Eli Koleva Receives 2021 UBC President’s Staff Award for Wellbeing

Eli Koleva standing in front of flower bush
Eli Koleva

UBC Forestry’s Executive Coordinator – Faculty Affairs Eli Koleva has been recognized as a recipient of this year’s UBC President’s Staff Award for Wellbeing.

Described by her nominating peers as a “leader in creating an atmosphere that values wellbeing and belonging”, Eli was selected due to her many thoughtful contributions to the Faculty’s ever-evolving culture of wellness.

“A healthy workplace is made of open and honest work relationships. What makes the workplace fabulous, is when people connect as humans – not just as professionals – and wellbeing is a concept that offers exactly this connection” says the mother of two, community volunteer and long-time UBC Vancouver staff member.

Illustrious UBC Forestry Career

Forestry has been a significant part of Eli’s life for many years.  She is a forest engineer and received her Master of Science in Forestry degree from the University of Forestry in her home country of Bulgaria, but grew her love of forests ever since she began competitive orienteering in her teens. Health has been another central area of interest, ever since her grandmother showed her the value of herbs and traditional medicine, and up until defending her Forest Health thesis during her university years.

For the last 13 years, Eli has been serving in her role with the Faculty of Forestry, (and prior to that, four years with the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department). During that time, she has strived to build a culture of wellbeing and sustainability woven through every event for faculty, staff and the general public, starting with retreats to large-scale international conferences. To name a few, she organized a Living Well with Stress Workshop with LifeWorks, engaged student volunteers with the Living Atrium project, and planned special events for National Forest Week, International Tree Day and many more.

More recently and during the pandemic, Eli designed the Forestry Wellbeing Initiative to promote social, physical and mental health. This included a variety of events and campaigns including a Peer/Self Wellbeing Month, an Alphabet Place Hunt, 30-minute exercise snacks led by a certified trainer, and a Seven Days Tall as a Tree Challenge to bring awareness to maintaining a positive mindset, even when in isolation and forced to work in a virtual reality.

“I am so honored to have received this award and hope it encourages others to do more to create culture and responsibility towards wellbeing. It starts with the individual, but is way more rewarding when the whole team picks up.”

UBC President’s Staff Awards

The UBC President’s Staff Awards at the Vancouver campus recognize the personal achievements and contributions of staff make to UBC and to the university’s overall vision and goals.  Early in the year, a call for nominations is sent out annually.

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