UCSF Salutes Excellence at Founders Day Luncheon

By Lisa Cisneros

UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, joined the UCSF community for the 2011 Founders Day Luncheon when the University recognizes faculty, staff and students for their extraordinary contributions to advancing the mission of education, research and patient care.

The individuals, who celebrated the occasion with their friends, family members and colleagues, delivered heart-felt speeches about their work. Those honored with the awards at the annual feel-good event were:

Chancellor's Award for Public Service

  • William Schecter, MD, professor of clinical surgery, Division of Surgery, San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH);
  • Dahianna Lopez, RN, MSN, MPH, director of prevention, San Francisco Injury Center, SFGH;
  • Alvin Teodoro, a first-year medical student, UCSF School of Medicine.

Chancellor's Award for Exceptional University Service

  • Claire Lee, education manager, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, UCSF School of Pharmacy;
  • Jep Poon, division administrator, UCSF School of Medicine, SFGH;
  • Suzanne Sutton, controller and director of Research Administration, UCSF School of Medicine.

Chancellor's Award for Exceptional University Management

  • Laurel Bray-Hanin, assistant director of Operations, Department of Administration, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center;
  • Marie Caffey, associate chair of Administration and Finance, Department of Psychiatry, Langely Porter Psychiatric Institute;
  • Carrie Steere-Salazar, director of Student Financial Aid, Office of Academic Affairs.

The Distinguished Nurse Award

  • Kathleen Bowman, RN, BS, CCRN, MS, clinical nurse II, Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit, UCSF Medical Center

UCSF at Mount Zion Milton and Helen Pearly Award for Outstanding Service

  • Lillian Rue, administrative nurse I supervisor, Acute Hemodialysis Unit, UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion.

Public Service

Praised as a "true hero," William Schecter, a 28-year member of the UCSF community, was recognized in the faculty category for his public service project called Operation Access, which he co-founded in 1993. The nonprofit organization offers a network of medical volunteers, hospitals and referring community clinics that provide low-income, uninsured people access to donated outpatient surgeries and specialty care to improve their health, ability to work and quality of life. 

"This organization is completely volunteer-driven and unaffiliated with UCSF, and strives to become a national model for medical volunteerism by providing free surgical treatment to selected patients on weekends," a nominator wrote. "Today, the network spans six counties in Northern California with nearly 100 community clinics and medical centers and 700 medical professionals to serve 1,100 patients a year."

Schecter, who was unable to attend the luncheon, was praised for his "undying dedication to the most disenfranchised at SFGH." His son, Sam, accepted the award on his behalf.

Shecter "continues his tireless efforts for a passion we both share — improving health and reducing the global burden of disease throughout the world," wrote his colleague Diana Farmer, MD, professor of surgery, pediatrics and obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive services and surgeon-in-chief at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

Dahianna Lopez, who has been part of the UC  community as a student and staff member since 1999, is recognized for using her background as a nurse and a public health professional to strong advantage to protect pedestrians. She spends long hours outside her regular workday at the San Francisco Injury Center volunteering her services to work for pedestrian safety.

"Her multifaceted efforts on behalf of San Francisco pedestrians have already resulted in some positive changes in this important but neglected area of injury control in a city that has frighteningly high rates of pedestrian injury," a nominator wrote.

For her part, Lopez, who will be leaving UCSF to pursue her PhD degree at Harvard University, thanked the chancellor for her "exceptional" and "forward-thinking leadership" and for opening doors for women at the highest levels in academia.

Alvin Teodoro, a first-year medical student, received the public service award for his involvement with establishing and developing the Mubuhay Health Center (MHC), a clinic in San Franciso's South of Market neighborhood where volunteers provide comprehensive and culturally sensitive health care to members of the Filipino community.

"Alvin's leadership skills and mentorship has motivated and inspired many of the [MHC's] volunteers — both graduate and undergraduate — to become engaged in underserved community health. These volunteers aspire to be like Alvin, by taking on leadership roles and/or becoming more active in their commitment as a volunteer," his nominators wrote.

Teodoro, who attended the luncheon with his family, dedicated the award to his mother and thanked his faculty mentors at UCSF for inspiring him.

University Service

Claire Lee, a 23-year UCSF employee, is lauded for exceptional university service showing "devotion, expertise and talent." In her role as education manager for the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, Lee deals with all pharmacy students in all four years of the curriculum, and she is the person they turn to when they have questions and when they need assistance. Lee is considered the "go to" person for all the clinical faculty.

Described as the "heart" of the department, Lee was praised for transforming the work culture. 

UCSF School of Pharmacy Dean Mary Anne Koda-Kimble, PharmD, was among those who provided enthusiastic support for her nomiation. "Claire is a catalyst who daily practices the art of transforming challenges into opportunities and transforming those of us in her sphere into agents of positive change."

Upon accepting the award, Lee said her family members have collectively served UCSF for 85 years. She thanked her family for their support and her husband, Bill, for making her lunch and driving her to the bus stop.

Jep Poon, a 21-year member of the UCSF community, is recognized for her outstanding efforts in serving more than 2,000 dialysis patients at SFGH.

"Jep has shown extraordinary dedication to the School of Medicine and commitment to sustaining UCSF's position as a world-class institution. But most of all, Jep's commitment to the most vulnerable patients — many of whom have nowhere else to go — has truly changed lives," wrote a nominator.

Poon is also credited for navigating the overlapping bureaucracies of UCSF, the City and County of San Francisco and the Department of Public Health with decisive grace. "Given the limited resources and aging and fragile facilities at SFGH, Jep's ability to keep the dialysis unit efficiently and effectively running is especially impressive."

Suzanne Sutton, a 13-year UCSF employee, is recognized for her innovation and creativity in improving the process of pre-award and post-award research administration in the School of Medicine.

She proposed, designed and implemented the Research Application Tracking System (RATS) and the Budget Status Report Portal. Prior to the implementation of RATS, Research Service Analysts (RSAs) were tasked with routing and tracking paper copies of research applications through the multiple levels of departmental approval. By design, RATS eliminated the uncertainty and inefficiency inherent in the paper system. RSAs now upload PDFs of applications into an online system enabling reviewers to review, approve, return and comment on the application online.

"Ms. Sutton has been an inspiration to me and many other new managers," wrote a nominator. "She is committed to improving and developing the skill sets and knowledge of RSAs. She has demonstrated technical savvy, personal integrity and strong leadership."

University Management

Laurel Bray-Hanin, a 13-year employee at UCSF, is commended for her creativity and innovation, communication skills, customer service, ethics and integrity as well as her high performance and maximum accountability.

"While many people in an organization like UCSF are driven towards excellence and demonstrate, at various times, remarkable performance, I am struck by the absolute consistency of Laurel's performance over time, her incredible resilience in dealing with hurdles that challenge her ability to achieve results and her unwavering support for our patients and employees," wrote a nominator.

One of her customer service initiatives, improving patient wait times in the clinic, was subsequently presented to the medical center's Culture of Excellence Committee. The result of this presentation was that Ambulatory Services has since instituted an ambulatory care-wide patient wait time initiative with measurement of patient wait times in each of the practices. Once problem areas are identified, managers in Ambulatory Services will work with the identified practices to implement tactics shown to be successful in the cancer center.

In accepting the award, Bray-Hanin described UCSF "as a magical place where miracles do happen and lives are changed."

With 29 years at UCSF, Marie Caffey, is praised for exemplifying "superb management" in the Department of Psychiatry and the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. She is credited for providing her time, leadership and knowledge to individuals and projects.

Caffey is also recognized for spending hundreds of hours forming and leading UCSF's Operational Excellence initiative. She chaired the Human Resources task force for the initial work group and was exceptional in her leadership and contributions, according to her supporters.

As Operational Excellence moved forward, Caffey has served on the Operational Excellence Coordinating Committee and chaired the Senior Work Group, which managed and oversaw the development of the recommendations of the Human Resources/Academic Affairs, Research Administration, Finance and IT work groups involving more than 300 UCSF staff and faculty.

"Marie is a thoughtful, effective and delightful leader," a supporter wrote. "She and her accomplishments are models for the rest of the campus."

Carrie Steere-Salazar, who has served UCSF for 31 years, is recognized for her leadership to her staff and for enhancing the overall quality of service to UCSF students.

"Over my many years in leadership roles, I have had the privilege of supervising a number of productive and effective managers," wrote Joseph Castro, PhD, vice chancellor of Student Academic Affairs. "What sets the good manager apart from the great manager is one's ability to produce results while also facilitating the growth of their team, supporting one's colleagues, and contributing to the overall success of initiative and projects beyond their immediate circle of responsibility.

"Carrie is a great manager. She fosters, through her management style and vida specific activities and programs, a supportive work environment that is marked by a genuine emphasis on teamwork and collaboration and, as a result, she has created a culture of high morale and staff productivity."

Distinguished Nurse Award

Kathleen Bowman, who is a three-year employee at UCSF, is recognized with the Distinguished Nurse Award, which is presented annually to a nurse who is actively engaged in nursing practice, education or leadership at the UCSF Medical Center. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to the care of patients and fosters professional and public awareness of achievements in nursing practice.

Bowman is credited with starting a bereavement program and running by herself for the first year. The program ensures that families who lost a loved one felt supported and consoled. Bowman saw to it that the families received sympathy cards and that staff followed up with them up to a year through the grieving process. Under her leadership, the pilot program comforted 130 families at less than $3 per family.

Outstanding Service

Lillian La Rue, who has served UCSF for 38 years, is commended for consistently performing at a level beyond what is ordinarily accepted. She is described as a "true mentor" who motivates her employees and treats them with respect.

La Rue's 4-year-old granddaughter charmed the crowd when she accompanied her grandmother on stage to receive her award from the chancellor.

Photos by Cindy Chew