Outstanding staff award - gold winner

The Parkland College Outstanding Staff Gold Award is presented each year to a staff member of 6 years or more who demonstrates excellence in college involvement, job performance, and attitude.

2024 Outstanding Staff Award - Gold Winner

Sean Dannenfeldt


Sean took an eccentric path to get here. After starting at the University of Illinois wanting to be a writer, he ended up working as a lab assistant for the math department. That path ended with him earning a Master of Education in 2004 primarily by teaching a class for two years where he commuted to Chicago twice a week to use computers to teach pre-calculus to high school seniors who had failed every math class they’d ever had.

From there he started teaching reading and English part-time at Parkland, then worked as an Operations Manager for the Humanities department, then moved up the Division of Arts & Sciences. He’s helped overhaul the Colleague placement system (twice) and develop Watson; taught CROA Academy (three times) and co-founded CROA Club; worked on Data Dictionary and as an EEO; and led the reboot of the IDEAS Committee. He also met his wife Bobbi Jo while working here—along with a few other cool people. You know who you are.

Outside of work, Sean has conducted two and a half weddings, completed National Novel Writing Month several times, run a bad movie festival, had a radio play performed by the Penny Dreadful Players, and played uncountable hours of all types of games. He particularly loves roleplaying games and has spent over a decade running three wildly imaginative campaigns with the dumbest possible names. He’s also a regular fixture at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and in the audience at the Parkland Theatre. After 26 years in Champaign-Urbana, he finally considers himself a townie.

Past Winners

2023 Winner: Sara Stone

Sara Stone


Sara Stone is the Associate Director of the Technology Service Desk in Campus Technologies. This September will be her 20th anniversary at Parkland and she has held three different titles in Campus Tech over the years. Sara loves serving faculty, staff, and students and is extremely proud to be part of the Parkland community. She strives to ensure that the Tech Service Desk is a helpful and welcoming place full of kindness, encouragement, patience, humor, and empathy.

Sara graduated from the University of Illinois in 1999 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and fell into IT support by happenstance. Even though it was not her planned career path, she is so grateful and glad to be part of the Campus Technologies world and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Over her two decades at Parkland, Sara has been a member of the Professional Development Committee for Staff, served several terms as a PSS union representative, and is currently on the PCA Support Assessment Committee.

Outside of work, Sara loves spending time with her dog, playing Scrabble, making soap, gardening, going on road trips, and creating all sorts of things.

2022 Winner: Karen Rocha

Karen Rocha


Karen has been with the Natural Sciences department since 1998! In her role as administrative assistant for the Natural Sciences and Mathematics departments, she is known for going out of her way to keep things running in the department, and her focus is always on the students first. Karen has assisted with math contests and the Science Olympiad; she served in the call center during the pandemic. In addition to serving as secretary of the PSS union and an EEO representative, Karen has served on committees such as the Student Grievance Committee and the Job Evaluation Committee. When she is not busy on campus serving faculty and students alike, Karen enjoys gardening, baking and entertaining.

2021 Winner: Kena Jo Chapman

Kena Jo Chapman


As the Chemistry Laboratory Manager, Kena has the opportunity to work with students, faculty, and staff on a daily basis. Not only does she make sure the lab is a safe place for students, she determines if equipment is working properly, designs mini-experiments to test out and improve laboratory protocols, and consults with dual credit partners on safety concerns.

When Kena isn’t in the lab she spends her time taking part in webinars regarding lab safety.  She has also designed and conducted events for the Illinois Science Olympiad as well as assisted faculty in their preparation for this event. Kena started at Parkland as a part-time instructor for chemistry, biology and physical science in August 2001; she became the chemistry lab manager in 2005.

2020 Winner: Mark-Saint McDowell

Mark-Saint McDowell


Mark-Saint McDowell is the Academic Coordinator with TRiO/Student Support Services. Mark is a native of Chicago who came to Champaign-Urbana to attend the University of Illinois. He completed a B.S. in Business Administration and an M.Ed. in Human Resources, both from the University. Upon graduating, Mark worked in various academic professional positions and was employed at the University for 14 years. Ready for a change of pace, and because he had heard such great things about working at Parkland College, Mark joined the Parkland ranks in 2002. He has been serving Parkland students who are first-generation, from low-income families, and/or who have a disability, for 18 years. Having served in higher education for over 32 years, Mark is considering retiring!

Past Award Winners (2009 – 2019)

2019 – Jessie McClusky-Gilbert

2018 – Kris Murray

2017 – Jason Rotzoll

2016 – Sue Schreiber

2015 – Aimee Densmore

2014 – Beth Chepan

2013 – Ellen Saveley

2012 – Patrick Holy

2011 – Anita Taylor

2010 – Kristina Taylor

2009 – Rick Thompson