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Johnny Lai

Winter 2014

I am nominating:   Johnny Lai

Years of Service at Cal Poly: 3 years

Department: UHS/PTS

Position: Marketing Coordinator


Why are you nominating this person?  Why do you think he/she deserves the award?

Johnny Lai’s STAR award is long overdue!  When he started working for the University Housing Services, the quality of our published materials leapt many, many rungs.  His work is definitely above and beyond what is normally asked for.  With his technical knowledge and savvy he creates such rich posters, dynamic and attention grabbing flyers, informative websites, and creative items to give away.  The most amazing quality of Johnny is his eye for design which he also shares with his students guiding them on how to create stunning works of art. Because of this, Johnny gives his students a true sense of “Learn by Doing” as he develops them into marketing professionals.  He truly is a bright and amazing STAR and you can see his work shining all over campus.


In what way(s) does this person enhance or contribute to the Cal Poly Pomona campus community?

Johnny’s work ranges to such amazing productions that everyone enjoys to small understated items that are clean and easy to understand. Sometimes you do not even know that the work is his!   If you have seen the shirt that students received at this past BroncoFusion, you have seen Johnny’s amazing work.  The memorable designs for the parking hang tags you have had in your car since 2012?  That is his team!  You even participated in his work if you stopped by the Housing Reunion Tent at Homecoming – he designed both the printout and the backdrop. 


But Johnny is just not a person who creates copy and makes amazing prints, he does way more!  During the Showcase of Excellence and during all the Summer Orientation Sessions, he coordinates the table for UHS and is talking to all the students about what UHS has to offer. Using his background in sales, he also teaches the students who are with him how to talk to the attendees so that they are excited to be on our campus.


Please select 2 of the 6 Division of Student Affairs values for which your nominee best exemplifies:

☐  Student-Centered Philosophy

☐  Integrity

☐  Interconnectedness

☐  Environmental

☒ Passion

☒  Quality

☐  Richness of Diversity

☐  Sustainability (New)


Please share how your nominee exemplifies value #1:

Not only does Johnny’s marketing passion extend through his work in UHS & P&TS, but it extends to other departments, the division, and even regionally.  He contributed artwork to the Ask Billy program.  Johnny went above and beyond by designing and maintaining a very memorable website for the NASPA Region VI Conference in Hawaii ( ).  He also created a logo and flyer for the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education for both their 2013 and 2014 Conferences.  This all demonstrates Johnny’s passion of not only doing good work within his job description, but to share his abilities and show that good marketing truly can change minds.


The best example though of Johnny’s passion is his “We can get it done” attitude.  No matter how insurmountable the task, and how much needs to be done, Johnny always believes that he can finish a project.  That passion helps drive others around him to complete tasks with the same level of dedication that he provides.


Please share how your nominee exemplifies value #2:

During Preview Days, Move-in, Move-out, Commencement, and even just recently at Homecoming, Johnny creates the vast majority of signs that direct people around the campus.  Not only does he create them, but he almost always goes around the campus to hang them up himself.  Then, at the end of the events, he takes the signs down and puts them away.  That is just one example of the quality of Johnny’s work; he sees a process through from start to finish ensuring it is of high caliber.


Johnny however is very serious about the quality of his work.  One of his supervisors, Jackie Natividad, says, “Johnny is always able and willing to help on any project. The quality and creativity of his work is amazing, and never disappoints.” Often he asks people to give him more than several weeks in advance for his projects, along with his favorite activity of collecting five words of what you are trying to capture with the body of work you are asking him to create.  Using this process Johnny has created some of the most memorable campaigns for countless projects, including the past three Welcome Weeks. 


Johnny is fairly often asked to complete projects with a compressed timeline.  One recent example was before Homecoming, Johnny was asked to complete several large projects with only a few days to do them: the Map of the Saturday events and the banners that went on the reunion tents.  Though he had a quick deadline and he still had three other projects he was attempting to complete, the map and reunion banners were still the same quality as if he had three weeks to complete them.


Johnny truly is an amazing coworker, teammate, designer, and leader who continuously brings the work we do to another level.  He truly is an amazing STAR!