Kimberly Laney wins Staff Employee of the Year Award for human relations

Kimberly Laney wins Staff Employee of the Year Award for human relations
Tuesday, April 26, 2022

As director of Niner Central, Kimberly Laney sees each day as a new opportunity to help Niner Nation thrive. What better way to do that than build relationships within UNC Charlotte? 

Her team leadership in providing student services covering critical enrollment areas like financial aid, bursar, health center and registration while being the main point of contact for all calls or inquiries coming to the University, earned Laney the Staff Employee of the Year Award in the category of Human Relations. 

Award recipients in human relations, like Laney, make outstanding contributions toward enhancing the quality and morale of the workplace and create a better public image of the University or state government, such as positive personal interaction with other employees, public awareness and working on relations internally within a university/agency or collaboration between different universities/agencies. 

Through Laney’s investment in her team and quality of service for students, she and her team stand out on campus and enhance the University’s reputation, maintain relationships with campus partners and care deeply for the people around her. 

When it came time for staff to return to campus, Laney managed and created a return to work plan to ensure safety protocols were met, which is no easy feat when work spaces aren’t designed for COVID-19 protocols. Despite these challenges, Laney was successful, even including a teleworking strategy that included daily virtual “huddles” and support for team members. 

“She maintained a focus on team morale and a commitment to professional development,” wrote Shannon Homesley, executive assistaant to the provost and Laney’s nominator. “She did this while operations and protocol sometimes seemed to change weekly.” 

When it comes to serving students, Laney and her team provided the best support possible. In 2021, Laney worked on creative ways to ensure family and students could reach Niner Central, including SMS texting and live chat. She worked closely with undergraduate education to develop a plan for transferring hesitant students to advising and with financial aid to address students’ finance concerns.

"Laney and her team in Niner Central are the relationship managers for the University,” said Claire Kirby, associate provost for enrollment management. “Over the last year, she has ensured that Niner Central remains a constant source of support for our students as they navigate the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic. Laney stays abreast of all issues and changes that impact our students as well as our partner offices. When accounts are locked, phones are not working as they should, systems are interrupted, or something else breaks, Laney is the first person to assess the impact for our students and service providers. Whatever the challenge, she stands ready to help her team respond so that students feel as little impact as possible."

Niner Central is the end point for many students when they have questions about anything on campus, which is why communication between campus partners is integral to success. Her team handles calls and questions about COVID-19 testing protocols, NinerNET credential lockouts and other related issues. Laney works with University Communications and OneIT to understand processes and create appropriate messaging. 

“Laney and her team in Niner Central are valued partners in providing accurate information to members of the campus community, especially during times of crisis,” said Christy Jackson, senior director of reputation management and communications. “We can always count on Laney to elevate concerns to us and to provide feedback she is hearing from the students and families Niner Central serves. Our partnership and this information play important roles in our communication planning and assessment efforts.”

Overall, Laney is committed to serving others as evident by how she leads and pours into her staff and students, improving UNC Charlotte’s services and opportunities all around campus. 

“While this nomination is specifically for Laney, I know she will also be quick to give any credit to the Niner Central team and partner offices,” said Homesley. “That’s just the kind of leader she is. Laney is a reflection of what makes UNC Charlotte great — our people.”

All 2022 recipients were honored at the Employee of the Year event Tuesday, April 26.