Outstanding Service Award

Photo of Karen Smith

Karen Smith

When NIU employees suffer depression or anxiety caused by marital or family problems, drugs or alcohol or financial pressures or on-the-job troubles, the Employee Assistance and Wellness Program is available.

Karen M. Smith is the one who opens the door.

The program services specialist in Human Resource Services schedules appointments, makes referrals and listens sensitively to callers' stories as she helps them consider options and solutions.

“It is hard for people to call for help, yet Karen manages to help them feel more at ease with seeking help,” said Deborah Haliczer, director of employee relations. “She is extremely easy to talk to, and offers sensible, practical and resourceful help.”

Smith, who came to NIU six years ago from Family Service Agency of DeKalb County, also helps faculty and staff deal with workplace issues ranging from problems with co-workers to concerns with management. “She handles situations with impeccable judgment and discretion,” Haliczer said, “and prevents tensions from escalating.”

She helps coordinate the state's ethics training program, and her on-campus service has involved the Brown Bag Wellness Programs for the Women's Resource Center and various Health Enhancement Services programs.

“Karen works with NIU employees at a time when they are experienceing some of life's most difficult circumstances,” said Nancy Apperson, Employee Wellness and Assistance coordinator. “Karen is someone you can count on to listen.”