President's Award for Excellence in Unclassified Staff Service
No Strings Attached
Sandra Lelleck often entertains children with her puppeteering skills as part of community service work. Unlike puppets, there are no strings attached to the service provided by this year’s winner of the President’s Award for Excellence in Unclassified Staff Service.
Lelleck’s paternal grandmother mentored her, demonstrating the value of education and personal contribution. After volunteering at her children’s school, she saw the need for workers in community activities and churches. Sometimes that work was behind the scenes. For instance, when her daughter was in a summer theater camp, she scoured thrift shops for costumes for the cast of “Pirates of Penzance.”
Lelleck has also led budgeting workshops for Head Start parents and taught Sunday school at her church, as well as vacation bible school.
“I derive satisfaction from helping and teaching people, especially children and young people, because they truly are our future,” she said.
A 2006 Southeastern graduate with a degree in psychology and a 2015 graduate of Southeastern’s MBA program, Lelleck has served as the Physical Plant business manager since 2007.
In that capacity, she manages more than 18 departmental budgets for Physical Plant, and she budgets, tracks and processes university utilities in excess of $4.5 million dollars annually. She oversees Physical Plant payroll and timekeeping, work order generation, and customer service. She is also responsible for nine employees as direct reports.
Customer service is deeply ingrained in Lelleck’s character.
“I strive for excellence in customer service and conduct trainings focused on that,” she said. “One of the first things I tell a new employee is to focus on providing excellent customer service to Physical Plant clients. I also challenge my personnel to find more efficient ways of accomplishing their work.”
In spite of her numerous work responsibilities, Lelleck still makes time for service opportunities. Annually, she spearheads Physical Plant’s fundraising for the Division of Administration and Finance’s Relay for Life team. She has volunteered for the new academic initiative Career Connect and currently serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for abused and neglected children. Since 2016, she has represented six children, advocating in court for them, visiting them regularly and discovering their individual needs and desires.
“My goal for each child is a safe, permanent home,” she said. “I believe that if my efforts bring a measure of stability and/or security to others, it enriches the community.”
Colleague and Senior Associate Athletics Director Andrew Bechac applauds Lelleck’s service both in and out of the office.
“Sandra truly understands the mission and lives out the core values of Southeastern on a daily basis through her integrity driven character and call to serve,” said Bechac. “Her behind the-scenes leadership has been paramount to the success of many athletic endeavors, as well as Physical Plant operations. Her willingness to go above and beyond to serve sets an example for all to witness.”
In addition to contributing at the local level, Lelleck also participates in two programs that affect the lives of children in other countries. For years she has sponsored a child through World Vision, an international organization that works to serve the people in greatest need around the world, to relieve their suffering and to promote the transformation of their life conditions. When the first child Lelleck sponsored aged out of the program, she quickly sponsored another. She also makes purses as donations to Sew Powerful, a non-profit organization that strives to keep girls in Zambia from missing school and falling behind their male counterparts in coursework by providing health training and purses with feminine hygiene products.
“It is my hope that these children we are helping will in turn positively impact their communities,” she said. “In the words of American psychologist and philosopher Williams James, ‘Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.’”