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Staff Fest 2019 celebrates employees with fun and food

United by the theme of “One Emory — Engaged for Impact,” Emory employees turned out in droves Friday for Staff Fest 2019, gathering on the Quadrangle to celebrate the work of staff members from across the enterprise. 

A time-honored tradition, Staff Fest is typically held each year on the Friday following Commencement — an opportunity to gather university employees and retirees for an afternoon of food and fun to mark the end of the academic year.

The event also offers a chance to connect with seldom seen co-workers representing departments and divisions throughout Emory’s campuses, as revelers in business suits mingle with health care workers in lab coats and scrubs, office administrators lunch alongside campus services employees, and laboratory researchers compete against program administrators on the volleyball court.

Under sunny skies, Emory staff members were treated to a barbecue luncheon for 4,500 catered by Jim N’ Nicks, cold beverages provided by Coca-Cola, popcorn and ice cream treats.

Sitting at a picnic table shaded by a tent, Rosa White, a medical secretary in the Emory School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics, pointed to half-a-dozen co-workers who joined her for the annual festival. “We come every year, wouldn’t miss it,” she said. “The food gets better every time.” 

Waiting to have an artist draw her in caricature, Linda Robertson, who works in Emory’s Library, Information and Technology Services (LITS), said she enjoys the sense of unity the event provides. “It just feels great bringing everyone together,” she says. “And I like the focus on athletics this year.”

After lunch, the crowd drifted happily about the Quad, talking under shade trees, shooting hoops, playing cornhole, line dancing, clambering up an outdoor rock wall and throwing footballs at massive inflatable targets.

Sizing up her goal, Alicia Allen took a shot at being a kicker, sending a football soaring. “I should have made it, after all. I’ve played kickball,” laughed Allen, who works at Emory’s Grady Memorial Hospital campus and hasn’t missed a Staff Fest for 11 years.

With an atmosphere that felt like a mash-up of a small-town festival, a family reunion and a down-home picnic, groups of employees connected with friends old and new. In an over-sized game of Connect Four, Felicia Mobley, who works in the Radiology Department at the Emory School of Medicine, found herself meeting — and facing off with — Star Lucas, an Emory Dining employee. 

Before that moment, they had never met. But when Mobley invited her to a match-up, in the spirit of the day, Lucas didn’t hesitate. Dropping game discs the size of hamburgers into a frame that easily stood four-feet tall, Mobley confided the secret to her skills. “I play this with my kids all the time,” she laughed.

It was an afternoon of fierce-but-friendly rivalries, as teams with names such as The Volley Lamas, May The Spike Be With You and The Chimpions battled for the top title at the volleyball net. 

Cheering on the DAR (Division of Animal Resources) Sentinels, Rebeccah Wood explained what unites her team. “We’re all just interested amateurs,” says Wood, an animal resources training coordinator. “It’s our fourth year doing this and we just love it. It’s all good fun — except when you lose.”

As it turned out, her team would be bested by the Bio-Blockers, representing the Biology Department in the Emory College of Arts and Sciences. “We’ve been practicing a little,” acknowledged Sonia Perez Hayden, an assistant program director and team captain. “We won third place a couple of years ago — hopefully, we’ll go all the way.”

“We just have people who love to play and enjoy being together,” she said. 


Volleyball winners

The volleyball tournament, a favorite at Staff Fest, drew 16 registered teams to the Quad this year for competition.

The winning teams are as follows:

First place: Amanda T & The Spike Machines (Campus Services)

  • Mike Robbins
  • Amanda Thomas
  • Eric Gregory
  • Edgar Avila
  • Paul Petersen
  • Terence Davis
  • Lauren Adams
  • Chuck McConnell
  • Alan Polson

Second place: Bio-Blockers (Emory College: Biology)

  • Sonia Hayden
  • Dieter Jaeger
  • Anna Oeur
  • Sandra Mendiolo
  • Connor Gallimore
  • Beth Gleason
  • Jeremy Harris
  • Paja Sijacic
  • Daniel Ledford
  • Kay Norgard

Third Place: Chimpions – Gone Bananas (Yerkes)

  • Christie Sheffield
  • Kiflu Kiflumariam
  • William George
  • Robert Sheffield
  • Bekele Kerga
  • Mershaye Beyene
  • Dinku Chifen
  • Abby Lee
  • Dominic D'Usso


Fun Run/Walk winners

The Fun Run/Walk took place before the main Staff Fest event. It began at 10:30 a.m., taking a two-mile route from Asbury Circle to the Quad.

Here are the winners, divided into age categories:


30 & under:

1st: Amanda Thomas

2nd: Marissa Hicks

3rd: Jessica Randall


1st: Sarah Lohsen

2nd: Liesl Wuest

3rd: Melissa January 


1st: Wendy Worthington

2nd: Christa Irwi

3rd: Wendy Zinzow-Kramer


1st: Sally Mountcastle

2nd: Shawn Mitchell

3rd: Weiping Yu



30 & under:

1st: Kingsley Leung

2nd: Santiago Tovar Diaz

3rd: Oluwasegun Adeagbo


1st: John Ridgway

2nd: Josh Griswold

3rd: Peter Shirts 


1st: Lee Clontz

2nd: Alan Anderson

3rd: Sanjeev Gumber


1st: Kavendran Moodley

2nd: Qin Hui

3rd: Rey Valdez

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