Foundation selects Tessa Southards for the Classified Employee of the Year Award

The Yakima Valley College Foundation announces the selection of Tessa Southards as the 2022 recipient of the Darlene Koch Classified Employee of the Year Award. Former YVC Vice President of Administration and YVC Foundation Executive Director Darlene Koch established the award to honor the hard work and dedication of classified staff. The YVC Foundation Board of Directors makes the selection from nominations submitted by faculty, staff and administrators.

Southards is a Procurement and Supply Specialist IV in the Purchasing Department. She spent her early years in Washington and Montana before her family settled in the Yakima Valley. After graduating from West Valley High School, she earned a certificate from Trend Business College and later an associate of arts degree at YVC. In 1999 she was hired to work as a program assistant in the Admissions Office. During her 23-year tenure she’s worked in a variety of roles within the college. Southards current duties include processing purchase orders, ensuring rules and regulations are met for purchases, surplusing of assets, maintaining archives for record storage and supervising purchasing and central receiving staff.

On campus Southards is well known for her leadership and willingness to jump in and help when needed. These qualities were highlighted this winter after the difficult loss of a colleague. During this time Southards was recognized for helping teammates by going above and beyond her typical duties.

“This past year, Tessa has demonstrated countless times leadership qualities in various areas. She [takes] the initiative and assists staff by answering questions and dialogue of new procedures/deadlines, not just in her area but with all of campus,” states Miguel Martinez, interim director of business and accounting services.

Southards’ colleague Teresa Rich, vice president of administrative services, also noted her teamwork and collaborative nature.

“I have had the privilege of working with Tessa for the past 20 years in many different capacities and have always been impressed by her commitment to helping others whenever needed and without being asked,” states Rich. “Tessa is always the person to volunteer for a special project or to provide assistance to someone in need.

“As long as Tessa has worked at YVC she has performed her duties with a spirit of excellence and instills confidence in those around her. She shares with others that, through teamwork and collaborative effort, any task or goal is attainable.”

The recipient of the Darlene Koch Classified Employee of the Year Award is presented a $1,000 unrestricted monetary award. It is open to any full-time classified staff member at Yakima Valley College. For more information contact Stacey Kautz at or 509.574.4645.

The Darlene Koch Classified Employee of the Year Award will be presented during YVC’s Commencement ceremony on June 17.