Oberlin College seeks to recognize an employee who has gone above and beyond in service to the institution. The Yeworkwha Belachew Staff Award provides an opportunity for this type of recognition.
The YB Staff Award is named in honor of the extraordinary service of the late Yeworkwha Belachew, or YB, as she was known among Oberlin’s students, faculty, staff, and residents. YB served the Oberlin community for more than 35 years in a variety of posts, most notably as ombudsperson and founder of the Oberlin College Dialogue Center (OCDC). The center was renamed to the Yeworkwha Belachew Center for Dialogue (YBCD) upon her retirement in 2016. Her legacy continues to touch, directly or indirectly, the lives of many persons on campus.
YB was deeply proud of Oberlin’s history, and reminded us that Oberlin’s historic milestones—admitting students of all races, coeducation, civil rights in the 1960s, environmental sustainability—were produced by long, complex, and sometimes contentious political and social processes here and in the wider world.
The award was established in 2015 to recognize a non-faculty, institutional employee of the college or conservatory who demonstrates daily commitment and performance in advancing the college’s strategic goals through exemplary service to the college. It is said that one of YB’s precepts is that all of us at Oberlin need to be accountable for our words and our actions every single day. YB embodied Oberlin’s commitment to constantly struggling to overcome the world’s imperfections through education, hard work, and dialogue. She was the first award recipient and was presented with the award in April 2016, during the annual Staff Awards Dinner.
Criteria for Eligibility
- Administrative and Professional Staff (A&PS), Confidential, UAW union, OCOPE union, Safety & Security union, and Carpenter union employees are eligible for nomination.
- Nominated employees must have been employed by the college for a minimum of one year at the time of nomination.
- Past recipients are not eligible.
- 2016: Yeworkwha Belachew, ombudsperson & founder of the Oberlin College Dialogue Center
- 2017: Forrest Rose, science center biology department manager
- 2018: Megan Mitchell, digital initiatives librarian
- 2019 Leondist DuVall, Campus Safety supervisor
- 2020 Michael Rainaldi, Director of International Programs and Study Away