Viembre Nicholson, a human resources administrator in the Division of Resource Management within the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE’s) Office of Finance and Operation, received the 2023 Teresa Perry Compassion Award during the Kentucky Board of Education’s June 7 meeting.
Nicholson has been with KDE for almost 17 years and has been in her current position since 2013. Previously, she served the ageny as an administrative specialist and a human resources specialist.
“She is a friendly voice to all that call, with a beautiful smile in person or on screen that makes everyone feel immediately welcome,” said her nominator, Robin Kinney, associate commissioner in KDE’s Office of Finance and Operations.
“It is as if she was born to be in the human resources field, as she has the heart and the passion to help others,” Kinney added. “Her superpower is the ability to meet the needs of the staff person calling for help exactly where they are – whether a shy employee who just needs a boost of confidence or a struggling supervisor who needs options for resolution of a challenging issue.”
The award is given in honor of Teresa Perry, who served as executive secretary to the commissioner of education and worked for the state for more than 33 years. She was noted for providing outstanding customer service to those inside and outside the agency, always exhibiting compassion and providing positive inspiration for others. She died suddenly on June 9, 2020, at age 65.
The award is given annually in June to a KDE employee who exhibits the characteristics and professionalism Perry showed every day. The first two recipients were Janice Harris (2021) and Monica Raines (2022).
KDE Chief Communications Officer Toni Konz Tatman said although Perry would say not to worry about honoring her, “I know she is watching today and is thrilled to know we are honoring other employees at Team KDE.”
In receiving the award, Nicholson expressed her gratitude.
“There is no way I can live up to Teresa Perry’s legacy,” she said, “but I thank you so much for thinking of me and this great honor.”
Perry’s daughter, Laura Avent, and sister, Dru Hawkins, attended the ceremony.
“I love Teresa and her family,” added Nicholson. “I met her father when I worked in the factory, and that’s how Teresa and I connected because he’d have us laughing all the time. I surely do miss Teresa.”
In her nomination, Kinney said Nicholson shares many of the same qualities of the award’s namesake.
“Viembre exhibits integrity in her work and is committed to assisting others,” Kinney wrote. “She is the voice of reason and support to each and every person no matter their background, skill or title in the agency. She treats everyone the same with compassion for their individual circumstance.”
Nicholson is knowledgeable and productive and provides “excellent” customer service whether she is working to address timesheets, benefits or employee relationships. Kinney said that whether she is sending you an email – for the 10th time – asking for a timesheet or a reminder to complete voting leave verification, “her demeanor is always pleasant and considerate.”
“Viembre excels at providing advice and counsel in the area of employee evaluations conducted between supervisors and staff,” Kinney said. “She is fair, unbiased and thoughtful. Her goal is always to encourage communications between supervisors and staff so that each employee has the best opportunity for a successful career at KDE and each supervisor has the best opportunity for a productive workforce to accomplish agency goals and objectives.”
Jason E. Glass, commissioner and chief learner, said the characteristics that led to Nicholson’s recognition are what make her special.
“Teresa would be proud that we are honoring someone who exhibits such attributes as compassion, thoughtfulness and integrity as she assists others,” he said. “Thank you, Viembre, for your many years of service to KDE.”
Along with her duties at KDE, Nicholson also is a proud wife and mother.
“She is happiest when telling of her family’s latest accomplishments. And when she talks about her husband, ‘Honey,’ she absolutely shines,” Kinney said, adding that time with Nicholson is time well spent. “Without a doubt, your day will be better if you spend some time with Viembre.”
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