DURHAM, N.C. – Kelley Robbins-Thompson, senior program coordinator for the Duke Environmental Leadership Master of Environmental Management (DEL-MEM) program, is the recipient of the inaugural Karen Kirchof Staff Award for Mentoring Students.

The award was created to celebrate and honor the exemplary mentoring that lies at the core of the school’s doctoral, professional and undergraduate programs.

It particularly recognizes the use of culturally inclusive mentoring practices, the commitment to advancing students’ long-term professional development, and the creation of a supportive environment by fostering mutual respect.

The award is named in honor of the late Karen Kirchof, who influenced the careers of thousands of Nicholas School students during her 27 years as assistant dean and director of the school’s Career and Professional Development Center.

The Kirchof Award is one of two created by the Nicholas School this year—one for faculty, one for staff—to recognize excellence in mentoring.

Robbins-Thompson was nominated for the new staff award by 15 DEL-MEM students who praised her for being an active and constant advocate for students in that program and for going above and beyond to create a supportive environment for them.

The DEL-MEM program harnesses the power of both online and place-based learning to provide mid-career working professionals with the real-world, interdisciplinary skills and knowledge needed to accelerate their leadership journey and advance their careers, without having to leave home or put their careers on hold.

“Kelley is the crux of the supportive DEL-MEM environment that serves our group of mid-career professional students spreading from Guam and Tokyo to every corner of the United States,” the nominating students wrote. “She connects individual interests with insightful resources and opportunities when she sees it (and she always does).”