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El Fisseha received the 2022-2023 Award in Management in the College of Arts and Sciences for her outstanding accomplishments in the department of music.

El Fisseha, holding up a plaque, poses with UNC mascot Ramses on the Kenan Stadium field, a vase of flowers at her feet.
(Photo by Cat Zachary)

El Fisseha, business manager for the department for music, received the 2022-2023 Award in Management in the College of Arts and Sciences at a ceremony on April 24.

The award, established in 2005, is given annually to a business or administrative manager in the College in recognition of outstanding accomplishments, including leadership and teamwork; creativity, innovation and resourcefulness; technological expertise; and effective human resource and budget management.

“I am so fortunate to work with an amazing staff team in the department of music and amongst so many dedicated and talented College managers, all of whom have played an important role in my ability to succeed as a department manager,” Fisseha said. “I will forever be grateful to them for their help and support.”

Fisseha graduated from UNC, where she was a member of the Marching Tar Heels, with a B.A. in music and psychology in 2002 and began working for the UNC Bands full time in 2004.

“During the 15 years I worked with the band program, I observed the unwavering dedication with which Director of University Bands Jeff Fuchs supported and advocated for band students,” Fisseha said. “It has motivated me to provide the best learning experiences possible for undergraduate and graduate students as well as staff seeking to develop professionally and faculty conducting research and exploring opportunities beyond teaching.”

She began her current role as business manager in June 2019. Colleagues praise Fisseha for her professionalism, efficiency, personability and commitment to departmental and student success.

She has promoted unity and collaboration among staff through a new staff mentoring program, which includes updated onboarding documentation and small group welcome lunches for new staff. She has also implemented a new Welcome Back event for students, a reimagined Welcome Back event for faculty and staff and a new open house event for Family Weekend.

Through her role in budget management, Fisseha has found creative ways to meet department needs throughout the pandemic, including securing funds to create a low-latency pod system that allowed students and faculty to continue lessons and ensemble practices during the pandemic. She also created new digital account documentation files that made tracking the department account balances significantly easier and more transparent.

“El Fisseha is an invaluable asset to the department of music, to the College of Arts and Sciences and to the University,” said David Garcia, professor and chair of the department of music. “Her leadership of our staff has been crucial in our ability to carry out the department’s educational, research, artistic and administrative duties.”

Music department colleagues also offered more words of praise:

  • “She is an outstanding manager in terms of efficiency and responsiveness, but she is so much more: a brilliant thinker, deeply aware of complexities in a department that has many moving parts.”
  • “She has an excellent understanding of the history, mission and vision of the department and has been instrumental in helping the music department move into a new era that focuses more on diversity and inclusion and making the department accessible to all students who love music.”
  • “Not only is she incredibly competent, she is dependable, resourceful, thoughtful and kind.”
  • “She is an outstanding manager and individual who helps each of us rise to our best and has moved the department forward with her leadership each and every day.”

By Andy Little ‘24

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