Distinguished Staff Award
Photograph of Kathryn Folk-Way

Kathryn Folk-Way

Associate Director, Creative Communications

Nominated by Frank Davis, Director, Creative Communications

Awarded 2015

I am proud to be nominating Katy Folk-Way, Associate Director, Creative Communications (C2) for the Distinguished Staff Award. I have had the pleasure of working with Katy for over 25 years, and have found her extraordinary service to the University of Washington to be worthy of this honor. In addition to being an outstanding performer in her unique role of managing Operations, Human Resources, and being a Lean Leader (for organizational improvement) for a department consisting of 90 staff members, and 27 student positions, Katy is also a tireless and dedicated volunteer at the University of Washington Medical Center, and plays a significant role as a patient and family advocate.

At UWMC, Katy serves as a co-chair on the Intensive Care Unit Patient and Family Advisory Council. Katy also volunteers on Monday and Friday evenings, for a total of 8-10 hours a week in the ICU to help families and patients navigate through very difficult times. 2 of the support letters will highlight Katy’s selfless volunteer contributions at UWMC.

In C2, Katy is an innovative change agent. She is always coming up with ideas to make things better within our department, and is creative with trying to find solutions. Katy is always challenging the status quo, and knocking down barriers to produce effective change. For example, pushing to have employees from completely different work unit’s work side by side in collaboration, instead of in silos and in different buildings, to increase efficiently, production, reduce costs/turn-time, and improve customer service.

This creativity also ties in to her responsibilities for Human Resources in our department, where she has to address important items such as Family Medical Leave, Accommodation, Corrective Action, Counseling, and other areas within HR. Katy deals with these sensitive issues with respect and integrity, while thinking outside the box. As an example, due to a medical condition, we had a Mailing Services Driver unable to perform their job duties for an extended period of time. Katy placed the individual in our Account Manager area, assisting with customer service at a desk job (and filling a needed void), so they would be able to remain working.

Katy works closely with UWHR and our employees on medical leave and accommodation issues, with the goal of getting them back to work as soon as possible. In addition, if an employee needs to be off work for an extended period of time, Katy often generously donates her own leave to assist the individual to help them remain in pay status.

When dealing with Corrective Action and counseling on job performance, Katy is very respectful and always shows a high level of compassion towards the employee. Her mission, as she informs them, is for the individual to correct the behavior, and move forward. Her ultimate goal is for them to be successful in their job. With this approach, Katy has helped several employees turn around their performance, and be productive in their positions. Katy often goes above and beyond in these situations, using her counseling skills to help the employees, and give them guidance and tools.

Unfortunately, Katy had to participate with me in several lay-off notifications a few years ago. Katy showed tremendous empathy, respect, kindness, and her willingness to help employees in these difficult situations in any way she could, offering classes, resume help, references, and release time.

In Katy’s Production responsibilities, she oversees a 12 million dollar operating budget. Katy empowers her 4 Managers to manage, while mentoring, guiding and advising them as needed. This collaborative effort pays big dividends for C2, as we deal with a tremendous amount of print, copy, and mail volumes on a daily basis. Katy also has an open door policy, where every C2 employee, which includes a diverse group, knows she is accessible at any time to hear their concerns, ideas, or sometimes to discuss personal issues. (C2 team members include Pro Staff, Supervisors, Leads, Production workers represented by 3 different unions, plus student employees.)

Due to this access, Katy’s office is the busiest in our 3 story building. Sometimes employees are 2-3 deep waiting to talk with her. Perhaps I need to install a “take a number” system to break up the traffic jam!

Katy is very collaborative within C2, staying connected with her employees, working closely with our Senior Management Team, as she leads our Lean Efforts for operational excellence and improvements. This involves attending Lean huddles, walking around work units and checking in with employees, taking employee ideas and moving them forward, and last but not least, volunteering often to take ownership of ideas and initiatives, assembling the proper team, and seeing them through to completion.

Katy collaborates a great deal throughout the University. She is a Lean Leader and Lean Coach for Finance and Facilities (F2), this is a significant role, which will be detailed in a supporting letter from F2 Lean. Katy is also a co-leader with Procurement Services of a campus wide initiative for Managed Print Services to reduce the overall number of printers and copiers throughout the UW community. She also works closely with the UW Library system, as we manage scanners/ printers/copiers for them.

Katy is currently working closely with UWIT to have C2 take over their printing requirements for the University, and working with UW Medical Center to take on producing patient billing statements. Katy’s strong people skills, as well as her quick wit, help her to be successful in these partnerships, and enable C2 to shine.

Lastly, Katy is so connected to the UW; she even dressed as a zombie bride, for the Whole U’s Thriller Dance Halloween Celebration. Of course, she also wore that costume to our departmental Halloween Party, helping to make a fun work environment. Katy also has come up with great plans to increase ideas for our Lean teams, offering rewards such as chocolate, doughnuts, and fruit for ideas, to liven up the process.

In closing, I respectfully submit this nomination for Katy Folk-Way for the Distinguished Staff Award, due to her creativity, excellence and integrity in workplace relationships, interactions, and decision-making, her contributions to a respectful, diverse, and collaborative work environment, and her extensive UWMC volunteer work, making a difference in helping patients and family members in need of emotional support and guidance.

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