Each year, staff from across the university find creative ways to surprise a colleague with the news that they’re a recipient of the Amy J. Blue Award. This year, the method of choice was to stage a fake meeting. 

That’s how Victor Madrigal, Penelope Van Tuyl, and Madika Bryant each learned they’d won this year’s award. 

Presented every Spring, the Amy J. Blue Award recognizes Stanford staff for their exceptional contributions to the university, passion for their work, and support for their colleagues. This year, the Stanford community submitted 712 nominations for 293 individuals.

The award comes with a $4,000 cash prize. It is named for the late Amy J. Blue, a long-time Stanford employee who held numerous positions at the university in the 1970s and 1980s, including assistant provost from 1973-78, and associate vice president for administrative services and facilities from 1987-88. Blue died of brain cancer in Palo Alto in 1988. She was 44. 

President Richard Saller will present the awards at a ceremony on Thursday, May 16, at 4 p.m. in Lagunita Courtyard. All are welcome to attend. 

Madika Bryant, MA ’04, is the administrative director for the Practice of Medicine (POM) course at the School of Medicine. She said she was surprised when her colleagues called her to a meeting to discuss an “issue,” but instead broke the news that she’d received the award.

“It’s such an honor,” Bryant said. “I didn’t know Amy Blue personally, but she clearly has a tremendous legacy here.”

Bryant was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. She completed her undergraduate studies in English and chemistry at Howard University before traveling to Japan as a Fulbright Scholar to study Japanese literature and history. She arrived at Stanford as a graduate student, earning a master's degree in East Asian Studies. During her second year, she worked for what is now the Education Technology Group at the School of Medicine. 

After graduating, she landed her current role leading POM, a two-year clinical skills course for first and second-year medical and physician assistant students to learn communication skills, practice medical interviews, physical examinations, medical diagnosis, learn about social and population sciences, and more.

Medical student Courtney Smith said it’s one of the most important classes for training students to become the best clinician they can be and praised Bryant’s work. “Madika is the glue that holds all of Stanford Medicine’s preclinical Practice of Medicine together,” Smith said. 

Other students described Bryant as reachable, comforting, adaptable, reliable, and as someone whose work is crucial to their training and careers. 

“Madika has been a superhero during my one-and-a-half years of medical school,” said medical student Saachi Datta. 

“Despite all the work she does (and even taking on extra work managing both year one and two POM), she continues to do her job incredibly well and maintain her wonderful positive attitude and we’re all lucky to have her!” said medical student Ben Jacobson.

Bryant said her favorite part of working at Stanford is the people. She said she’s grateful for the recognition and credits her colleagues for her ability to do her job well.

“The only reason I can do my work the way I do is because I work with such wonderful people,” she said. “The passion, kindness, and open-heartedness that everybody has towards this work is very inspiring.”

Victor Madrigal, ’94, is director of alumni and student class outreach at the Stanford Alumni Association. He learned he’d won the award when a colleague asked to meet with him on a video call.

“I logged in and did a double take because there were about 40 people on the screen and I thought ‘Did I click the wrong link?’” he said. “So I got Zoom bombed!”

Born in Mexico and raised in Santa Ana, California, he enrolled at Stanford in 1990, earning a bachelor’s degree in public policy with a focus on higher education.

“I met my beautiful wife, Lorena, here when we were undergrads,” Madrigal said. “So, love happens, and that influenced me to make my career here in the Bay Area and at Stanford.”

Upon graduating, he landed an internship with Stanford’s Office of Development, which led to a full-time job. In 1998, he was hired at the Stanford Alumni Association (SAA), where he’s held a number of roles. Today, he leads a team that hosts alumni events, like Reunion Homecoming, undergraduate and graduate student programming, creation of digital class books, the “Class notes” section of STANFORD magazine, and more.

“What gives me joy is being able to provide spaces and experiences that connect people to each other, because it’s those personal connections that make Stanford special,” he said.

Colleagues said Madrigal embodies all that the Amy J. Blue Award represents. They said he always makes the people he works with feel valued, appreciated, and supported.

“Victor’s commitment to people and positivity are shown in the way he exists in the world, whether at work or in the community,” one nominator wrote.

“Victor brings energy, enthusiasm, humor, positivity, empathy, and thoughtfulness to every meeting, conversation, and event,” another wrote.

One colleague recalled starting a new role at SAA remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic and how Madrigal greeted them upon returning to in-person work.

“I showed up to the office thinking no one would recognize who I was as the new hire, but Victor warmly looked up from his conversation with a colleague to say hello and address me by my name,” they wrote. “Since then, Victor has consistently been someone who can lead a team with positivity and motivate others to give their best simply through his example.”

Madrigal said he appreciates that the Amy J. Blue Award recognizes the critical contributions of university staff and that he’s grateful for the opportunities Stanford has given him.

“At Stanford, I’ve had it all,” he said. “And I love doing what I’ve done over the years – building communities for the students, the alumni, and the staff. It’s been really rewarding.”

Penelope Van Tuyl’s faculty directors called her into a fake meeting to break the news that she’d won the award.

“They ambushed me here at our office and I was totally surprised!” she said.

Van Tuyl is a human rights lawyer and associate director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice, which is marking its 10th anniversary at Stanford this month.

“Getting to work in this environment and be around great people every day brings me a tremendous amount of joy,” she said. “I also have a ton of personal history here, so this place feels like home.”

Van Tuyl’s parents met when they were Stanford undergraduates in the 1960s. Born at Stanford Hospital and raised in Palo Alto, she met her husband on campus when they were teenagers. Van Tuyl graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts, where she studied international relations and Latin American studies. She returned to the Bay Area to study at the UC Berkeley School of Law, from which she earned a JD.

While a law student, Van Tuyl began working at UC Berkeley’s War Crimes Studies Center, founded by David Cohen, who offered her a job upon graduation. The center was later renamed the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and in 2014 moved to Stanford. Van Tuyl is involved in every aspect of the center, managing operations, the budget, supervising staff, and supporting academic and research programs. She and Cohen also developed an undergraduate minor in human rights, and Van Tuyl teaches the popular gateway course, HUMRTS 101.

“It may have begun life at Berkeley, but at Stanford the Center truly leapt up and soared, enabled by the rich relationships that Penelope forged for the last 10 years,” wrote one nominator. “Kind, honest, loving, giving, upbeat, and utterly devoted to her students and her family, Penelope exemplifies what it means to honor Amy Blue’s legacy.”

“Pursuing a career in human rights is not easy,” another nominator wrote. “And Penelope, with much warmth and compassion, has gracefully guided students through extraordinarily difficult summer study abroad and their first few years in the rough-and-tumble of striving for justice.” 

Van Tuyl said she’s grateful to be recognized and help carry forth Amy J. Blue’s legacy.

“Amy J. Blue’s friends saw and valued Amy for who she was and the passion she brought to her work for this university,” she said. “To get that same recognition from my own friends and colleagues means more than I can say. Receiving this award makes me feel very seen and valued for the things I value most about my job.”