Denise Chase named OSEA Employee of the Year

Denise Chase named OSEA Employee of the Year
Posted on 05/08/2017
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Chase named Employee of the Year.

For the first time in the history of OSEA’s Employee of the Year award, the winner of one of the union’s highest honors will represent Zone III.

Denise Chase, a paraprofessional librarian at Central High School and president of Central Chapter 124, became the latest recipient of the award, which dates back to 1991. OSEA President Tim Stoelb made the surprise announcement during Saturday’s Zone III meeting in Salem.

Stoelb described this year’s winner as a “team player,” a “multi-tasker” and a “people person” with “immense integrity and humor.”

As it slowly dawned on Chase that Stoelb was describing her during the announcement, more than a dozen of Chase’s closest family members, friends and coworkers slipped into the OSEA Board Room without her noticing. Chase wiped tears from her eyes as she turned around in disbelief to discover herself surrounded by well-wishers.

“I feel so fortunate to work in a district like ours,” said an emotional Chase. “Even when we hit moments of adversity — these are the people I can turn to. ... I’m so thankful.”

She then turned to her vice president, Carol Stewart, who was also one of the chief architects of Saturday’s surprise, and joked, “You are in so much trouble ...”

Chase’s nomination was initiated by her chapter and supported with letters of recommendation from fellow members, coworkers and administrators before being selected from a blind pool of nominees from throughout the state by a committee of past OSEA presidents.

In one letter, Chase’s assistant principal wrote, “I learned quickly that she ... has the best interests in mind for the students, staff and community,” adding that “if I were to go to battle, I would want her on my side.”

According to the letters of recommendation, Chase’s battles range from the trivial to the consequential, as she deals with temperamental copiers and forgetful students, as well as contract negotiations and investigative hearings.

Through it all, the recommendations describe Chase as facing these situations with patience and good humor, earning people’s respect and trust.

Chase will be honored throughout OSEA’s annual three-day Conference, held June 22-24 in Portland. She will be presented with a traveling trophy and plaque during the Saturday night awards banquet on June 24.