Jennifer Thompson, Aaron Knapek, and Amber Sharpe stand holding awards, posing with Clare Shinnerl
FOA Excellence Award recipients pose, holding their awards, with FOA Vice Chancellor Clare Shinnerl at a luncheon honoring the recipients. From left: Jennifer Thompson, Supply Chain Management; Clare Shinnerl; Aaron Knapek, Design and Construction Management; Amber Sharpe, FOA Business Partners.

Congratulations to Recipients of Inaugural FOA Excellence Awards

Three exceptional staff members are being recognized for the inaugural Finance, Operations and Administration Annual Excellence Awards. These awards recognize outstanding contributions in three categories: Innovation, Collaboration and Moved Mountains, celebrating individuals who embody our commitment to excellence, community and resilience.

"These awards reflect our deep appreciation for those who go above and beyond,” said Vice Chancellor Clare Shinnerl. “These individuals exemplify the spirit of UC Davis, and their achievements remind us of the power of innovation, collaboration and perseverance."

Award Recipients

Amber Sharpe

FOA Innovation Award

Amber Sharpe

FOA Business Partners


Amber Sharpe has been honored with the FOA Innovation Award. Recognized for her exceptional contributions to developing tools that support Aggie Enterprise and the Chart of Accounts project, Sharpe developed and distributed advanced Excel templates that improved the way intricate data sets are organized and analyzed across the campus.

Identifying a gap in resources, Sharpe took the initiative to leverage her expertise, creating solutions that have not only streamlined processes but also enhanced the operational efficiency of numerous projects. Her innovative tools have been instrumental in simplifying complex data mapping exercises, transforming a potentially overwhelming task into a manageable and efficient process for fellow staff members.

Sharpe has further demonstrated her commitment to knowledge sharing by conducting interactive office hours, empowering her colleagues with the skills necessary to leverage these tools effectively.

“Amber’s innovative approach has set a new standard, exemplifying the kind of ingenuity and dedication that drives UC Davis forward,” wrote Erica Aichwalder, business transformation manager and Aggie Enterprise lead for change, communications and training. “Her work has not only provided immediate benefits but also laid the groundwork for future advancements.”

Aaron Knapek

FOA Collaboration Award

Aaron Knapek

Design and Construction Management


Aaron Knapek was awarded the FOA Collaboration Award for his contributions to the university's operations through his role as an electrical construction inspector supervisor. Knapek's collaborative spirit and technical expertise have been pivotal in the success of numerous construction projects, notably at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) and Briggs Hall.

Knapek's proactive involvement and innovative problem-solving skills have bridged gaps between design and execution, ensuring the seamless completion of complex tasks. His ability to coordinate effectively with various stakeholders – including Utilities engineers, design professionals, contractors and other workers – has been instrumental in advancing infrastructure upgrades and renovations.

“Aaron Knapek embodies the essence of the FOA Collaboration Award,” wrote Jason Magness, executive director of Engineering and campus engineer. “Aaron demonstrates leadership, teamwork and a relentless pursuit of excellence that enhances the university's mission and values.”

Aaron's exceptional communication skills, positive attitude and dedication to excellence have not only earned him accolades from colleagues across departments, but have also fostered an environment of collaboration and efficiency. His willingness to go above and beyond — whether by working extended hours or ensuring critical inspections are completed — demonstrates his unwavering commitment to the UC Davis community.

Amber Sharpe

FOA Moved Mountains Award

Jennifer Thompson

Supply Chain Management


Jennifer Thompson was recognized with the inaugural FOA Moved Mountains Award for her contributions to the university's mission of support and inclusivity. Thompson spearheaded the development and implementation of a groundbreaking Procurement Card (P-card) solution within the AggieFresh program, designed to provide financial assistance to students who are undocumented or otherwise ineligible for CalFresh benefits.

Facing a maze of regulatory challenges and stringent funding and control requirements, Thompson successfully navigated the complexities of establishing a new financial support mechanism – in a way that showed her dedication to the well-being of UC Davis students. Her successful negotiations with U.S. Bank, the university's credit card provider, and her ability to swiftly cut through bureaucratic red tape underscore her remarkable problem-solving skills, determination and innovative thinking.

“Jennifer Thompson's work epitomizes the spirit of the FOA Moved Mountains Award,” wrote Mike Kuhner, chief procurement officer in his nomination materials. “Jen’s leadership to solve this challenge showcased her unwavering commitment to overcoming obstacles and making a meaningful difference in the lives of students at UC Davis.”

Thanks to Thompson's efforts, the AggieFresh program now seamlessly provides approximately $900K annually in funding to students in need, ensuring they have immediate access to essential resources.

“Jennifer's collaboration and partnership with Student Affairs on AggieFresh was instrumental in successfully launching the program and providing access for students to this important financial resource," said Sheri Atkinson, associate vice chancellor for Student Life, Campus Community and Retention Services. "AggieFresh is helping to address food insecurity on campus and will make a difference in the lives of students who need this critical, basic-needs support."

This initiative expedites aid to students while reducing administrative overhead, embodying a solution that meets the needs of all stakeholders while fostering community support through local merchants and restaurants. Moreover, the program generates additional incentives that benefit central campus initiatives, highlighting Thompson's ability to envision and realize solutions that have a far-reaching impact.

About the New FOA Annual Excellence Awards

The FOA Annual Excellence Awards were introduced to honor staff members who have shown exceptional dedication to UC Davis' mission and values. Nominations were gathered from across the organization, highlighting the remarkable efforts of our FOA colleagues.

"Recognizing our employees is essential to our culture,” explained Nancy Hernandez, director of FOA Human Resources. “This year's awardees have set a high bar, demonstrating exceptional work and an inspiring dedication to our values."

Nominations were reviewed by a selection committee of organization representatives, and then scored according to predetermined criteria focused on originality, problem-solving, impact, teamwork, communication, leadership and sustainability, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of nominees' contributions. Committee members reviewed 48 nominations from across the organization.

“We’re pleased with the number of outstanding nominations and delighted to recognize our colleagues who have not only excelled in their roles, but have also uplifted others,” said Blair Stephenson, associate vice chancellor for FOA Divisional Resources. “Their contributions have made a lasting impact on our university and its community."

The awardees will receive a special award and attend a lunch with Vice Chancellor Clare Shinnerl and other FOA department leaders to celebrate their remarkable achievements. Learn more about FOA employee recognition programs

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