2020 Founders Day Awards Celebrate Commitment to Public, University Service

By Brandon R. Reynolds

The 2020 UCSF Founders Day Awards honored 13 faculty and staff for their public service, excellence in nursing, and service to UC San Francisco.

A virtual ceremony on Friday celebrated the awardees, including presentations from their nominees that showcased the accomplishments, as well as dedicated service to UCSF, the San Francisco community and beyond.

“This event is one of UCSF's greatest traditions, a wonderful time for all of us to gather together and recognize our outstanding community, to reflect on some of our remarkable accomplishments, and acknowledge some of the exemplary individuals who help make UCSF an incredible place,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS.

Watch the entire 2020 Founders Day Awards virtual ceremony

The following awards were given for 2020:

Chancellor Award for Public Service

This award, established by Chancellor Philip R. Lee in 1970, honors those members of the University community who have performed outstanding public service.

Bhavya Rehani, MD
Assistant professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging in Neuroradiology at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

Bhavya Rehani portrait

The Chancellor Award for Public Service in the faculty category was awarded to Bhavya Rehani, MD, whose focus on disseminating medical education around the globe culminated in the creation of a nonprofit called Health4TheWorld. The platform allows medical professionals to deliver lectures online to trainees and facilitates communication between health providers and patients, with a focus on stroke care. Health4TheWorld now has more than 100 lectures in 19 medical specialties, with outreach available to 22 countries.

“The educational platform developed by Dr. Rehani serves as a model for others to contribute with available online tools,” said William P. Dillon, MD, professor of Radiology, Neurology and Neurosurgery. “The educational mission of UCSF, as a worldwide leader in healing and education, is served by Dr. Rehani’s free educational system and academy. This truly is a model program in global health education in that it is versatile, scalable, economical, and brilliant in its simplicity, using readily available tools and the internet to connect learners and teachers around the globe.”

She led the development of the nonprofit, which now boasts more than 50 volunteers, including medical students, physicians, graduate students in computer science, graphic designers, and physical therapists. All this in addition to her clinical duties at UCSF, which she joined in 2014.

Before that, she was active in promoting global health, studying the neuroimaging findings of advanced HIV/AIDS in Africa and Asia, setting up polio camps in India, and acting as a mentor to trainees from Africa and Asia.

Priya Shankar, MD, MPH
Pediatric resident at UCSF’s School of Medicine

Priya Shankar portrait

The Chancellor Award for Public Service in the staff category was awarded to Priya Shankar, MD, MPH. Her dedication to adolescent health is clear not only through her time as a pediatric resident at UCSF, but also through her work with the nonprofit she co-founded, Girls Health Champions (GHC). GHC’s goal is improving the health and well-being of adolescents through peer-to-peer education.

The organization designed a health curriculum for teenage girls in India covering, among other topics, malnutrition, mental health, gender-based violence, and reproductive health. That she was able to build GHC from the ground up while completing her residency is very impressive.

“Pediatric residency is a strenuous three-year period where the amount of time to spend on non-clinical work is extremely limited,” said associate professors of pediatrics Phuoc Le, MD, and Sohil R Sud, MD, MA, who nominated Shankar. “Most residents find residency's 80-hour work week quite challenging. Given this context, Shankar's outstanding non-clinical public service work during her residency is even more remarkable. Looking through her accomplishments during residency, outside of the clinical arena, it seems that she literally must have spent nearly all of her down-time committed to the pursuit of health equity both here in the Bay Area and in parts of India.”

Edison T. Uno Public Service Award

This award, named after the assistant dean of students at UCSF from 1969 to 1974, was established in 1980 to recognize dedication and commitment to established social, political and civic groups that bring about social change.

Rupa Marya, MD
Associate professor at the UCSF School of Medicine

Rupa Marya portrait

The Edison T. Uno Public Service Award was awarded to Rupa Marya, MD, for her work combining social justice and public health in an impressive assortment of endeavors.

In addition to working as an attending physician at the UCSF Medical Center, she volunteers at a free clinic in the Mission District, directed the Salinas Valley Farm Worker Project, and co-founded the Do No Harm Coalition (DNHC), an organization started in San Francisco and dedicated to addressing social ills including police violence, immigrant health, homelessness, disability rights and medical abuse as a means to achieving greater public health.

Marya helped establish the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic and Farm alongside Lakota elders at Standing Rock, raising $1 million in the process. She also leads The Justice Study, examining the public health and community impact of police violence. Marya is the bandleader for Rupa & the April Fishes, a global alternative band that makes music about social justice and the environment. The range and reach of her various projects is truly awe-inspiring, said her peers, but tied together by a desire for greater justice and health for all.

She’s also made the world a safer place for birthdays.

“As if all of this is not enough, Marya challenged the copyright of ‘Happy Birthday’ by Warner/Chappell,” said Bradley Monash, MD, Associate professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, “setting the song free for all musicians to sing without needing to pay royalties.”

Thomas N. Burbridge Public Service Award

This award, named after the professor of medicine remembered for his efforts to open up jobs for minorities in previously segregated fields, was established in 1973 to recognize public service that promotes equal education and employment opportunities, civil rights and social justice.

Margot Kushel, MD
Professor of medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and the director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations

portrait of Margot Kushel

Margot Kushel, MD, has received the Thomas N. Burbridge Public Service Award for her work addressing and working to eliminate health disparities, specifically with homeless populations. To that end, she is director of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.

Kushel has directed the UCSF Primary Care Research Fellowship for a decade and was recently named director of the UCSF Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative. As clinician, advocate, researcher, teacher, and public lecturer, she encompasses many of the disciplines required for bringing about lasting social change. For as large and complex a problem as homelessness is, colleagues said Kushel is the ideal champion: brilliant, tireless and giving.

“Dr. Kushel has been a true ‘quadruple’ threat: a stellar clinician, a nationally renowned researcher, an exemplary mentor, and a tireless policy advocate,” said G. Robert Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and Beth Harleman, associate chair of faculty experience at UCSF’s Department of Medicine.

“She has devoted her career to some of the most vulnerable in our society: people experiencing homelessness. She began her research on homelessness when it was considered a marginal health issue, and has persisted and prevailed in not only raising the profile of homelessness, but also in her insistence that policy discussions and programmatic interventions be evidence based.”

Chancellor Award for Exceptional University Management

Clarice Estrada, MPA
Chief Administrative Officer for the Cardiovascular Research Institute and a Division Manager in the Department of Medicine

Clarice Estrada portrait

As chief administrative officer for the Cardiovascular Research Institute, which is the largest research unit in UCSF’s School of Medicine, Clarice Estrada, MPA, provides management and oversight for the research and training arms of the institute, but also the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care, Allergy and Sleep Medicine and the Lung Biology Center. Estrada, according to colleagues, is masterful at managing the duties required to hold the umbrella covering these units.

Estrada does not suffer from loss of focus, said Brian Black, PhD, professor and director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute. “Clarice is a rare individual in that she never loses sight of the mission of our institute and our institution.” She’s a team-builder and problem-solver who shares insights with other teams. Creating an environment of transparency is a strength for her, and a gift to colleagues.

In 18 years at UCSF, she has created a strong network of co-workers, all of whom share the benefits of Estrada’s collaborative mindset. To that end, her expertise is always in high demand. Her institutional memory helps guide her management of the institute and it’s $40 million budget, as well as serving as a resource that the community draws from.

To push the central missions of UCSF, “Clarice relies on her amazing network of colleagues and collaborators, her extensive committee work and training, and her own understanding of the university’s policies and standards,” said Black. “It’s an amazing talent and a lot of effort, but Clarice makes it look easy, and she sets a standard for getting things done.”

Mounira Kenaani, MBA
Associate chair of finance and administration of the Department of Dermatology

Mounira Kenaani portrait

For 20 years, Mounira Kenaani, MBA, has been a respected leader and role model at UCSF. Her colleagues said she has a unique ability to untangle the most complicated organizational issues.

“Somehow, she is able to resolve even the most difficult problems and always achieves departmental goals in a way that furthers not only our departmental priorities but the overall UCSF priorities,” said Bruce Wintroub, the chair of the Department of Dermatology.

Not only does she effectively manage Dermatology, she manages not just one department but four other units: she serves as director of finance and administration for the Department of Radiation Oncology, the Diabetes Center, the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute, and the Immune Tolerance Network. This ability to manage multiple departments doesn’t detract from her ability to engage with colleagues and staff.

As a mentor, she also demonstrates a commitment to diversity and inclusion. “As a person from a diverse background, Mounira understands full well the importance of inclusion and works to support those that often feel ‘other’ and works to create an environment where all can come to do their best work at UCSF,” said colleague Alesia Woods.

Philip O’Brien, MA
Associate chair of finance and administration for the Department of Pediatrics

Philip OBrien portrait

A problem-solver and capable manager, Philip O’Brien, MA, came into the Department of Pediatrics when it suffered from significant budget and personnel issues. By organizing unwieldy systems and empowering staff to make decisions, he turned the department’s financial status around.

Before his arrival, said one colleague, there was low morale and high turnover. The cultural changes he brought to bear reduced stress and, by taking time with staff, he helped advance careers.

He also managed an integration of the pediatrics departments of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital Oakland, facilitating academic and clinical collaboration. This integration – which had to address the challenges of integrating operations, personnel, cultural differences and technology – was sensitive and complicated. But O’Brien helped create a blueprint that guided teams within each of these subspecialties.

“Phil has created a dynamic and team-oriented atmosphere to foster engagement, communication and collaboration, and leveraged intra- and inter-department professions for the successful integration of eight clinical subspecialties,” said Joanne Dang, CFO of the Department of Pediatrics. “Clearly, Phil is an effective leader that understands the global view and vision of the organization, takes initiative, and fosters an environment where others will succeed.”

Colleagues said he’s dedicated to transparency and fairness, works to find consensus, and has created an atmosphere of trust. “People are not afraid to fail, and can trust if they are doing the right things, Phil will support them,” said Peggy Weix, division manager of Hematology & Oncology at UCSF and the Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s Department of Pediatrics. “It is rare to find managers with these qualities. UCSF is lucky to have someone like Phil O’Brien.”

Laurae Pearson
Director of administration for the Department of Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center

Laurae Pearson portrait

Laurae Pearson oversees UCSF’s medical nerve center. As director of administration, she is responsible for the fundamental operations of the Department of Medicine at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Budget, hiring, facilities, research, and clinical-practice management all fall under her purview, as well as the strategy and development of business plans for new ventures.

With an annual budget of over $152.5 million, the Department of Medicine is the largest department at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and the second-largest department in the School of Medicine. She began her career at UCSF in 1994 as an administrative assistant for the Division of Infectious Diseases at ZSFG.

As she advanced, her focus on public health was always clear. She co-founded the Family Treatment Fund, which provided antiretroviral medications to HIV-positive Ugandans. She also developed the Tenderloin Clinical Research Center and established an NGO in Uganda. Her work in various departments led to her being named director of administration in 2015.

“With the ever-changing nature of our work that occurs at the intersection of medicine and higher education administration, Laurae is reflective and seeks out internal and external resource to enrich her toolbox of solutions for complex problems,” said Maria Novelero, MA, MPA, associate chair for administration, and Justin Moore, Ed.D, a division manager in the  Department of Medicine. “Although a vibrant, joyous person, Laurae is exceptional at providing a calm, focused response to challenging situations.”

Chancellor Award for Exceptional University Service

Sarah Dulaney, RN, MS, GCNS-BC
Nurse coordinator for the Care Ecosystem at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center

Sarah Dulaney portrait

Since joining the staff of the Care Ecosystem in 2014, Sarah Dulaney, RN, MS, GCNS-BC, has gone above and beyond in delivering care to patients living with dementia, and their caregivers.

She passes this expertise on as an educator, emphasizing not only clinical skill and professionalism but empathy and respect. In the process, she developed a curriculum of 60 videos that serve as a model to other health systems for their own versions of the Care Ecosystem. Dulaney now extends her insight and enthusiasm by advising these other health centers.

Dulaney established a team of health care navigators who offer dementia support over the phone. These navigators are usually recent college graduates who, under Dulaney’s mentorship, have gone on to pursue careers in geriatric nursing, psychology, or medicine. Dulaney considers this — the expansion of the field of geriatric clinicians and scientists — as one her most important accomplishments.

From overseeing clinical trials to expanding research to include Spanish speakers to working with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Dulaney’s commitment to improving and evolving dementia care is unparalleled.

“The Care Ecosystem is well on its way to transforming dementia care in our country, and Sarah has been critical to its success,” said Katherine L. Possin, PhD, associate professor in residence at the School of Medicine. “Sarah is the heart, soul, and mind of the Care Ecosystem.”

Paul Franke
Principal planner in physical planning

Paul Franke portrait

A university dedicated to science deserves infrastructure informed by science. Paul Franke is the planner responsible for UCSF’s Long-Range Development Plan, sustainability, mapping, and more. That includes a project to assess the seismic performance of buildings, connecting the plans to the engineers who must carry them out, and anticipating how a future UCSF will exist in a future San Francisco.

The job can be esoteric. Franke has had to consider flight paths and noise when UCSF designed the helipad at the Medical Center at Mission Bay, managing street closures and crane placement, environmental impact, and so on. His background in civil engineering and urban planning help inform a vision of UCSF as a part of the city around it.

This degree of planning extends to the next century: Franke “had the foresight to insist that new construction projects and their infrastructure are built above nine feet mean sea level to exceed the projected sea level rise by 2100,” said Sustainability Director Gail Lee.

Further, he was lead author for UCSF’s 2009 and 2017 Climate Action Plans, lead author of the 2014 UCSF Greenhouse Gas Reduction Strategy, and a significant contributor to the UCSF Sustainability Action Plan 1.0 and 2.0. His work on the 2014 Long-Range Development Plan helped make it a model that the entire UC system now follows.

“Paul Franke has left an indelible mark on the UCSF campus by astutely identifying areas of improvement, socializing the most efficient solutions with decision makers, and creatively shepherding through those solutions into reality, all with the long-term goal of smart and sustainable growth,” said Lee.

Judy Fuller
Project coordinator in the Senior Vice Chancellor’s Office

Judy Fuller portrait

For nearly 30 years, Judy Fuller has amassed administrative and policy expertise that made her invaluable to three senior vice chancellors, two interim SVCs, and other faculty and staff. This expertise was most critical during budget crises and layoffs.

At these times, said her colleagues, Fuller’s insight and institutional memory helped guide UCSF through difficult decisions. Much of this work was done on a volunteer basis for Administrative Management Professionals and Asian Pacific American Systemwide Alliance.

Her work in these areas contributed to the university’s goals of diversity and inclusion. She also helped develop a program for career advancement, the “Marketing You” series. She is, as one colleague said, “an institution within the institution.”

“Judy is my best partner on many institutionally based matters that are core to the compliance, fiduciary, and operational aspects of UCSF. These are not visible to the greater UCSF community but have an impact on everyone,” said Brenda Gee, administrative director in the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. “Some might see it as a thankless job, but Judy doesn’t simply ‘do her job.’ She owns it and strives to make everything she does better – more efficient and complete.”

Maria Rina Simon
Director of staffing and strategic programs in the School of Dentistry

Maria Rina Simon portrait

With a focus on creating an inclusive and equitable culture at the School of Dentistry, Maria Rina Simon has since joining UCSF in 2005 worked toward the University’s highest values. Colleagues cite her emphasis on making the employee experience a positive one, from the hiring process to regular reviews to exit interviews.

She has a talent for the kind of essential but extremely detailed policies that often fall through the cracks in organizations. Issues like attendance, bereavement leave, and religious accommodations didn’t escape her notice, and she worked on crafting equitable policies in these and other areas.

“Since joining the School of Dentistry’s staff, she has consistently demonstrated her passion and extraordinary ability to identify needs for methods and approaches that have resulted in substantial, positive advancements in our SOD’s environment,” said George W. Taylor, DMD, DrPH, professor and associate dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Dentistry.

She consistently “walks the walk” of her programs and is the first to volunteer to pilot new programs, said Larisa Kure, associate dean for Administration and Finance. Where change and growth can be difficult for organizations, Simon is unafraid to explore how to make the process work for all – for current faculty and staff and for those who will join the UCSF community in the future.

Distinguished Nurse Award

This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the care of patients and fosters professional and public awareness of achievements in nursing practice.

Martha Mehr, RN
Clinical nurse in Intensive Care Nursery

Marth Mehr portrait

Since joining the staff of the Intensive Care Nursery in 2002, Martha Mehr, RN, has, according to Jennifer Gantz, RN, MSN, the unit director for the ICN, “found her true passion in preparing our families and babies for their transition home.” Mehr’s role requires competence, empathy, and a strong organizational sense. Her dedication to the job has found expression in developing new training and dealing with uncooperative technology.

After recognizing that nurses needed further education regarding the discharge of medically fragile infants, Mehr in 2014 developed a discharge system using an evidence-based practice model to address standardization issues, outdated materials, and educational gaps. The system she developed is still used today.

When the ICN moved to Mission Bay, a new technology proved at first to be a hurdle. Mehr stepped in as troubleshooter, first developing a solution with the IT team, and then tackling how to retrain more than 200 nurses in the new platform. Her approach was multi-modal: she created a video, spoke at staff meetings, put updates in newsletters, and offered in-person training to nurses on the unit.

Mehr continues to find and correct knowledge gaps, fine-tuning protocols for nurses to follow in discharging infants. She’s now extending her expertise to begin collaborating with the pediatric surgical team in order to develop a teaching plan for all of Benioff Children’s Hospital.

“Martha is so well known for her passion surrounding discharge that other units and disciplines seek her out for advice and best practices,” said Gantz. “Her passion for educating our staff and caring for our babies truly knows no bounds. We are so fortunate to have such a passionate, compassionate member of our team.”