As we transition to a new year, the School of Medicine is very pleased to congratulate four employees who were honored with Staff Awards for 2020: John Pounardjian, Erin Fogarty, Michelle Shaylor and Kacie Wick. These awards, the highest the school can bestow upon staff members, celebrate four individuals who not only have consistently performed their duties in an outstanding manner, but steadily operate with an exemplary attitude and strong support of their colleagues and their department.
John Pounardjian, associate director for administration of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, is this year’s recipient of the Joan Harris Staff Recognition Award, named in honor of Joan Harris, the former associate dean for faculty affairs to Dean Frederick Robbins in the 1960's. The award is given annually to a staff member who consistently exemplifies the very best work ethic and demeanor.
Leading a large administrative staff that supports the complex organization’s many facets, John provides skillful management and integration of several institutions, organizational leaders and administrators. He keeps in regular contact with over 380 members of the center, coordinates research collaborations and collects reports of all the research (laboratory, population, clinical, prevention and community-based) conducted across the city. This includes over 900 individual projects, more than 1000 accruals to 320 clinical trials and thousands of biosamples, collected and stored. He also coordinates the 14 shared-resource core facilities supported by the center and serves on the School of Medicine core facility committee. Additionally, he manages the review by members of more than 100 pilot grant support submissions to the cancer center’s 12 RFAs on an annual basis, a critically important role for funding all projects.
As an indication of John’s accomplishments, he serves on the boards of more than five extra advisory committees for National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers around the country, has been recognized by the NCI as a critical leader in cancer center administration and often receives referrals from the NCI office of centers to advise other centers. John has been exceptional in all aspects of his position, taking on very complex jobs, receiving many accolades and has managed through the typical challenges of taking over the position with aplomb.
“I hear nothing but enthusiasm for his mentoring and guidance of his junior colleagues and of the impact and functionality of the coordination of the administrative support team of the center,” said Stan Gerson, interim dean of the School of Medicine and director of the Case CCC. “I rely heavily on his aptitude and equipoise, and am blessed with his talents, abilities and dedication.”
Erin Fogarty, senior director for the Office of Grants & Contracts, is the recipient of the Staff STAR Award. Under Erin’s leadership, the respect between the Office of Grants and Contracts and the departments submitting grants has increased 100-fold, and her large team of specialists work together with a foundation of respect and collaboration. She is incredibly supportive of her team whose workdays often run into late evenings and weekends due to federal deadlines, and has created a welcoming environment, while at the same time, worked to modernize and create new efficiencies within the office. This year, Erin joined the COVID-19 Task Force and, along with Joan Schenkel, created and managed working groups, established websites and communication hubs, developed grants and sourced funding opportunities, and kept the entire research community safe while transitioning herself and her team to working remotely.
“Erin embodies teamwork and is one of the most genuine and authentic people on campus,” said Mark Chance, vice dean for Research. “(She is) quick-witted, kind, and direct and manages to create joy while doing the hard work.”
The Staff Diversity Award was given to Michelle Shaylor, faculty affairs manager. Michelle has assumed increasing levels of responsibility for the exacting processing of visa applications for faculty and staff members over the last few years, interacting with a wide range of individuals, recognizing their diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and consistently striving to make each person feel welcome. Providing courteous, cheerful, and knowledgeable service, she helps each person, as well as their departmental sponsor, understand our process for requesting visa support and the necessary documentation comprehensively and respectfully. Often, individuals may become anxious or even angry when their visa is not processed as quickly as they think it should have been.
Sana Loue, her nominator, said, “Michelle is able to calm individuals and their administrative staff, offering a personal but professional level of service that is empathetic without compromising our policies. She consistently maintains an encouraging attitude, which is vitally important to the morale of the office and of the School of Medicine.”
Kacie Wick, director of the Clinical Hub in the Biomedical Research Building, was honored with the Staff Mentor Award. Kacie has been an excellent teacher and mentor not only to her staff of six assistant directors, but to many others who need assistance or guidance in neighboring roles. Knowledgeable, relatable, and approachable, Kacie leads by example, is patient in her explanations and thoughtful about creating environments for people to grow in knowledge and career paths. Despite the uncertainties from COVID-19, she initiated transition plans and communications to assist the team in increasing overall efficiency and managing workloads. With a continued willingness to respond to concerns, questions and fears during a tumultuous time, she reached out to offer staffing assistance to a fellow teammate. She does not shy away from new challenges and is frequently the first to encourage her team to brainstorm new ideas and put them into action.
“Kacie has done a fantastic job, helping to prevent any financial oversights as well as providing a necessary sense of stability for us and for our departments,” said Jennifer Capretta, HR administrator.
Congratulations to John, Erin, Michelle and Kacie for their extraordinary commitment and service to the School of Medicine.