Limitless Talent

Image of three award winners.
From left to right: Jon Atherton, Von Narcisse and Netal Patel. Photo by Rob DeSanto

The Linda Lorimer Award for Distinguished Service, conferred by President Salovey, recognizes and honors Yale staff who have made a significant difference in our community while demonstrating exemplary commitment to Yale’s educational and research mission. Established in 2014, the award was renamed in 2015 to honor Lorimer on her retirement after nearly 30 years of service as vice president and secretary of the university.

In nine years, 362 individuals, some part of teams, have received the award. The winners are chosen by a nine-member staff selection committee from various areas across the campuses serving two-year terms. As they come to the end of their terms, Von Narcisse, Jon Atherton, and Netal Patel reflect on their experiences and how they continue to be inspired by the work and ingenuity of their colleagues.

Limitless talent

The nomination and selection process begins in late summer, when Yale faculty and staff submit their nominations for individual staff members or teams of staff members for a wide range of achievements, including innovation, teamwork, or leadership demonstrated through service and administrative work. Past award winners have impacted the local community and the broader world through public health communications, research initiatives, and technology development.

“There is so much talent at Yale. It seems almost limitless,” said Narcisse, assistant chief of Yale Police. Some years, there can be upwards of 120 nominations. To efficiently work through the volume, the larger committee is divided into three sub-committees that carefully evaluate the submissions against the award’s criteria and advance five finalists per sub-committee. The entire committee then comes together to discuss their collective top picks and choose the final honorees. While coalescing as a team for a few short weeks, the committee members get a full understanding of the immense range of work and research happening around the university, and they take their charge seriously.

“Seeing the level of significant care taken and work that staff are doing to impact their community and the world is truly amazing. There are so many remarkable projects and innovations—it’s tough to narrow down the finalists—but the committee works together to get it done,” said Narcisse.

A rewarding experience

While recognizing the work of teams and individuals, committee members have found the experience intensely rewarding and see firsthand the Yale community’s forward progress. “I’m more knowledgeable about Yale, more encouraged by the ideas and ingenuity of my colleagues, and I’ve made new friends in the process,” said Atherton, associate director of communications at Yale West Campus. “Not only have we seen breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology, but I’m inspired by the courageous staff who work, often unseen, in service of the underserved.”

Patel, a custom applications development manager at Yale IT, was part of a team that won a Linda Lorimer Award for Distinguished Service in 2021 for developing a unique software application. She understands firsthand the importance of acknowledging staff for outstanding work and the pride that this recognition brings.

“There are individuals and units throughout Yale pushing the limits in their fields, many often working with their heads down to positively affect lives with no thought to getting an award” said Patel. She now makes it a point to make colleagues aware of the award. “If you know about a great team or amazing work being done, take the time to nominate them. It will bring them joy and awareness to our community and beyond.”

Linda Lorimer Award

All members of Yale faculty and staff may nominate an individual staff member or team of staff members for consideration for a Linda Lorimer Award for Distinguished Service. Nominations are accepted in mid-August to early September each year. Learn more about the award, past winners, and the nomination process.