Candidate Biographies & Interest Statements

At Large Delegate Candidates

Ronnie Bell

Interest Statement

I am interested in becoming a Staff Council At-large-delegate due to my experiences as a university staff employee for over 25 years and what this enables me to offer. I would like to be able to work to effect changes for the University System as well as my own campus at the University of North Carolina @ Charlotte. I'm also excited with working on the new changes that we as the Staff Council can affect.

Biography

Ronnie Bell is a licensed and certified Locksmith at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He has been employed with UNCC since 1992. With almost 25 years in the UNCC system, he has served as a member of the Staff Council representing the Physical Plant for the past 12 years. During his reign as a staff council member, he has become widely respected as a person of integrity and one who cares about the concerns of his fellow co-workers.

Several times in 2015, Ronnie represented UNCC as an alternate for the Staff Assembly delegate and this interaction had such a huge impact on him that he decided to run for this office.

While at UNCC, he received the Employee of the Year Award in 2014. He was previously named as employee of the Quarter at UNCC. In the Community he has served as Vice-President of the Belmont Community Neighborhood Association.

Ronnie was born in Waynesboro, Georgia on July 1, 1958. He graduated from Waynesboro High School and from the Augusta Technical Institute in Augusta, Georgia. After receiving his certifications in Carpentry and Contracting, he studied locksmith and became certified and licensed in this field also.

He is an ordained minister and has been the Pastor of the Carolina Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Kannapolis, North Carolina for 10 years. Before moving to Kannapolis, he pastored a congregation in Charlotte, North Carolina for 14 years.

He has a commitment to God, family and work. He has been married for over 37 years to Sharon Bell. He is the proud father of 3 girls, Rosanna, Sonya and Sharhonda. Added to their family has been 2 sons-in-law. They also have two grandsons and one granddaughter.

His hobbies are riding his motorcycle, playing tennis and traveling with his wife across the United States, Abroad to various countries and many Caribbean Islands.

Robert Canida

Greetings UNC Staff Assembly Colleagues,

Having been in the academy for over 20 years (Academic Affairs and Student Affairs), I have witnessed the ebb and flow in higher education. However through my personal and professional experiences and relationships, I can say without a doubt that, we have come a long way! I can say that we have changed and continue changing lives through staff service and support! I can say that it is our staff colleagues that makes each of our institutions and the entire UNC system great! As the Director for Diversity and Inclusion for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, one of my responsibilities is to serve, by being a voice for those who feel they don’t have a voice. While serving as UNC Pembroke’s Staff Council Chair from January 2016 to June 2017 and a Delegate at Large for the UNC Staff Assembly from mid-2016 to June 2017, I was honored to be a servant voice for the thousands of staff colleagues. As the saying goes, “May the work I’ve done speak for me.” This became evident and I was humbled when receiving word that I was the 2017 Erskine B. Bowles Staff Service Award recipient. Continuing the great work of our Staff Assembly as a Delegate at Large, I will fulfill this position’s requirements, not for the sake of holding the position, but as being an effective servant leader, who will speak up and speak out for service, equity, inclusion, and order.

Thank you for your consideration and for your vote.

Sincerely and proudly embracing diversity,

Robert

Celeste Corpening

My name is Celeste Corpening and I reside in Charlotte, NC. I am blessed to have a beautiful and loving daughter (10). I grew up around the world but was born in a small town called Hickory, North Carolina as my father was in the military. After my high school graduation from Simon Sanchez High School in Yigo, Guam and I subsequently obtained my bachelor’s degree from UNC-Greensboro in Information Systems and Operations Management (1996). I was certified as a Graphic Designer from the Art Institute of Charlotte in 2002 and Masters from the University of Phoenix in Adult Education & Teaching (2014).

I have worked in the IT field for 20+ years as a Lab Manager, Software Engineer, Web Designer, Applications Analyst, and Project Manager. In 1998 I became a business owner of Celestial Creations. It is a company in which unique designs cater individuals need through graphic design, photography, an event planning. We provide anything from business cards to wedding invitations.

I am very passionate about the youth and their future. Thus, I have volunteered with the following organizations in order to assist at-risk children. My desire is for their light to shine as bright as it can and they have all the opportunities afforded to them so that they are able to blossom into the unique creatures God intended. I am in the process of publishing two children's books to aid the special needs children community.

I have worked at UNC Charlotte for the past 19 years; and been on Staff Council for about 8 years. In those 8 years I have been able collaborate with other departments on campus and within Staff Council to invoke change. I have served on the Budget Committee, Safety Committee, Education and Events Committee and the Homecoming Committee. In doing so, I have helped to get additional funds for our Staff Appreciation event as well as help to facilitate our Golden Nugget awards program. Additionally, I was the chair of the Events and Education Committee for 6 years where we hosted a number of successful events, providing support for various charities, solicited donations, and organized contests. Our Staff Appreciation/Fall Festival fosters cohesiveness and boosts employee morale, and I am proud to have been a part of this event.

Currently, I operate as the Vice Staff of the Staff Council at UNC Charlotte. Go Niners!!! I would love to have the opportunity to serve as a Delegate at Large so I can help facilitate change at a broader level. I have seen the growth and impact a united front can make. I would like to be on the front lines of change, positively impact all in the UNC system.

Jason Foster

Jason Foster is a proud Catamount, having received his BS in Telecommunications Engineering Technology and a certificate in Project Management from WCU.

Jason has worked at WCU for 13 years and currently works with the Data Center Services team as the Enterprise Applications Administrator in the Division of Information Technology. Jason’s primary responsibilities include projects and applications that have a campus-wide impact, some of which include: Office 365, campus e-mail, WCUid account management, Windows server administration, and various other projects across campus.
Jason currently serves as the Technologist for WCU's Staff Senate and previously held the role of Parliamentarian.

Jason enjoys living in the mountains with his beautiful wife and 2 young daughters.

Carole Greene

It is an honor to be nominated for At Large Delegate with Staff Assembly. I have been a part of Staff Assembly for just over a year, and a member and Executive Board member of Appalachian State's Staff Senate for over three years. I work with Appalachian's Student Support Services providing advising, support, and instruction to first-generation and low-income students. I am passionate about staff leadership development and about promoting staff welfare on both a campus and state-wide level. I would welcome the opportunity to serve the staff of the UNC System as an At Large Delegate.

Todd Inman

Biography

I am a graduate of University of North Carolina at Greensboro and have worked for East Carolina University for six years with the Facilities department. In my time at ECU, I have served on the Staff Senate for three years. While participating in Staff Senate, I have served as Treasurer for two years and worked on numerous committees including the following: Rewards and Recognition committee, Scholarship committee, Human Resources committee. During the past year, I had the opportunity to serve on as an Alternate to the Staff Assembly.

Interest Statement

All members of the UNC System community, be they staff, faculty, or students, are here by choice. Even though we all face similar challenges and difficulties, we often forget to work together and share our experiences. The Staff Assembly is the opportune location to gather together and discuss timely matters that affect all of us. An important goal for me would be to improve the lines of communication. The sharing of ideas and knowledge would promote the fact that we can do more together than we can as individuals.

Anna Peitzman

Interest Statement
I am interested in serving as an At-Large Delegate of Staff Assembly and gaining a more thorough understanding of our activities and programs. I enjoyed participating in the Chancellor’s Golf Cup Tournament this past year, and look forward to having a more substantial role in the planning and implementation of the tournament. I am good at discerning patterns and the big picture as well as the finer details, or seeing not only the trees but the whole forest, and as such would be happy to serve on standing and Ad Hoc committees as needed. As a long-time UNC System employee and student, I look forward to serving all of our schools and endeavoring to make them even better places to work

Biography
I’ve been a North Carolina resident for most of my life, and am a proud 49er, Bulldog, and Spartan. In 2010 I graduated from UNC Charlotte with a double major in Anthropology and Psychology.

Prior to and since undergraduate graduation, I have worked for the UNC system in some capacity. First, in various roles for the Center for STEM Education at UNC Charlotte from 2008 – 2014. Second, and for just over three years, I have worked as the administrative assistant for the Biology Department at UNC Asheville. I currently serve as the Vice Chair for UNC Asheville’s Staff Council after having served for a year as the Secretary.
As of fall 2015, I am pursuing my master’s in library and information studies (MLIS) through UNC Greensboro’s online program. (Shout out to our tuition waiver benefits!) I plan and hope to be graduating with flying colors in spring 2018.

Michelle Saunders

Michelle Saunders has worked at Fayetteville State University for four years and is the Assistant Ticket Manager for the Seabrook Auditorium. She’s determined to continue the legacy of Fayetteville State University and has been involved in various events around campus and within the community. She was the FSU team captain for the Alzheimer’s walk, participated in the Ribbon Run-Walk for cancer and her passion for decorating was key to the success of numerous Ball in Pink events. Additionally, she capitalized on her marketing knowledge by partnering with Performing and Fine Arts in creating a new program called The Seabrook Series, which will bring a variety of events to the Seabrook Auditorium for everyone in the community to enjoy. Lastly, she was crowned the 2017-2018 Ms. FSU Staff and her campaign raised nearly $1,000 for staff senate grants.

Velappan Velappan

My name is Velappan Velappan, and I have been an employee at Fayetteville State University for over nine years now. I have been involved with FSU’s Staff Senate for the last eight years; I started as a Proxy and have now been elected as a Vice-Chair for two terms and now elected as a Chair for this term. As FSU’s Staff Senate’s Vice-Chair for 2014-17, I have endeavored to integrate the goals of Staff Assembly into our Staff Senate. I have also served as an Executive Officer for the last five years and was involved in several different roles, including implemented for the first time News Letter Publication for FSU Staff Senate in February 2016, implemented a new Staff Senate Grant in April 2016, serving as one of the FSU’s Capital Campaign Team Leaders for 4 years, Election Committee Chair for 5 years, a member of Employee of the Year and Hospitality and Events Planning committees.

I was also honored as a 2014-2015 Employee of the Year (1st Runner-Up) and Mr. FSU Staff. I have been a part of the UNC Staff Assembly for the past five years, representing FSU as an Alternate from October 2013 and as a Delegate from January 2015. In my time as an Alternate and Delegate, I have served in many capacities since joining the UNC Staff Assembly in 2012, including Nomination Committee member and conducted staff assembly elections for the last three years, one of the official photographers in Chancellor’s Cup Golf Tournament Committee, served as a member of Staff Development Committee. I have brought forward issues for consideration, actively participated in discussions, and made efforts to get to know each of you. I have been a strong advocate for Staff benefits, fortification, and recognition.

Therefore, if I am honored the opportunity to be a Delegate-At-Large, I would make every effort to improve the UNC work environment by advocating for employee concerns and interests within Staff Assembly in an effort to boost morale so that employees will remain in this great system! I am also confident that I can bring the needed support to our President and Staff Assembly’s Executive Team to move our assembly forward and maintain the level of excellence that has been established by our past Administrators and Executive Committees. Thank you for the nomination, and I love to work with you all as a Delegate-At-Large.

Parliamentarian Candidates

Brian Hart

When I first began working at UNC Asheville, I never envisioned myself as someone who would take an interest in policy and procedure. However, that interest has grown as I have become more involved on my campus as a member of Staff Council and in Staff Assembly as a member of the Governance Committee. And now that I have begun learning about all aspects of higher education during my graduate studies at Appalachian State, I recognize that having a framework in place, whether it’s something small like meeting procedures or something larger like bylaws and policy, allows organizations at all levels to operate more efficiently and more effectively. In helping to rewrite the bylaws for UNC Asheville’s Staff Council, I learned about how they are constructed and how they can affect, both negatively and positively, the functions of an organization. My interest in running for Parliamentarian stems from these experiences, and I look forward to helping Staff Assembly efficiently reach the goals we pursue during my two-year term.

I graduated from UNC Asheville with a degree in Literature/Creative Writing in 2011 and began working at the university in 2013 as the Department Assistant for the Graduate Center. I currently serve as the Administrative Assistant for the Physics Department and as Lookout Observatory Manager. During the 2016-17 academic year, I received UNC Asheville’s Spirit of Innovation Award for my work with the observatory. I have served on the university’s Staff Council for a year and a half and as a delegate to the Staff Assembly for the past year. I am currently enrolled in Appalachian State’s Master of Arts in Higher Education program, and will graduate in Fall 2018 with a concentration in Community College and University Leadership. When I am not working in or thinking about higher education, I enjoy hiking in the mountains of Western North Carolina, reading, and writing fiction and poetry.

Garrett Killian

As someone who likes order and organization, I feel I am a good fit for parliamentarian. I work in information technology and the nature of this career dictates procedures and processes are followed consistently, just as the parliamentarian role does. I have worked with Roberts Rules of Order for over 8 years while serving on the ECU Staff Senate and now the Staff Assembly. During my recent tenure as parliamentarian, I led a by-law change that now allows us to conduct official business with a simple majority of delegates. Leading the governance committee, I spearheaded several updates to our procedures manual and plan, if re-elected, to continue the effort to modernize this manual. I have also served as a valuable resource for our Chair and Chair-Elect, offering advice and guidance on governance related Assembly issues. Lastly, I have played a key role in the Chancellors’ Cup Golf Tournament and look forward to keeping the tournament a huge success. I would be honored receive your vote and have the opportunity to serve the Assembly again as parliamentarian.

Velappan Velappan

My name is Velappan Velappan, and I have been an employee at Fayetteville State University for over nine years now. I have been involved with FSU’s Staff Senate for the last eight years; I started as a Proxy and have now been elected as a Vice-Chair for two terms and now elected as a Chair for this term. As FSU’s Staff Senate’s Vice-Chair for 2014-17, I have endeavored to integrate the goals of Staff Assembly into our Staff Senate. I have also served as an Executive Officer for the last five years and was involved in several different roles, including implemented for the first time News Letter Publication for FSU Staff Senate in February 2016, implemented a new Staff Senate Grant in April 2016, serving as one of the FSU’s Capital Campaign Team Leaders for 4 years, Election Committee Chair for 5 years, a member of Employee of the Year and Hospitality and Events Planning committees.

I was also honored as a 2014-2015 Employee of the Year (1st Runner-Up) and Mr. FSU Staff. I have been a part of the UNC Staff Assembly for the past five years, representing FSU as an Alternate from October 2013 and as a Delegate from January 2015. In my time as an Alternate and Delegate, I have served in many capacities since joining the UNC Staff Assembly in 2012, including Nomination Committee member and conducted staff assembly elections for the last three years, one of the official photographers in Chancellor’s Cup Golf Tournament Committee, served as a member of Staff Development Committee. I have brought forward issues for consideration, actively participated in discussions, and made efforts to get to know each of you. I have been a strong advocate for Staff benefits, fortification, and recognition.

Therefore, if I am honored the opportunity to be a Delegate-At-Large, I would make every effort to improve the UNC work environment by advocating for employee concerns and interests within Staff Assembly in an effort to boost morale so that employees will remain in this great system! I am also confident that I can bring the needed support to our President and Staff Assembly’s Executive Team to move our assembly forward and maintain the level of excellence that has been established by our past Administrators and Executive Committees. Thank you for the nomination, and I love to work with you all as a Parliamentarian.

Secretary/Treasurer Candidates

Brian Hart

My interest in running for the position of Secretary/Treasurer begins with my current role as Secretary for UNC Asheville’s Staff Council, a role I look forward to serving in for Staff Assembly. I am a firm believer in the usefulness of agendas and meeting minutes as a way to keep Staff Assembly and university staff informed. With communication being a vital part of any organization, it is very important that a reliable line of communication, especially written communication, between the Staff Assembly executive committee and delegates is crucial to our success. Also crucial is ensuring the Staff Assembly has the resources to do its work. Budgeting has become much more vital in the North Carolina system over the last several years, and this holds true for the Staff Assembly. I enjoy finding creative ways to accomplish a great deal with limited resources, which I have done for UNC Asheville’s Physics Department and the university’s observatory the last three years. In both of these roles, I know I can help the Staff Assembly reach the goals we pursue during my two-year term.

I graduated from UNC Asheville with a degree in Literature/Creative Writing in 2011 and began working at the university in 2013 as the Department Assistant for the Graduate Center. I currently serve as the Administrative Assistant for the Physics Department and as Lookout Observatory Manager. During the 2016-17 academic year, I received UNC Asheville’s Spirit of Innovation Award for my work with the observatory. I have served on the university’s Staff Council for a year and a half and as a delegate to the Staff Assembly for the past year. I am currently enrolled in Appalachian State’s Master of Arts in Higher Education program, and will graduate in Fall 2018 with a concentration in Community College and University Leadership. When I am not working in or thinking about higher education, I enjoy hiking in the mountains of Western North Carolina, reading, and writing fiction and poetry.

Crystal Woods

Crystal is an Emmy Award-winning Broadcast & Emerging Media Specialist. She currently works as a Digital Media Specialist in the Distance Education & Extended Programs, Interactive Video Conferencing (IVC) Department at the North Carolina Schoool of Science & Mathematics.

She worked for local television stations for over 8 years including WRAL-TV & Fox 50, News 14 Carolina, and UNC-TV/PBS. In 2013, she earned an Emmy Award from the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences for news coverage of hurricane Irene for Chyron graphics and news production. In 2011, she earned an Emmy nomination for the WRAL news coverage of the April 2011 Tornado Outbreaks in North Carolina for studio audio and news production.

Crystal holds a Master's in Education Technology, a Graduate Business Administration degree in Management, a Bachelor's in Music Industry: Media Communications Track, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Education.

In addition to her Digital Media Specialist position, Crystal serves as the STEM Enrichment Coordinator at NCSSM, Staff Senate Chairman, and an ex-officio member of the NCSSM Board of Trustees.

Statement of Interest:
I am interested in serving on the UNC Staff Assembly as Secretary to make a broader impact on the staff of the UNC System. I understand the work of the UNC Staff Assembly and the progress the assembly has made for the staff and I am fortunate for the opportunity to serve.

Vice Chair Candidates

Pam DeGraffenreid

Thank you, so much, for this opportunity to once again seek the Vice Chair’s position which I have held for the past 12 months. Prior to this position I served in an SA at-large position for eight months. The experience has been quite rewarding and I am proud of the contributions I have been able to make in helping this organization serve the staff across our university system.

During my tenure as Vice Chair, we’ve accomplished the following initiatives:

  • Revived Monthly Chairs meetings
  • Included an Orientation Presentation
  • Requested a Monetary Awards Resolution for SA Awards (Erskine B. Bowles, Thomas W. Ross, Unsung Hero)
  • Developed the Community Service Hours Transfer Resolution
  • Increased campus delegate participation for the Chancellors’ Cup Golf Tournament
  • Requested that SA questions be submitted for the Employment Engagement Survey
  • Participated in GA Strategic Planning on Human Capital

A few of our accomplishments during my terms as Chair of the Human Resources committee were the following:

  • Nomination of the first Thomas W. Ross Visionary Leader Award.
  • Development of a Best Practices Survey which was shared not only with SA delegates, but also with President Spellings.
  • Recommendation of a monetary award for the Erskine B. Bowles, Thomas W. Ross and the potential Unsung Hero awards.

During my tenure as the Chair of Staff Senate, our Senate accomplished the following:

  • Improved the onboarding process
  • Increased professional development opportunities
  • Recommended and accomplished a new Southern Conference Staff Award
  • Enhanced the process for recognizing long-term employees
  • Included staff in the commencement ceremony; and
  • Participated in a shared governance project to increase lighting on our campus

These were just a few of our initiatives that improved the working conditions and awareness of the importance of staff on our campus. As Vice Chair, my goal has been to make our assembly stronger and more visible to state employees. I feel shared governance is essential to the success of all state employees. As a collective unit I know we can “Make a Difference” in the lives of many state employees who feel voiceless. We have to be committed to working together. We are their voice and we need to make sure they know it, and that their voices are heard through our tireless efforts. I am grateful for your continued support.

Anna Peitzman

Interest Statement
I am interested in serving as the Vice Chair of Staff Assembly; to support and represent incoming Chair Dawn Brown not only in any absences, but also to be her right hand during meetings. I look forward to closely working with the group of Campus Chairs and ensuring the continued success of the Chancellor’s Golf Cup Tournament (and perhaps collaboratively creating the perfect team to successfully compete against the Winston-Salem State University team!) Though it would be difficult to fill the shoes Pam Degraffenreid will be leaving behind, I would be proud to do right by her and the whole of Staff Assembly. As a long-time UNC System employee and student, I look forward to serving all of our schools and endeavoring to make them even better places to work!

Bio
I’ve been a North Carolina resident for most of my life, and am a proud 49er, Bulldog, and Spartan. In 2010 I graduated from UNC Charlotte with a double major in Anthropology and Psychology.

Prior to and since undergraduate graduation, I have worked for the UNC system in some capacity. First, in various roles for the Center for STEM Education at UNC Charlotte from 2008 – 2014. Second, and for just over three years, I have worked as the administrative assistant for the Biology Department at UNC Asheville. I currently serve as the Vice Chair for UNC Asheville’s Staff Council after having served for a year as the Secretary.

As of fall 2015, I am pursuing my master’s in library and information studies (MLIS) through UNC Greensboro’s online program. (Shout out to our tuition waiver benefits!) I plan and hope to be graduating with flying colors in spring 2018.