By Claudia Zequeira
Kari Makepeace considers herself a bit of a “jack of all trades.”
As executive assistant, senior, and governance support, Kari has her hands full.
Not only does she work directly for Kathleen Plinske, executive vice president and provost, and president of the Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses, she also assists Joe Battista, vice president of global, professional and continuing education (GPCE).
Kari also helps coordinate all the collegewide Governance Council gatherings and organizes some meetings for College President Sandy Shugart.
“Kari is often called upon to serve in the role of ‘air traffic controller,’ and she does a masterful job of managing many different initiatives,” said Kathleen. “I am so thankful for her extraordinary ability to organize, prioritize and make sense of multiple streams of work.”
All that work typically entails scheduling meetings, taking meeting summaries, managing a budget and making travel arrangements, among other tasks. Kari also publishes a GPCE newsletter.
“I spend a lot of time in meetings,” said Kari, adding that part of her role is also learning the many personalities of the councils she works with. “I’m adaptable; I always figure it out, but it’s not easy. I may make it look easy … but there are a lot of moving parts.”
Kari, who has been with the College for the past 18 years, started out as a federal work study student in the East Campus Answer Center and worked her way up, having had roles as a technical document specialist and as executive assistant to Academic Affairs and Planning prior to becoming a coordinator for the same department.
Today, she is most proud of her leadership as well as her organizing and event-management skills. As an example, she cited her service as chair of the Career Staff Association for many years.
Kari said she loves working at the College because it provides her an opportunity to serve others and interact with many different kinds of people.
“Helping students is at the top of my list, but the very best part about working at Valencia is my amazing colleagues,” she said.
She is also inspired by “the determination of our faculty and staff to serve our students to the best of our capability no matter what the circumstances,” she said. “This is especially evident during these difficult times; instead of crumbling under pressure, we rally together and get things accomplished.”
Specifically, she mentioned the “We’re in this Together Campaign,” in which she participated. Over the course of 37 days, a total of 279 callers from multiple departments reached out to Valencia’s students to offer guidance and encouragement in the wake of the College’s decision to move most of its classes online after Spring Break, when it became clear the coronavirus was spreading in the United States. An additional 19 captains assisted as well.
Kari said she understands how hard it is to juggle work and school. After all, she did it herself. Not only did she earn an Associate in Science in office administration and an Associate in Arts from Valencia College, but she went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Strayer University, followed by a master’s degree in business administration from the same college.
“I kept a 4.0 GPA throughout my studies,” she said.
In her free time, Kari loves spending time with her eight-year-old daughter and her family. She also loves cooking, enjoying nature and doing 1000-piece and Sudoku puzzles.
Know of someone who embodies one of Valencia’s Values (learning, people, diversity, access or integrity), who has been an employee for one year or more? Send the colleague’s name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu. He or she might be one of our featured colleagues, subject to supervisor’s approval.