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Staff Appreciation Week 2013 rocks the house

Staff Appreciation Week 2013 was full of surprises, from UC President Janet Napolitano’s unannounced appearance at Monday’s breakfast kickoff, to a new category of talent you never knew existed: Tom Herz’s operatic lip-synch to a countertenor aria from Handel’s Rodelinda.

We were also treated to delicious tacos, got to pose for silly photos and learned all about OP’s staff affinity groups at Tuesday’s Carnival Midway event. And we heard the wailing musical sounds of Paul Branin (Multimedia Director Larissa Branin’s husband) and his quartet at a Thursday brown bag lunch. Perhaps that was the week’s biggest treat: experiencing the musical talent on display by UCOP staffers, with a little help from their family and friends.

UCOP staff tabling at Carnival Midway

Table 3 at Tuesday’s Carnival Midway: Members of the UCOP Crafters, the UCOP Singers and Toastmasters happily recruit new participants.

If you don’t know by now, Staff Appreciation Week launched a bona fide band that plays at Bay Area venues like Hotel Utah and the Stork Club. Ishtar Peeler of the Office of General Counsel (OGC) and Tory Levine-Hall of Risk Services (pictured above) met while putting together an act for last year’s talent show and now, with the help of two non-UCOP musicians, call themselves Ishtar and the Epics.

Interim Chief Risk Officer Cheryl Lloyd, who took her own star turn as talent show emcee for the second year in a row, dubbed Ishtar and Tory UCOP’s official “house band,” when they opened and closed the show with their original tunes and covers. (Tory’s dad, Research Policy  Development Director Jeff Hall, could be seen shooting video of his son’s set from the audience.)

“I appreciate my staff because without them it just wouldn’t get done,” Lloyd said, aptly summing up the reason for Staff Appreciation Week. In addition to UCOP-sponsored events and volunteer outings, the week’s activities included several smaller group lunches and other events at the division and department level.

EVP Nathan Brostrom singing at the talent show

EVP Nathan Brostrom took the stage to sing "Hold On," a ballad by Tom Waits.

Among Friday’s other musical acts were EVP Nathan Brostrom taking a page from the Tom Waits songbook; OGC’s Margaret Wu playing a Bach violin solo; and Steve Cohen of the Retirement Administration Service Center, who sang and played mandolin with friend Alec O’Yung on guitar and banjo.

Debora Obley of Budget and Capital Resources sang Gershwin in a black evening gown, and Alida Nattress of Academic Planning, Programs and Coordination sang a lilting country waltz. Also on the bill were Ken Feer of the Academic Senate, who read Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham, and Dancing Smarter, a group of Zumba enthusiasts who filled the stage with Latin moves and rhythms.

The Uke-Cs, AKA UCOP’s “Feminist Ukulele Collective,” led the auditorium in a song dedicated to President Napolitano (“Getting to Know UC,” to the tune from The King and I) and welcomed her onstage to pick the name of the raffle winner, who won a free ukulele.

Between acts Provost Aimée Dorr read the names of OP staff who have achieved service milestones of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years.

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  1. steven cohen October 9, 2013 Reply

    If anyone shot a video at the talent show of me (steven cohen) and alec o’yung, I’d like to get a copy. Please e-mail or call me at 510-987-0244.


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