Housekeeping manager gives a voice to custodial workers

Rachel Stevenson

Housekeeping Manager Lisa Ferrell, of Kent State’s University Facilities Management, shared her passion for representing Kent State and her staff after being selected as a 2016 Manager of Distinction by Facility Cleaning Decisions magazine.

Ferrell said she has grown passionate about her role in University Facilities Management by witnessing the impact her staff has on students.

“I have students this age, and I know what kind of atmosphere that I want them in,” Ferrell said. “A lot of times, I think about what it would be like if my own children were sitting at a desk … and saw something on the wall, something on the floor or the chalkboard not done, and I didn’t want that for them.”

Although she does not work directly with students, Ferrell said knowing the impact her staff has on their lives makes her job worthwhile. She also said she would not be nearly as successful without her staff and support system at University Facilities Management.

“I rely on the custodial workers to come in and just do a good job,” she said. “It’s a genuine feeling of satisfaction when I go and walk the buildings and think ‘you know, they are doing a really good job.'”

Ferrell said Jeffery Mori, assistant director of University Facilities Management, is one of her greatest inspirations and mentors in growing and learning as a housekeeping manager.

“There’s not too many people who could’ve done what she’s done to this point,” Mori said. “I respect her investment into our department, whether it’s coming in at night so she can meet with someone who had a complaint or … concern … or staying late.”

Mori said one of Ferrell’s greatest challenges has been giving the department and custodial workers across campus a voice.

“We want to make sure that custodial is represented well; that they’re not taken for granted,” he said. “She is very passionate about representing the interests of those people and making sure they are appreciated.”

Creating an environment where employees feel appreciated and valued is an ultimate goal of University Facilities Management. Through her leadership and determination, Mori said Ferrell represents custodial workers who work behind the scenes to maintain university grounds and buildings.

Ferrell said she always maintains a positive and welcoming attitude to encourage employees to approach her with questions and concerns when they arise.

“If people come to you and they have a concern, they need to understand that you will take their concerns to heart, and you will absolutely do everything that you possibly can to make sure that you’re correcting the issue,” she said.

Mori said advocating for her staff and the entire department is one of several reasons Ferrell stands out as a leader in University Facilities Management.

“She’s caring not just about the custodial staff, but about the university,” he said.

Ferrell said she supervises nearly 100 custodial workers in over 68 building across campus, including campus-dining facilities, academic buildings, as well as parts of Lake and Olson Halls and the Honors College.

While nominations for the 2016 Manager of Distinction award are anonymous, Ferrell said not knowing which of her coworkers nominated her inspires her to work even harder to fulfill her roles as housekeeping manager.

“I hope I don’t ever disappoint,” Ferrell said. “I hope … that I can always maintain my professionalism, always maintain my positive attitude, always maintain a good relationship with the staff, and always do just the best that I can do for the university.”

Rachel Stevenson is the residence halls reporter, contact her at [email protected].