Mercer University’s newest Spirit Award recipients work behind the scenes to take care of important technology needs. LeeAnne Cardali was surprised with the 2022-23 Macon award and Kelly Esidore with the Atlanta award during ceremonies at their respective campuses this spring.

LeeAnne Cardali

Cardali has served as the enterprise security administrator for Information Technology Application Services for the past 12 years, but she’s been at the University for almost 27. She joined Mercer as an enrollment associate in the admissions department and a year later moved to financial aid, where she became associate director. 

In her current role, she handles all manner of tasks related to the security of student, faculty and staff online platforms, including Anthology Student and Workday. Mercer began using Workday — a human resources software system — at the beginning of 2023, and Cardali and the Application Services team were heavily involved in the transition, including developing training materials. 

“(Cardali is) the consummate Mercerian,” said Kirk Bay, executive director of Application Services. “When she sees a situation or a person in need of assistance, she does not say ‘that’s not my job.’ Instead, she tackles the issue head on and sticks with it until it is completed or successfully handed off to the right person.”

Cardali troubleshoots and tests issues that arise with Anthology, formerly called CampusNexus, and works with the company on solutions. In addition, she handles tickets submitted to the IT help desk.

“What I do most of the time is I’m the liaison with all the functional areas on campus with our programmers,” Cardali said. “If you needed something done, you needed a new form or application built, part of my responsibility is to gather that information and disseminate it to our programmers.”

Cardali said she was shocked and surprised by her recognition earlier this year. She said she loves her job at Mercer and works with a fantastic team. 

“I really work with everybody across campus — faculty, staff, students. It’s very satisfying to find a problem, help someone fix it and allow them to continue on with their job,” she said. “If I can help someone and make their job easier, that’s an accomplishment for me.”

Her peers benefit not only from her dedication and expertise but also from her baking skills. Cardali bakes a birthday cake for each of her colleagues. Her triple chocolate cake with chocolate chips is the most requested, but cheesecake is her personal favorite. She also loves to read and cook.

Cardali is proud to have a family of Bears. Her son just graduated from Mercer with his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and will complete his master’s degree in another year, and her daughter will begin studying accounting this fall. 

The Mercer president shakes the hand of a staff member.
President William D. Underwood presents LeeAnne Cardali with the Mercer Spirit Award during the Retirement and Recognition Ceremony in Macon in April 2023. Photo by Christopher Ian Smith

Kelly Esidore

Esidore has worked at Mercer for six years — as an audiovisual specialist for the first five years and an audiovisual design analyst since October.  

In her first role, she set up audiovisual equipment for events; assisted instructors with video conference training; and provided troubleshooting for audiovisual issues. Her new position focuses more on the design aspect of audiovisual. 

“Kelly Esidore is one of those individuals who prefers to make the ‘magic’ happen behind the scenes — unannounced, under-the-radar, and many times, uncelebrated. Most, if not all of us, (would) be lost on this campus without her knowledge and abilities in the area of audiovisual,” Sharon Lim Harle, assistant vice president for alumni services and special events for University Advancement, wrote in her recommendation letter. “She exemplifies the best of the BEAR SPIRIT in her attitude about work quality and respect for this campus community — to the faculty, staff and students alike.”

When new buildings are constructed or existing buildings are upgraded on campus, Esidore makes sure audiovisual technology needs are accounted for in the planning stages, so equipment can later be installed by vendors. 

For instance, she’s been doing weekly walk throughs of the new Moye Pharmacy and Health Sciences Center being built on the Atlanta campus to ensure all audiovisual work is going according to plan and to address any delays. She is involved in the audiovisual markups on architectural designs and talks often with general contractors and others involved in construction.

“I like the design aspect of things. I never worked with architectural stuff before, and that’s always interested me. I like that it’s new, and I’m learning a lot. I get to talk to a bunch of different people,” she said. 

So far, she’s been overseeing projects that were planned prior to when she took on this role. However, she will handle the design stages of an upcoming campus project and is looking forward to it. 

“It’s a great environment, and I also enjoy the people I work with,” Esidore said. “I know that helps a lot. Winning the Spirit Award and being acknowledged and appreciated was pretty big for me. It was a big honor. It felt really good. I wasn’t expecting it.”

Outside of her Mercer work, Esidore takes on some freelance jobs for sound design, post production and production audio. For the past nine years, she has handled audio for Whole World Improv Theatre in Atlanta on the weekends. 

In addition, she started rock climbing in January and is an avid hiker, focusing specifically on trails with waterfalls. She saw 45 new waterfalls in 2022 and has visited 25 already this year, with 50 being her goal for 2023. One of her favorite waterfalls so far is Burgess Falls in Tennessee. Most recently, Esidore hiked, whitewater kayaked and waterfall rappelled while on vacation in Virginia and North Carolina.

A Mercer staff member and the Mercer president look down at her award.
President William D. Underwood presents Kelly Esidore with the Mercer Spirit Award during the Retirement and Recognition Ceremony in Atlanta in April 2023. Photo by Jamie Tucker


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Andrea is a digital content specialist at Mercer. She creates and maintains written and multimedia content for primary University web pages. She ensures a consistent, University “voice” throughout various forms of online communications platforms. She also plans and executes campaigns for the primary official Mercer University social media accounts.