University of Colorado Staff Council celebrates excellence across system

UCSC’s annual awards honor those who go above and beyond
By Staff

The University of Colorado Staff Council (UCSC) honored 10 exceptional employees across the system during a virtual awards ceremony, held Friday via Zoom.

The CU staff members – two from each campus and from system administration – received the governance group’s Excellence Awards, which annually recognize those who go above and beyond their job duties and consistently surpass expectations. Each receives a plaque and $250 award.

The 2020 honorees are:

CU system administration

Sharon Bishop


Bishop, at the university for nearly four years, was hired in Employee Services as director of payroll. In July 1018, she moved to assistant vice president of payroll and benefits administration. She knew she had found her forever career at CU when she was given the privilege of working with a group of true professionals who share her passion for providing “Exceptional Service, Every Employee, Every Time.” This mission starts with CHRO Felicity O’Herron and permeates the work of the entire Employee Services family.

For the past 10 years, Bishop has served on the Executive Committee and five years as treasurer of the Minory Yasui Community Volunteer Award, an organization that honors unsung volunteer heroes who normally would not be recognized. The culmination of her professional and volunteer experiences makes Bishop the team leader she is today, mentoring the next generation of leaders while continuing to strive for efficient and positive customer experiences for CU’s workforce.

Katie Princo


Princo is a development research analyst. Her team supports President Kennedy and advancement staff across CU’s campuses to enhance their understanding of our donors, alumni and other constituents, and help donors and alumni support causes they care about. Princo is passionate about serving her colleagues and our donors and alumni, providing actionable, data-driven insights that lead to more meaningful relationships with CU. She also currently serves as chair of System Staff Council.

Previously, Princo worked at CU Boulder as part of the College of Music Advancement team, coordinating in-house research and stewardship and managing two annual giving programs. She received her master’s in music composition from CU in 2013 and a bachelor’s in music from the University of Michigan. She also serves as treasurer of the University of Michigan Alumni Club of Denver. During her spare time, she enjoys playing piano and organ, cooking, reading, and watching murder mysteries.

CU Anschutz Medical Campus

Carl Johnson


Johnson is part of the student affairs team at CU Anschutz. He is a passionate advocate for the student experience and a committed partner to the school and colleges and programs at CU Anschutz. He has had a long career in student affairs and believes that a university’s commitment to holistic student development creates a strong student community and committed alumni. He works directly with CU Anschutz student senate and enjoys mentoring students to create strong communities. He also works with Case Management ensuring that every student feels connected to their community and has access to resources.

Johnson loves the high energy and rapid pace of CU Anschutz and enjoys coming to work every day. He enjoys being a part of the collaborative team at CU Anschutz, where everyone is committed to excellence and student growth.  

He lives in Denver and is a committed husband and enthusiastic father to two kids, Davis and McAllister. He spends weekends with friends and families and is deeply grateful for the university recognition and shares this with the many CU Anschutz partners he gets to work with daily.  

Megan Robins


After finding her passion for HIV/AIDS advocacy during a year abroad in Spain, Robins served as a health volunteer in a small Mozambican town with the U.S. Peace Corps before moving to Brazil to work on a farm. She began her patient care and health advocacy work when she moved back to the U.S. and settled in Denver, eventually transitioning into her current “dream job” with the University of Colorado as an HIV linkage and retention in care coordinator in 2016.

Robins has dedicated herself to her clients, worked to expand important services and relationships to a more diverse clientele within the community, and believes in the inherent dignity and worth of all people by creating authentic and meaningful relationships. She uses these relationships to better understand and communicate the needs and complexities of clients and colleagues while serving on the steering committee for Denver’s 5280 HIV Taskforce and leading the HIV Corrections Transition Workgroup. 

Outside of work, Robins’ interests run the gamut from volleyball and soccer to ghost towns, paint by numbers, and natural hot springs. She camps, hikes and skis whenever she can and secretly adores her sassy feline companion, Councilman.

CU Denver

Rachel Cornelius


Cornelius has worked for the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) at CU Denver for 18 years. She has been an administrative assistant, an admissions counselor, a graduation coordinator, a placement coordinator, the Office of Partnerships coordinator and most recently was promoted to manager of the Office of Partnerships and Teacher Education Program.

Her years of service have made Cornelius a resource of institutional knowledge; she also has earned the reputation of “party planner.” Aside from the many events Cornelius must manage as part of her position, she has been helping host social events for SEHD from the minute she was hired. She also has been on the SEHD Staff Advisory Council/Recognition Council for over 10 years, volunteering her time to make SEHD a fun, rewarding and positive place to work.

Cornelius is an alumna of CU Denver (master’s in marketing) and Western Michigan University (bachelor’s in advertising). She has two children: almost-6-year-old Bridger in first grade and 4-year-old Presley in Pre-K. Cornelius is on the Collaborative School Committee at Holm Elementary School, is a Holm Helper (aka PTO), is a class parent for the preschool, and helps coordinate community events in her neighborhood. During her free time, she likes to visit their ranch off the Yellowstone River in Montana with her husband, Jordan, and kids and go rock hunting, entertain and cook for friends, go thrifting, enjoy a good book in the hot tub, and walk her Goldendoodle, Colby Jack.

Loan La


La has been with CU Denver for 29 years. Currently she is a human resources principal specializing in HR system and data analysis. During her tenure with the human resources department, she has overseen all aspects of human resources operations and practices. She provides a wide range of support to HR business partners in a variety of human resources areas including payroll, leave, compensation and guidance on policy. As an HR subject matter expert, her areas of expertise are in system operational, system data analysis and reporting.

La is a first-generation college graduate, having earned a bachelor’s in International Business from CU Denver. She enjoys traveling and exploring different cuisines from around the world.

CU Boulder

Otha Barrow


Barrow came to CU Boulder in 2010 as a graduate student in the department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. He began working at CU ion 2013 as a first-year adviser in the College of Arts and Sciences. He has since worked as the graduate program assistant for the Department of Chemistry, and now in the College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) as a senior academic adviser for the Engineering Plus program. He also advises for open-option students in the college’s GoldShirt program through the BOLD Center, International Exchange Students, and Intra-University Transfer Students. He serves as parliamentarian on the CEAS Engineering Staff Council and Executive Staff Council.

Before coming to CU Boulder, Barrow worked as a residence counselor at the Interlochen Arts Academy. He is a first-generation college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in finance and a master’s degree in German. He is pursuing a post-bacculearate in computer science.

Barrow is a fervent lover of the arts. He enjoys playing classical piano and learning new languages. He also enjoys baking breads in the fall and winter.

Alisha Bennett Stewart


Stewart has been at CU Boulder for five years, working as the director of human resources for the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Her role serves as a key strategic adviser to the dean, associate and assistant deans, and to departmental leadership in the college, which provides efficient human resource operations and quality services to attract, develop, motivate and retain a diverse and highly effective workforce capable of advancing the academic mission.

Before coming to CU, Stewart worked for the Kansas City Chiefs in human resources for four seasons and has a passion for football. As an alumna of the University of Oklahoma, she earned her bachelor’s in human resources management, an MBA in international business from Oklahoma Baptist University, a master’s in human resources management, and holds a national Professional Human Resources certification.

Stewart has served on the Boulder Staff Council since 2015, and has held a variety of leadership positions including serving as secretary in 2016-18, parliamentarian in 2017-18, and as the blood drive chair since 2016. She was nominated for the Boulder Chamber of Commerce Celebration of Leadership Community Impact Award in 2018 due to involvement with blood drives in the community. 

In her spare time, Stewart enjoys serving on the Resource Conservation Advisory Board for Boulder County (RCAB), volunteering as the academic excellence adviser for the Texas A&M Corpus Christi chapter of Alpha Gamma Delta, traveling, dog parks, parades, arts and crafts, and live music.


Heather Allen


Allen has been working at UCCS for six years, and is currently the executive assistant to the VC and AVC for the Division of Student Affairs. Allen’s passion for serving and taking care of others has always been a part of who she is. Growing up in New York, she knew she wanted to have a career in service and joined the Army. Heather was awarded Soldier of the Quarter during her time in the military, and honorably discharged after serving two deployments in Iraq (’03, ’05-’06).

Allen then used her GI Bill to attend PPCC for her AA, and then UCCS for her bacehlor’s in communications. While pursuing her degree at UCCS, she became a student employee at the University Sign Shop. After working there a year, she moved on to become the first ever student intern for the University Marketing and Communications department. As the end of her internship neared, she was hired on by University Development as an administrative assistant and later moved up to be the development program assistant/manager. After two years with University Advancement, she moved to the Division of Student Success (now Student Affairs) and has been serving as the executive assistant ever since.

Allen enjoys volunteering her time working with the AFROTC program, as chair of the Student Achievement Award Committee, and with multiple areas of UCCS commencement ceremonies. She truly believes her co-workers are family and takes pride in being able to assist in not only the success of those she works for/with, but that of the division and the university as a whole. She strives to keep a positive attitude, live by the UCCS core values, and respond with “happy to help,” whenever she is able to.

Aaron Burton


Burton joined the UCCS Mountain Lion team in 2017 as the campus policy and space usage program manager. Before coming to UCCS, as an Air Force veteran he spent 15 years in aircraft fabrication/engineering and as a production superintendent on multiple fighter, tanker, rescue and special operations aircraft, at assignments and deployments between Japan, the U.K., the Middle East and Asia. In his last assignment at the Air Force Academy, he was responsible for preparing and supporting deployers and their families, was the casualty assistance representative, and was interim superintendent for the largest Support Squadron in the Air Force, supporting over 4,000 cadets and 1,500 personnel and families. 

In his role at UCCS, Burton coordinates campus policy review and development between the regent, system and campus levels with the UCCS chancellor, vice chancellors, deans, directors and governance groups. He joined just as the system’s comprehensive review and revisions were underway, with over 130 system policies and 40 related campus policies revised over the last two years. As the campus space liaison, he collaborates with vice chancellors and deans to accommodate space growth needs for the many new and growing degree programs across campus, and the related faculty, staff and students. Additionally, he coordinates on campus leases between the state architect and property owners.

Most recently, Burton has been a part of the COVID-19 Campus Recovery Logistics Team, working closely with campus leaders and experts preparing spaces, classrooms, signage and guidelines across the campus for the successful Fall 2020 return to campus.

Outside of work, Burton enjoys all things fitness, traveling, and exploring new sights and cultures with his wife, a UCCS health sciences faculty member, and his two daughters, a UCCS freshman and a Lewis-Palmer Middle School Patriot. Burton feels truly fortunate to be part of the professional, diverse and inspiring UCCS team serving and supporting the faculty, staff, students and community.

During the awards ceremony, the four campus chancellors introduced the respective winners from their campuses, while President Mark Kennedy presented the system awardees.

“I want to congratulate all the recipients,” Kennedy said. “What wonderful work you’re doing and what wonderful dedication.”

Board of Regents Vice Chair Lesley Smith also expressed her thanks to the honorees and all system staff members.

“This has been an unprecedented time, and it’s been so impressive to see how everyone in the CU community has pulled together for over six months now to keep our mission going,” Smith said. “I really am so proud of everyone and all your hard work. … Without you, we really would not be a strong CU.”

The event also included a keynote address by Susan Heinzeroth, who lectures at the CU Denver Business School.

“By celebrating each other, measuring our progress and pursuing a larger purpose together, we’ll create more meaning and joy in our lives,” Heinzeroth said.

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