Laura Dominguez Chan, known for her grace, positivity and leadership, wins a 2019 Amy J. Blue Award

Laura Dominguez Chan, associate dean of career education and director of career communities at Stanford Career Education, recently won an Amy J. Blue Award, which honors staff who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

On a recent morning, Laura Dominguez Chan opened a small box containing the latest prototype of the Meaningful Work Kit and dealt its 93 cards into three neat decks on a table in her office at Stanford Career Education, eager to show the project to a visitor.

Laura Dominguez Chan, center, a 2019 Amy J. Blue Award recipient, works with Colleen McCallion, left, and Margot Gilliland.

Laura Dominguez Chan, center, demonstrates the Meaningful Work Kit to co-workers Colleen McCallion, left, and Margot Gilliland. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Dominguez Chan has been collaborating with colleagues since last spring to develop the kit, whose color-coded decks – skills in red, work culture in purple, core values in blue – are designed to help undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral scholars, think about what is important to them in their current and future work.

“Staff members who have used the cards with students have just loved it as a way to talk about these issues,” she said. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity for conversation.”

The kit is one of many examples demonstrating how Dominguez Chan creatively approaches her job, for which she is being recognized this year with the Amy J. Blue Award, an award that honors staff who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

Dominguez Chan, who is the associate dean of career education and director of career communities at Stanford Career Education, is one of three Stanford employees recently named 2019 winners. The other recipients are Heidi Marisol López, finance assistant and graduate fellowship coordinator at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, and Mary-Peck Peters, a head teacher at Bing Nursery School.

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne will present the awards at an April 30 ceremony for the winners and their families, friends and colleagues. The event will be held from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in the courtyard of Lagunita Court, located at 326 Santa Teresa Street.

Work-study jobs inspire a career

Dominguez Chan, who grew up in Houston, Texas, arrived on the Farm in 1985 as a first-year undergraduate student. Her adviser worked at the Career Planning and Placement Center – a predecessor of Stanford Career Education – and visiting him piqued her interest in the profession. Soon, she landed work-study positions at the center, including peer counselor and multicultural affairs liaison.

Laura Dominguez Chan, Amy J. Blue Award recipient.

Laura Dominguez Chan is one of three Amy J. Blue award winners for 2019. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

A few months after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, she joined the center’s staff as a career counselor and assistant director – positions she held for nearly 25 years. While working full-time, she earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology at Santa Clara University, a private Jesuit university in Santa Clara, California.

In 2014, she became assistant dean of career education and associate director of career communities. Two years later, she rose to associate dean of career education and director of career communities at the Stanford Career Center, which is also known as BEAM, an acronym that sums up its vision: Bridging Education, Ambition & Meaningful Work.

As an undergraduate multicultural liaison, Dominguez Chan worked with the students at El Centro Chicano y Latino. Through the years, she continued working with the center and joined its advisory board, Guiding Concilio, in 2013.

Dominguez Chan said it’s been a rewarding career, sustained by a longstanding desire to help students and by the deep connections she has forged with colleagues across campus.

“One of my top values is a sense of community and we have created that at BEAM, where people are very supportive of each other,” she said. “It’s a fun environment where you will often hear laughter and notice that people have a deep care for one another.”

Grace, positivity, leadership – and personal touch

Colleagues who nominated Dominguez Chan for the award praised her dedication, positivity and commitment to the success of Stanford students and of BEAM employees.

“Laura is the consummate advocate for students and staff, bringing positivity and genuine care to each interaction and relationship,” one person wrote. “She brings out the best in us.”

“Laura is very quick to offer support, is always willing to listen and provide input when asked, and goes out of her way to make everyone feel included,” another person wrote. “We will often receive hand-written notes from Laura offering some specific piece of positive feedback about something she has noticed in our work or behavior.”

Dominguez Chan is also known for the surprising activities she organizes, including the time she asked her staff to sit backwards at the large conference table for the first part of a meeting – an exercise that led to new ways of “seeing” and hearing each other.

“Who would know we could become so open, creative and bond with each other through the surprising activities she has had us take part in,” one colleague wrote. “Laura once asked us each what our favorite song was and played a compilation of them while our meetings were getting started. Who is so thoughtful and caring that they do that? Who brings us home-baked pastries? Who drops whatever they are working on whenever we need to share something exciting, scary or difficult? Laura Dominguez Chan.”

In the meantime, Dominguez Chan is looking forward to sharing her Meaningful Work Kit with the community. The project is nearing completion – production is expected to begin in May.

The Amy Blue awards were established in memory of Amy J. Blue, an associate vice president for administrative services and facilities who died of brain cancer in May 1988. The awards are accompanied by a $4,000 cash prize.