Sefa Aina, Joseph Brennan and Sandra Lundergan-Price Win 2021 Distinguished Staff Awards

2021 Staff Award winners

The Peter W. Stanley Distinguished Staff Award was established in 1997 to recognize Pomona College staff members for their service and effort beyond their daily job requirements. This year, our staff reacted, adapted and were proactive amid a global pandemic, 24 individuals were nominated, with more than 65 nominations submitted by staff, faculty and students. The award committee selected three beloved staff members for this year’s award for their positive impact on our campus community.

Sefa Aina

For almost 16 years, Aina has been a beloved face among students on campus. He joined Pomona College in 2005 as an associate director of the Asian American Resource Center (AARC) before being promoted to associate dean and director, a position he served well until 2017. In 2017, Aina became the new associate dean and director of the Draper Center for Community Partnerships, overseeing the center’s various programs and relationships beyond our campus and as far into the Inland Empire and Los Angeles.

With a deep commitment to serving his community and passionately advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion, Aina is a force on campus. Known for his real talk with students, he helps ground them in giving back and helping new generations of youth achieve higher education dreams.

One nominator shared: “One of Dean Sefa's most important contributions is his mentorship not just for students but also for students and staff of color. Countless students from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds see Dean Sefa as an important figure in their lives. Being one of the few Pacific Islander staff across the Claremont Colleges, PI students oftentimes seek Sefa's advice for programs and also individual guidance. There have been countless times when I've heard or overheard how students plan to seek out Sefa's advice on a number of topics. He has an especially strong connection with Black and Brown students, FLI, undocumented, and queer identified individuals. Sefa has contributed to the retention of countless students.”

Joseph Brennan

Brennan has been with Pomona College since 1996, first joining as an electronic music technician before being promoted in 2002 to director of media, classroom and technology accommodation support services. In this role, Brennan became a well-known face among campus, providing technical services and support to dozens of classrooms, offices and meeting spaces. He has served in his current role of director of IT Support Services since 2019, directing operations of the support services teams, and providing leadership to ITS.

Brennan was nominated by various faculty members and staff who all point to his exceptional support and guidance as the College moved academic and administrative operations online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One nominator wrote: “In a year like we've just experienced, with many staff unable to fill their normal roles, Joe really emerged as a beacon of light amid all of the upheaval. In the time leading into remote learning, Joe was incredible in his flexibility and boundless energy to respond to emails (I can't imagine how many he had to deal with) from concerned staff, students and naturally, faculty. In my own experiences during the year that ensued, I remember hesitating to send an email to ask for a favor or reach out to ITS out of concern that it would overwhelm colleagues who were simply swamped with supporting our new ‘mode’ of teaching, but Joe was always quick to respond to direct requests in that witty and charming Joe Brennan way.”

Sandra Lundergan-Price

Dedicated. Reliable. Professional. Model employee. These are just some of the phrases that have been written about Lundergan-Price, who has worked at Pomona since 1987, not too long after graduating high school in La Verne, California. Lundergan-Price has been the academic coordinator for the Department of Psychological Science for the past 21 years, a role that has earned her many friends, fans and supporters.

Faculty, staff and students nominated Lundergan-Price for this year’s award. They all point to her ability to build community while everyone works and studies remotely and at the same time, keeps the department’s operations running smoothly.

To this point, one nominator submitted the following: “We, the psychological science liaisons, as well as every student involved in the Psychological Science Department, have benefitted most greatly from Sandy's support, presence and kindness. She goes above and beyond what is asked of her or expected to make our lives easier and support us in finding community, creating it for others, and reaching our academic potential. We have compiled a number of statements from students in the department as we believe these speak to the depth and breadth of impact Sandy has had on us. We are deeply grateful for Sandy and feel she deserves the utmost recognition.”