For Naima Ford, Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator at Thomas Nelson, her responsibilities include promoting the College, as well as its students, faculty and staff. She helps tell the College’s stories.
This time, however, she has a different role, that of story subject as the College Support Staff Association (CSSA) named her its 2020 Person of the Year. The honor is bestowed upon an outstanding staff member who has been active in the association.
Ford, who has been with the College since August 2013, was appreciative of the award.
“It’s one thing to be acknowledged by your supervisor, but to be acknowledged by your peers, the people you are working daily to help, is a whole other level,” Ford said.
She was quick to point out the work done in Institutional Advancement, which oversees public relations and marketing, is far from a one-person job.
“We work in IA very hard as a group,” she said. “Our team is small, but mighty. I just appreciate people recognizing the work that we’re putting in to helping the College.”
Cyndie Callaway, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Ford’s supervisor, said Ford was a great choice for the award.
“Her talent, work ethic and dedicated support for the College’s mission, her colleagues and student success exemplify what makes the College a special place to work and learn,” Callaway said. “During her tenure with the College, she has grown professionally and built strong relationships internally and externally – and she does so with an infectious smile.”
Keyanna Hawkins, CSSA's newly elected president, said six people were nominated, and then the 10 members of the organization’s executive board voted. Hawkins said Ford’s nomination stressed that when the pandemic hit, she made sure there was clear and concise communication across all platforms so that students, faculty and staff were kept up to date.
“We all agreed, she’s someone who consistently delivers great work,” Hawkins said. “Naima is just amazing, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with her.”
The CSSA is a communication link among administration, faculty and staff. It provides the chance for staff members to have a voice regarding working conditions, college policies, professional development, and other matters. All classified and wage employees of Thomas Nelson are members of the CSSA.
Ford, who was born in Colorado and attended Hampton University, was a member at-large last year.
“I thought it was important to be more involved,” she said. “It’s good to hear all the voices and all the concerns. … Just being a part of the conversation in any situation is more important to me now.”
After graduating from HU, Ford worked there for six years prior to joining Thomas Nelson. She and her husband, Lawrence, have three children, Langston (10), Laila (4) and Liana (2). They live in Hampton.
Here are some quotes from her nomination:
“While the act of communication is hard for most people, Naima has an artful way of putting folks at ease and listening to them in such a way that conveys her thoughtfulness and desire for the truth.”
“No one can accuse her of promoting ‘fake news.' She is genuine in her efforts to collect the truth, and she works hard at presenting the truth with respect and accuracy.”
“Naima asks the hard questions but is also supportive in helping to find the right answers to keep the College moving forward.”
“She is confident in who she is and what she knows, and offers that same energy to those around her.”
“Recently, the challenge of good consistent and accurate communication has been ratcheted up a notch with the COVID-19 virus and yet, she has leaned in to the challenge and maintained the type of service needed at such a time as this.”
New CSSA officers
The CSSA recently elected four new officers for the 2020-21 academic year. Hawkins now is the president, with Michelle Shonk the new president-elect. Jonalyn Gore and Donald Carr have been named members at-large, Gore representing Workforce Development, and Carr the Historic Triangle campus.
Four other officers will continue their terms into 2020-21. They are Natalie Keeling, Vice President at the Hampton campus; Damond Pope, Vice President at the Historic Triangle campus; Julie Lambert, secretary; and Angela Brightmon, treasurer.
The organization’s next general membership meeting is 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 13.