These pathbreaking teams give a new look and feel to Mason’s public spaces


The Patriot Pathbreakers Award, established by Human Resources and the Staff Senate, honors high-performing staff teams that embody the George Mason University value of “Thriving Together.” These innovative teams use individual talents to overcome obstacles and make progress toward their goals. They have adapted their services and processes when necessary to meet the changing needs of the Mason community. Their work makes Mason All Together Different.

The Patriot Pathbreakers Award recipients will be recognized with other faculty and staff honorees at Mason’s Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony on Tuesday, April 25, from 10–11:30 a.m. in the Johnson Center, Dewberry Hall. The ceremony will also be live streamed on GMU-TV; the link to watch the ceremony is posted on the Outstanding Achievement Awards website.

Creative Services, Office of University Branding

A female student takes a selfie in the Johnson Center atrium at Mason's 50th anniversary celebration
Creative Services designed the signage and banners displayed at Mason's 50th anniversary celebration in the Johnson Center. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Team members: Ron Aira, Claire Brandt, Melissa Cannarozzi, Evan Cantwell, Priyanka Champaneri, Joan Dall’Acqua, Brian Edlinski, Sierra Guard, Rebecca Kobayashi, Jeeun Namgoong, Kerianne Plunkett, Michaela Reilly, DeRon Rockingham, Corey Schaut, Rebecca Siddon, Azriel Towner

The Creative Services team provides creative support, brand stewardship, resources, and consulting to departments, schools, and colleges across Mason. This team of graphic designers, writers, editors, photographers, videographers, and production staff creates materials that capture and convey the university’s brand to internal and external audiences.

Mason’s 50th anniversary celebration was one of the team's biggest projects to date.

“The 50th anniversary was a momentous occasion in Mason’s history, and Creative Services was tasked with creating materials that both celebrated Mason’s past while also generating excitement in our community toward the future,” wrote a nominator. “The production staff researched new and innovative media and delivery methods to mark the anniversary in ways that Mason had never showcased before, including large-scale environmental advertising.”

Creative Services helped set the scene for the anniversary celebration with window clings on Mason buildings, new light pole banners, sidewalk stickers, column wraps in EagleBank Arena, staircase decals, and more.

Through a cohesive campaign of print, digital, and large-scale environmental collateral, Creative Services succeeded in creating an environment that celebrated Mason’s 50th anniversary and generated excitement and energy about the university’s next 50 years—and beyond.

“The 50th anniversary celebration was an all-in effort for every team in the Office of University Branding, and the work of the Creative Services team was absolutely pivotal to our success,” said Paul Allvin, vice president and chief brand officer. “From designing the now-familiar event graphics to giving the celebration both graphics and audiovisual excitement, the work of this team helped to make this university-wide celebration an unqualified success.”

Mason Square Plaza Activation Initiative

Photo of a group of adults and children gathered on the plaza at Mason Square, with small green tent that says University Life. The children are blowing bubbles and playing
Mason students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered for a concert on the plaza at Mason Square. Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

Team members: Toni Andrews, Kenneth Darby, Margaret Duke, Sophie Gorshenin, Sara Hawes, Cathy Pinskey, Colin Stucki, Melissa Thierry

The Mason Square plaza activation initiative focused on the outdoor programming space at George Mason University’s campus in Arlington, Virginia. With the construction of Fuse at Mason Square underway—which will add more than 345,000 square feet of space to the campus—vibrant new programming has already arrived on the plaza, making it a lively gathering place for the campus and nearby community.

The launch and continued success of new public programming on the plaza is due to the work of a collaborative team of staff from University Life, Mason Square Administration, Facilities, and the Office of Community and Local Government Relations.

The activation project was modeled after a similar project at Bryant Park in New York City, with a goal of turning Mason Square’s plaza into a gathering place that would revitalize its neighborhood, offering free events and activities for the community.

Two men are sitting together at a table on the plaza at Mason Square playing chess. A third man is standing next to the table looking at the game board. In the background, the front of the building says George Mason University
Chess game on the plaza at Mason Square. Photo by Ron Aira/Creative Services

The schedule includes exercise classes, musical performances, a farmers’ market, informal speakers, and more. The team did not have a manual or a guidebook when building this initiative, a nominator wrote. They learned as they went along. They visited Bryant Park to see ideas in action. They followed their instincts and tested ideas to discover what would work best for Mason and the local neighborhood.

By turning the plaza into a lively gathering place, they are helping establish Mason as an anchor for the local community.

“Mason is always looking for innovative pathways to engage our community partners,” said Paul Liberty, vice president for government and community relations. “With the plaza activation and the development of Fuse at Mason Square, Mason students and staff and the Arlington community are coming together for a unique experience due to the efforts and creativity of this partnership. The Mason Square plaza activation team has brought Mason to the community and the community to Mason.”