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MIT Libraries Rewards and Recognition: 2023 Awards

2023 Infinite Mile Awards


  • Awardee: Renée Hellenbrecht

At the top of our leaderboard is a player who embodies good citizenship by going above and beyond to make sure her colleagues feel empowered and understood. One nominator remarked, “she has an incredible, diverse skill set [and]…is always sharing that knowledge” to boost the work of her teammates in a patient, consistent, and creative manner. In the rare instance she does not know the answer to a question, she’ll not only find an answer, but address a dozen other things you did not even think to ask! 

Her leadership abilities are unmatched! She expertly dodges koopa shells, banana peels, and piranha plants with ease, all while keeping the team on track and the project moving in the right direction. Her work is proactive and efficient, and she always acts with equity in mind. A colleague noted, “[she] is a champion for those who may not [always have a seat at the table]” by considering diverse perspectives and concerns and calmly addressing frustration as it arises. She “steers conversations away from individual blame and towards increasing understanding and improving systems,” and, as a result, helps to build community through kindness and collaboration. 

Underpinning all of this is a tireless work ethic; the willingness to tackle side-quests large and small, like the bloom of mold in Barker Library, the invisible work behind the scenes of the Inconference, and the creation, organization, and clarification of policy where there was previously confusion. Like the mustachioed hero of the Mushroom Kingdom – she’s an asset to any mission. A sounding board and confidante, her generosity, integrity, and ethic of care make our new top scorer a true superstar! Congratulations to this year’s Christine Moulen Award winner, Renee Hellenbrecht! 


  • Awardee: Amy Martin Chase

In the Legend of Zelda, the main character Link's quest is to explore a vast and perilous land to find answers and resources needed to survive, save Princess Zelda, and save the realm from darkness. 

This next higher scorer embodies the spirit of Link from The Legend of Zelda. Every day this Libraries player gets things done, exercises resourcefulness, and brings good cheer, humor, and collaboration to the Libraries realm.

With effective communication and patience, she is always willing to share her expertise with others to bring out the best in others while conquering the tasks at hand. Much like Link, she inspires excellence in all of us through her attitude, outlook, spirit, and work ethic.  

Her resourcefulness expands outside her area of expertise as she has a great understanding of how things work throughout the Libraries. She has been described as the "go-to person in NE36," that breaks down the barriers to work and the barriers between work silos. Link displays tireless energy much like this player; as she demonstrates endless energy for problem solving and constant drive to keep the never-ending cycle and management of MIT's collections going, and even improving, with each revolution.  She shares information generously, realizing that sometimes – especially in our deadline-driven, hybrid work environment – information might not be shared with all of those who need it to do their work.

In her quest to bring out the best in others and the best in Libraries, she sets a great example in her commitment to building EDISJ values and efficiency in our practical processes. She has diversified our vendors, processed mountains of monographs, and regularly troubleshoots technology issues. She does this all while being unfailingly kind and patient with the many people who enter her workspace – colleagues and visitors alike.

Congratulations to this year’s "Bringing out the Best" winner, Amy Martin Chase. 



  • Awardee: Christopher Butler

Get ready to level up as we recognize the next rock star for the grandest event of the year! 

This person embodies the teamwork and collaboration seen from Mario and Luigi, iconic characters who are known for working together. Like our recipient, they embark on adventures alongside others, demonstrating how the power of collaboration can overcome obstacles and achieve goals. 

Our recipient also represents inclusion through his nature, as he is able to puzzle out differing relationships and individuals like an expert Tetris player, and he accordingly shows that inclusion is about embracing diversity and fostering a sense of belonging among individuals, regardless of their differences. He speaks to people on their terms, making everyone feel welcome and included. He possesses the magic potion to make people come together and accomplish objectives. 

From managing his team, to working with individuals and teams across DLS and the Libraries, He prioritizes genuine and positive collaboration to get work done and to build strong relationships.

Even though his role focuses on technology and engineering, He also takes advantage of opportunities to work with folks he doesn't interact with regularly, welcoming the chance to serve on IDL.

He is the first to admit that he still has a lot to learn about inclusion and belonging, that's why he embarked on a learning journey to increase his awareness and foster skills to become a more effective and inclusive manager and colleague.

The fruit of those efforts are apparent in the way he works with his team and colleagues across the libraries. He is empathetic, doesn't use blame as a tool to get his way, and makes space for everyone to contribute. 

Congratulations to this year's Collaboration and Inclusion award winner, Christopher Butler!



  • Awardee: Tina Pappas

This person has the amazing ability to make you question all your assumptions and standard approaches, while still making you feel like you are Player One. We are so lucky to have them as a leader on our team.

This person excels both as a meeting facilitator and participant. They take the time to plan meeting agendas thoughtfully, and ensure that during the meetings it is clear how everyone should expect to be involved. They take on a true facilitation role. This skill allows meetings to tackle and make progress on complex topics, such as Diversity, Equity, Social Justice, Inclusion and Belonging. As a meeting participant, they are always prepared and always seem to have a few probing questions up their sleeve. Their actions in meetings are inclusive and provide an environment where others feel that they belong.

This honoree looks at the Libraries’ work through an EDISJ lens that focuses on improving organizational culture. The management tools and concepts that they share provoke conversation that guides us back to our espoused values. They are remarkably astute and positive, sharing insights in a way that includes everyone. As though they’re an Ace Attorney, they have a knack for getting people to look at problems (or proposed solutions!) from entirely new angles and perspectives. They delve deeply into discussions to get at root causes as well as potential side effects. 

This person poses thoughtful, nuanced questions that enhance any debate or discussion, and they do this in a way that cuts across the hierarchy and silos of the Libraries. They also experiment with different approaches to engaging with teams or individual staff members, trying to find the best ways to make people feel involved and heard. The fact that they manage to do this on Zoom is impressive, and it is often difficult to remember that they are fully remote when they are such an integral part of our community. Conversations with this person, even difficult ones, leave you feeling like you’ve just received a power-up/invincibility star,  energized and refreshed and ready to do the work.

This honoree is a person that both takes space and makes space for others. Their focus on the human aspects of any topic or problem they are considering regularly expands the frame that their colleagues were originally using - and creates the opportunity for folks to look again and see the topics, issues, or problems in more holistic ways, that center different experiences than what was being originally considered - this is not easy. We appreciate their authenticity, intellectual integrity, expertise, and deep ethic of care. 

Congratulations to this year’s Tough Questions/Critical Thinkers award winner, Tina Pappas.



  • Awardees: The Community Engagement Team (Nina Davis-Millis, Sylvia Figueroa Ortiz, Emily Kramer, Aya Fujita Ross)

When going on quests and tackling one of a kind events, the right party members can make any level feel seamless, equitable, and engaging, and that is just what our Community Engagement Team, consisting of Nina Davis-Millis, Sylvia Figueroa Ortiz, Emily Kramer, and Aya Fujita Ross, does for the MIT Libraries. They run the Libraries’ events, co-sponsor Institute-wide events, and oversee the rental of our community spaces with professionalism, patience and kindness. Handling issues faster than the fastest ring-collecting hedgehog, one nominator recalls an open mic night for the Latinx community at MIT and how the CE team braved inclement weather and last minute vendor cancellations in order to deliver the inspirational and uplifting event, enabling folx to come together as the CE team regularly does. 

The CE team also empowers folx through their events, such as with the extremely popular Random Act of Kindness Letter Writing event. Organizing this event is a feat that the CE team all deserve high scores for, as they foster connections within the MIT community, help students learn about the USPS process, and give folx the knowledge that they are able to send mail beyond MIT.

These are only a few examples of how the community engagement team is a shining example of how Libraries are a hub not only for fostering community but creating it. Congratulations to this year's Community Building and Engagement winner, The Community Engagement Team!



  • Awardees: The Dewey Service Team (Cornelia Photopoulos, Carrie Yates, Francesca Bozor, Erica Moore)

In July 2023, the stalwart Jim Eggleston retired. He left an almost irreplaceable hole in the Dewey community. Despite this loss, the Dewey Service Team—Cornelia Photopoulos, Carrie Yates, Francesca Bozor, and Erica Moore—have delivered the same level of service as would be expected from a veteran team. It’s hard to believe that half the team has only been here for 12 months, and the other half only six! This dedicated team has accomplished so much in the last year. They pushed and expanded their understanding of the new Alma system, looking at current and potential future work flows. One large endeavor was physically inventorying the Dewey collection. The Dewey Team scanned and inventoried about a third of the Dewey Stacks Collection¾almost 70,000 items of the 200,000 items collection. They updated some 2214 items and recovered 1742 missing items. The team documented the journey, creating a blueprint for others. With this invaluable experience, the Dewey team is poised to tackle any quest, such as reviewing other collections, including journals and microfiche.

 Congratulations to this year’s Results, Outcome, and Productivity award winner, The Dewey Service Team.



  • Awardees: Delivery Team: Cam West, Kevin Grant, Kendall Dawson, Pixie Rose, Caitlin Canfield, Galen March, Jessa Modell, Jonathan Paul

There are many essential services offered by the MIT Libraries that require teamwork and coordination. One service that is often overlooked is the Libraries Delivery Service. This team of hardworking individuals is responsible for the transportation of tangible materials between all of our locations. Every new book from NE36 passes through their hands. Every Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan is distributed by the team. Hold requests, Scan & Deliver requests, Course Reserves, and even morale packages and goods all get where they need to be because of the Delivery Team. In its unassuming way, the team that makes this all possible on a daily basis enables users (and coworkers) to obtain the sources they need for research, study and enjoyment.

We would be remiss to not acknowledge the physical demand on this team. Maybe you’ve seen them dodging pedestrians or cars like Frogger as they wield their cart or van. Or perhaps stacking bins like BurgerTime! It takes a considerable amount of physical effort and energy to move materials around. Additionally, this talented team operates much like the postal services; forging on despite snow, rain, sleet, and heat with very few interruptions. Every shift is different and unpredictable. Changing workflows and staffing challenges have made it even more so. With every turn and tumble, the team has been flexible and adaptive to keep this vital service running. 

Congratulations to this year’s Unsung Hero award winner, The Libraries Delivery Team. 



MIT Libraries' 2023 Infinite Mile Awards Recipients