Aleknavage Is November Employee of the Month

Posted: November 1, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Megan McDonnell

Heather Aleknavage
Photo by Stephanie Hay

According to colleagues, the two main qualities that describe November’s Employee of the Month, Heather Aleknavage, executive assistant in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), are her willingness to take on new assignments and her contributions to the wellbeing of co-workers.

Aleknavage’s supervisor, Dee Ann Holisky, senior associate dean of CAS, believes that these qualities “exemplify what we would like to see in all George Mason employees.”

Holisky says that Aleknavage provides much needed support for the office. “She has taken on the planning and execution of three major events in the college: the Celebration of Scholarship, the Mary Roper Award and luncheon and the CAS New Graduate Student Orientation. The collaborative spirit that she fostered to get this work done has been as valuable as the successful events themselves.”

In addition to these responsibilities, Aleknavage is also in charge of the management of the complex process of curriculum change, from queries about the process through the appearance of new curriculum in the University Catalog. Holisky also relies on Aleknavage to help with space management for the college; Aleknavage has overseen two recent renovations in College Hall, one in Robinson and another in Thompson Hall.

“Heather has become the unofficial ombudsman for the staff in the Dean’s Office, and has taken it upon herself to look after the wellbeing of all the staff here,” says Daniele Struppa, dean of CAS. “She has shown real dedication to an environment that is friendly, open, equitable and conductive to success.”

Two years ago, employees expressed a need for a support group for working mothers, and Aleknavage volunteered to lead the group’s bimonthly meetings. “She walks the lonely line of leading without demands, offering guidance without complaint, giving mentorship without condescension, and working without expectation of reward,” says Adrienne Shaw, former program coordinator, Mason Women’s Studies Research and Resource Center.

Jack Censer, chair, Department of History and Art History, appreciates Aleknavage’s resourcefulness. “She is very good at devising plans to deal with complex problems. She knows the Mason bureaucracy well and how to mobilize a response that requires cooperation of many individuals.”

“She truly is the glue that keeps the office together,” says Stephanie Hay, CAS communication coordinator. “She has confidence, organization skills unparalleled and a sense of humor that keeps all of us in check. She transitions flawlessly between running a faculty event and helping with students, and is constant in upholding the values, mission and goals of the college.”

And what does she think of all of this attention? “I am overwhelmed and deeply honored,” says Aleknavage. “I really enjoy my job, and I’ve had the opportunity to expand my scope of work into university-level activities, such as the Staff Senate, Support Group for Working Mothers at Mason and the Quality of Work Life Task Force.

“Right now, the restructuring of the College of Arts and Sciences into two new schools and the changes in leadership will make the future of my job very interesting. We will be working with a whole new set of priorities, goals and ideas, which will be both challenging and rewarding.”

Before coming to Mason, Aleknavage was the director of catering and member services at River Bend Golf and Country Club in Great Falls. She graduated from Old Dominion University in 1988 with a BA in English.

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