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‘The heart of our community’: Learn about this year’s Staff Excellence Award winners

May 7, 2021

By Perry King



Members of staff at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education are being recognized for their continued vital role in fostering OISE’s overall mission of education.

Annually, OISE issues several awards of excellence to staff, to honour individuals and teams in categories of excellence, innovation and leadership. This recognition acknowledges the integral role these administrators play in making OISE an exceptional place to work and learn.

“The staff here at OISE deeply support our academic mission through their administrative and technical expertise and loudly support our faculty and students,” says Professor Glen Jones, Dean of OISE. “They are the heart of our community and recognizing this year's Staff Excellence award winners is a merely a small token of our appreciation.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s award-winning staffers. Thank you for everything.”

Read more about the 2020 Staff Excellence Award winners

Dean Jones is a member of the 2020-2021 Staff Awards Selection Committee, and is acknowledging the hard work of all staff committee award members – including Helen Huang (Committee Chair), Clare Brett, Julia Duncan, Madelaine Panoulias, Said Sidani, and You Zhang.

Learn more about each individual award, and each winner, below.

Dr. Claire Alleyne Staff Excellence Award


Jennifer Cho
Program Liaison & Recruitment Officer
Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Michelle Turiano
Business/Publications Officer & Executive Assistant
Office of the Registrar and Student Services


The Dr. Claire Alleyne Staff Excellence Award was established in 2007-2008, in recognition of Dr. Alleyne’s retirement after more than 35 years of exemplary service at OISE, as well as her dedication to and respect for administrative staff. Dr. Claire Alleyne was OISE’s former Registrar. The Award celebrates contributions of a staff member who has continually demonstrated deep commitment to excellence and outstanding service, and whose actions have created a positive and lasting impact on our community.

Jennifer Cho’s professionalism, collegiality, respect, fairness, and care has been an inspiration – hence this recognition. As liaison and recruitment officer, she has been assisting students in navigating their programs and services. She has taken time to listen to their concerns – showing empathy  and helping them navigate through their concerns by offering comprehensive insight.

The co-winner of the Alleyne award, Michelle Turiano, has shown a strong sense of professionalism, dedication, an uncommon resilience and a strong ‘can-do’ attitude. Her interactions with colleagues and students are always professional and have a spirit of positivity and authenticity. Her work continues to be central to every activity that keeps the Registrar’s Office up and running.

Innovation Award (Individual)


Alex Andrei

Application Support Specialist
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning


The Innovation Award celebrates the achievements of staff, individually or as a team, who have developed and implemented a creative solution that increases the productivity and enhances the value added to research, teaching and the administrative processes at OISE.

Alex Andrei, in his role at CTL, has shown great expertise, knowledge and problem solving skills – and supports faculty, staff and students with various applications including Pepper, Willow, CTL Course planner, SharePoint, Teams and Zoom to name a few. During the pandemic, he worked on developing and implementing creative solutions to streamlining various workflow initiatives – including course evaluations, supporting the OISE online support team, improving the CTL Student/Instructor Handbook and the like.

Innovation Award (Team)


Laize Bacay, Technology Adoption Consultant, Education Commons, and Anil Purandaré, Doctoral Registration Specialist, Office of the Registrar & Student Services


Laize Becay and Anil Purandaré have outdone themselves working together to operationalize DocuSign at OISE amid the pandemic. Their exceptional teamwork and innovation have helped the Registrar’s Office and OISE departments better serve students, faculty, staff, and administrators while contributing to the University’s environmental sustainability goals.

The Leadership Award


Vesna Bajic

Communications and Special Projects Coordinator
Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education


The Leadership Award celebrates the achievements of a staff member who has continually demonstrated exceptional leadership through inspiring a high level of commitment from others and motivating them to achieve outstanding results; setting and maintaining high professional standards.

Vesna Bajic, constantly advocates for and supports students’ academic and personal growth and models exemplary leadership within our community. In her role, with a focus on communications and support for research development, Vesna is known for her strong support towards student groups including the Departmental Student Association. She has excellent cross-cultural skills and goes the extra mile to support students from diverse backgrounds including racialized, marginalized, women, Indigenous students, and is sensitive to students’ social integration challenges.

Read more about the 2020 winners of these awards