Staff Council Recognizes Three Staff Members with the Spring 2024 Grand Grinnellian Award

March 27, 2024

The Staff Council recognized three staff members with the spring 2024 Staff Council Grand Grinnellian Award. Each of the winners has demonstrated a commitment and dedication to the College through the excellent performance of their duties, while also representing the core values of the institution, our THRIVE principles, and the mission of Grinnell College. 

Jill Petsel

Jill Petsel, director of major gifts in the office of Development and Alumni Relations demonstrates a deep commitment toward Grinnell College and a love for the community that is overflowing and is contagious. “She is one of those rare people who not only believes in our distinctive approach to education, but also deeply understands what it takes to make it all happen.” Jill has raised millions of dollars in support of the College’s academic mission and her donors experience the joy of philanthropy and connect to Grinnell College in a new and powerful way through her work. She vividly communicates what is so important and unique about what Grinnell offers and why the world does indeed need more Grinnellians. The results of Petsel’s joyful efforts translate directly to increased opportunities for students to engage, explore, and challenge themselves in their academic journey. 

Her nominators add that she is deeply committed to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion and uplifts those working hard to spread justice and peace in our world. She truly believes in the importance of a Grinnell education and the necessity of an institution like Grinnell in today's world. She consistently embodies all that is so deeply meaningful about Grinnell and is the ultimate Grand Grinnellian.  

Sonya Horn

Sonya Horn, assistant at the Grinnell College Bookstore, possesses a work ethic that extends beyond her individual contributions and serves as an example for all Grinnellians to strive toward. She fosters a collaborative and supportive environment with the bookstore's student staff, and develops meaningful relationships with customers, alumni, faculty, staff, and anyone who pays the bookstore a visit. Her nominator credits this to her keen sense and ability to recognize every individual’s unique perspective and needs. Her professionalism is matched only by her warmth as she cultivates an atmosphere of trust and satisfaction in every interaction. Her approachable demeanor makes her a trusted mentor who enhances the overall work experience and makes everyone feel valued and empowered. 

Horn specializes in customer service as one of her many talents and sets the highest standards for customer satisfaction, sometimes talking to excited parents on the phone so they get their Grinnell swag in time, or finding the exact item for the alum who doesn't want to use the online store. Sonya possesses an unparalleled ability to engage with students, parents, alumni, and visitors when answering a multitude of questions, some not even related to the bookstore. 

Jana Pelham

Jana Pelham, administrative assistant in the office of Admission, serves as a shining example of the welcoming spirit, compassion, and kindness that Grinnellians are known for. Pelham has been greeting visitors at the Admission Office for 20 years, she has welcomed literally hundreds of visitors, not to mention students, student workers, and staff with her warm smile, genuine kindness, and concern. 

Her nominator states that “Jana’s work ethic only has one setting - and that's 'above and beyond'. From putting in extra time on program days, to making goodie bags for our graduating student staff, to taking care of the sometimes-unpredictable needs of our visitors, Jana unhesitatingly and consistently adds her personal touch to everything that makes the Admission Office run smoothly. 

“Jana's consistent good nature, compassion, and positive energy make our office and campus a better place. If there is a 'Face of Grinnell College', then Jana's is surely the one that so many will remember and appreciate!” 
The Staff Council presents the Grand Grinnellian Award in collaboration with the Office of the President, the Office of Human Resources, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

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