Sept. 22, 2021 The Division of Human Resources & Equity is now called the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

“If you appreciate someone—don’t keep it a secret”: Celebrating one year of True Blue

Composite of portrait photos of Tamara Jacobs, Natasha Jesenak and Gina John

Tamara Jacobs, Natasha Jesenak and Gina John are among more than 2,300 persons working at U of T who received True Blue recognitions over the past year.


May 1, 2019 | By Luke Ng

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the True Blue Recognition Platform. The Division of Human Resources & Equity launched the system to empower faculty, librarians and staff to recognize those who make valuable contributions to the University and formally nominate them for various awards programs.

The platform also features an online space where members of the University community can express their gratitude for a colleague’s outstanding efforts in an everyday moment or situation. More than 1,100 individuals have expressed their appreciation for over 2,300 colleagues on the platform to date.

The School of Continuing Studies ‘Kudos Board', a brown bulletin board with paper thank you notes
The School of Continuing Studies utilizes a ‘Kudos Board’ that displays all of their staff’s recognitions from the True Blue system as a way of creating community and maintaining engaged colleagues.

“Taking the time to recognize our peers demonstrates how much we value one another,” said Erin Jackson, U of T’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “It also helps to foster a culture of inclusivity here at the University.”

For Steven Boyle, Director of Operations & Information Technology Services at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS), recognizing colleagues serves as an important way of fostering a cohesive spirit among teammates. He recently recognized one of his SCS colleagues, Natasha Jesenak, on the True Blue platform for her exemplary service in assisting a number of learners navigate their options for continuing education.

“Everyone likes to be appreciated, so if you appreciate someone—don’t keep it a secret,” said Boyle. “Within our department, all staff and managers work very hard in maintaining an environment that welcomes and encourages new ideas, fosters innovation and is supportive.”

Gina John, Director of Operations for the Faculty of Medicine’s MD Program, shares Boyle’s sentiments. She received a True Blue from one of her colleagues for exhibiting invaluable leadership qualities.

“Being recognized by my colleagues makes me feel respected and valued for my contribution to my unit and to the University,” said John. “It also motivates me to recognize my colleagues so that they too can feel appreciated for their hard work.”

It is this notion of intentional collegiality and mutual gratitude that inspires Shelby Verboven to also recognize her colleagues. The Associate Registrar and Director of Admissions & Student Recruitment at U of T Scarborough (UTSC) recently sent a True Blue to Tamara Jacobs of Informational & Instructional Technology Services at UTSC. Verboven recognized Jacobs for her professionalism, thoughtful approach and attention to detail while collaborating in a transfer credit review project.

“Recognizing our team members and colleagues is a great way to motivate, inspire and create a positive work culture,” said Verboven. “The True Blue platform provides a structured and visible way to provide that recognition and that keeps the practice top of mind for me. I love that when I send recognition, it often sparks others to do the same!”

Anyone who works at U of T can send informal recognitions to their colleagues through the True Blue system. The platform automatically highlights the recipient’s outstanding work to their manager. Each month, the recipients of the best informal recognitions are selected to win credit on the True Blue Recognition Platform that can be redeemed for prizes. As part of the platform’s anniversary celebration, those who send True Blue recognitions will also be eligible to win credit for the month of May.