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Featured on Homepage Profile of a Senator November 2022

Meet Ashley Marshall-Lanier, Staff Senator and ADVANCE Academic Coach, Office of the Provost

Ashley Marshall-Lanier

Role: In my current role I serve as an academic coach for the ADVANCE program. The ADVANCE program is a Mason partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). ADVANCE streamlines the pathway from associate’s degree to bachelor’s degree by aligning courses to ensure that credits transfer toward the student’s selected degree program. ADVANCE saves students time and money, and the academic coaches work with students when they start the program at NOVA and complete their associate’s degrees. We also help transition them to Mason to work with the success coach team at Mason, and continue the goal of graduating from Mason.

I work with nearly 500 students at the community college level and assist them in completing degree pathways that will bring them to Mason after they graduate from NOVA. ADVANCE is receiving a lot of attention nationwide. PBS NewsHour recently aired a report on the program. You can watch it here.

Mason journey: My journey began in 2007 in Mason Athletics where I served as the assistant director of compliance. I enjoyed working with athletes and coaches, and the pulse of athletics. I moved into the Admissions department as a transfer admissions coordinator, which eventually led me back to the work I do for ADVANCE. I love watching students transition from one goal to the next. Each semester, we admit students to the ADVANCE program and it has grown over 200 percent in the last five years. We also matriculate students to Mason from NOVA each semester, including summer.

Best thing about working at Mason: The absolute best thing about working at Mason is the diverse group of people. There are so many cultures represented to learn from and so many opportunities to have great dialogue.

Why serve on the Staff Senate: One of the reasons I chose to serve on the Mason Staff Senate is because I believe in advocacy in all forms. I also believe it’s important to use my voice in any way I can to support the staff that helps the university function day to day. Your voice is only as good as you use it and I want to use mine to make Mason the best place possible for the all staff.

At the end of the day: I love helping and offering support more than anything. There’s always a great feeling when you give back to someone. In this role I am able to work with a variety of students, from first-generation to student-parents. Coaching not only gives me the ability to offer academic guidance, but also resources outside of academics. I’m grateful that Mason allows me many opportunities to provide that support.

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Profile of a Senator October 2022

Meet Lizzie Barnfield, Staff Senator and Administrative Assistant for Administration and Faculty Affairs, Office of the Dean, College of Engineering and Computing

 

Lizzie Barnfield, College Engineering and Computing. Photo by Creative Services/George Mason University

Role: I primarily support College of Engineering and Computing (CEC) Interim Divisional Dean Ariela Sofer and also frequently step in to provide technical and administrative support for other members of the Dean’s Office as needed. As part of my role administrating faculty actions in CEC, I serve on the RPT (Review, Promotion, and Tenure) Administrator Working Group to help lead and troubleshoot use of Interfolio software for faculty and staff across CEC. I also serve as the coordinator for Mason Engineering Online activities and act as the administrator for the Cardinal Education initiative—a course-sharing program among six universities across Virginia.

Mason journey: Prior to joining Mason in 2019, I worked in a public library for eight years where I learned a lot about how to support a diverse community with a variety of specialized needs. When all of Mason pivoted to remote work in early 2020, I was part of the team that piloted new software and helped figure out what was needed to keep business in CEC running as usual. In 2021, our college went through a reorganization, splitting into the Volgenau School of Engineering and the School of Computing under the umbrella of the newly formed College of Engineering and Computing. There have been a lot of exciting changes during my time at Mason so far, and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring!

Best thing about working at Mason: Without a doubt, the best thing about working at Mason is the phenomenally talented people I get to call my co-workers. While it sometimes seems like we’re always trying to do more with less, it’s great to work in an environment where you know there’s always someone to turn to for help when it’s needed.

Why serve on the Staff Senate: In an organization as large as Mason, I feel like it’s sometimes hard for the right hand to know what the left is doing. In joining the Staff Senate, I hope to learn more about central Mason initiatives, projects, and concerns and pass that information on to my fellow staff members so that we can all do our jobs as effectively as possible. I also see the Staff Senate as a great opportunity to advocate for the best interests of my co-workers and put forward some of the great ideas they have for making Mason the best it can be.

At the end of the day: I’ve always loved helping and supporting people, and I’m so proud to have the opportunity to give back to my co-workers by representing them on the Staff Senate. Thank you all for the incredible effort you put in every day!

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Profile of a Senator September 2022

Meet Jeremy Stern, Staff Senator and Ticket Office Manager, Hylton Performing Arts Center, College of Visual and Performing Arts

 

Role: Working with the Front of House Manager, I ensure all Hylton Performing Arts Center patrons have an enjoyable experience when they come to see the world-class event put on by the university. The job has changed to be a bit more paperwork focused, but I always pop out to talk with the patrons and help the crew when I have a chance.

Mason journey: I started out as an undergrad student in 2007 and joined the Hylton as a part-time ticket seller when it opened in 2010. I took on extra work with our Production and Front of House team, trying to get as many hours as I could, before they brought me on full time in 2016 as the Ticket Office Supervisor. I took a short break to earn my master’s in history from Mason and they brought me back as the office manager shortly before COVID hit.

Best thing about working at Mason: I love being around all the art and cultural opportunities the university provides. I’ve seen and shaken hands with some incredible artists over the years, including Leslie Odom Jr., Jane Lynch, Terry Crews, and Charlie Daniels, just to name a few. I also never would have been able to earn my master’s degree without the tuition benefits Mason provides for its staff.

Why I serve on Staff Senate: When the university closed its doors for the pandemic, it was difficult to understand everything that was going on. I started virtually attending the Staff Senate meeting and it was only through their hard work that I was able to learn what the university was planning and doing in response to COVID. They provided a meaningful connection with senior leadership when it was needed most. Now that we’re (mostly) on the other side, I wanted to do my share and provide that connection for the next generation of Mason employees. Especially those who work odd hours and who can sometimes get forgotten about by the folk upstairs.

At the end of the day: Whether as a student or an employee, I’ve been with George Mason for 15 years. I’ve watched the university grow, both metaphorically and literally, over the years. This place and this community feel like a second home for me and I am so lucky to be a part of the Mason Family.

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Profile of a Senator April 2022

Meet Carlos Sandoval, Staff Senator and Assistant Director of Instructional and Technology Services, Antonin Scalia Law School

Role: I am responsible for administering, maintaining, and supporting the instructional platforms for the Antonin Scalia Law School on the Arlington Campus (now called Mason Square). I provide oversight and technical support for the law school’s classrooms and courtroom. I work with the law school administration and faculty to regularly assess instructional technology needs and provide training for the law community. I also work closely with other university units to enhance teaching and learning at the law school and provide computing support and services to law faculty, staff, and students.

Mason journey: I started at Mason in 2006 working for classroom support on the Fairfax Campus. From there I moved to the Law School in 2011. For the past 11 years I have witnessed tremendous growth and change at the law school from the school dedication that attracted six Supreme Court Justices to the Arlington Campus, to a recent ranking by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 30 law school in the country, up 11 spots from the previous ranking. In addition, Mason’s part-time law program is ranked No. 4 nationally and tops among public universities. All this thanks to a great group of faculty, staff and students at the law school.

Best thing about working at Mason: Prior to Mason I worked in the private sector where there was very little work/life balance. So when I joined Mason, I was very pleased to find out that a balanced lifestyle was not only part of the culture but encouraged. Over the years I have met incredible people (including my wife) who have become very close friends. This is among many other reasons why I enjoy working here.

At the end of the day: I am very proud to be part of this community and be a representative on the Staff Senate. I enjoy my job and am excited to see the great impact Mason has in the world with the next generation of Patriots!

 

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Profile of a Senator March 2022 Newsletter

Meet Steven Lindner, Systems Imaging Technician for Enterprise Collaboration and Computing Services, Information Technology Services


Role: My group in Computing Services in ITS helps manage most lab and classroom computers as well as Citrix Virtual Labs across all three Virginia  campuses. We manage the operating system for Windows and Apple computers as well as package and deploy software and push updates to those computers for faculty and student needs. I am currently helping with Game Mason as a liaison between a gaming center and Student Involvement and providing on-site technical assistance for day-of competition and events.

Mason journey: I came to Mason in 2010 to start my undergrad. I changed my major two times, from Computer Engineering, to IT, and then earned a degree in Communication with a minor in IT. I set off from there to help start a gaming center across the street from the Fairfax Campus called The Cave. We worked with Mason students for events to help nurture a community around Fairfax and with students. I came back to Mason in April of 2019 for the job that I have today.

I have been around Mason for those 12 years and have enjoyed every bit of it. From being a student, to working with Mason from the outside, to now working for Mason, it’s almost a home away from home. Every part of my schooling and work career I have been involved with Mason and will continue to be involved for the foreseeable future.

Best thing about working at Mason: You hear it again and again, but I will say it once more, it’s the people that you meet here. I wouldn’t come back to Mason if it weren’t for the people I work with, the true friends that I have made, and the good energy that comes from the students and staff I have met over the years. As someone who has been both a student and now employee, it has always been a great pleasure every time I am around it.

Why serve on the Staff Senate: With my background and involvement with the university, I feel as if I can offer a unique perspective on issues around campus. I want what is best for employees here and want what is best for the students that we, as employees, assist on their academic journey.

At the end of the day: I love what I do. I enjoy the people I work with. I fondly remember the experiences I had as a student. Being at Mason, in all regards, has given me perspective on what is important for myself and who I hold close. Thank you, Mason. I am happy to be home.

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Newsletter Profile of a Senator February 2022

Meet Taylor Griffin, Program Manager for Executive Development, School of Business

Role: We partner with organizations to offer training for their teams and we also host several open-enrollment programs. In part, I also serve as the main social media and marketing coordinator for our team. I’m looking forward to hosting in-person events again once it is safe to do so. For now, I’m working on perfecting my online delivery skills.

Mason journey: My first experience at George Mason University was for the Washington Journalism and Media Conference in 2016. I was a rising senior in high school, and the conference, hosted by Mason, was formative for my writing and journalism skills and also led to me falling in love with DC.

After graduating from American University in Fall 2020, I knew that my previous skills in residence life and campus leadership would make higher ed the ideal place for my career. As my first full-time job out of college, I could not think of a better place to work. All of the people I have met at Mason have gone to great lengths to help me succeed and grow as a professional. I’ve also recently started the master’s program in higher ed here at Mason. I hope to continue learning how to serve our community.

Getting back to campus: I was a student for the first half of the Covid pandemic. Not being on a campus with friends and mentors was difficult, especially in my senior year. From the few times I’ve been able to walk around campus during the day, it feels like a relief to envision that this life-altering pandemic is hopefully ending soon. I think about the memories I missed out on but also the memories I made. It’s been a strange time but getting to spend it growing closer to my family makes it seem bittersweet.

Best thing about working at Mason: I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t strive to create a more welcoming and student-centered university. There are so many ideas and great initiatives. Working at Mason gives me hope for the future that there are better days ahead where we can learn to support others.

Why serve on the Staff Senate: I have always strived to be an advocate for others. When I see injustice or hurt in any community, I never hesitate to address it. Life is too short to let the discomfort of confrontation get in the way of equity. The Staff Senate is a place where I can speak for those who cannot and create an environment where we can all thrive.

At the end of the day: I take great pride in doing a job with my best effort and leaving nothing untouched. I am excited about where this job at Mason will lead me. I would not be surprised if I worked in many different offices over my time at Mason. I enjoy new tasks, people, and roles to continue to learn and develop my skills. Where I am needed, I will go, and I rarely say no to a new experience. The more lives I can positively impact, the better.

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Profile of a Senator January 2022

Meet Will Gautney, Staff Senator and Assistant Master Electrician, Center for the Arts, College of Visual and Performing Arts

William Gautney, Assistant Master Electrician, Center for the Arts, College of Visual and Performing Arts. Photo by Creative Services

Role: Alongside the Master Electrician and our other great hourly and classified staff, I help make sure the needs of performances at our venue are met. There’s a bit of prep paperwork, programming, physical labor, and design mixed with a lot of quick problem solving and a dash of crew management.

Mason journey: I started as an “overhire” stagehand (fancy theatre term for “can do just about anything part-time hourly wage staff”) in late 2013, and continued part time off and on for many years. While working with various theatre companies across the country, I’ve been a master carpenter, technical director, painter, props artisan, stitcher, house manager, electrician, rigger, and even (terribly) mixed audio for a middle school’s version of Beauty and the Beast. Even after working with so many companies, the staff at Mason’s Center for the Arts were those I felt most at home with, and I was fortunate in September 2018 to be offered a full-time position.

The “before times”: A typical week in a season (school year) consisted of shows every day or two, with occasional week-long residencies for dance, opera, or student groups. We also typically had at least one day each week for changing over scenery and lights, which needs pre-planning, paperwork, and lots of coordination. After graduations our schedule typically became much less crunched, and we could maintenance at our own pace during time available between new student orientations on stage and other smaller events.

Covid-19 transition: When the world stopped, the arts were hit heavily. Fortunately, thanks to some creative thinking, we were able to assist Mason in other ways. It required a lot of tutorial videos and practice, but several of us were able to transition into running things behind the scenes for digital shows and editing their archival recordings, while the rest were able to help Mason students by making sure classes could safely transition to our large open theater space. You can check out both the Center for the Arts’ or the Hylton Performing Arts Center’s YouTube pages to see some of how we were able to keep the arts alive.

Best thing about working for Mason: I love working with faculty, staff, students, and outside clients to make their shows look great. The variety of shows, groups, and functions help to scratch that fast-paced puzzle-solving itch that comes with working in live theater, but with an added benefit of developing long-term working relationships granted by being at just one stable venue. I also really enjoy helping guide the growth of student talent and skills during and after their time at Mason.

Why I serve on Staff Senate: There are often choices, decisions, and policies made that directly impact – yet often overlook – part-time and hourly staff. I wanted to serve as an advocate for those often-forgotten roles who work odd hours, on the weekends, or during holidays.

Additionally, I enjoy being able to hear and have an impact on what is going on around campus, as well as help to promote initiatives, staff, and departments that might otherwise be left as just a footnote in their unit’s newsletter. Even before Covid, Mason sometimes felt like lots of little bubbles, so it’s wonderful to be able to expand my connections and work with so many other departments and voices.

 Unique fact: Shortly after college my left eyebrow decided to go white overnight. Since it didn’t bother me, I decided to keep it that way…but it definitely makes me easier to spot in a crowd!

 At the end of the day: Though I grew up surrounded by tons of animals, I currently am just a cool cat dad to one black, very food-obsessed, cat. I’m glad to be able to work with such a wide array of wonderful and quirky people. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a job well done, especially when it comes with time or effort, and I try to keep that drive with my work at Mason. Also, come visit us, watch a show, or just support local businesses and the arts!

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Profile of a Senator December 2021

Meet Hugh Bayard, Staff Senator and Grants Administrator, Office of Sponsored Programs

Role: I assist in facilitating all aspects of the proposal submission process to ensure proposals meet federal, sponsor and university guidelines. When Mason receives an award, I conduct initial reviews to certify that all aspects of the award execution are handled in a timely manner. I get the opportunity to work with research faculty and administrators conducting world-class research, scholarship, and creative work. It is gratifying to gain first-hand experience in supporting the university’s strategic goal of $225 million in sponsored research expenditures by 2024.

Why I love Mason: While my Mason journey officially started in June 2019 at the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), it really began years earlier during a campus tour as an undergraduate McNair Summer Scholar at the University of Delaware. This is when I was initially exposed to Mason’s thriving research community, and this experience led me back to Mason as a young professional. Working in OSP, I love being a part of one of the most critical aspects of the university’s purpose and mission – research of consequence.

Fun facts: I am an ultra-marathon runner who has also maintained a plant-based diet for nearly four years. I, however, have a great weakness for Burger King’s Impossible Whopper, and it should come as no surprise why eating Whoppers tend to keep me running. I love exploring the DMV area, jaw-dropping hiking trails, and cycling in my free time. As a proud member of the Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc., I enjoy serving my community and providing advocacy.

The best things about working for Mason: The university community has certainly been one of my favorite factors about working for Mason because I have met colleagues who I now consider lifelong friends. I am also constantly inspired by learning about everyone’s impact. With Mason’s commitment to an enriching work environment, I take full advantage of professional development opportunities by attending workshops, lectures and networking events. Most recently, I have been admitted to the Schar School of Policy and Government’s Master’s of Public Policy program where I hope to contribute to research more directly in one of the many research centers, institutes or initiatives.

Why I serve on Staff Senate: From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have witnessed all of us stay committed to keeping the campus community safe and healthy. I was particularly motivated by our university’s administration, faculty and staff in continuing the work of Mason during a time when emergency public health measures upended our daily fabrics of life. In the push to return to campus, becoming a Staff Senator was an opportunity taken to not only represent my peers but continue to learn about Mason and the accomplishments across our campuses.

At the end of the day: I enjoy my job as it is not only exciting to be a part of Mason’s strategic research goals but also to be a part of a community where our work is recognized worldwide. I genuinely feel that I am growing with Mason, and I know that you’ve either seen or heard about all those new Mason buildings to come. 😊

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Profile of a Senator November 2021

Meet Preston Williams, Staff Senator and Presidential Communications Manager, Office of Communications

 

Role: I coordinate and draft remarks and other written materials for Mason’s president, website and other communications outlets, keeping top of mind the university’s strategic goals and objectives. Everything I do is collaborative, so I’m indebted to many across all of our campuses for their help. It’s been interesting to work with three presidents, all with their own vision and styles, and all of whom I admire.

Mason journey: I came to Mason in 2013 after 25 years of writing for newspapers. I started here as what they call a communications officer, mostly writing for the Mason website. The new job required an adjustment: When I was assigned my first story, I asked when the deadline was, assuming it was later that day or early the next. The due date I was given was like three weeks away. That’s when I knew I was in a totally different work environment (although I know Mason Standard Time can work for you or against you). After I was here a year or so, I moved into the newly created presidential communications manager position.

Mason prequel: I covered the Mason men’s basketball team for a long-defunct suburban newspaper in the mid-1990s, during the Paul Westhead and Jim Larranaga coaching eras. You could tell they were building something under Larranaga, but I was long off the beat before the historic 2006 run in the NCAA tournament. That being said, I think Mason reached the final four every year I covered the team – the final four of the conference standings.

The return to campus: It’s been pleasant to again toil among my Mas(k)on colleagues on a regular basis these past few months. But I know I speak for many staff members when I say telework has been a revelation. Mason staff members working remotely through the pandemic have proved themselves to be a motivated, visible, reliable, communicative and productive workforce, no matter their location.

Raise your hand if telework has made you one or more of the following: a more effective, productive, loyal, motivated or engaged employee, parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend, neighbor, volunteer, exerciser. Telework is not only good for employees, it helps the university work toward strategic goals related to sustainability, accessibility, health and well-being, narrowing the salary gap, and many other university objectives.

The return to campus II: Have you noticed that the night before a telework day feels differently than the night before an in-office day? Let’s face it: Would you rather pack a lunch six to 12 hours before you’re going to eat it, or just make/eat lunch when it’s lunchtime? Would you rather sign off your computer, stand up, and be where you want to be, or snake through rush-hour traffic stewing about how you spend the equivalent of a day-and-a-half on the road each month commuting? Would you rather practice go-to-the-office hygiene, or stay-at-home low-giene, which enables you to simplify your routine and start your work day sooner? I could go on. (And I have).

Best thing about working at Mason: I know I’m supposed to say “the people” here, and while that is a good thing for sure, I’ll give the answer many previously profiled senators might have thought about giving in this space but didn’t: the extended winter break that many staff members get to enjoy. When you have to say, “Remind me, what date do we go back?” that is a beautiful thing.

But I think more important than winter break, and even the people, is that Mason is an affiliation you can feel pretty good about regardless of your role here, when you think about the university providing opportunities to students of all ages and backgrounds, conducting top-end research, anchoring the region, and so on.

Why serve on the Staff Senate: I already attended the meetings just to keep up with staff matters as part of my job and a supervisor encouraged me to run. I can tell you that the people on Staff Senate, representing all of our campuses and from about two dozen departments, schools and units, are knowledgeable and passionate. They just want to make sure that staff are recognized, valued and treated fairly because, in many ways, we all work at a different Mason.

The Staff Senate has earned some signature wins in the past couple years, including our chair serving on the presidential search committee and our chair being added as a non-voting member to the Board of Visitors, joining student and faculty representatives on that governing body. Best I can tell, staff have never had a greater voice than they do right now.

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Profile of a Senator October 2021

Meet Kristen Wever: Staff Senator and Assistant Director of the GeorgeSquared Advanced Biomedical Sciences Program

Kristen Wever, Staff Senate. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Role: GeorgeSquared (G2), housed within the College of Science and located on the SciTech Campus, is a partnership between George Mason and Georgetown universities. It offers a nine-month pre-health preparatory, graduate-level program designed to help qualify students for medical, dental, or other health professional schools. I advise prospective, current and former G2 students and assist them on their journey to becoming health professionals. In addition, I assist with program development, recruitment, administrative duties, and much more!

Mason journey: I previously worked for Mason as an academic advisor for the School of Business from 2014 to 2016, left and worked with online Medical Laboratory Science programs for George Washington University for a few years and then found my way back to Mason in June 2019 when I started my current role. I love working in higher ed, especially in an advising role, and really enjoy making a difference in the lives of students and their academic and professional journeys.

Getting back to campus: When COVID started, I was pregnant with my second daughter so the shift to working from home with one child out of daycare and another on the way was quite a challenge, as it was for many. I have enjoyed being back on campus this fall (and having the kids back in daycare 🙂 ) and can say that I really did miss the routine! Most importantly, I missed seeing my colleagues and students. I am really proud of how Mason has handled the pandemic and I look forward to seeing the community work together in our “new normal.”

Best thing about working at Mason: This has been said countless times, but it’s true! The people I work with, the people I meet, are what make working at Mason so exciting. I love the diversity, the innovation and collaboration.

Why serve on the Staff Senate: I love being connected to various offices, campuses, etc. and seeing what else is being accomplished at Mason by the wonderful staff members. I enjoy being a part of a supportive group that is helping to ensure that all voices are being heard, especially during these unprecedented times.

At the end of the day: I love my family and friends and I love my job. Working with students day in and day out, hearing about different life stories, helping others on their journey towards becoming a health professional — someone who will really make a difference in this world — is very rewarding. Oh, and go Washington Football Team, Nats, CAPS, and Wiz!