Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Origin story: How Stanford’s Administrative Champions turned connection into a superpower

What started as a small group improving conference room scheduling in 2018 has grown to include 1,500 staff in admin and operations roles across Stanford.

It may be no surprise to you that one of the most popular Slack channels at Stanford is managed by the Stanford Administrative Champions.

Embedded in nearly every area of the university, staff in administrative and operations roles have a wealth of knowledge about how things work at Stanford. Their roles, backgrounds, and expertise may vary across the population — and yet all of those perspectives coming together is extremely powerful.

It makes sense that they would have a place to connect and learn together.

Prior to 2018, that “place” didn’t really exist. And then one day, a couple of admins from different departments met about the conference room scheduling process at their Porter Drive location:

  • Sonia Baca, UIT Admin Team co-lead and executive assistant to Amy Steagall
  • Paty Sobin, operations manager, Research Management Group, School of Medicine
  • Bobbi Woody-Mistriel, executive assistant to Jonathan Russell, CIO & SLAC IT administrative services manager
  • Jackie Wang, administrative operations and facilities manager, Financial Management Services

That connection sparked something of a renaissance in the university’s admin community and the result was an organized community of practice for administrative professionals.

Collaborating across the university

When the Stanford Redwood City campus opened in 2019 — moving more than 2,200 staff members into a new location — that cross-department group of admins found themselves with even more processes to adapt and improve, and even more staff who would benefit from their growing community.

Less than a year later, as Stanford shifted to remote work during the pandemic, SAC expanded exponentially, as suddenly everyone struggled to overcome some of the same disruptions to the way we work. 

Through SAC, staff found more connection, not less.

Learning from each other

For these admin advocates, the “place” they keep is mostly virtual these days, and reflective of our wired, distributed workplace: Slack channels and listservs to message each other, a Miro online whiteboard to generate and track ideas, a Wiki page to share resources, and Zoom huddles to connect and plan.

About 1,500 people follow SAC on Slack. SAC is now a sponsored community of practice and is organized by four program leads — Angelina Sepulveda in University HR, Ginny Smith from Stanford Law School, Kimberly Meade from School of Medicine, and Lynette Williams in School of Humanities & Sciences — plus a Core Team of 11 admins who volunteer, in addition to four committees.

They set goals and design initiatives to share skills and knowledge. For example:

  • The Success Partners Program, launched at the height of the pandemic, has matched 150 mentees to more than 50 mentors so far.
  • SAC Events Committee planned a week of learning and development events from April 1-5, including sessions on career paths, goal setting, gaining confidence through public speaking, and the power of task tracking. (Register Here.)
  • Intro to SAC is a quarterly meeting in which they introduce new admins to the SAC Community. 
  • During quarterly step-back meetings via Zoom, they share kudos and successes.    

Inspiring others beyond Stanford

With their inspiring grassroots story and program successes, the SAC Core Team was invited to present at the Behind Every Leader conference for executive assistants in summer 2023. The group was named a 2022 All-Star Team by OfficeNinjas, an organization created to empower administrative and operations professionals.

Administrative Professionals Day is April 24

Tell your administrative and operations professionals they are super with a Zoom background or digital e-card, which you can download from the Recognition section of Cardinal at Work

More News Topics