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The Admin Awards recognizes administrative excellence in nine distinct Award Categories including the program’s most prestigious award which elevates the Administrative Professional who embodies the “spirit” and proficiency of nationally renowned (former) secretary, Colleen Barrett. Colleen was the Legal Secretary to Herb Kelleher, Southwest’s Founder, who rose from Secretary to President and COO of the airline during her five-decade career at Southwest. The Admin Award is proud to be a permanent part of Colleen’s legacy through the Colleen Barrett Institute at Southwest Airlines.

The Team Achiever Award

Recognizes the high performing Administrative Team that worked together on a common goal, significant project or business initiative that resulted in a positive outcome.Award Category Questions

Toyota Kaizen Award

The Toyota Kaizen Award is inspired by Toyota’s deep-rooted commitment to the principles of Kaizen - a philosophy that embodies the spirit of 'Kai' (change) with 'Zen' (for the better)—honoring Administrative Professionals who personify this ethos. This award recognizes individuals who exhibit an unwavering commitment to identifying and improving inefficiencies, enhancing processes, reducing waste, and boosting productivity. The award also lauds Administrative Professionals who passionately engage in their personal professional advancement, embodying the principle of perpetual betterment and career progression and continuous improvement.Award Category Questions

Strategic Partnership Award

This award embodies the tremendous impact an Executive Assistant and Executive can have when they work together in true business partnership to advance the needs of the business by relying on the EA role to deliver greater strategic value to the executive and organization.Award Category Questions

Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence

This is the Admin Awards’ most prestigious award and honors the Admin that best demonstrates many of the qualities which enabled Colleen Barrett’s rise from legal secretary to President and Chief Operating Officer of Southwest Airlines.Award Category Questions

Administrative Excellence in Public Service Award

The Administrative Excellence in Public Service Award honors Administrative Professionals that are involved in either the public or private sectors in the following industries: Healthcare, Biotech, Pharma, Education, Government, Nonprofit, Military, Law Enforcement, Fire & Rescue, Politics. Professionals in these areas have made significant contributions to the success of their organizations in an Administrative capacity.Award Category Questions

Above the Call Award

This is the award that's all about providing exceptional customer service both internally and externally and honors the Admin whose job responsibility involves significant interaction with others such as coworkers, customers, vendors, company visitors etc.Award Category Questions

Loyalty Award

The Loyalty Award is presented to the Administrative Professional that has a long history of effective service in the Admin profession (minimum of 15 years) and/or has a long history of effective service to their existing company or executive in an administrative capacity (minimum of 10 years).Award Category Questions

Spirit Award

This award celebrates Admins that are the "heartbeat" of their companies, and consistently exhibit a positive, can-do outlook and is the person that people are drawn to during good days and bad for their optimism, enthusiasm, and positivity.Award Category Questions

Achiever Award

For Admins who have a reputation for “getting it done” – either a significant project that had a company-wide impact or day in day out achievement of tasks and projects.Award Category Questions

Leadership Award

This award recognizes the Admin who leads others (formally or informally) and demonstrates a variety of leadership qualities including persistence, focus, integrity, innovation, patience, decisiveness, open-mindedness, empowerment, generosity and a passion for helping fellow employees and their organization succeed.  Award Category Questions

Founders Award

The Admin Awards' only "company" award, this award recognizes organizations that provide an exceptional work environment through the demonstration of specific criteria that brings out the very best in its Administrative Professionals.Award Category Questions

Colleen Barrett, Her Journey from Secretary to President & COO of Southwest Airlines and the Admin Award that Bears Her Name

The Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence is the Admin Awards’ most prestigious award and is named after a legend in the Administrative Profession, a woman who first proved herself indispensable as legal secretary to former Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher, before ascending the ranks to President and COO of one of the world’s most iconic and successful Airlines.

Throughout her five-decade career at Southwest Colleen advanced from Legal Secretary to VP of Administration, to EVP of Customers to President and COO. Since 2008 Colleen has served as President Emeritus of Southwest and is revered for her unique and highly effective leadership style along with her commitment to ensuring the needs of customers, employees and all other stakeholders are met.

Colleen has won many business and industry awards including one of the most important, historic and visible aerospace awards in the world, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy which reflects a timeline of the most innovative inventors, explorers, industrialists, and public servants in aeronautics and astronautics.

Colleen Barrett, Servant Leader and SuperstarColleen is also a fierce advocate for the Administrative Profession and the understands first-hand the extraordinary impact that high performing Admins have on an organization’s success.

The Colleen Barrett Award honors Administrative Professionals who are following in her hallowed footsteps. Barrett has long credited Kelleher with helping her to succeed: “If you have a boss who will let you stretch,” she said, “then you have opportunities to learn and grow in unimaginable ways”.

The Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence Overview & Criteria:

The Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence is The Admin Awards’ most prestigious award. This coveted award will be presented to the admin that best demonstrates the qualities listed below, many of which enabled Colleen Barrett’s rise from legal secretary to President and Chief Operating Officer of Southwest Airlines and contributed to the company’s
legendary corporate culture and extraordinary success. These qualities are:

  • High proficiency
  • Values that reflect those of your organization
  • Passionately committed to your organization’s cause or purpose
  • Deeply committed to legendary customer service both internally and externally
  • The heart for employee advocacy — making sure the company always does right by its employees

Colleen Barrett Award Category Questions:

  • Please describe how this Administrative Professional possesses a high level of proficiency in their role as an Administrative Professional. Please include what specific skills, certifications, education and/or training they have that supports their role.
  • Please provide specific examples of how this Administrative Professional shares the same values as their organization.
  • How has this Administrative Professional demonstrated a passionate commitment to their organization’s cause or purpose?
  • How has this Administrative Professional demonstrated a passion for legendary customer service, both internally and externally?
  • How has this Administrative Professional served as an advocate for fellow employees?
  • Please list any additional information that you believe demonstrates why this Administrative Professional is deserving of The Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence.

View a sample winning Colleen Barrett Award nomination HERE.

How to Enter

All Admin Awards nominations are submitted via our awards platform which can be accessed here on our website. Please note that submissions can be saved and revised prior to final submission and can be edited at any time prior to the nomination deadline (even if the nomination has already been submitted). Once the online entry form has been completed, nominees will receive an email notification that they’ve been nominated for an Admin Award and by whom. In the event that the nominator is not their direct supervisor, another notification email will also be sent to the Nominee’s direct supervisor so he/she can also submit a nomination in support of their Administrative Professional.

Tips for Successful Entry

Please keep in mind that your nomination is the only information the judges will have when evaluating the nominee. Please ensure nomination forms are complete and detailed. And don’t forget to spread the word to other potential nominators of your Nominee. The more information our judges have on your Nominee, the better! To view an example of a winning nomination click here.

Judging and Scoring

Each year, The Admin Awards appoints an independent board of judges in addition to Colleen Barrett to evaluate nominations and carefully select the finalists and winners who they believe best meet the award category criteria. The judges panel, lead by Colleen Barrett, President Emeritus of Southwest Airlines, is comprised of well-respected and highly qualified senior executives, administrative professionals, dignitaries and educators from the local business community. Colleen judges the Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence category independently and Sunny Nunan, the Founder of the Admin Awards chooses the Founders Award recipient alongside an independent Founders Award board.

The judges independently score each nomination based on quality and effectiveness of the nominations received. After all of the entries have been scored, our scoring system calculates the total score for each nomination. The top 3-6 nominees will move forward as finalists in each award category and the winner will be announced at the awards gala.
Finalists must be present to win an Admin Award.

Should an administrative professional be nominated in more than one award category and rank as a finalist in more than one award category, the highest score will prevail and the other award categories will be dropped.

Who Can Be Nominated for the Admin Awards?

The Admin Awards program is a unique celebration that recognizes administrative excellence and honors the invaluable contributions of administrative professionals.

To be considered for an Admin Award, nominees must currently serve in an administrative role – supporting executive(s), department(s) and/or region(s) at for-profit or nonprofit companies and organizations within the market area. Please visit your local award page to view the full list of eligible cities in your market.

If “Administrative” or “Assistant” is not in the Nominees’ job title yet they are serving in an administrative function they are still eligible for the competition. There are over 150 titles that reflect the administrative profession. If an organization deems the role as administrative in nature and the Nominee agrees, the Nominee is eligible. If you have any questions regarding potential Nominees’ eligibility, please contact us at [email protected] for more information.

IMPORTANT: Nominees that won an Admin Award within the past three years are ineligible to advance to the Finalist or Winner’s status in any award category but can return to the program the fourth year and have an opportunity to advance should their nominations warrant advancement.

Who Can Nominate

Anyone can nominate an Administrative Professional that’s experienced the outstanding work of an Admin which includes supervisors, coworkers, vendors and clients.

How to Win an Admin Award

Whether you’re nominating an Administrative Professional for the first time or are nominating a previous year’s finalist hoping they take the stage this year, check out these five tips on how to craft a winning Admin Awards nomination and increase your Nominee’s chance of advancing in the competition. The key is to be very specific and thorough as the only information the judges have to go off of is your written nomination(s)!

First, start with a rockstar Administrative Professional.

That is the first critical step towards creating a winning nomination. By identifying Admin that exemplify excellence, are invaluable to your organization and that you can’t imagine your life without, you’ll be more likely to craft a winning nomination. Sincere enthusiasm and appreciation comes through loud and clear to judges during the evaluation process. Two-liners such as “Jane is great! We enjoy working with her.” Eh, not so much.

Direct supervisors really need to participate.

It’s not uncommon for companies to submit several nominations in support of their Nominee, but it’s critical that the Admin’s direct Supervisor(s) also provides a written nomination if the candidate is likely to advance. Judges put more weight on nominations provided by people with direct involvement with the Administrative Professional versus non-supervisors, especially if it’s the solo nomination.

Be specific, be specific, be specific.

Nominations that include specific anecdotes, examples of awesome-ness and statements that can quantify the impact an Admin has had on the business are more impressive than vague generalities. Details are key. Remember, all the judges have to go on when evaluating your nominee are the written nominations. Be thorough and detailed.

To view a sample winning nomination in the program’s most prestigious award category, the Colleen Barrett Award for Administrative Excellence, click here.

You can do this, or you can do that.

People often ask us if it’s better for a company to compile nominations and submit one big one, or if it’s better that individuals nominate on their own. Either way is perfectly fine. If you compile, be sure to include names and titles of folks next to their contribution in the big nomination so judges can see who’s saying what. The key is to encourage ALL nominators to take the time to provide a thorough, heart-felt nomination. Quality over quantity, always. One amazingly detailed powerful nomination by one direct supervisor can absolutely out-perform several lightweight nominations by the supervisor and non-supervisors nominating the Admin.

Rally support internally and externally.

Don’t hesitate to encourage clients and vendors to also contribute to your Admin’s nomination. Admins are known to have an incredible impact not only internally, but also externally. Feel free to invite folks outside of the organization to also contribute to the Admin’s nomination but again, remind them that a heartfelt, thorough nomination is key to advancing in the competition. Anyone that’s been positively impacted by the work of a deserving Administrative Professional is eligible to nominate!

Ready to go? Nominate Now Here!

What is the Admin Awards?

The Admin Awards is the first and only public recognition program in the country that recognizes the invaluable contributions of Administrative Professionals. We are currently in seven cities as part of our national expansion plan. To learn more visit the About Us section of our website.

What are the award categories?

The Admin Awards offers nine distinct individual award categories, as well as the one organization award, the Founders Award. Learn about the Admin Award categories in the Award Categories section of your program city.

Who can be nominated?

Anyone can be nominated that serves in the administrative profession which is reflected by over 150 job titles. Learn more in the eligibility section.

Who can nominate?

Anyone can nominate that’s experienced the outstanding work of an Administrative Professional including Supervisors, Coworkers, Clients, Vendors etc. Learn more in the eligibility section.

If an Admin won previously can they be nominated again?

Yes, however, they will be ineligible from advancing to the Finalist or Winner’s status for three years including the year they won. So if an Admin won in 2016, they cannot advance until 2019 in the program.

How do I nominate?

Nominations are submitted on our website via the Nominate button or by clicking here. Once you register with our system, be sure you check your SPAM folder during the account verification process so you can access your account and begin nominating.

How do I ensure that my Nominee has a shot at advancing in the competition?

Is there a cost to nominate?

Thanks to the support of our program sponsors there is no cost to nominate! Should a program Nominee advance in the competition there is a cost to attend the Admin Awards gala ($250) as well as a variety of table sponsorship options. Also, Sponsoring this program and nominating are two completely different things. You do not need to “Sponsor” to nominate.

How are Nominees notified that they’ve been nominated for an Admin Award?

The minute a nomination is submitted, the Nominee is notified via email that they’ve been nominated for an Admin Award, which award category and by whom. This alone is a very powerful moment for Nominees – when they learn in such a significant way that their impact and contributions have not gone unnoticed.

Can you nominate an administrative professional for more than one award?

Yes, nominations in multiple award categories are encouraged when applicable. In fact, if the judges view a nomination and feel it is a stronger fit for an award category other than that which it was submitted in, they do have the ability to ALSO consider it in additional award categories which only increases the candidate’s chances of advancing in the competition.

Are self-nominations allowed?

While self-nominations are not accepted, many Administrative Professionals do advocate for themselves, even start their nomination in some cases and then hand it over to their Supervisors and Coworkers to participate in the nominations process. To tell your Supervisor or HR Department about the Admin Awards program click here.

How are nominations judged?

All nominations are judged by an independent panel of judges which is comprised of both Administrative Professionals and Executives.
  • Colleen Barrett judges her award category independently
  • Neither the Admin Awards staff nor Advisory Board members or Sponsors participate in the judging process.
  • Judges rely solely on written nominations when assigning scores that identify Finalists and Winners in the nine individual award categories.

What is the Cheers to Nominees Cocktail Reception?

The Cheers to Nominees Cocktail Reception is a complimentary reception that kicks off the competition and is open to Nominees and a guest of their choosing as well as Supervisors and other Nominators. Program Judges, Sponsors, and the program’s Advisory Board also attends this special event which is from 6-8PM and offers cocktails, hors d’ouvres and a fun evening of mingling with fellow Nominees and area business leaders.

How much are tickets to the awards gala?

There is a $250 ticket cost to attend the Admin Awards gala as well as a variety of table sponsorship options which start at $5500 for a table of 10 and offer additional benefits to enhance your company’s experience.

What can I expect at the Admin Awards gala?

The Admin Awards dinner gala is often referred to as the ‘Academy Awards for Admins’, is an extraordinary celebration of the contributions of Administrative Professionals and is where the nine Admin Awards winners are announced among an audience of hundreds of attendees. The Admin Awards gala includes a one-hour cocktail reception, an exceptional three-course meal, amazing music, extraordinary prizes valued at between $500 – $22,000 (varies by market) as well as a special high-quality gift for EVERY attending Admin. Attendance varies by market and longevity of market and ranges between 350 – 650 attendees.

What are the key dates and deadlines for the Admin Awards?

Key dates and deadlines vary by market. Please see your program city’s Dates and Deadlines are on our website.

Do Finalists have to be present to win?

Yes, Finalists must be present to win and verify their attendance prior to advancement in the program.

If I am not a Nominee but am an Administrative Professional, can I still attend The Admin Awards?

YES!  While the Admin Awards is a competition, at its heart it’s a CELEBRATION of ALL Administrative Professionals. While the program yields between 40-50 Finalists between 150 – 350 Admins in total attend the dinner gala.

Are sponsorships available?

Yes, please click here for more information about how to join an elite community of program sponsors who rely on the Admin Awards to meet their marketing, business development and/or employee recognition objectives. Sponsoring has no bearing whatsoever on the outcome of the competition. This is not “pay to play” as we adhere to a strict separation of “Church and State” at the Admin Awards.

Ready to nominate? Start now and we’ll be sure you receive reminders to complete your nomination.