Posted 3:25 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021
Britney Heineman wins 2021 University Staff Excellence Award
University Staff Council meetings are not known for surprising twists.
But at one recent meeting, Vice Chair Britney Heineman felt her jaw drop.
“Here I am leading this meeting, and we go into closed session to discuss the 2021 University Staff Excellence Award,” says Heineman, the office operations associate for University Marketing & Communications. “They said we’re going to be recognizing one of our own from the council, and I thought, ‘Oh, cool.’ Never did I think they would call my name.”
Heineman’s colleagues say no one is more deserving of the award, which is given annually to a University Staff member who has made outstanding contributions to UWL and the broader community.
Her core responsibilities include managing billing, organizing staff meetings, serving clients and customers who enter the office, and assisting her team with various marketing and communication projects.
During COVID-19, Heineman embraced several new challenges. She updated online FAQs with the latest health and safety information, archived key university communications, and responded to more than 1,300 questions from students, families, employees and community members.
Despite the heavy workload, she continued to emphasize self-care and support those around her.
“When I think of those very first days or even hours of the COVID-19 crisis on campus, I was running around like wild,” remembers Maren Walz, executive director of Integrated Marketing & Communications. “I came back to the office, where Britney handed me a bottle of water and said, ‘Maren, have you had any water today?’ Then, a couple hours later, I came back to find McDonald’s on my desk.”
Adds Dave Piro, lead graphic designer: “She is the classic team player. She is always ready to step in — no matter the task.”
Heineman says her love of people comes from her mother, Sandy, whom she describes as the ultimate people person.
“I’ve never left an interaction with my mom and others where the people are not smiling or laughing,” she says. “She brings joy wherever she is and isn't afraid to show it. If I can leave an impact at work like my mom has at hers, I think that would be pretty amazing.”
A New London native, Heineman is especially passionate about marketing.
The way brands communicate with the public has always fascinated her.
“When the Super Bowl came on, I was one of those kids who would fall asleep during the football part, but I’d always try to watch the commercials,” she explains. “I just love the creativity and thought process that goes into marketing and creating those first impressions with people.”
Heineman holds a bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration in marketing and communications, from St. Norbert College.
She worked two years at Kwik Trip’s corporate office before joining UWL as the Student Union’s lead custodian in 2017. In that role, she trained and managed a team of custodians, and helped prepare and maintain spaces for special events.
Looking to rekindle her interest in marketing, she joined Marketing & Communications in 2019. Since, Heineman has had a hand in nearly every UWL marketing effort.
She is a spotter for aerial photography sessions, ensuring the drone returns to earth in one piece.
She proofreads and publishes campus news stories, incorporating text, photos and videos that help tell UWL’s story.
And she provides valuable feedback on digital signs, posters and other graphic elements displayed around campus.
“Every day is different, and it’s fun to be able to help so many different people,” Heineman says. “I like being the person or the expert someone can go to when they need help.”
Heineman’s impact extends far beyond her job description.
She has been vice chair of the University Staff Council for the past two years, and became chair in July.
She also serves as secretary for the La Crosse-Bantry Friendship Association, a community group maintaining ties between La Crosse and its Irish sister city.
Heineman brings an infectious positivity wherever she goes, her colleagues say.
Whether it’s providing snacks, distributing birthday cards, creating office music playlists or simply taking an interest in those around her, Heineman continually finds ways to create a positive work environment.
“There are going to be days we’re not happy, but if you can add a little bit of joy by bringing in a card or popsicles, why wouldn’t you?” she says. “If you’re going to be at work eight-plus hours a day, you might as well enjoy it.”
Kathy Thoen (2020)
Becky Yoshizumi (2019)
Sue Hengel (2018)
Randy Otto (2017)
Laurie Collison (2016)
Dave Anderson (2015)
Other 2021 nominees