Nadia Beyzaei and Amy Kheong Receive 2023 Staff Excellence Awards

Nadia Amy shot

2023 Staff Excellence Award recipients Nadia Beyzaei (L) and Amy Kheong (R).

By Rumnique Nannar

Posted on January 31, 2024 | Updated January 31, 2024, 2:10pm

The peer-nominated prizes were launched in 2020 to celebrate staff members for outstanding service toward their peers and the university.

Nadia Beyzaei and Amy Kheong are the recipients of the 2023 Emily Carr University Staff Excellence Awards.

The peer-nominated prizes acknowledge staff members who exhibit the university’s values and have demonstrated excellence in their service. The ECU Human Resources team launched the Staff Excellence Awards in 2020 to celebrate staff members for outstanding service toward their peers and the university.

Amy Kheong, Executive Director of Counselling + Wellness, Access + Learning Support, received the Staff Excellence Award for Distinguished Service. Her nominators have described Amy as a “true leader and role model to the Emily Carr community on how to advocate, inspire, lead and provide exceptional service.”

“I can think of so many people in this community who are deserving of this award, so I am touched and honoured to receive it. Attaining a level of excellence is rarely a single-person achievement, and this award goes to all my team from Counselling, Wellness, and Accessibility Services.”

She is particularly proud of the work her team has fostered at the Wellness Kitchen, which offers a beacon of connection for students across the university.

“Students face a myriad of challenges these days, including mental health difficulties, racial and social injustice, food and financial insecurity, and social isolation and loneliness. Through food, cooking and sharing, we’ve created a mental health hub, a safe space for students. The Wellness Kitchen connects students, provides them with some sustenance and comfort, teaches skills, and is free from evaluation, judgement, or pressure.”

Amy Kheong, Executive Director of Counselling + Wellness, Access + Learning Support

Ashiya Khan-Sequiera, a Counselling + Wellness team member, noted that Amy upholds the values of compassionate support and equity, diversity and inclusion in all that she does in the department.

“Amy displays a high degree of integrity and passion as a leader,” says Ashiya. “She creates a safe, supportive, rewarding work environment. Amy inspires her team to do their work to the highest standard of practise and always leads by example.”

Nadia Beyzaei, Manager of the Health Design Lab (HDL), received the Staff Excellence Award for Achievement. In recent years, she has steered various participatory design projects in collaboration with the Aboriginal Gathering Place (AGP), BC Women’s Hospital, BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services and other community partners.

Nadia emphasized that this award truly represents the hard work and bravery of so many people connected to HDL — the student research assistants, the core staff, faculty co-leads, the research office team, project partners — and the countless people who courageously shared their insights as project or research participants.

She mentioned that doing projects that aim to improve care experiences, advance research, and promote policy reform is part of the long game. She highlighted the four-year project, Decolonizing Cultural Safety Education Through Cultural Connections, as one of the high points. Cultural Connections explores how Indigenous-led arts and material practice workshops can foster open dialogue around cultural safety between healthcare students and Indigenous community members in the Lheidli T’enneh and surrounding areas.

“Cultural Connections is centered around and grounded by some incredible Knowledge Carriers. Their wisdom is truly what makes this project shine! It has been such a learning journey to redefine the role of designers and researchers on this project as conveners, leaning into active listening and knowledge mobilization as key roles.”

Nadia Beyzaei, Manager of the Health Design Lab (HDL)

The project culminated in a journal article, community publication, and Lheidli: Where the Two Rivers Meet exhibition that Nadia supported and co-curated with a team at the AGP, HDL and College of New Caledonia.

Otilia Spantulescu, Coordinator of the Health Design Lab, shares that Nadia’s commitment to making design accessible is evident in this exhibition and her many projects with the Lab.

“These projects have highlighted Nadia’s outstanding ability to guide with a heightened level of sensitivity, consideration, and awareness. She takes the time to make sure all voices and perspectives are heard and responds with thoughtful and meaningful feedback.”

The committee wants to give special recognition to Vanessa Hall-Patch, Shop Technologies Coordinator, and Matt Stephanson, Studio Technician, Film + Screen Arts, who received student nominations. The next round of nominations will be open in April.