Tess Burns of Covington received the New Horizons Award of Excellence as the outstanding support staff member among all staff members in the 16-college Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Burns is web services and social media manager at Gateway Community & Technical College in Northern Kentucky.

Simply being nominated by your peers for New Horizons recognition is the highest honor an employee can receive within the system, said Gateway President/CEO Ed Hughes. To be selected for the statewide award truly signifies that you are the best of the best.

Burns was nominated by her peers not only for her work in web services and social media but also for her creativity and innovation in developing and delivering professional development opportunities, such as 5 Things We Can Learn from Lady Gaga, related to online communications.

While her work is most often seen on the colleges website, Facebook and Twitter accounts, her creativity and talent are splattered across the Gateway campuses and throughout KCTCS, Hughes said. Tess lives and breathes creativity and collaboration, two core values shared by Gateway and KCTCS.

Burns service to Gateway began with her election as the student representative to the board of directors in 2005, a position she held for a year. After graduating in 2006 with an associate degree in visual communication, she joined the college as a campus assistant at the Urban Center. She was named web services manager in 2009 and added social media to the mix last year. In the meantime, she earned a bachelors degree at Northern Kentucky University and is currently enrolled in a masters degree program at the University of Louisville.

Tess is a consummate professional, who is on the leading edge of her craft and well-respected by her colleagues in education and the business world, Hughes added.

She and her husband Chris are developing two businesses in Covington and founded the Awesome Collective of Covington, a group dedicated to celebrating the awesomeness of Covington by engaging residents, schools, businesses and organizations in Covington-based events.

Burns also serves on the board of the Center for Great Neighborhoods, co-founded Covington Futurecraft, is a member of the Roeblingfest Planning Committee, and volunteers her services with Covington Farmers Market, Keep Covington Beautiful, Friends of Peaselburg Neighborhood Association, the FIVE Design Challenge Team, and the Great American Cleanup.

Burns received the statewide award May 14 during the KCTCS annual New Horizons faculty-staff conference.