Kelly Canaday Receives Prestigious Award

Kelly Canaday
Kelly Canaday

Kelly Canaday, Adviser and Program Manager for Dance, has been awarded the Distinguished Staff Award in the UW's Annual Awards of Excellence. This prestigious award honors members of the UW community for their achievements in teaching, mentoring, and service to the public and the University.

The University of Washington values the diverse and indispensable contributions of its 19,000 classified and professional staff. The Distinguished Staff Awards program was established in 1997 to honor outstanding University of Washington staff. Each year all those nominated for the award are recognized for their achievements at a campus-wide reception. Five individuals or teams are selected to be the award recipients based on their extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to their departments and the University.

Here is the excerpt about Kelly from Matthew Leib's article from The Whole U: Spotlight

Kelly Canaday

Adviser and Program Manager, Dance, College of Arts & Sciences
Years at the UW: 12

Kelly Canaday doesn’t own a smart phone or a car. She says both decisions are a way to be more fully present: “I bring this way of moving through life with me to my advising sessions.” A fierce advocate for students, Canaday has served the UW for more ten years in multiple capacities, but found her calling in advising.

“She is, in some ways, the greatest spirit of our department,” says associate professor of Dance Jennifer Salk. “We are a completely different program because of her. Kelly makes students feel like individuals who are a valued part of the dance department community.”

Since Canaday became an advisor and program manager for Dance a little over three years ago, the major has jumped from 32 to 65 students and is still growing. Salk credits Canaday’s ability to Kelly’s ability to identify when a student is wrestling between majoring in dance and another subject and dance and talks through the major with them, allowing them to see how their goals fit within the major or how they can major in both subjects successfully, stressing dance’s development of skills like creative problem-solving, thinking spatially, cooperation, and leadership, among others.

“While the majority of the country is preaching to students to invest in their futures for financial and security purposes,” Salk says, “Kelly then tells them that if it brings them great satisfaction and happiness, that is the greatest value of all.”

What’s your motto or words to live by?

Forget efficiency, be more human. This is truly something I think deeply and often about in regards to how technology is impacting human societies. We are obsessed as a culture with this idea of improving efficiency, sometimes as an excuse to promote some new technology as “superior” to current systems.  In my experience, this added efficiency is impacting how we interact with and embody life.

I truly believe that community exists not just in our work places and friend/family circles, but also in our engagements with folks in the markets, banks, buses, etc. and that having a more complete community gives a greater sense of connectedness. It can also push us outside of our limited socio-economic bubbles and improve empathy to people who are dissimilar to us.