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Franklin party rings in UCOP holiday season

If you weren’t in the spirit yet, UCOP’s 2011 Holiday Party on Friday, Dec. 9, in the Franklin building, was just what you needed. The all-day, all-building event brought out good cheer, good humor and good spirits in abundance and style.

The day featured fabulous food on three floors, Daniel Scuiry leading the UCOP Singers in carols and songs, and lively socializing among colleagues and friends. President Mark Yudof led a morning inspection of dozens of holiday displays that were competing with one another in what has become a UCOP tradition.

2011 holiday decoration judges at the Disco Christmas

Sheryl Vacca, Compliance & Audit SVP (far left), with holiday display judges at the Christmas Disco, which took first prize at UCOP's holiday decoration competition. (Click to enlarge.)

Festivities culminated in Lobby One with more eats and remarks from President Yudof and EVP Nathan Brostrom, who announced a new partnership between UC and local merchant Oaklandish to help raise money for Project You Can, UC’s scholarship initiative.

“We saw some exciting displays this year,” Brostrom said in introducing the judges’ choices for the top three displays. “But this is the first time we’re offering prizes, so we’ve raised the stakes for future competitions!”

Brostrom explained that the winners would receive $50 gift certificates from Oaklandish, the Oakland-centric apparel shop at 1444 Broadway. The store plans to create a line of UC-themed T-shirts and other apparel to generate funds for the scholarship initiative, as well as offer UCOP staff discounts and increase OP support of Oakland’s downtown district.

OP Staff Assembly Vice Chair Shelby Chin then announced the three winners (plus one honorable mention) “Miss America style,” bringing the two finalists up in front of the audience to allow for maximum suspense and silliness before naming the winner.

Holiday decorations on offices of Risk Services staff

Risk Analyst Karen Hsi created snowmen and women creatures on office doors as part of the 10th floor's "Winter Wonderland" display, which took second prize. (Click to enlarge.)

Taking first prize was Director of Ethics and Compliance Peter Cataldo, whose 5th floor “Disco Christmas” featured disco balls, flashing lights and a video of virtual Ethics and Compliance staffers getting down to some disco sounds. As Cataldo heard the final announcement, he hammed it up in true beauty pageant fashion, hugging the runner-up and clearly relishing his moment in the limelight.

Second prize went to the 10th floor’s “Winter Wonderland,” engineered by Risk Manager Karen Vecchi and Risk Analyst Karen Hsi. Capturing both indoor and outdoor scenes, the wonderland theme featured individual portraits of Risk Services staff on the glass panels of staffers’ offices. Hsi created the caricatures with tree flocking in the form of frosty snowmen and women that captured the personality of each office’s occupant.

Third prize went to ANR’s miniature gingerbread North Pole farming village, designed by ANR Director of Development Services Cynthia Barber. Set atop a bank of filing cabinets, the display featured a tiny 4-H pumpkin patch, matchbox John Deere tractors and a winter mint crop of candy spearmint leaves. Accepting the award for the effort was Jan Corlett, new chief of staff for the ANR Vice President’s Office.

ANR's gingerbread farm

Capturing third prize was a delicate gingerbread display by ANR's Director of Development Services Cynthia Barber. (Click to enlarge.)

Honorable mention went to Marsha Kelman and the Office of the Secretary of the Regents for their creative installation on the12th floor. The unique take on the North Pole riffs off recent news events and is not to be missed.

“We wish you happy holidays in what has been a good year but a tough one as well,” President Yudof said in closing the event and expressing appreciation to UCOP staff for their efforts all year long.

The events were funded entirely through donations from UCOP managers and organized by planning committee members Rebecca Armstrong, Sutton Bennett, Todd Colburn, Juan Conrado, Barbara Heilmann, Sherry Perocier, Barbara Picard, Karen Tomajan and Alexander Zabelin. Thanks go also to the team of nearly 60 volunteers who helped orchestrate the day’s multiple activities.

Turkey carving at UCOP's 2011 holiday party

HR Business Partner Venus Kirk (left) awaits turkey carved by UCOP elves Vice Provost Larry Pitts and Business Operations Executive Assistant Barbara Picard. (Click to enlarge.)

Ann’s Catering of Berkeley supplied finger foods, and Ladyfingers of Oakland provided the sweets. The four fresh turkeys came from Andronico’s.

In announcing the collaboration with Oaklandish, Brostrom said details are yet to be finalized, but plans include tagging the UC-themed product line with cards to explain Project You Can, which will receive a $5 donation from purchases of $25 or more by UCOP employees.

The partnership, negotiated by Public Affairs Director Peter King and Creative Director Vanessa Correa, would be the first step toward a broad-based, neighborhood outreach effort to help local merchants and boost volunteerism in the community, Brostrom added. More details will be announced soon.

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