Lisa Bernhagen and Natasha Burrowes have joined the ranks of honored Highline College employees, named as winners of the college’s two premier employee awards for the 2014–2015 academic year. The awards recognize professional excellence by full-time staff and tenured faculty members as nominated by their peers.

Bernhagen, who teaches English, received the Outstanding Faculty award for her untiring contributions to students, innovation, fellow faculty and the college’s accreditation efforts. A $1,500 cash award provided by the Highline College Foundation accompanies the honor.

A resident of Seattle, Bernhagen has taught at Highline since 2000. Colleagues consistently describe her as talented, dedicated, energetic, positive and knowledgeable.

As a teacher, she is well-versed in her subject matter and how to effectively teach it so students can learn. Her care for students extends beyond their academic success. She is keenly aware of the personal challenges that many Highline students face. With 70 percent students of color, Highline ranks as the most diverse higher education institution in Washington. People representing more than 120 cultures attend classes at the college. And the college serves an area that is home to many low income families.

Lisa Bernhagen

Lisa Bernhagen

On Highline’s campus, advancing social justice and opportunity for all in the community are guiding principles, and no one takes that to heart more than Bernhagen does. As one peer wrote, “She worries about . . . what is going on in their lives outside of the classroom, and is well aware of the challenges our students face as we try to help them achieve their educational goals.”

To meet the needs of the college’s diverse community, she uses teaching strategies that engage students in active learning that affirms each student’s voice. Colleagues note that she devotes a significant amount of time and energy to her students and their progress, holding extra conferences and meetings with students to make sure they thrive.

Her work on behalf of the success of all students is readily apparent. Said one peer, “She was instrumental in bringing the [English] department together to create new curriculum, assessment and outcomes that would reach nontraditional college students and people of color.”

She also contributes greatly to the college as a whole, joining with others to “get things done,” said a colleague, who continued, “Lisa isn’t a one-person show; she is a leader; she’s also an organizer who helps people contribute their best for the project at hand.”

Having Bernhagen as chair of the Accreditation Steering Committee meant that everyone had a voice, said one peer. “She makes an effort to solicit opinions and feedback from each member of the committee so that everyone feels heard and feels like a vital contributor to the process.”

Another colleague said, “This role in not for the faint of heart. She is organized, visionary, and gently pushes the committee along to greatness. She is always thinking about how this will impact our students.”

In multiple ways—through engaging students, working on committees, advising new instructors, and providing resources and advice—Bernhagen advances education and is at the forefront of innovation in teaching and student achievement and retention on Highline’s campus.

One peer noted, “The words ‘all in’ come to mind to describe her work at Highline. She gives 100 percent to her students and the college.”

The Outstanding Faculty award has been given annually to a full-time tenured faculty member since the 1987–88 academic year.

Burrowes received the college’s Employee of the Year award and a $1,500 cash gift, also funded by the Highline College Foundation. The award recognizes her outstanding performance and substantial impact at the college.

A resident of Seattle, Burrowes has worked at Highline since 2003 and serves as Director of Multicultural Affairs & Leadership.

One colleague described her as an “institution” at our institution and said she “has been a champion for students in her 12 years at Highline College. She is broadly known for her wise and strategic approach to serving our diverse student population, her activist mind-set, her values of social justice and equity, and some of the best educational programs offered in the recent history of Highline.”

Natasha Burrowes

Natasha Burrowes (Photo Credit: D. Walker)

Her contributions, achievements and impact on campus are many, including coordinating and serving as chair of several annual events that celebrate and explore social justice and diversity issues; providing instrumental leadership, vision and support for affinity groups on campus such as the Faculty and Staff of Color group, LGBTQIA task force, and the Culturally Responsive Educators group; and collaborating at the ground level on initiatives to support student of color recruitment and outreach efforts through summits and conferences that are now firmly established at Highline.

One colleague, who worked with Burrowes on diversity and equity initiatives, stated, “I can say, unequivocally, that she has been one of the most important voices for these issues at Highline.” She added that Burrowes “is always thinking broadly and creatively about cultural responsiveness.”

Another peer said that she “is a deeply passionate educator, invested with both intent and deed, in realizing the maximum potential for both her and the students we serve. She is a skilled facilitator of group processes and learning. She is unusually gifted in the ability to listen, acknowledge and affirm individual contributions in teamwork and group sessions.”

Those that have worked with Burrowes marvel at her leadership abilities and how enjoyable it is to work with her. “When I think of leadership and services,” said a colleague, “I think of Natasha.”

Countless peers have a deep respect for her professionally and personally and describe her in glowing terms, using words such as empathetic, supportive, inspirational, visionary, passionate, reliable and talented. Said one, “She is sought out by professional staff, faculty, alumni and students for guidance and mentorship on a daily basis.”

“Under her leadership, Multicultural Affairs has tripled the amount of programs offered to students, staff and faculty at Highline. These programs are intentional and mindful of the diverse community that is represented here at Highline,” noted a colleague. She “has been a living example of Highline’s mission and diversity policy.”

All permanent classified staff, professional staff and administrative employees are eligible for the award, which has been given each year since the 1990–91 academic year.

Outstanding Faculty Award Winners

Academic YearAward RecipientRecipient’s Department
1987–88Edith BaileyDevelopmental Studies
1988–89Bob MaplestoneEngineering
1989–90Bill HofmannWriting
1990–91Carol SatterbergNursing
1991–92Joan FedorWriting, Literature
1992–93Ellen HofmannArt History, French, Humanities, Writing
1993–94Mary Lou HollandHealth Services
1994–95Lonny KanekoEnglish
1995–96Maggie BrownPsychology
Hellyn PawulaArt
1996–97Ed MorrisMathematics
1997–98Doug Whipple Offset Printing
1998–99Kathy Dunn Transportation
Phil SellEngineering
1999–00Billie Lindh Medical Assistant
2000–01Barbara Clinton Speech Communication
2001–02Wendy Swyt English
2002–03Vickie Ropp Speech
2003–04Susan Landgraf Humanities, Journalism, English
2004–05Joan Graham Education
2005–06Phil Droke Economics
2006–07Bruce Roberts Economics
2007–08Darryl Brice Sociology
2008–09Erik Scott Mathematics
2009–10Rich Bankhead Engineering
2010–11Michael Girvin Accounting
2011–12Jodie White Education
2012–13Laura Manning Communication Studies
2013–14Bevin Taylor ESL
2014–15Lisa Bernhagen English
2015–16Arline GarciaWorld Languages

Employee of the Year Award Winners

Academic YearAward RecipientTitle
1990–91Patty von BehrenFaculty Secretary, Business Division
1991–92Arlynn KnutsonAdministrative Assistant to Dean of Instruction
1992–93Gus NyquistMaintenance Mechanic
1993–94Pat RichardProgram Assistant, Financial Aid Office
1994–95Wilma BartonFiscal Technician Lead in Accounts Payable
1995–96Sandy MoserSecretary to the Dean of Instruction, Occupational Programs
1996–97Chris BrixeyFacilities Supervisor
1997–98Karen SteinbachProgram Coordinator, Running Start
1998–99Jeff SynderAdvising Manager, Worker Retraining
1999–00Siew Lai LilleyDirector for Transfer Center Education Planning
2000–01Frank CunninghamInterim Director for Administrative Technology
2001–02Joyce RileyDirector of Childcare Services
2002–03Tam DuongCustodian
2003–04Denise KledzikHuman Resources Representative
2004–05Linda QuickFaculty Secretary, Pure and Applied Science Division
2005–06Ronda O’BrienOffice Assistant, Program Coordinator
2006–07Patricia DanielsCustomer Services Manager, Administrative Technology
2007–08Patricia OvermanInstructional Resources
2008–09Linda FaarenESL
2009–10Lauri SpiveyFaculty Secretary, Arts and Humanities Division
2010–11Judy Perry Executive Director, Community Services and Supported Employment
2011–12Rus HigleyMaST Center
2012–13Donn WalterBiology Lab
Sabine Walter Instruction
2013–14Suzy HolmesFacilities
2014–15Natasha BurrowesMulticultural Affairs
2015–16Jean MunroWomen’s Programs and WorkFirst Services