The Employee Advisory Council is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 EAC Awards. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards are announced here instead of an in-person event. 2021 has shown the effort our employees put forth, especially during times of unique challenges. Congratulations to our nominees and winners, and congratulations to all employees who continue to put in the hard work required during these times!

Award Criteria

2021 Award Winners

Clay Adamson

Catherine Jackson

James A. & Erie P. Blissit

Dawn Gantt

Golden Pen

Dr. Gokila Dorai

Hospital Quality

Dr. Christy Forehand

Service Excellence

Shelby Watkins


Fatima Desamito


Instructional Design Team


Photo Gallery

Catherine Jackson
Dawn Gantt
Dr. Gokila Dorai
Dr. Christy Forehand
Shelby Watkins
Fatima Desamito
Instructional Design Team


Clay Adamson Award

photo of Catherine Jackson

Catherine Jackson

  • Facilities Management

Nominated by: Ms. Angela Maskey

Environmental Services Technician

Ms. Catherine Jackson was nominated for the Clay Adamson Award by Ms. Angela Maskey. In her nomination, Ms. Maskey mentions that Catherine’s “quality work is exceptional” and that she is “professional and adapts to our changing needs” including switching assignments when needed or covering other floors. Catherine is known for dropping what she’s doing and report to where she’s needed right away, with a smile on her face, and never with complaint. If Catherine sees a need she jumps right in with initiative to take of the need. She is friendly and kind and she knows all of the faculty and staff in her assigned area. Her “customer service is anticipatory and personalized; she is wired for excellence and has a process for ensuring that small details are not missed”. Catherine has come from a place of great adversity and said that working with AU was her goal. She is proud to work for AU and truly cares about the overall success of her team. Catherine’s nominator concluded that “Catherine is an inspiration to those who know her and a bright spot in the day for all who work with her”!


James A. & Erie P. Blissit Award

photo of Dawn Gantt

Dawn Gantt

  • The Dental College of Georgia

Nominated by: Dr. Carol Lefebvre

DCG Dean's Office Coordinator

Ms. Dawn Gantt was nominated for the James A. & Erie P. Blissit Award by Dr. Carol Lefebvre. Dr. Lefebvre stated that “Dawn is the face of the DCG and the first person many interact with. She has a broad network, and many seek her advice”. “This past year was very difficult for many DCG employees and Dawn was always there to support them in the transitions to teleworking and when they returned to campus. Sometimes that just meant being a listening ear, and other times it meant finding solutions to problems that had never existed before the pandemic. Her caring attitude was appreciated across the board”. Dr. Lefebvre goes on to state that “Dawn sets the bar high for customer service and serves as a role model both within and external to the DCG. She is compassionate to others and demonstrates concern for their well-being”. “In March of 2020, two weeks into the pandemic, the DCG Communications Coordinator moved out of Augusta. Dawn immediately stepped up and offered to serve in the role until a replacement could be identified. At that time, they never imagined that Dawn would serve in that role 16 months. Then in November 2020, the Dean’s Office receptionist resigned, and that position has remained unfilled, with Dawn taking on those two roles throughout most of the pandemic. She juggled all positions extremely well”. 

Communications is one of Dawn’s strongest assets. She communicates in a professional manner, communicates on behalf of the Dean’s Office and is trusted to do so with little supervision. She is open and transparent in her communication. Dawn recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary with AU and has a great sense of community at AU that is partly because she is an AU alum. Dawn has tremendous pride and loyalty to AU. She is a passionate advocate for AU staff and has previously served as the Chair of the AU Staff Council for 2 years. She is socially responsible and holds herself to a high standard. For the past two years, Dawn has been invited to present a lecture to Freshmen dental students on well-being. Very few staff members are engaged in teaching dental students – Dawn is an exception. Dawn has been a Mental Health First Aid instructor for many years and is passionate about identifying mental health issues and improving mental health. Dawn has volunteered her services to train over 50 DCG employees and students and is now providing training to AU employees outside of the DCG in partnership with the DHEC office. In 2017 Dawn was awarded a Mental Health Service Award by AU Student Counseling and Psychological Services. We are fortunate to have an individual who cares about the mental health and well-being of our community to give so much of her time to this important initiative.

In 2012, Dawn was selected to participate in Leadership Augusta and for Leadership Columbia County in 2021. She has completed the Leadership Pipeline programs at AU and is an honorary member of the Phi Kappa Phi Academic Honor Society, an award infrequently made to staff. She is also a Court Appointed Special Advocate for the Augusta Judicial Circuit and advocates for children in foster care. Dawn constantly seeks to improve herself and is currently enrolled in a Doctor of Public Administration program at Valdosta State University. Dr. Lefebvre concludes that “Dawn leads by example, sets high expectations in the Dean’s Office and holds herself to that same standard of excellence. Her knowledge base, experience, work ethic, creativity, and initiative are second-to-none. Dawn is most worthy of this recognition!” 

Golden Pen Award

photo of Dr. Gokila Dorai

Dr. Gokila Dorai

  • School of Computer and Cyber Sciences

Nominated by: Dr. Hoda Maleki

Assistant Professor

Dr. Gokila Dorai was nominated for the Golden Pen Award by Dr. Hoda Maleki. Dr. Maleki praised Dr. Dorai for “demonstrating excellent proposal writing skills and being a wonderful team player. Her due diligence and commitment have resulted in two successful federal grants where she serves as the Lead Principal Investigator. Her compassion for students, her enthusiasm for research and her ability to balance her schedule to work on various proposals, research projects and teaching is just quite astounding. Her eagerness to grow as a junior tenure-track faculty with all her hard-work has surely inspired all at the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences”. Her nominator goes on to state that “Dr. Dorai along with other Co-PI’s successfully won two federal grants of more than $1M. She presented her research work at the Digital Forensic Research International conference. The research was selected to be published in the Forensic Science International Journal and she was an invited panelist at the TechNet Augusta conference in their Women in Cyber Leadership. She was recognized for her undergraduate student researching mentoring efforts by CURS and earned the High Five my Faculty Award”. This just scratches the surface of all of the invitations to present and awards that Dr. Dorai has received. Dr. Dorai’s research methodology and successful implementation of various digital forensic systems and frameworks has resulted in several scholarly publications and has particularly gained momentum among law enforcement and digital investigators. Dr. Dorai is also very enthusiastic about promoting diversity and inclusion practices. Dr. Dorai’s nominator concludes that “Dr. Dorai has surely achieved significant success and excellence in her career. She has surely contributed to the success of SCCS and promoting their research momentum and inspired me.” 


Hospital Quality Award

photo of Dr. Christy Forehand

Dr. Christy Forehand

  • AU Health Pharmacy

Nominated by: Andrew Newsome

Critical Care Clinical Pharmacist

Dr. Christy Forehand was nominated for the Hospital Quality Award by Andrew Newsome. Mr. Newsome shared that “Dr. Forehand works with an inter-disciplinary and multi-professional team of pulmonary/critical care physicians, nurses, dieticians, respiratory therapists, and laboratory specialists to provide pharmaceutical care. In this role, she is directly responsible for 15 to 30 ICU patients daily including medication profile review, daily rounding, order verification, phagokinetic consults, and general medication optimization activities. She also currently services on the Adult CPR Committee, Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) Committee, Critical Care COVID-19 Task Force, and the COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Task Force (among others). During this time, she has developed over 40 different order sets, protocols, and guidelines that directly affect the delivery of care for critically ill patients. Some of these have gone into publication in peer-reviewed literature and economic analysis has revealed significant cost avoidance”. Due to a vacancy in the Infectious Diseases Clinical Pharmacist position at her hospital, Dr. Forehand assumed this role for the hospital (in addition to her critical care pharmacist and residency program director responsibilities) at the beginning of the pandemic. Dr. Forehand’s interest in infectious diseases and good working relationship with the Division Chief for Infectious Diseases, allowed her to assume a leadership role for the hospital’s COVID-19 management in the inpatient setting easily.

To recognize her efforts, the Director of Pharmacy asked Dr. Forehand to represent the pharmacy department as the first pharmacist to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital in December 2020. AU Medical Center had a large press event to showcase the initial vaccinations. Hospital leadership invited one individual from 10 different disciplines to all get the first vaccination at the same time while all local news outlets were present. Her dedication and leadership during the pandemic directly contributed to her requested participation in this historic event. Her willingness to be a positive role model to encourage vaccinations cannot be undersold. Christy has consistently sought national leadership positions and is recognized by the Society of Critical Care Medicine for her work as Patient Safety Chair and also in her work with pharmacy practice model advancement as an objective lead. She was recently recognized by ACCP Critical Care Practice and Research Network as Practitioner of the Year. This is an extremely competitive and prestigious award. 

Dr. Forehand’s nominator concludes by stating “it has truly been my great fortune and inspiration working with Dr. Forehand. While her accomplishments are many and various, it is her genuine commitment to the discipline of critical care, the profession of pharmacy, the care of patients, and the education of the next generation that make her such an outstanding candidate for Hospital Quality Excellence Award. Something that can be hard to see from this list of accomplishments is to realize Dr. Forehand’s openness to new thought processes and challenges, her humility and willingness to take advice and ideas, and her professional generosity towards others. To me, she is the consummate clinical practitioner in that what opportunities she is afforded, she tries to evolve trainees into a way to give back. Further, her willingness to just ‘get it done’ when it comes to tough assignments is commendable-with both the CRRT and COVID-19 related projects – those were large-scale projects that required countless hours of dedication to bring about new and necessary services to our institution. Simply put, without her, those things would not be the quality they are today, much less the speed of implementation”.


Service Excellence Award

photo of Shelby Watkins

Shelby Watkins

  • Outpatient Allergy

Nominated by: Ms. Ceci Griffin

Nurse Navigator/Asthma Educator

Shelby Watkins was nominated for the Service Excellence Award by Ms. Ceci Griffin. Ms. Griffin commended Shelby and stated that her “work ethic exemplifies excellence and outstanding service. Not only does she provide excellent service and education to her asthma patients, she goes above and beyond in clinic to help her fellow co-workers. She will not hesitate to help work-up patients, check them in, obtain lab work or start IV’s. She was deployed back to her previous department (Emergency Department) multiple times during the pandemic, and she did it with a servant’s heart. She continues to work extra duty in the ED as well as COVID infusion along with her full-time duties in the clinic. She is one of the hardest working people I know, and I strive to care for my patients and team the way she does”. Shelby exemplifies all of the AU Health values including collegiality, compassion, excellence, inclusivity, integrity and leadership. She is a nurse leader who provides excellent compassionate care to all patients in collaboration with the multi-disciplinary team to provide the best patient outcomes.



photo of Fatima Desamito

Fatima Desamito

  • AU Women’s Health

Nominated by: Dr. Carolyn Zahler-Miller and Dr. Hamer Titus

Senior Licensed Practical Nurse

Fatima Desamito was nominated by two of her peers, Dr. Carolyn Zahler-Miller and Dr. Hamer Titus. Dr. Zahler-Miller stated that “Fatima is single handedly the best nurse I have ever met in our medical office building. She brings a positive attitude to work, always does the right thing, is consistent and reliable and doesn’t just do the bare minimum, but consistently goes above and beyond. She leads by example and is the go-to person for every other nurse in the clinic when they need help. Her number one priority is improving our clinic workflow and efficiency with the end goal of providing the highest level of patient care. Our clinic could not function without her. Every week, I have patients tell me how Fatima has facilitated their care and made them feel heard. Fatima is proactive and identifies a patients’ needs before the doctor has to ask her to take action. She is a natural born leader!” Dr. Titus commended Fatima for her ability to “run circles around every other nurse in our office and does so with a humble, kind heart. She is a loyal patient advocate and considers no task beneath her. She is diligent and thorough with patient follow-ups. She has established wonderful rapport with our patients, physician colleagues and the office staff. Fatima serves on the AU Ambulatory Council and meets with other representatives to tackle issues concerning the efficiency of the clinic and brainstorm possible solutions. Fatima goes above and beyond the call of duty, learning not only how to be an excellent support to me but gaining valuable medical knowledge to be able to make sound decisions in my absence. Fatima is a problem solver. She is the nurse other staff members turn to when they are unsure. Some days I wonder if I could do this job without her.”


Teamwork Award

photo of Instructional Design Team

Instructional Design Team

Nominated by: Dr. Meredith Rausch

Stacy Kluge, Arthur Takahashi and Jenn Rose

The Instructional Design Team was nominated for the Teamwork Award by Dr. Meredith Rausch. The Instructional Design Team was called at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to create specialized training for all faculty at Augusta University to meet the needs of our students in a sudden shift to online learning. The team rose to the occasion, developing three separate instructional units, leading synchronous courses, mentoring faculty, holding question and answer sessions, and working long hours to demonstrate their passion for meeting and exceeding the mission of AU. In their work, they read hundreds of summaries from faculty, initiated, and responded to faculty satisfaction surveys, and continued to assist faculty in becoming excellent instructors in all arenas offered to our students. Not only did they craft these under pressure and in an intensely restricted amount of time, they also created additional coursework for faculty the following summer. The nominator said that “working closely with this group, I never saw so much as a frown. They remained positive and passionate, going well beyond the call of duty to deliver excellence amidst global crisis”. As a result of the teams’ hard work, they were asked to provide their programming to other USG universities, and they have participated in a research study which is producing two manuscripts to publish in peer-reviewed journals. With these manuscripts, they hope to show their alignment with instructional design best practices and their experiences with this phenomenon. The team solved the problem of student retention as other universities scrambled to change their courses, we improved our courses and had a team to rely upon for assistance in doing so. The trust that leadership had to have in this team was immense and the stakes were high. They cooperated and respected each other as well as differing levels of ability of faculty. No question was too simple or too complex. They met everyone’s questions equally and provided a safe environment for folks to learn and explore online platforms. Each step of the way, the team went above and beyond to present an image of positivity, innovation, creativity, and collaboration. That is service excellence!

Past Award Recipients

  • Clay Adamson Facilities Services Employee of the Year:  Jackie Stewart, Jeffrey Petersen, James Baker, Richard Quarles Jr., Thomas Rogers, Jordan Cribbs, William Sealey, Brittany Addison, Thomas Dwayne Self
  • James A. & Erie P. Blissit:  Mary Ann Cooke, Bonnie Collins, Jan Bane, Sarah Braswell, Velma Brown, Lisa Kedigh, Diana Morris, Judy Sanders, Helen Smith, Lara Tucker, Michael Wilkins, Rachel Solomon, Candy Herndon, Crystal Vincent
  • Golden Pen:  Dr. Meredith Rausch, Dr. Shannon Broxton, Dr. Jack Yu, Nhuan Nguyen, Christina DeRemer, Wendy Turner, Dabney Eidson, Nita Maihle, Dwayne Pierce, Arpita Sha Gandhi, Dr. Andrea Sikora Newsome, Dr. Arpita Shah Gandhi, Dr. Nidhi K. Gulati
  • Hospital Quality:  Saundra McCorkle, Dr. Brandi Gunsolus, Josh Clifton, Rebecca Robinson, Susan Tuten, Anna Fulmer, Lucinda Bufford, Kerri Garmon
  • Service Excellence:  Brooke Baal, Augusta University Legal Team, Toy Brown, Meera Dase, Erica Hawthorne, Nadine Odo, Michele Tukes, Dr. Alexis Rossi, Elizabeth Jones, Melissa Bold, Sandra Oglesby, Victoria Worsham, Deborah King, Rufus Copeland, Ann Williams, Randle Berlin, Joyce Oliver, Lara Stepleman, Cyndi Watkins, Kristi Lucas, Jeff Flowers, Betsy Clair, Angela Allen, Tasha Wyatt, Wanda O’Brien, Gia Johnson, Alexander Nguyen, Salonik Amos, Dr. Mary Lou Davis, Laura Marschalk
  • SPIRIT:  Whitney Dixon, Janice Ethridge, Farlyn Hudson, Jennifer Young, Sandi Loy
  • Teamwork Award:  COVID-19 Comprehensive Team, Augusta University Medical Center's Pathology Core Lab & Unite in the Fight Steering Committee, ED Respiratory Therapy Team, Child Care Center Staff, GCHC Regional Pharmacy Team, Inpatient Rehab Services Team, Pediatric Cystic Fibrosis Team, AU Health Women’s Health Hillcreek, Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, Controller & Budget Operations, AU Medical Center Patient Safety/Joint Commission Leadership Committee, Division of Communications & Marketing, Adult & Pediatric Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Prevention, Advanced Critical Care Pharmacist Team, Critical Event Preparedness & Response Team, The AU Bereavement Contact Team, Study Abroad Team

Photo Gallery

Past Awards Ceremonies