Ron Orta Award

Picture of Ron OrtaAllentown Logo
District 8 AALAS would like to thank Allentown for their generous support of this award to honor a man who meant so much to us and to them.

The Ron Orta Humanitarian Award honors the memory of a beloved friend and colleague in the lab animal community.  The award was created after Ron’s sudden death in November of 2007 from acute respiratory disease. Ron was a sales representative with Allentown for many years of his distinguished career in laboratory animal science. He was revered for his outgoing nature, big heart, and inclusive demeanor. The District 8 Council, in conjunction with Allentown Inc., created the award to honor Ron’s compassion, dedication, humility, and friendship.

To date, we have had eight deserving recipients: Monte Matthews, Sonja Wallace, Katherine Marshall, DeVere Charron, Drew Martin, Joy Gallagher, Rick Alvarez, Bill Heckt, Debra Hickman, and Grace Aranda.

Call for Nominations for 2018 - The application deadline is February 1, 2018

The award will be presented at the 2018 District 8 meeting in Newport  Beach, CA - May 9-11, 2018.

The selection criteria for this prestigious award includes exhibiting extraordinary compassion towards peers, displaying a spirit of cooperation and involvement in the activities of one’s local community, and participating in continuing education, either as an educator or student in the field of laboratory animal science or planning educational seminars or symposia.

A person deserving of this award is a well-rounded individual who can be found assisting co-workers and going the extra mile to help others whenever possible.  She or he volunteers for community activities, and is either working on becoming certified or involved in obtaining or providing continuing education at any level, or participating in planning education seminars, symposiums, or similar activities.  The nominee is involved in some way with AALAS activities, on a local or national level.

EVERYONE is invited to nominate someone! Please don’t feel intimidated about submitting a nomination. Ron was a man who loved everyone and would never want an award bearing his name to be used as a promotional ploy or popularity contest.  The award winner will be selected by a panel of District 8 Council members, plus a representative from Allentown, Inc.  Nomination packets are kept confidential.  The award winner receives an engraved crystal plaque and a cash award.

You should be able to find at least one colleague, maybe several, who would qualify in your facility! Maybe it's you!

Guidelines for Nominating a Candidate

1) Nominee must be a member of a Branch within District 8.

  a) Animal Caregiver, Technician, Secretary, IACUC Coordinator, Manager/Supervisor, Trainer, Veterinarian, Director, Branch Officer, Branch Member, or Commercial Member.

  b) You may nominate yourself.

2) Write a nomination letter and begin it by generally stating why you believe this person should receive the Ron Orta Humanitarian Award and then adding the following:

  a) Examples of how he/she exhibits compassion towards peers, or “walks the extra mile"...be specific

  b) Examples of cooperation and involvement in the community. Volunteerism examples might be such things as involvement with groups like 4-H, local animal shelters, Habitat for Humanity, science fairs, schools, clubs, or other organizations.

  c) Examples of continuing education. Mention how the nominee has been achieving or working on certifications or degrees, or participation as a presenter, or involvement in promoting or planning a seminar, assisting others with learning, organizing a study group, symposium or similar educational event.

  d) Involvement with AALAS activities, local or national

3) SPREAD THE NEWS! Send out e-mails or call people who know the nominee and ask them to write reference letters.

  a) Reference letters ideally describe some of the items in 2) a-d above, and discuss specifically how the writer or others have been affected by the nominee’s involvement in these activities

  b) Writing a reference letter should not be intimidating. A letter can be long or short; its content is what will be judged, not its appearance. (Suggestion: Get as many meaningful reference letters as you can).

4)  Nomination packets are held over from prior years for re-consideration the next two years. These packets may be updated with additional reference letters.

Submissions must be received by February 1, 2018.  Packets may be scanned and submitted via email to tadamson@coh.org, or mailed to: Trinka Adamson, City of Hope Beckman Research Institute, 1500 East Duarte Rd, Duarte, CA 91010

 

 

Monte Matthews - 2017 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

 

 

Thank you so much for the award and gift associated with the Ron Orta Humanitarian Award. I am deeply honored and grateful to have been selected for Ron’s namesake award.

I first met Ron within weeks after I began my career in animal care. It was the summer of 1988 and I had only been working for a few weeks when me and my boss, Greg Stickrod, drove up to Washington to be a part of Washington AALAS branch's annual banquet at R&R rabbitry. What a hoot that was. I believe Ron was working at WSU at that time, and when Greg introduced us I think Ron was already busy being the “Master Chef” of the barbecue. Ron was always there lending a helping hand, even with the “chicken poop contest”  I had such a good time meeting so many dedicated and friendly, caring people; and the one person who stood out was Ron. His gentle, warm smile and keen interest in my start into the this world had an indelible impact on me.

Throughout the many years that followed, I would call Ron from time to time to discuss management issues. He was so experienced and I valued his perspective enormously.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to be present at the D8 meeting to accept the award. I had no idea I was even nominated until someone told me I had received the award. I was stunned.

I will be giving a seminar on zebrafish issues at Austin, so I look forward to thanking you in person for my deep appreciation and honor to have been selected for Ron’s award. - With deep gratitude - Cheers, Monte

 


Sonja Wallace - 2016 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

Sonja has worked at a number of institutions and is currently the Training Manager in Quality & Regulatory Affairs at Roche Sequencing Solutions. 

She is an expert educator in the field of laboratory animal science, helping and planning educational seminars or symposia, as well as volunteering at the local, regional, and national level of AALAS, AALAS District 8 and NCB-AALAS.   She has served in variety leadership roles in NCB-AALAS including member of Board of Directors, 2 stints as President and member of annual workshop planning committee, and Chair, annual workshop planning committee. She has also continues to serve on California Society for Biomedical Research (CSBR), Board of Directors where she is currently appointed Treasurer.

Sonja is one of the most compassionate and empathetic people I have ever met.  Whether you are a new cage wash staff member in need of new employee orientation training or a Nobel-prize winning scientist who is trying to remediate deficiencies identified during an IACUC inspection, you can rest assured that she will not only effectively impart her vast knowledge but give you her undivided attention, respect and empathy.  This compassion extends to the rest of the animal kingdom as well.  I can think of no better example than her personally authored (in many instances solely) 50+ IACUC-endorsed pre-approved animal procedures or Stanford’s University-Wide Environmental Enrichment Plan which strive to honor the sacrifice that laboratory animals are making by ensuring that we are constantly challenging ourselves to provide the highest levels of animal care, health and welfare.

She is involved in the community.  We worked on Rebuilding Together, a project for a women’s shelter.  She even brought her son to help out, and to show him how important it is to support the community.  Sonja has also done outreach in schools through CBRA’s education program and has volunteered several times as a judge for the annual Science Fairs in the East Bay.

Ive known her as a co-worker, as my supervisor at one time, and as a friend.  I’ve worked with her at a company, on the NCB-AALAS Board, and during two D8 Meetings.  I don’t know of anyone as gracious, compassionate, hardworking, and ‘can-do’ as she.  She goes out of her way to help folks, she can organize like nobody’s business, and she’s able to create calm out of chaos.

A gifted author, effective educator, eloquent speaker, creative developer of learning materials, highly skilled RVT, regulatory subject matter expert, conscientious scientist, “proud and loud” promoter of animal welfare… the list goes on and on and on…I have never met anyone with the scope and scale of talents that she possesses.  One would never know it by talking with her, as she shuns the limelight and always redirects the accolades and acknowledgements to others.

Sonja exemplifies the qualities Ron Orta represented such as exhibiting extraordinary compassion towards peers, displaying a spirit of cooperation and involvement in the activities of one’s local community, and participating in and/or planning continuing education efforts.  District 8 and Allentown are proud to honor her with this prestigious award.

 


Katie Marshall - 2015 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

Kati is the Resource Manager at the Oregon National Primate Research Center where she has been working since 1996 as a Laboratory Animal Technician, a Research Health Technician, a Program Technician, a Lead Technician, and then a Resource Manager starting in 2004. 

She has been an active leader within her local and regional laboratory animal science communities since 1996.  Within the Oregon branch of AALAS she served two 3 year terms as president-elect, president, and past-president.  She has been a member of the OAALAS Executive Board for more than 10 years and chaired the OAALAS Awards Committee from 201-2011.  She has also been an active participant in many of the branches educational and social outreach activities by presenting posters at annual round-up meetings, attending or presenting at branch workshops, and organizing many of the branch’s key events such as the annual awards banquet and round-up meetings.  Regionally, she has been serving as the OAALAS District 8 Council Representative since 2005.

She is a compassionate member, leader, and role model within the laboratory animal community as well as an excellent educator and mentor.

She excels in the pursuit of continuing education by supporting training programs and public outreach initiatives that relate to the care, quality, and humane treatment of laboratory animals.

It is not often you encounter a manager who exhibits such an authentic interest in her employees’ success.  She is an eternal optimist and her ability to look at the human side of situations is refreshing and contagious.  She has a dedicated interest in improving the welfare, happiness, and vitality of all those around her.  She is the most deserving person I can imagine to receive this honor and a true humanitarian.

She reflects the caring attributes in training and management that Ron Orta demonstrated, but with a unique flair that makers her memorable and effective and well loved.  She is dedicated to helping those without whom she works, and those in her community.

She has spent many years mentoring young women in a roller derby league.  Her passion for the sport is equaled by her concern that young women become involved and learn strength, commitment, self-esteem, and sportsmanship through their involvement.

Kati exemplifies the qualities Ron Orta represented such as exhibiting extraordinary compassion towards peers, displaying a spirit of cooperation and involvement in the activities of one’s local community, and participating in and/or planning continuing education efforts.  District 8 and Allentown are proud to honor her with this prestigious award.

 


DeVere Charron - 2014 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

If you looked up "Giver" in the dictionary, you would find DeVere Charron's picture!  I have known  him for a number of years through NCB-AALAS (Northern California Branch-AALAS).

He served on the board for a number  of years and was also a past president. When his term was up, he continued  to offer support. He has presided over numerous Science Fairs and serves as the official NCB AALAS Learning  Library Liaison.  Believe me these are full time jobs! 

I have been fortunate enough  to be able to observe him in his "real" full time job as well for the last couple of years, as we both work at Stanford now.  I have categorized  a few of his many attributes below for your perusal:

Compassion - DeVere always has a kind word for anyone he meets.  He puts staff at ease with his humor and appears to anticipate exactly what you need at any given time in order to meet a deadline or just complete a task.

Dedication to continuing education - Whenever  NCB-AALAS hosts an educational event, he is the one who makes sure that several of the Animal Caretakers have the opportunity to attend (and makes sure that he signs them up if they have any difficulty doing so on their own).

Friendship - DeVere is well-liked by all of his employees.  This is rare. I have not met one person in that capacity that had anything but praise for his treatment of them.  He has such an "easy manner" about him that people feel really comfortable around him.

Cooperation and involvement - As I mentioned above, DeVere has acted as a judge for many Science fairs in the area.  This is a wonderful way to encourage  young people to become involved  in the sciences.  I know that he has coached a lot of sports teams as well in the recent past.

Humility - Whenever he is praised  for pushing through a request or helping with a project, he seems surprised that you think he has gone over and above normal expectations. This "can do" attitude is just an integral part of his personality.

 


Drew Martin - 2013 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

Drew has been very active within our local laboratory animal science community. She has served as president of OAALAS, the district 8 council representative, and the chairperson of the education committee. Drew co-chaired the Portland 2013 District 8 meeting as well as the program chair. The organization of this meeting has been immense and Drew has been diligently planning all aspects involved.

Within the primate center she provides countless teaching opportunities for all skill levels. As the small lab animal unit head she provides rodent surgical and anesthetic training to surgical, clinical, and investigative staff. She is also the nonhuman primate surgical veterinarian where she diligently works to provide oversight for over 9000 procedures per year. For her own advancement she has created an in depth study regimen and plans to sit for the 2014 ACLAM boards. She has created a preparatory class for the LATG exam that is approximately six months in duration and assist technicians who are pursuing LATG certification. Drew has also coordinated the Certified Veterinary Technician Continuing Education Program since 2007. Technicians can attend this bi-monthly program for continuing education credit required for annual certification. These numerous teaching opportunities made her the perfect candidate for a three year appointment with the AALAS Certification and Registry Board this year. Drew also helps with several local outreach opportunities including teaching high school suturing labs and speaking with current veterinary students about lab animal opportunities.

Drew is very active at a national level within the lab animal community. She presents at several national meetings including AALAS and Association of Primate Veterinarians (APV). Within APV she is currently on the board of directors and the newsletter editor. She is very well known within the primate community and actively participates with the primate center consortium (NHPRC) as an instructor. Recently she traveled to MD Anderson Cancer Research Center located in Bastrop, TX to consult on NHP endoscopy. This trip allowed for individual case management as well as presentations regarding endoscopy for the NHP community there.

Outside of lab animal community Drew continually dedicates time to her Alma mater Cornell University. Drew has served as a stalwart volunteer for the Cornell network for five years. During this time, she has participated in initial applicant interviews and had the opportunity to tell students about her experiences at Cornell and her career. This past year Drew participated as an alumnae mentor to a student from her graduating high school, St. Mary’s Academy. This student has interest in going to veterinary school and following a path similar to Drew’s. I got the opportunity to speak with this student through the nomination process who expressed immense gratitude for the time Drew had spent with her.

Dr. Lauren Drew Martin is an amazing teacher, compassionate lab animal veterinarian, dedicated mentor, and exemplary member of the lab animal community. She has become a very good friend to me over the years and is one of the most thoughtful people I have ever met. I unfortunately never had the opportunity to meet Ron Orta but after speaking to those who have and reading his story I think she is a perfect candidate for this award.

 


Joy Gallagher - 2012 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

I have worked with Joy Gallagher for the past 7  years.  Her knowledge of all the aspects of animal care and leadership in a research facility were immediately apparent and impressive from the first day she worked here.  Joy had many years of experience when she started at the PVAMC and showed an extremely strong work ethic and skill level. Joy is an ALAAS registered technologist and while working here she earned her CMAR.  She has advanced to an administrative  position that requires leadership skills, patience, and a good sense of humor. 

Many people work hard and can become an extremely good technician, but let me tell you how Joy shines out above others. It is because of her ability to keep a cheerful and cohesive work environment.   She works daily with the entire Veterinary Medical Unit (VMU) staff, and often times she has to deal with stressful situations and/or conflict.  She is professional, but most importantly she demonstrates respect, kindness and concern to every individual that she assists.  She is the morale builder of the VM U.  She volunteers to run all the gatherings and makes meetings festive yet professional.  We· appreciate her so much because she gives so much extra to the unit as a whole.  When anyone works with Joy, not only is the work done efficiently and effectively,  but it is done with positive energy and fun; it is actually a 'Joy" to work with her! 

As with any group, individuals may have problems or trials arise.  Joy is always the first one to find a way to help out our co-workers in need.  She can gather the rest of us to work together to aid those in need. She has a special way of giving money or giving assistance without the receiver feeling awkward or uncomfortable. 

Joy has a special gift of active caring for absolutely everyone.  I Jove working with her, and I have learned tons from her about compassion and giving.  She embodies those qualities sought in the Ron Orta Humanitarian Award candidate: education, participation, leadership, and compassion.

 


Rick Alvarez - 2011 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

Rick has been elected President of SDAALAS and served two non-consecutive terms. He has also served on the SDAALAS Board for ten plus years and was the Branch's TBR for two years. He was co-founder of the District 8 Council and has put much time, money, and effort in keeping this organization going for the good of our District. He served as Council chair for 2 years and as a representative for 3 terms. Even though he is the Director of his facility, his heart has always been for the technician and continuing education. Rick has also volunteered his time on a national committee as co-chair of CTAD for two years and has served a term as Alternate Trustee. He is also on the Planning Committee for the 2012 District 8 meeting and has traveled to Irvine several times to attend these meetings.

Rick keeps himself very busy with AALAS commitments but he also volunteers his time for his community. Every year, Rick does a "turkey run" at Thanksgiving time and a "toy run" at Christmas time. He solicits donations to buy toys and loads a van up every year to deliver toys to less fortunate kids in Mexico. He also donates his talents as a professional DJ. The most recent was a fund-raiser to buy equipment for kids' athletic programs around the San Diego area. The other was for an individual that needs a kidney transplant.

Rick is a very giving individual. He is always willing to pick people up from the airport, or be a chauffeur; and is always buying lunch!  He has also been known to buy an extra cheeseburger combo meal for the homeless on the corner. Rick Alvarez was a fine candidate and well deserving for this prestigious award.

 


Bill Heckt - 2010 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

Bill L. Heckt, MS, LATG, an AALAS member for more than 30 years, was named the recipient of the 2010 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award. After reading the many letters of recommendation for this award, there was one detail that stuck out more than anything— Bill’s knack for creating new programs and curriculums. From the conception of LAMA and ILAM, Bill has been a supporter, a volunteer, and a committee member. If you hear rumors of another program or organization in the works at AALAS, I wouldn’t doubt if Bill is there in the thick of things. Colleagues have described Bill as always tactful, respectful, and resourceful, even when dealing with difficult issues. Bill is a charter member of both the Central Illinois and the Sierra Nevada AALAS branches, and has taken on leadership roles during his tenure in both organizations.

Bill is now retired and reaping the awards of his hard work. He worked at the University of Illinois as supervisor of the laboratory animal facilities in the College of Agriculture in the late seventies until he joined the staff at the University of Nevada in 1994 as Director of the Department of Laboratory Animal Care Services until his retirement in 2008. In addition to his professional and AALAS life, Bill is also active in his community. He is a member of the Lions International Club serving as an Officer and participating in many fundraisers. The club is responsible for building a play ground for children of all abilities in California, fed 60,000 people in a township in South Africa, and sent a team of eye surgeons to Honduras to treat more than 100 adults and children. Bill also has volunteered his time as a ski instructor for a non-profit ski and snowboard program for children of low income families in the Reno area. He has judged and also recruited judges for a science and engineering fair. He was also a founding member of his church.

Continuing education is one of Bill’s passions. He established a training program for his staff and organized and supported hands-on wet labs for several conferences. He was a member of the advisory committee for the Veterinary Technology Program and provided input to the curriculum, and occasionally volunteered his time as an instructor.  The award was presented to Bill, May 6th at the Mission Palms Hotel in Tempe, Arizona at the 2010 District 8 Conference.    

 


Deb Hickman - 2009 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner

Deb has been very active in District 8 and in National AALAS.  Her particular passion has been the support of technician development.  At the VA Medical Center in Portland, OR, she fostered an environment where technicans were considered an integral member of the research teams.  To that end, she sponsored membership for the local and national branches of AALAS, encouraged her staff to complete the AALAS certification examinations, and arranged for the technicians to attend district and national AALAS meetings as much as possible.  She served on the Certification and Registry Board (CRB) for national AALAS for over 6 years, including a term as Chair.   

In addition to active mentorship of colleagues at all education levels in the field of laboratory animal medicine and science, Deb was also active in local activities including the support of a local early education program and back to school and holiday local fundraising.   

Deb was nominated for this award because she is always willing to listen.  No matter what else is going on, her colleagues recognized that she would drop everything to listen to their problems and suggestions - professional and personal - and be available to assist with advice and resources wherever she was able.  Deb was given the award at the District 8 Meeting in San Francisco, CA.

 


Grace Aranda - 2008 Ron Orta Humanitarian Award Winner