When selecting a recipient for the Nancy Blane Guerra Award, several attributes are considered key: loyalty, dedication, flexibility, being a team player, excellent work ethic and having a positive outlook. It’s a fitting description of
Dr. Alicea Toso, manager of the Honors Program and Liberal Arts Student Support Services, who is this year’s award recipient.

A commonality seen in each of the numerous nominations Toso received tout her as a great leader and describe her as empowering, approachable, fair, friendly, compassionate, humble, dedicated, flexible and positive.

“I read what people wrote about me in the nominations, and it made me cry,” Toso said. “I was so excited and super humbled the people I work with felt like this about me.”

One of her nominators said Toso’s ideas and ingenuity helped propel The Speaking and Writing Center through the pandemic and kept remote consultations available to its clients. “We never had to turn away a student who needed assistance. She continues to create innovative ideas and new projects to make our support service the best it can be for those we serve,” the nominator said.

Teamwork is important to Toso, and she sees the value in each of her team members. “Alicea empowers all of us; she listens to our ideas and collaborates with us, allowing us to execute ways to excel in all areas,” another nominator said.

Colleagues cite Toso’s enthusiasm and knowledge of Moraine Valley classes and services as an important factor in her successes and note she maintains an amazing, positive nature when met with any challenge. Her coworkers, who believe there is nothing that cannot be accomplished as a team, said she wears many hats in her position and flawlessly pulls off every one of them. “Alicea never expects anyone to do anything she wouldn’t do, and if help is needed in any area, she is the first one there,” a co-worker said.

Toso’s strong work ethic and collaborative spirit are recognized in the tasks she undertakes in the Liberal Arts Department. “Alicea is a hard worker and does not shy away from taking on additional responsibility and heavier workloads. Her positive and cheerful attitude make it easy and enjoyable to work with her. She’s the epitome of a team player,” said another of her nominators.

Her nominator also noted that Alicea, as the individual responsible for the early childhood education grant, has done an outstanding job leading that effort by collaborating with all internal and external stakeholders to ensure Moraine Valley meets the requirements of the grant.

Toso has held many positions since being hired in 2002 and continues to ensure everyone she meets feels welcome on campus. It’s not just part of her job — it’s something that comes natural for her.

“From greeting students and fellow co-workers in the Honors Program office, to answering questions or giving a friendly smile and hello in the hallway, Alicea’s positivity shines. You likely have heard her in the halls and said to yourself, ‘Alicea is on campus.’ Her contagious laugh, outgoing personality and kindness are just some of the reasons so many consider her a trusted co-worker and friend,”
a nominator said.

Toso is humbled to be named the 2023 Nancy Blane Guerra Award recipient and fiercely gives much credit to her co-workers. “They’re just an amazing team, and I couldn’t run this part of Liberal Arts without these individuals working as hard as they do. I’m big on teamwork, and we are a great team. I’m just so proud and honored to work with each of them,” she said.