2022 Heller Awards Recognize Excellence in Our Community

April 06, 2022

After two years of virtual awards ceremonies, the Heller School celebrated its 2022 community award winners through a hybrid ceremony, with most attendees present in Zinner Forum and dozens of others dialing in over Zoom. 

Each spring, the Heller School recognizes outstanding service in teaching, mentoring, teaching assistance, staff service, research, and equity, inclusion and diversity. This year’s ceremony also included the Barbara Wakefield Award, which is presented annually to a student who has contributed to community-building within and outside of Heller. All award winners are nominated from within the school community and determined each year by a committee of past awardees, students and recent alumni. 

At the start of the ceremony, Dean David Weil noted, “We received so many nominations for the awards going out today, and it’s a sign of the engagement and dedication of the community. It’s also a recognition of the meaningful nature of these awards because they come from the community."

Brenda Anderson standing in front of blackboard in classroom

Teaching Excellence Award: Brenda Anderson, Senior Lecturer

For the third time, beloved MBA faculty member Brenda Anderson received the Heller Teaching Award. She also received this award in 2005 and 2015, and has also received the International Business School Teaching Excellence Award on three separate occasions. Nominators noted her exceptional compassion and her ability to engage students who feel anxious about accounting courses. One nominator said Anderson “consistently showed that she is aware of all the terrible things happening in the world and how these events are affecting everyone.” Another noted, “She managed to transform accounting, a class I was dreading, into my favorite class.”
Rajesh Sampath

Mentoring Award: Rajesh Sampath, Associate Professor of the Philosophy of Justice, Rights, and Social Change

Rajesh Sampath, the 2016 recipient of the Heller Teaching Award, this year received the school’s honor for mentorship in recognition of his exceptional ability to meaningfully foster students' academic and professional growth. One nominator, a doctoral student, called Sampath’s mentorship “a lifeline during a challenging year.” Another noted his holistic approach to mentorship, saying, “he advises us in a way that demonstrates an understanding of our strengths, both personal and academic.”

Amy AbuShanab

Staff Service Award: Amy AbuShanab, MBA’21, Assistant Director, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy

This year’s Staff Service Award went to Amy AbuShanab, MBA’21 for her many contributions to the Lurie Institute team as well as the broader Heller community. The nominations noted her exceptional support during the Lurie team’s transition to virtual work, as well as her management of the Lurie Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program. As one nominator wrote, “Beyond her multiple professional contributions, she is a friendly, kind person, always aware of her colleague’s needs and challenges, and sensitive to the diversity of life experiences of her colleagues.”

Kendra Berry

Teaching Assistant Award: Kendra Berry, MA SID/MBA’22

Dual-degree student Kendry Berry, MA SID/MBA’22, received this year’s Teaching Assistant Award for her work as a TA in economics and financial management classes. Nominators noted her skill and commitment to assisting struggling students, ensuring that they felt comfortable with the complex, quantitative concepts that come with a graduate level economics course. Multiple nominators described her as going “above and beyond” for her students.

Tynika Booth, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Administrator

Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Award: Tynika Booth, EID Administrator

Tynika Booth, Heller’s EID administrator, received this year’s Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Award for her work to create a climate that is supportive and creates a space for collaboration, respect and trust. Several nominators noted her tireless work ethic and her impressive capacity to be integrally involved with so many aspects of EID work at the Heller School. As one nominator put it, “I know no one else who does as much and cares as much about connecting with students, supporting us and making Heller a welcoming community to diverse students.”

Peter Dixon

Early Career Research Investigator Award: Peter Dixon, Research Scientist, Conflict Resolution and Coexistence Program

Associate Professor Pamina Firchow presented the Early Career Research Investigator Award to her colleague, Peter Dixon, with whom she has collaborated since 2018. She hailed Dixon’s keen analytical mind, his academic curiosity to probe peace- and justice-related questions, and his dedication to turning research findings into action. “I continue to be amazed by his abilities and contributions to our shared research endeavors,” she said, adding, “Peter embodies serious research promoting social justice in the U.S. and abroad.”

Khaled Sakr

Barbara Wakefield Award: Khaled Sakr, MA SID/MA COEX’22

Khaled Sakr, MA SID/MA COEX’22, received this year’s Barbara Wakefield Award in recognition of his many efforts to build community among Heller students during extremely difficult times. Nominators mentioned that he often hosted and organized social events, held informal tutoring sessions, checked in on classmates who were sick or struggling, and consistently advocated for inclusiveness and community at Heller. One nominator said, “His empathy, awareness of the world, and compassion have made him both a friend and counselor to many students at Heller.”