University of Wisconsin–Madison

2023 HR Partner Team Awards

Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) Patrick Sheehan announced the winners of the 2023 HR Partner Team Awards at the HR@UW Conference on December 13, 2023. This is the fifth year that the Office of Human Resources (OHR) has conveyed the awards.

Nominations were assessed against partnership criteria in three different categories:

Rising Star

  • Positive contributions
  • Commitment to professional development
  • Strong work ethic
  • Collaboration with OHR and campus community

Embracing Innovation

  • Creative solutions with significant impacts
  • Novel approaches for effective/efficient work
  • Creative approaches that improve services

Outstanding Leadership

  • Initiative, responsibility and resourcefulness
  • Outstanding skills and service
  • Trust and credibility
  • Sense of purpose, vision and mission
  • Ability to motivate others
  • Consensus building
  • Champions change
  • Coaching and mentoring

The 2023 awards were granted to three individuals (among 26 nominees within 10 HR units) who exemplified HR partnership:


 Cameron Theisen (University Recreation and Wellbeing)

Cameron’s nomination letter read much like a nomination letter for the outstanding leader award.  Cameron conducted outreach to UW–Madison students to position Recreation and Wellbeing as an “employment opportunity of choice,” and worked to build partnerships with Cultural Linguistic Services to amplify a greater diversity of voices within the division. Her commitment to excellence is evident in the ways she strives for continuous improvement of existing systems and processes, including onboarding and recruitment, and the exceptional customer service she provides. Cameron is noted for being an advocate for all employees—bringing equity and inclusion to the forefront—and models a belief that what she does matters.




Dawn Bierman (Facilities Planning and Management)

Innovation can be defined in multiple ways, in multiple contexts – but a core component of “innovating” is the ability to look at challenges as opportunities and to forge ahead to find creative, unique solutions to solve problems and meet needs. Dawn has worked tirelessly to respond to the significant challenge of an aging workforce by developing an apprenticeship program that sets the framework for the future of trades workers at UW–Madison. Despite the challenges she encountered in designing and implementing this initiative, Dawn continued to push forward, working with internal and external stakeholders alike to determine the needs for the program. The pilot program launched earlier this year and has been met with overwhelmingly positive feedback. Apprentices are thriving and supporting the ongoing needs of the University community, as well as building a talent pipeline to fill critical operational needs on our campus in the future.



Bethany Pluymers (Law School)

Sheehan spoke about having had the pleasure of working closely with Bethany Pluymers on many occasions during his career at UW–Madison—as colleague, advisor, and friend. To synthesize the impact Bethany has had on the Law School and UW–Madison at large is an impossible feat. Bethany received numerous recommendation letters from both within the Law School and across UW–Madison, which is representative of the powerful impact and commitment to service that Bethany has demonstrated during her time at the university. Her nomination letters were filled the examples of Bethany’s impact on the HR community; using words like “excellent”, “empathetic”, “humble”, “exceptional”, “transformative”, and “incomparable.”

Bethany models the criteria for the Outstanding Leadership Award in her commitment to building consensus; her intentionality in the Law School’s strategic planning and visioning; and her focus on student success and employee impact. While she has a knack for thinking through all possible outcomes, Bethany also shows incredible skill at adjusting when the unexpected arises. She has been invaluable on multiple, major campus initiatives such as the Title and Total Compensation Project and the campus preparations for the implementation of Workday. Her co-development of the “Avengers,” a grassroots community of HR leaders to advocate for the needs of the HR community has ensured that voices and perspectives are heard and has encouraged appropriate decision-making. Bethany challenges herself and others to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions that meet the needs of those whom the community serves.

Anyone who has worked with Bethany knows that she is invested in uplifting all staff as they grow to reach their full potential, and to lead with empathy, honesty, and compassion. She is a persistent coach for stepping up, speaking up, and leaning in.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “good leaders inspire people to have confidence in their leader. A great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves”. Bethany has inspired many confident and committed leaders on our campus, following her humble and authentic example, positioning all of us to continue Bethany’s work of transforming this university as we continue to strive for excellence.

OHR congratulates all nominees and winners!

The 2024 HR@UW Conference and award ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 21, 2024. Sheehan invites all campus stakeholders to watch for 2024 award criteria and to nominate standout HR partners among the HR community.


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