Melanie Kearns, a senior event coordinator, in governmental training, education and development, at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government is the first recipient of the UGA Public Service and Outreach Employee Spotlight Award.

PSO Vice President Jennifer Frum and Vinson Institute Director Laura Meadows surprised Kearns as she was waiting for a training program to begin at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.

“Is there a Melanie Kearns in the room?” Frum called, as she walked into the conference room with a bouquet of red and black balloons and a gift basket of assorted items. She also handed Kearns an award certificate.

“We’re honored to have great employee like you,” Frum said.

Kearns was nominated for the award by Institute of Government colleague Tracy Arner, financial management program manager for governmental training, Education and Development.

In her nomination, Arner cited the professionalism that Kearns shows in coordinating the Vinson Institute’s annual Georgia Government Finance Officers Association conference (GGFOA).

“There are many moving parts to coordinating a four-day conference including lodging, food, meeting rooms and registration. Melanie works out the details so that the on-site coordination goes smoothly for attendees,” Arner wrote in her nomination. “The GGFOA is an important client group. Melanie’s work strengthens the bond we have with that organization. She represents the Institute of Government and UGA well.”

The PSO-wide award was established earlier this year as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements and contributions of employees throughout the year. The Employee Spotlight highlights employees who go above and beyond their normal responsibilities, who produce outstanding work and who contribute significantly to the strategic mission of the division.

Any full or part time employee of the Office of the Vice President for Public Service and Outreach, the eight PSO units, and the Atlanta economic development office are eligible for the award. Employees can nominate themselves or someone else.

For more information or to nominate someone for the award, go to