California State University, Long Beach
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Employee of the Month: Leah Williams-Daniels

Published: July 15, 2009

Leah Williams-Daniels, director of administrative operations in CSULB’s Department of Athletics, was recently named by her co-workers as employee of the month.

“Being named employee of the month is really wonderful,” said Williams-Daniels, who joined the university in 1988. “I was really shocked at first. It is very much an honor. It has been a great experience working here in the Department of Athletics. I really couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to work in this department.”

The Department of Athletics is the administrative unit responsible for supervising intercollegiate athletic programs. Williams-Daniels focuses on the department’s personnel and payroll aspects, along with the day-to-day operations within the department. “You never know what to expect,” she said. “You don’t know from day to day whether you will be putting out fires or have the chance to get down to work and really accomplish something that is on your desk. That is the great part about this job for me, the opportunity to see so many different things. The experience is varied and you gain from it.”

President F. King Alexander praised Williams-Daniels for her outstanding performance, her dependability, loyalty and positive attitude. “She is always willing to help no matter how busy she might be,” he said.

Williams-Daniels began her CSULB career at the Center for International Education before moving on to serve for five years (1988-94) as secretary to then-President Curtis McCray. She went on to the Internal Audit before joining athletics in 1996.

Her skill set includes patience and plenty of it. “You need to be a very good listener to do this job,” she said. “So many things happen in this department that you have to be a focused individual. You also need a very well-rounded personality to deal with everyone from students and coaches to administrators and constituents from within and outside the campus community.”

Williams-Daniels also stressed the importance of flexibility in her job. “I’ve discovered I have the ability to learn new things about the world of athletics and it is one of the best opportunities that I’ve ever had in my career.

“For instance, much of what we do is successful only if we aren’t noticed,” she said. “Sometimes we find out we need to organize a tournament with only a week’s notice. We have to be flexible enough to call together all the staff, set up the facilities and accommodate television trucks, along with many other tasks. It can be pretty challenging but we regularly are praised for our efforts and success.”

One of her favorite memories about her athletics’ career is the day the department moved from their home in a trailer to new Pyramid Annex offices. “It’s great being in a permanent building and being housed so closely with the coaches. Part of that move included learning about computers,” she said. “We were not as up to date technologically as we are today. When we moved to the new office, I had the opportunity to learn about new software programs which greatly enhanced the department’s ability to operate. Working with a higher level of technology has been of benefit to everyone in the department.”

Employee of the Month: Leah Williams-Daniels
Photo by Victoria Sanchez
Leah Williams-Daniels (l) with President F. King Alexander

Williams-Daniels finds the beauty of CSULB a powerful motivation. “Walking through the university gives me a chance to literally stop and smell the roses,” she said. “This campus is such a beautiful place. It is easy to take a walk after lunch or to take advantage of the many fitness programs available. CSULB is a lovely place to work and the people here are as wonderful as the day I started. There have been changes of policies and procedures along the way but the many people I have met are the same – first class. It has been a tremendous opportunity to work with such a great group of people, both here in the department and all across campus.”

When she isn’t working, Williams-Daniels likes shedding the stress with a good book or a movie. “I also enjoy walking on the beach and watching the waves roll in,” she said. “I enjoy the tranquil things in life that help me to be at peace with myself.”

Williams-Daniels is planning on sticking around CSULB. “I’ll retire from the university when I know it is time to truly enjoy life,” she laughed. “Working within the Department of Athletics has been great, and I’m not quite ready to give it up.”

She recommends the university life. “There are so many different experiences you can obtain from working on a university campus,” she said. “There are all the people you meet from the staff and faculty members to auxiliary organizations to the campus clubs. There are so many groups on campus that I haven’t had time to experience them all in 21 years. Working at CSULB is an excellent opportunity, especially if your goal is a long-term career.”

She received several gifts in addition to seeing Friendship Walk re-named Leah Williams-Daniels Lane, including a CSULB sweatshirt, dinner for two at Domenico’s Pizza, four tickets to the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts, a $25 gift card to Bella Terra and gift certificates for Tommy’s World Famous Hamburgers and for one free Whopper at Burger King.