martha Reiner

Position at Mason: Awards coordinator, Human Resources (HR)

How Long at Mason: 16 years, including the past 8 in HR

Her First Job at Mason: Worked in the President’s Office with George Johnson

What She Does: Administers the awards program at George Mason. “I do everything from soup to nuts with the program. I collect the nominations for all of our awards. I manage the central budget we are given for the awards. I also oversee the service awards for University Day, which is a huge undertaking—this year we are going to have more than 425 people who will be honored.” Outside of the awards program, Reiner also evaluates and makes changes to HR policies and creates pooled positions for new and existing indexes in the Banner system.

On the Growth of the Awards Program: “Under Keith Bushey (former assistant vice president for Human Resources and current safety officer), we started out with three basic programs in the pilot in 1996, which is when I came over to HR. Now we have 12, with 3 or 4 more in the works. We have a great group of awards that are very focused on the entire work life of an employee from the time they get here until the time they leave. And, after they leave, we have the new Retirement Connection.”

Her Biggest Accomplishment: “Definitely the Retirement Connection. In all the time I’ve been in this position, I’ve wanted to begin a retirement program because I felt that it was something the university really needed. Starting this past January, we began sending packages to those retiring, which include an array of personalized complimentary items. Retirees receive passes to the Aquatic and Fitness Center, the Freedom Center, basketball tickets and tickets to the Center for the Arts. Also included is information on the Learning in Retirement Institute, a parking decal for a year, and a special retiree ID with no expiration date. We now have a master list of all of our retirees, which I will use to invite them to special events. It’s nice to be able to recognize the service people have given to the university.”

President Merten and Martha Reiner
Photos by Evan Cantwell

On Why It Is Important to Recognize Others: “I think I get great joy out of recognizing our staff because I see so many wonderful things our employees are doing when the award nominations come in. These accomplishments are what make this a great place to work. To be able to be such a positive force in the university really gives me energy and a great deal of satisfaction. I must thank President [Alan] Merten and Mrs. Merten who, along with [Senior Vice President] Dr. Scherrens, are so supportive of all the awards programs. This high level of support is what makes our awards program work.”

On the CUPA Award George Mason received: “I’m humbled by the award. That was a very big accomplishment because we won the Southern region, and in October I am going to the national convention for recognition. It was great to have that recognition from our peers saying ‘this is what you do best.’ [Assistant Vice President for Human Resources] Linda Harber really encouraged me to enter it. She was impressed with the program’s scope and resources when she came to HR last fall. I’ve received calls from more than two dozen universities inquiring about how we administer our program, so the feedback has been very positive.”

Most Memorable Experience at Mason: “Winning the Quality Customer Service Award last year ranks at the top of the list. Seeing people stand up and applaud what I do was so awesome. I’ll always remember that day as the highlight of my career.”

On the People She Works With: “I really owe a lot to [Compensation Manager] Ilse Riddick. She and I brainstorm a lot in the mornings on how we can make things better, including the process and procedure for the awards. We bounce a lot of things off each other and it has resulted in a lot of what you see now with the program. Also, our ideas and initiatives wouldn’t be successful without the super encouragement of Linda Harber and [Employee Relations Director] Pat Donini. This is a department of real professionals and great people like our wonderful generalists and benefits staff. Our department is awesome!”

Biggest Changes She’s Seen in Her Years at George Mason: “There is more emphasis on the accomplishments of staff. Also, HR is involved in a lot of great training to enable our employees to do the best job they can.”

What She Does For Fun Outside Her Job: “Actually, I like to walk about four miles a day. I also take care of my cats (two and a half if you include the neighbor’s cat we take care of) and spend time with my husband Karl. I am very proud of my two sons—Matt is with the Department of Defense and Jonathan is a research engineer in Tucson.”

What People Say about Her:

“Martha is one of the most pleasant personalities in the world, who is always trying to do something for somebody else. Martha always tries to make somebody else’s life a little better. She is the consummate woman with a ‘heart of gold.’ In my mind, Martha is a classic example of a person that is consistently ‘other-oriented’ and ‘well-intentioned.’ She is an invaluable asset to both her department and the university.”

—Maurice Scherrens, senior vice president

“Martha is a gem—her enthusiasm for the Mason Reward and Recognition program makes it a stellar program supporting outstanding faculty and staff. Her excellent follow-through and concern for quality and superior customer service keep all the details flowing smoothly. Some days, I wish we could clone Martha and watch the results. The Staff Senate newsletter said she sparkles, and that is the best description. Her sparkle adds so much to the program and the Human Resources/Payroll Department.”

—Linda Harber, assistant vice president for Human Resources

“Martha is the epitome of dignity and grace. She is a very classy lady who plans and orchestrates important employee events. Her pride in her programs is evident as is the appreciation she receives from award winners, retirees, and Human Resources and Payroll team members.”

—Pat Donini, employee relations director, Human Resources

“Martha is elegance, grace, and gentleness. Her dedication to and love of the program she oversees is evident in each detail that we see at all award events. I count our friendship as one of the richest treasures of my career here. George Mason is a more wonderful and happy place with her as part of it.”

—Stacey Remick-Simkins, Staff Senate chair

“Since the beginning of the awards program, Martha has relentlessly promoted employee recognition at Mason. In years past she needed to e-mail or call supervisors for nominations, hoping to keep the program in the forefront of their minds. Her efforts paid off. Nominations now come to her continuously, and recognition has become a part of life at Mason. I thank Martha for all of her hard work.”

—Ilse Riddick, compensation manager, Human Resources

Write to at