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General Election 2019

1. Read candidate statements below

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2019 Staff Council Candidates

Patricia Acerra

Having worked recently with the SNL staff to articulate concerns in our college, I became aware of the value working collectively to support the needs and expectations of staff at both the college level and throughout the university. The Staff Council is an effective and engaging place to gather to confront the challenges of our workplace and to create solutions to confront those challenges.

Dani Blackwell

​My name is Dani Blackwell and I will be celebrating 15 years at DePaul in June. Navigating the university as a staff professional over the last 15 years has been an adventure. I have grown as a professional. I am a member of DPUBLC, member at large of DWN , DePaul's Parent Connection member and a part of the HR committee within the Division of Student Affairs. I believe that I am a well rounded individual that can provide great prospective to the staff council and look forward to the possibility of serving.

Christina Bowman

​I joined DePaul’s office of advancement in 2006 after completing my undergraduate degree, and DePaul has been my professional home for the last 13 years. I have held multiple positions within advancement, and currently work support the efforts of our fundraising, communications and alumni relations staff by providing data on DePaul’s constituencies to support these efforts ‚ including fundraising for scholarships, programs and facilities. I currently chair our Advancement FUN committee ‚ our mission is to increase office engagement and promote cross-departmental unity.

I am interested in joining Staff Council for several reasons. As an employee, an alumna , and someone who is currently working to build community within my department, I have a unique perspective that could be beneficial to the committee ‚ I have experience working with student-focused staff, internally-facing staff, and externally-facing staff, as well as working across teams to build community.  As a member of Staff Council I want to advocate for an increase in transparency in university decision-making and clear and timely communication. I also want to ensure we remain a mission-driven institution since it is such a large part of this community’s identity.​

John Gieger

​My career at DePaul began six years ago as a grant employee in the College of Education. Today, I am an instructional designer in the Center for Teaching and Learning and lead the Center for Equational Technology. I have had the privilege to serve on Staff Council for two terms, including a term as chair of the Staff Resources committee, and I would be honored to serve another term. I truly believe that Staff Council has a critical role in the university governance and that now, more than ever, we must advocate for all staff and equitably allocate resources. It is critical that we encouraging collaboration between part of the University and leadership, fighting against the rising tide of the corporatization of higher-ed, and intentionally implement our mission and values.

Nicholas Hayes

​In 2007, I started working at DePaul as an adjunct faculty member. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to be hired into a staff position that allowed me to continue working with students while having more responsibilities and voice in The School for New Learning’s Writing Program. My time in this position has been both fulfilling and uncertain as my college and the university are positioning themselves for the future. I have appreciated administrators and fellow staff members who have taken the time to address how changes might affect DePaul staff. Recently, I have helped the SNL staff draft a series of proposals presented to Staff Council. I want to serve on Staff Council to continue work like this ‚ listening to staff concerns and advocating for them. I would hope for the opportunity to meet with staff across the university in order to help them express their concerns and aspirations for DePaul. I would also like to help transform these concerns and aspirations into actionable steps to strengthen our community.​

Eric Holst

​While fairly new to DePaul, I have been shaped in higher Education through nearly two decades developing and coordinating internship and job opportunities for students. I’m passionate about sustainability, social change, education, and creating opportunities for employee growth. Through participation in DePaul University Staff Council, I hope to create deeper connections with colleagues and contribute positively to the DePaul community. Prior to my work at DePaul, I served as a lobbyist and advocacy director for the American Cancer Society, and Director of Operations for Facets -- an international nonprofit media arts organization headquartered just block from the Lincoln Park campus. Throughout my career, I’ve been a strong voice and successful change agent for a wide variety of issues related to diversity, education, healthcare, human resources, community outreach, and University Relations.  I’m excited to offer these experiences and contribute, to the best of my ability, to the future success of the University.​

Tom Judge

I have worked at DePaul since 2004 as a chaplain within University Ministry, which was, for many years, within the Division of Student Affairs and now resides within the Division of Mission and Ministry (DMM).   As part of its founding, the Division of Mission and Ministry is focusing greater time and energy on helping our staff and faculty grow deeper bonds of community and strengthen our affinity with DePaul’s Vincentian identity.  Towards these ends, I believe it would be of value to have a DMM person on Staff Council to hear more clearly the concerns of our staff at DePaul and to collaborate more directly with other staff to address these concerns and to enhance the experience of every staff person at DePaul and through them the broader community of students, faculty and administrators. 
While a chaplain at DePaul, I have served as an adjunct faculty person as well as worked with a variety of staff, faculty and students in multiple capacities and from many corners of the university.  I am deeply grateful for the honor of working at this university and, by doing so, coming to know so many of you.  If elected to Staff Council, it is my hope to be fully present and engaged at meetings and on committees, to listen carefully and to learn from our colleagues, and to work together to help support our staff and assist our university to more fully live into its Vincentian mission. 


Mark Lazio

​As a part-time staff member, who also teaches in two departments and juggles the demands of multiple jobs and being single parent, I understand the importance of strong support, transparent benefits, and access to resources. I want to serve on staff council to provide better representation for the many concerns and needs of DePaul staff, especially part-time staff. My work in the University Center for Writing-based Learning (UCWbL) involves collaborating with staff across many departments, offices, and divisions, which gives me insight into and understanding of the work life, needs, and, often times, lacking support for and representation of DePaul staff.

If elected to staff council I will push for more cohesion among staff across departments and divisions, fight for more transparency about benefits, and bring up issues like affordable options for childcare or paid professional development for part-time staff. Most importantly I would find more ways to provide our staff with a forum to express their concerns and ideas.

I have worked as a staff professional in the UCWbL for seven years, I have been a part-time faculty member in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse for six years, and a part-time staff instructor in the English Language Academy for two years. I have served on the First Year Writing Showcase committee, served on the Teaching in a Global Classroom Committee, facilitated a Global Learning Experience, led various faculty and staff-development workshops, and have conducted departmental assessment.

Bernard Little

​Never has there been a more important time for committed individuals who understand their true vocation in life is advocating on behalf of others to step up to the plate than this current time. DePaul University means so much too so many and staff at DePaul play a critical role in making up who we are as an institution. As a proud staff member with close to three years of professional service here, I work daily in advocating for students who experience some difficult moments in their lives. The work is fulfilling and I wouldn’t be able to accomplish any of what I do without the trust and support of faithful colleagues. With a passion for people, a calling for advocacy, and a drive for organizational support; I submit my materials to serve as a staff council representative. No fancy words, no confusing slogans. Just a committed colleague who is willing to do what I can to assist and support in the best way possible.

Goals are premature without an understanding of the needs and desires of the people you represent. This is why my first priority if selected is to work with other representatives to establish or enhance opportunities for staff at DePaul to communicate their needs and expectations directly to Staff Council, and then get to work advocating for the needs of the people. I look forward to serving.   

Emad Mahou

​I am a human rights activist and a key leader in the civil uprising against Syria’s brutal dictator, Bashar al-Assad back in 2011. Because of my beliefs, in June of that same year, I was detained and tortured for three months. When I was released, I fled Syria and found political asylum in Chicago in 2012. Today, I am a staff member at DePaul and a proud American citizen. I have been working since joining DePaul with the office of Secretary to support the technological needs for DePaul Board of Trustees. This year I was selected as one of 9 thought leaders in the DePaul community and in April delivered a speech about the cost of Democracy at TEDx DePaul.

I will be bringing these traits to the council, where I hope to proudly serve as a voice for our staff  community. As staff, our roles are often unseen, and the impact and significance of our work is not always immediately recognized, yet we are vital to the success of the campus community.  Serving on University Staff Council would give me the opportunity to serve as a voice on behalf of all of the staff. In past life experiences, I have been fearless and tireless when advocating on behalf of others. I have many goals that I would like to advocate and work for on the council. To enhance benefit packages, find new ways to improve and support work/life balance for staff, support the leadership, and help find a new ways to utilize resources in order to support DePaul's mission, preventing future layoffs by doing so. As a council member, I look forward to helping staff increase their excellence, justice, connection to DePaul’s values, which will increase and encourage the community of DePaul as a whole.

Kate O’Brien

​I have worked at DePaul full-time for 20 years. I began as a MBA student, worked as a graduate assistant and started full-time shortly after graduation. I fell in love with the Vincentian Personalism I experienced as a student after having attended a large public institution as an undergrad. I have worked as an academic advisor my entire career, first in the then College of Commerce and now as the Director of Athletic Academic Advising. I was a teaching assistant during grad school and have had the opportunity over the years to teach in the Department of Marketing, University Internship Program and First-Year Programs. Having experienced DePaul over the past 24 years as a student, a staff member, an adjunct faculty member and an alumna (3rd generation), I think I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the council. I am running for reelection because I want to continue to help the council advance its agenda and serve the university in a governance capacity. My main goal in serving on Staff Council is to continue to make DePaul a great place to work. I am open to serving in whatever capacity (on whatever committee) makes the most sense given the strengths and interests of the other members and the needs of the group.

Scott Ozaroski

​I have worked at DePaul for almost four years, as the Associate Director of Program Management in the Study Abroad office.  I work closely with faculty, staff, and students across the university as our team helps develop and implement a wide variety of study abroad programs around the world.

I have had an interest in Staff Council throughout my time at DePaul, but I only considered running once I had been here for several years.  It was one of my goals this past year to attend as many Staff Council meetings as possible, and this has helped me learn much more about what is happening across the university.  I have felt more connected to my fellow staff, and it has made me want to be an active voice to help move the university forward and bring a strong staff perspective to all that DePaul does.

The recent decision to shorten the length of the monthly Staff Council meetings was a smart one, and this has helped make the meetings much easier to attend.  Despite this, I continue to be surprised at how few staff take advantage of attending these monthly meetings, and I want to help find more ways to increase attendance at Staff Council meetings and functions.  While the elected Staff Council representatives act as a voice for all staff, it’s crucial to have as many staff as possible well informed about all that is happening at the university and further engage them in the university community.

Victoria Van Kirk Pride

​Thank you for your consideration.  I am Victoria Van Kirk Pride and I currently serve you on Staff Council as the Chair of the Communications Committee.  It has taken the past two years to become acclimated with the initiatives and processes of our governance and I would be honored to continue on this path.  I will take the knowledge I have gained and use it to make a greater impact on the staff experience at our university.
DePaul has been my professional home for the past 14 years where I have held several positions in the Department of Housing and Student Centers. DePaul University has afforded me enriching professional opportunities as a staff member and faculty member.  These opportunities broaden perspective making it possible for me to empathize with many causes.

Staff at DePaul need a voice and need Staff Council to help amplify that voice for many so that we can feel secure and supported in the work we do with students.

Goals that I would continue to work towards while on staff council would be:
  • ​Keeping the Vincentian Mission at the forefront of conversations related to staff support and connection ‚ especially as we transition to a new president
  • Providing informed input around budgetary decisions and priorities related to DePaul staff benefits (during a time when declining enrollment is a national trend)
  • Promoting the inclusion of diverse perspectives in decision-making related to the staff experience
  • Working to ensure that staff have resources and support in order to navigate new and challenging times in higher education alongside our students
Thank you again and I look forward to the prospect of continuing to serve DePaul on Staff Council.