Employee of the Month - May 2022

Orathai Zavaleta - Employee Relations Specialist, Staff Human Resources

Awarded Thursday, May 12th, 2022 via Zoom Virtual celebration. Orathai was joined by President Jane Close Conoley, numerous Staff Human Resources and campus colleagues, and family members.

Orathai Zavaleta serves as the Employee Relations Specialist in Staff Human Resources and has worked at the University for nearly eight years. Orathai has gone well beyond her daily duties to initiate a project that simplified processes for Staff Human Resources as well as Administrative Services Managers (ASMs) across the campus.

Gina Caywood, the Associate Director of Leaves of Absence Programs, Accommodations & Employee Relations, shared, “Since COVID, the Staff HR team has assumed a tremendous volume of work. Orathai has continued to pivot her work assignments wherever needed. The most recent example of her going above and beyond is her major overhaul and process improvement in how the department manages temporary employee appointments and temporary to permanent status approvals. This monthly process triggers approximately 800 annual transactions every year, which each transaction requiring a letter to the employee and an individual spreadsheet (PTF) to the payroll team.

“In January, Orathai jumped in to tackle this new project which is not part of her position description at all. She spearheaded a wide range of changes including PeopleSoft report modifications, moving the entire process over to SharePoint, consolidating multiple Excel trackers, creating updated template communications to the ASM, setting up a process where it can be completed in mass batches using mail merge. The process makes it tremendously easier for ASMs and she has received high praise from this group. This new process also improves accuracy and reduces the amount of time our own staff is spending on this massive effort. This project is entirely outside her role as an Employee Relations Specialist, and she took on this work with a positive outlook and enthusiasm. Orathai is one of CSULB's talented staff members that largely works behind the scenes but makes an incredible impact to CSULB. She is amazing!”

While Orathai has excelled in her staff role, she has also excelled as a master’s student at CSULB. She started the full-time MBA program in the Fall of 2020 and is expected to walk during the upcoming May 2022 Commencement. She accomplished the MBA while working full-time, in the midst of the pandemic, while pregnant and then with a newborn baby.

Prior to the pandemic, Orathai and her husband enjoyed traveling around the world. They love traveling so much that they got married in Spain and honeymooned in Morocco. The pandemic put a halt on their travels, but as it nears the end, they hope to resume their travel adventures, now with their 9-month daughter, Oriela. Orathai also enjoys spending time outdoors with their two beautiful goldendoodle dogs, Chaouen and Tamarit.