A message from Ujima Donalson
Assistant Vice President,
Total Talent Management
We keep saying and hearing that we are living in unprecedented times. In fact, they’re so
unprecedented that sentiment now seems inadequate! The optimism that many people felt at
the beginning of a rare “double date” year like 2020 faded as COVID-19 took hold, and we
now find ourselves living in the kind of times we heretofore had only read about in
Back in March, the pandemic felt like it might bring a pause or hiccup to our normal
routines and business operations, yet now the anniversary date of when we stopped our
regular “in-person” life is fast approaching and our expectations of “returning to
normal” have changed. So, where do we go from here?
The power of conversation: An introduction to the Employee Experience Toolkit
Josina Garnham, Training & Organizational Development
Consultant, Professional & Organizational Development
More than any other metric, employee retention — or people choosing to stay in their
organization — is a powerful indicator of culture. People who choose to stay and grow at
the University of Washington are key contributors to the work that is accomplished in
our varied departments.
Last year Professional & Organizational Development set about to understand the factors
that promote employee satisfaction and engagement at the UW. That work led us to develop
a toolkit to support managers across the University with having conversations that
illuminate what keeps their employees engaged.
Announcing UWHR’s diversity, equity and inclusion project
Virginia Frausto, Diversity Specialist
As Black Lives Matter and social justice protests surged over the spring and summer, UWHR
experienced an increase in requests from across the University for diversity, equity and
inclusion training and resources, and we intensified our efforts to support the UW in
becoming an anti-racist institution. We launched a DEI site in July to connect leaders
and staff with pertinent and timely information, and now the newly formed diversity,
equity and inclusion project has embarked upon a year-long initiative to further this
work within UWHR and across the University.
I form part of the project team along with Ebonee Anderson, whose role has been expanded
from diversity recruiter to diversity consultant, and Kavir Ortega, a UW student and
diversity intern. Project oversight and direction is being provided by Ujima Donalson,
assistant vice president of Total Talent Management and inclusion strategist for UWHR.
Our team will be operating within Professional & Organizational Development and will be
receiving support with communications and administration from our POD colleagues.
Recognizing excellence during extraordinary times
Kimberly Mishra, Chief of Staff for Vice President for Human Resources
Each fall, UWHR invites nominations to two award programs — the Thorud Leadership Award
and the Distinguished Staff Awards. We always look forward to receiving the heartfelt
nomination letters that detail outstanding achievements and showcase the true excellence
of our colleagues from across the institution. Like the rest of 2020, this year’s awards
season will be different and will reflect the pandemic as well as the surge in
diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
We want to recognize the extraordinary ways leaders and UW staff have responded to the
pandemic — pivoting to remote learning and working, supporting students and each other
through this unprecedented emergency, saving lives and providing compassionate
palliative care, researching vaccines and cures, and stepping up to do whatever was
needed as we figured things out. We have also witnessed and want to honor efforts by
colleagues focused on making the UW an anti-racist organization through diverse,
equitable, and inclusive policies and programs that support our greater community.
Lisa Lewis, Publications and Logistics Specialist, Professional &
This past March, as the world began social distancing and many started working from home,
POD transitioned its operations online. This meant shifting our popular and highly
interactive in-person classes from our Roosevelt Commons East training facility to what
was then an unfamiliar online learning environment for many — Zoom.
While a number of our POD and external consultants had utilized Zoom here and there,
this shift required us to master this video conferencing application almost overnight.
My position also changed from supporting our classrooms onsite to coordinating Zoom
logistics, coaching instructors and participants with limited experience with online
training, and acting as a “producer” for Zoom sessions with anywhere from 10 to 150
participants. Furthermore, the nature of my position shifted to acting as a bridge and
support system by bringing all parties up to speed in this new space through
encouragement and enthusiasm.
What to expect from POD in the coming year
As with academic classes at the UW, POD’s offerings will remain online for winter
quarter, including our quarterly classes, the Strategic Leadership Program, and Welcome
Day. As long as large numbers of staff are working remotely, we will continue to deliver
our classes online, which means we highly anticipate operating in the online environment
Our live online workshops combine facilitation and activities in Zoom with supplemental
materials delivered via email, e-books, or self-paced online content (see course
descriptions for details). We also now offer stand-alone self-paced courses that include
interactive and multimedia components. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to innovate in the
online space and explore new topics. For instance, The Challenge of Allyship, launching
winter quarter, follows a format we developed for Conversations About Race in the
Workplace: weekly facilitated conversations coupled with self-placed online content over
the course of a month.
Other new offerings for winter include Managing Up and Human-Centered Design for
Innovation and Creative Problem Solving. Registration opens on Wednesday, Dec. 2! In the
meantime, you can find autumn offerings in our online catalog.