Look Hoos Building Bridges in 2023!

Extraordinary Employees Build Bridges for UVA

Hoos Building Bridges celebrates cross-disciplinary partnerships and projects among UVA team members, and honors recipients for their leadership and efforts in establishing strong relationships that contribute to success and innovation across Grounds. The University launched the awards in 2019, building on a vision UVA President Jim Ryan outlined in his first Opening Convocation address – a university community of people who, when in doubt, “build a bridge.”

Nine individuals and two teams are recipients of the 2023 Hoos Building Bridges award and were honored at a reception on June 27 at the Rotunda. They have demonstrated exemplary efforts in building bridges and partnering internally across the University. John Kosky, Vice President and CHRO, opened the celebratory evening with remarks, and the awardees will be presented with framed certificates and a $250 monetary award from President Ryan that will be added to their paychecks.

Please congratulate these exceptional award winners when you see them!

Individual winners include:

  • Matt Banfield, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Office of the Provost
  • Katie Densberger, Director of Academic Student Support, Georges Student Center
  • Gabby Fuller, Administrative Assistant & Communications Coordinator, Department of Astronomy
  • Lesa Hanlin, Director of Strategic Initiatives, School of Continuing and Professional Studies
  • Adam Richard, Finance & Administrative Manager, Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Susan Salko, Program Director, Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program, School of Continuing and Professional Studies
  • Cheryl Wagner, Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice President for Research
  • Kate Bakich, Administrator, UVA Health – HIT
  • Brendon Coll, School of Medicine Controller, School of Medicine Dean’s Office

Team winners include:

  • Elizabeth Strickland, Joanne Casey, Justin Bryant - Provider Trainers, HIT
  • Kathleen Henahan, PT; Garry Gellert, PT; Michelle Dawson, NP; Dr. Nicholas Teman; Dustin Money; Michael Gelvin – Physical Therapist Clin 4, AG-ACNP, ECMO Specialist - Physical Therapy, Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, TV APP Group, ECMO

Click on each name below to learn what these deserving individuals and teams did to win the Hoos Building Bridges Award. Announcements about nominations for the 2024 Hoos Building Bridges Award will come out in the spring.

Individual Winners

  • MATT BANFIELD, Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Office of the Provost

    Matt consistently demonstrates a commitment to making connections with a broad and diverse array of colleagues across Grounds, to deepen the engagement of faculty, staff, and students in Provost’s Office initiatives and to create community. He has a talent for taking a high-level view of the projects charged to him, identifying how these projects may affect various stakeholders across the institution, and working with those stakeholders to build a consensus path forward. He has built coalitions in the assessment and development of institutional policy, in advancing institutional strategic initiatives, and in responding to moments of crisis. The work of the Provost’s Office is dependent on building bridges across the University, and we benefit from Matt’s adeptness in this area.

    One great example of Matt building bridges is his work with the Provost’s Graduate and Undergraduate Policy Advisory Committees, which are inclusive of students and faculty/staff representatives from the schools. Since summer 2022, Matt has led these two committees in the process of assessing all student-facing University-level academic policies for matters of equity. This process has included Matt partnering with experts in UVA’s Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to implement an equity rubric by which the policies are reviewed, then guiding committee members through the review process for 14 different policies, working with those same committees to amend the policies as needed, and shepherding the proposed amendments through a shared governance process involving stakeholders in the Provost’s Office, the schools, and the Faculty Senate.

    Matt seeks to build partnerships and effectively build bridges across silos and stakeholders by creating space for multiple views and perspectives on any given matter, ensuring that all stakeholders groups have an opportunity to voice feedback before a policy, process change, or project advances. -- Brie Gertler, nominator

  • KATIE DENSBERGER, Director of Academic Student Support, Georges Student Center

    Katie oversees the Georges Student Center and reports to the Provost Office. Over the past few years, she has been developing academic support infrastructure for STEM classes. Katie has built a novel, collaborative approach to academic support. Instead of following a common strategy, which is to develop a range of services (such as tutoring, coaching, workshops, etc.) and then notify faculty and students about what is available, Katie has worked with faculty one-on-one to understand unique structures and needs for their classes and develop services that work best for them.

    Katie has also obtained software to allow for easier scheduling and tracking of sessions and has shared that software and integrated activities with other units, including MCLC (Math Collaborative Learning Center) and Engineering Tutoring. Moreover, she is working with a range of units across Grounds (e.g., Office of African American Affairs, Multicultural Student Services, Engineering Undergraduate Office) to develop strategies for student referral so that we can collectively serve students’ needs and ensure that they know about and can easily access academic services. She has also worked with the Center for Teaching Excellence to develop training to support faculty in their work with graduate and undergraduate teaching/learning assistants and is working with faculty to reduce logistical challenges related to hiring undergraduates to support learning in the classroom.

    Katie has been collaborating with faculty and staff across two schools (College and Engineering) as well as faculty and staff across various centralized units (e.g., Center for Teaching Excellence, Office of African American Affairs, Multicultural Student Services). She has led by example and demonstrated what is possible when collaboration is the centerpiece of one’s approach to serving faculty and students. -- Josipa Roksa, nominator

  • GABBY FULLER, Administrative Assistant & Communications Coordinator, Department of Astronomy

    On their own initiative, Gabby created, organized, and has led the UVA STEM Food Drive for the past two years to support the local Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and strengthen relationships amongst the STEM Departments within the College of Arts & Sciences. They developed a fun-spirited competition to see which department could collect the most donations. Participating in the drive were the Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Math, and Physics departments.

    According to Brynna Strand, Volunteer and Food Drive Coordinator for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, the UVA STEM Food Drive has generated a significant amount of donations: 1,267 lb. of non-perishable food items were donated in 2021 and another 1,156 lb. in 2022. Gabby attended to all of the details of the drive, including coordination amongst the departments. They also led the logistics of dropping off containers to departments, container pick-up, and delivery to the food bank. The drive is conducted at the end of November through early December each year.

    Gabby's food drive is a great example of a grass-roots effort to build a sense of team amongst various departments in the College of Arts & Sciences while also doing good for our community. Within the Astronomy Department, Gabby is constantly looking for ways to enhance the department's inclusivity and sense of home amongst all members. They have created a monthly "Front Office Newsletter" to keep everyone informed of various events, announcements, visitors, birthdays, etc. They also actively serve on the department's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. -- John C. Wilson, nominator

  • LESA HANLIN, Director of Strategic Initiatives, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

    Lesa has been working with UVA Human Resources to create a program called Higher Education Program for Executive Level Assistants. This program brings more inclusive professional development opportunities to staff members that may not have had many programs designed specifically for their roles. Over the past year, she has also helped SCPS build a stronger partnership with UVA Health by presenting to the board and facilitating an agreement process that enables UVA Health employees to participate in UVA Edge. Furthermore, she has led SCPS's Culture Champions committee for the past year and a half. The committee's goals include creating a strong team of employees while many remain remote and helping to ensure faculty wage employees who work with SCPS feel included in the school.

    Under Lesa's leadership of Culture Champions, SCPS has hosted trivia games, town halls, and a new series titled "Senior Leadership Exchange" that introduced the SCPS senior leadership team to all faculty and staff at SCPS. The goal was to foster an inclusive space where all of our staff (including faculty wage employees, who had often not been included in events in the past) could come together regardless of employment type, geographic location, and role at SCPS. The response from employees at SCPS has been incredibly positive. She has also encouraged SCPS staff to join professional organizations such as the Women in Higher Education network, to help one feel more included in this space in higher ed.

    Lesa truly embodies all the categories of Hoos Building Bridges. She goes above and beyond to create inspired experiences for staff members across UVA, whether through professional development or team building. -- Alexa Jeffress

  • ADAM RICHARD, Finance & Administrative Manager, Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Arts & Sciences

    Adam has been the co-chair of the Staff Senate's Advocacy Committee for several years. This is something he does on top of his normal role at the College of Arts & Sciences. As an Executive Board member of the Staff Senate and leader of the Advocacy Committee, he represents staff members across Grounds when they have questions, concerns, or issues that affect them. He has become a subject-matter expert in a variety of areas that impact staff, including parking and transportation, health insurance, financial benefits, education benefits, staff emeritus programs, and more. Moreover, he uses that knowledge to help inform and advocate for improvements around the University, even when those changes would not benefit himself directly.

    For example, when Adam was leading the health benefits working group, he made absolutely sure that Facilities Management (FM) was present in those conversations. Moreover, due to the language diversity and accessibility concerns within FM and around Grounds, Adam included UVA's Multilingual Outreach Volunteer Effort (MOVE) to translate materials into Spanish, French, Turkish, and Kiswahili, and he included the Digital Accessibility Coordinator from UVA's Office of Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights to ensure that materials are accessible for individuals with a variety of needs. It is easy to feel siloed within a large institution like UVA, but Adam embodies what it means to be a member of the larger university community.

    As co-chair of the Staff Senate Advocacy Committee, Adam Richard embodies everything it means to build partnerships and relationships across units around Grounds. His ability to build bridges and establish longstanding partnerships around Grounds has made the university a better place for staff, whether they realize it or not. His connections and friendships around Grounds have made him extremely effective at advocating for and obtaining benefits for UVA's staff. -- Leah Gould, nominator

  • SUSAN SALKO, Program Director, Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Program, School of Continuing and Professional Studies

    The Post-Baccalaureate Pre-Medical (PBPM) Program at UVA has been around for 18 years and is going on its 8th year under the leadership of Susan Salko. Although it is housed in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, it requires significant strategic planning and leadership coordination across the University. Students take classes in the College of Arts & Sciences, are taught by a UVA Health Systems administrator, and engage in the UVA and Charlottesville community through volunteering at UVA Health hospitals, Charlottesville Free Clinic, and UVA Population Health. Susan has advocated for the student experience and safety and even coordinated a special panel of UVA CAPS and police officers when a traumatic event happened this Fall.

    Susan continues to maintain excellent relationships with the Chemistry, Physics, and Biology departments within the College of Arts and Sciences where post-baccalaureate pre-med students take all of their academic classes. At her request, more diverse faculty members were hired and assigned to teach PBPM classes to augment the learning experience. In addition, math support classes were instituted using UVA faculty to ensure student success in science coursework. A UVA Health faculty member teaches a weekly seminar class and at Susan's prompting, additional UVA Health and Charlottesville area doctors have been included in this class to broaden perspective, increase student opportunity and learning, and develop new relationships.

    Aside from the longstanding relationships with both UVA Health Systems and Charlottesville Free Clinic where students regularly volunteer, a new partnership with UVA Population Health was added last year to benefit their efforts and increase students' exposure to public health initiatives in the Charlottesville area. Lastly, Susan was an outstanding representative of higher education and student advocacy when a crisis occurred last Fall. Within days, Susan expertly coordinated with SCPS administration, UVA legal staff, UVA Police, and UVA CAPS to ensure the safety of PBPM students and made space for them to have their questions answered, mental health issues addressed, and academic schedule moved online (temporarily) to promote security and well-being.

    UVA is sincerely lucky to have someone who cares deeply and works tirelessly for students, knows how to connect and advocate for the optimal student experience, and reaches across many aisles to create a successful program that has produced more than 300 doctors over the past 18 years. -- Jill Golaszewski, nominator

  • CHERYL WAGNER, Chief of Staff, Office of the Vice President for Research

    Cheryl Wagner has built bridges in three ways: streamlining processes, demonstrating partnerships across Grounds, and establishing new programs to address a need.

    Among the many projects and partnerships across UVA she has spearheaded as Chief of Staff for the Office of the VP for Research, she organized and implemented the program, 3Cavaliers. The program brought together hundreds of researchers across Grounds to work collaboratively on innovative new ideas. This project required buy-in and cooperation from every school to make it happen, as well as funding, and Cheryl met with each school to find a way that they could all work together.

    The 3Cavaliers program was launched by my office in 2018 to provide support for groups of three collaborative faculty members across different disciplines, and located in different units or schools, to explore creative, high-risk, high-payoff interdisciplinary research ideas. During the first 3Cavaliers seed funding round, Cheryl created the infrastructure needed to launch the undertaking, including a university-wide faculty database that helped faculty find collaborators across the University. The program was successful with 77 successful interdisciplinary projects funded and a significant funding for many projects followed. – Ram Ramasubramanian, Vice President for Research

    Cheryl also helped to organize the Strategic Research Infrastructure Initiative (SSRi) to help UVA develop a prioritized list of infrastructure investments to make in the short and long term to grow and strengthen the research enterprise across Grounds. Throughout the process, she has guided 9 working groups, an organizing committee, and a steering committee, and helped them stay on track, sitting in on every meeting and making sure every committee stayed laser-focused on the goals of the initiative. The final list of priorities to help meet the future needs of UVA research will be presented to President Jim Ryan for funding this month and will hopefully be implemented soon after.

    The University can sometimes feel like a collection of small islands with each school and department focused on their own specific tasks and goals. That is why bridge builders like Cheryl Wagner are so important. Cheryl consistently and passionately brings groups and individuals together across Grounds for large initiatives and projects. -- Meredith S Cole, nominator

  • KATE BAKICH, Administrator, UVA Health – HIT

    In the modern age of healthcare, where change is not only inevitable, but constant, Kate demonstrates flexibility tempered with discipline, that effectively anticipates change before it occurs. This ability to proactively engineer solutions instead of responding to need is efficient, targeted, and effective. Her creative instincts allow her to offer multiple solutions for any given situation and her analytical skills drive her decisions to logical conclusions.

    The Community Health project, and our purchase of three northern Virginia community hospitals, is one such example where Kate’s unmatched leadership skills helped lead the team to success during Phase 1. She put in countless hours to ensure that the newest UVA Health family members were well acclimated, trained, and supported throughout the transition. When emotions ran high and deadlines teetered, there was Kate: calm, collected and ready to assist. She was, and still is, the single most influential leader on the project that deserves recognition for building bridges with our new Community Health team members.

    Not only does Kate connect well with external team members, she understands intimately the inner workings of each of her colleagues departments. During each project that Kate supports, she is the lone leader who can speak to, and act upon, what is required for each individual department and team to be successful, a leadership skill that is rare to find. -- Shenia Thompson, nominator

  • BRENDON COLL, School of Medicine Controller, School of Medicine Dean’s Office

    On July 1, 2022, UVA transitioned its financial platform from Oracle to Workday Financials. For over 18 months prior to go-live and through the present day, Brendon has actively engaged School of Medicine (SOM) stakeholders and Finance partners across the organization to try and optimize the system transition, financials processes, and reporting.

    Throughout the process he has been mindful to highlight and partner to address the many unique challenges specific to the SOM. As importantly, he has promoted and worked with others in the University to highlight approaches and solutions being used in the SOM that might benefit the University centrally, or other Schools.

    Brendon went beyond expectations in taking significant time and effort to learn aspects of SOM financial management routinely handled within SOM departments. As a result, he was able to represent SOM interests at university level meetings, actively engage in university wide “Pod” meetings, offering insights and understanding of other Schools’ business needs, and engage material experts throughout the SOM, offering them direct lines of communication to the Workday Financial build team. He was also thoughtful in how he engaged and collaborated with the UVA Finance experts working on the Workday implementation and worked closely with the Workday team to develop enhanced approaches for account conversion/mapping and balance reporting. This focus on overall enhancements for the project (and not just School-specific) is indicative of his commitment to both the School and the University as a whole.

    Brendon's willingness to listen to a department fiscal tech's problems, work with them to resolve the issue, identify the best practice that should be used going forward, and share that information across the organization is indicative of the knowledge, skills, partnership, and commitment that he brings to each challenge. -- Allison Holt, nominator

Team Winners

  • Elizabeth Strickland, Joanne Casey, Justin Bryant - Provider Trainers, HIT

    This small team of IT staff have worked together to create three distinct programs that have addressed a long-standing need for better collaboration between UVA Health providers and the information technology team. The new training programs (SmartStart and SmartChart) and the collaborative new builder dyad program offer providers the opportunity to work one-on-one with IT staff, creating a mutual level of appreciation and understanding that has allowed physicians and advanced practice providers (APPs) to use the Epic EMR and other supporting technology more effectively and efficiently. This collaboration has a direct impact on quality of patient care, as it allows physicians and APPs to focus more effectively on the patient rather than challenges with the very complex health care technology.

    SmartStart was launched as a new onboarding program for providers, offering one-on-one instruction rather than classroom-based instruction. This approach allows for individualized instruction that better prepares new providers to use the EMR at UVA Health.

    SmartChart was launched as a one-on-one technology coaching program that enables existing providers to schedule appointments as needed for EMR coaching. This quick support enables long-standing challenges with technology use to be addressed quickly and effectively.

    Provider/builder dyad was launched as a program partnering a physician lead with an IT analyst, who then work in-depth to evaluate and improve aspects of the technology to better suit the practice needs of physicians and advanced practice providers within a specialty. The program has been demonstrated to improve Epic EMR configuration (matching the system to the needs of the providers in that medical specialty) and a more robust relationship between physician and IT team, ensuring that technology issues are resolved quickly and more effectively.

    Since these programs have been deployed – from 2018 to the present – the rapport between providers and technology staff has improved substantially, and the ability of providers to leverage technology effectively has increased. These team members have had direct interactions with 500 providers via SmartChart, over 300 via SmartStart, and have worked with nearly 100 in the dyad program in Dermatology and Orthopedics. These provider trainers have gone to extraordinary lengths to build strong, collaborative relationships with individual providers and provider leadership across the organization. -- Bobby Chhabra, MD, nominator

  • Kathleen Henahan, PT; Garry Gellert, PT; Michelle Dawson, NP; Dr. Nicholas Teman; Dustin Money; Michael Gelvin – Physical Therapy, Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, TV APP Group, ECMO 

    This collaborative, inter-disciplinary team worked together to develop comprehensive guidelines to provide progressive mobility for femorally cannulated ECMO patients.

    The team worked with colleagues from the University of Maryland to look at the research and other hospitals' current practices for ambulating femorally cannulated ECMO patients. They developed guidelines for determining appropriate patients, risk vs benefit of the activity, and what teams needed to be involved to successfully walk such a patient. On Monday, March 6, they successfully ambulated their first patient that met criteria. On this day, other teams were also involved including nursing, respiratory therapy, and other nurse practitioners.

    Physical therapy, APP, MDs, and ECMO specialists worked across professional boundaries to come together for establishing best practice guidelines to help mobilize this patient population. This type of early mobility leads to decreased deconditioning, and maintenance of independent mobility.

    This type of teamwork is keeping us at the top of what standard clinical practice for this patient population should be, and comparable with other hospitals doing this type of work. -- Lara Demers, nominator

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