LEAD hosts second virtual awards ceremony

Jess Kishbaugh

The Leadership Excellence Awards this year were still a success despite the many adaptations made for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The awards, typically held in person, were held via Zoom on March 14, but there were still about 200 attendees.

Jillian Gallardo, ‘23, was the marketing and communications chair for the event. 

“We didn’t do a completely open invite for this year’s excellence awards,” Gallardo said. 

The Leadership Excellence Awards Committee decided to keep the invitations limited to friends and family of the nominees becasue of the virtual format. 

The ceremony was virtual in 2020 too, since it took place in April after the Washington and Lee students had left campus, but it was recorded instead of live. 

Leah Beard, the assistant director of leadership development and student engagement, said the video had a positive impact on campus.

“This video was shared across campus, and received over 1,000 views, which was exciting. Everyone seemed to appreciate that this video helped to provide a bright light in a world that was feeling so dark,” Beard said. “We were still able to recognize incredible achievements by students and groups despite COVID-19.”

The live format of the Leadership Excellence Awards provided for a far more interactive experience. 

Before the event, the committee made a snack bucket for every person registered for the ceremony. And with the comments section open, nominees and guests were able to congratulate each other in real time. There was even a recorded applause queued up for every winner.

“It felt highly engaging and positive, thanks largely to the presenters who helped to clap and embrace the excitement for those who were recognized as top nominees and recipients for the awards, as well as to those who were attending and also sending positive comments in the chat,” said Beard.

The event being held virtually actually increased nominations. According to Gallardo, the Leadership Excellence Awards Committee received more nominations than ever this year.

Various campus groups, like the Executive Committee or the Leadership Excellence Award Committee, or even a dean, select the winners. Often the candidate with the most nominations wins the award, but ultimately it’s up to the discretion of the group in charge of that specific award.

Sometimes there’s a conflict of interest when a nominee is on the deciding committee. This happened with the Leadership Excellence Award Committee this year. 

“They just left the room while we deliberated,” Gallardo said.

Some students picked up several awards. Tahri Phillips, ’23, received three awards: Outstanding CA, The Decade Award and The Anece F. McCloud Excellence in Diversity Award. Chase Isbell, ’21,  received two: The Frank J. Gilliam Award and the Community Catalyst Award.

Now that the event is over, LEAD members seem to be able to relax, but not without looking at what could have gone better.

“We made a ton of snack buckets. Like a scary amount…I guess making less of those,” said Gallardo. “It was a stressful process and I’m really glad it’s over.”