2018 Founders Day Awards Honor Public Service, Extraordinary Contributions

The 2018 Founders Day Award winners (from left) Founders Day award winners, from left, Michael Chen; Valerie Yerger, MA, ND; R. Sarah Elmes; Elizabeth Robbins, MD; Leeane Jensen, MPH; Heather Nichols; Shannon Weber, MSW; Kristin Cosner, RN, BSN; Bernadette Jimenez; Sylvie Baudart RN, BSN, MS, CCRN; and Georgina Lopez. Photos by Sonya Yruel


2018 Founders Day Awards Honor Public Service, Extraordinary Contributions

By Mitzi Baker on May 15, 2018


Eleven faculty, staff and students were honored for their public service, excellence in nursing and exceptional service to UC San Francisco at this year’s UCSF Founders Day Awards Luncheon.

The awardees were honored during the annual luncheon Friday that showcased their extraordinary commitment to serving their communities and patients and for going above and beyond in their work and management to improve UCSF.

“This is one of our great traditions here at UCSF – a time of year when we can come together and just recognize our colleagues from across the 27,000 people who call UCSF their work community, and celebrate the great achievements of your colleagues,” said Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, in his opening remarks.

The chancellor highlighted a number of accomplishments and University highlights, noting recent education initiatives and rankings, faculty awards and honors, and work to advance equity and inclusion among staff.

“Not only are we known for our outstanding research, education and clinical care, but we are all part of the inspiring group of individuals who have committed to improving the lives of others.”

The following awards were given for 2018:

Chancellor Award for Public Service

The awards given to faculty, staff and students at the luncheon included the Chancellor Award for Public Service, which was established in 1970 by former Chancellor Philip R. Lee. The award honors members of the University who have performed outstanding service to the community.

Valerie Yerger, MA, ND
Associate Professor of Health Policy

Valerie Yerger

The Chancellor Award for Public Service in the faculty category was awarded to Valerie Yerger, MA, ND, who is an associate professor of health policy in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Nursing, where she has held a full‐time academic appointment since 2004.

Also affiliated with the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, Yerger has explored the way the tobacco industry targets African-American communities. She studies the use of menthol as an additive in cigarettes, the tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of menthol cigarettes in U.S. inner cities, and the role that melanin plays in nicotine dependence. She has focused her volunteer work on demonstrating how African-Americans can build resistance to reduce tobacco’s impact on their communities by reframing tobacco as a social justice issue, developing numerous ways to extend her work beyond the walls of academia. She has sustained strong, long-term community relationships, and helped many others at UCSF learn how to integrate health justice‐oriented engagement with communities.

“Her wide-reaching public service, which spans local, regional, and national levels, is truly inspiring,” said Ruth E. Malone, RN, PhD, FAAN, professor of nursing and health policy, in nominating Yerger. “Yerger is an absolutely stellar example of a UCSF faculty member who truly ‘walks the talk’ in respectfully engaging with, sustaining relationships with, and contributing to the community beyond the campus.”

Shannon Weber
Perinatal coordinator the Department of Family and Community Medicine

Shannon Weber

The Chancellor Award for Public Service in the staff category was awarded to Shannon Weber, who has worked steadfastly on HIV prevention, care and treatment projects. Weber was hired in 2004 to direct the National Perinatal HIV Hotline, a free 24/7, expert consultation service based in UCSF’s Department of Family and Community Medicine that provides direct access to experts for questions on HIV and pregnancy. She created the nation’s only referral network of clinicians equipped to care for HIV-infected pregnant women and their infants. She also created and directed the nation’s only referral network of infertility clinics willing to care for couples affected by HIV, the Bay Area Perinatal AIDS Center (now called HIVE).

“I cannot overestimate Shannon’s impact on the world of perinatal, women’s health and sexual HIV prevention and care,” said Deborah Cohan, MD, MPH, professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, in nominating Weber. “Over a period of 10 years she went from being a total newcomer to now one of the best-known, most-respected, go-to international experts in the field that is dominated by physicians.”

Cohan also noted that in addition to all of her contributions to the workplace, Weber launched a project that began as a simple love note-writing exercise between her and her three kids that has become a vibrant website, LoveYou2, and the topic of a TED talk. Weber’s creative approaches have provided fundraising opportunities for HIVE. Weber demonstrated that point on Friday leaving love notes taped underneath the seats for every person gathered at the awards luncheon.

Kristin Cosner, RN
Master’s degree candidate in the School of Nursing

Kristin Cosner

The Chancellor Award for Public Service in the student category was awarded to second-year nursing master’s student Kristin Cosner, RN, who is studying to become an acute care pediatric nurse practitioner while also working as a pediatric intensive care registered nurse.

In 2012, one of Cosner’s daughters was diagnosed with cancer, and despite being an experienced pediatric nurse, she was overwhelmed at the difficulties in finding accurate information and support. Having no specific training in nonprofits or community philanthropy, she teamed with another family in a similar situation to form Team G Childhood Cancer Foundation, named after her daughter Gabriela, who was diagnosed and treated for the rare, aggressive cancer rhabdomyosarcoma. The foundation helps other families with the initial shock and then finding a community to turn to for information and support. It also provides “Hope Totes” to 10 children’s hospitals across the West that contain some essentials for the hospital stay and helpful guides. The foundation also raises funds to help correct disparities in pediatric cancer research.

“She used her experience as a parent dealing with a child with cancer, and identified the gap and filled it with an extraordinary nonprofit organization that brings about support, resources, and over $200,000 research funding for those impacted by childhood cancer,” said Angel Chen, RN, MSN, PNP, a clinical professor and vice chair of the department of family health care nursing, in nominating Cosner. “She has empowered families to use their successes as inspiration for new families, and allow those who have lost loved ones to be action oriented in making a difference for the future.”

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.

Elizabeth Robbins, MD
Clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics

Elizabeth Robbins

The Edison T. Uno Public Service Award was awarded to Elizabeth Robbins, MD, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist, who in addition to her time-consuming professional responsibilities has devoted extensive time to improving the well-being of her community. In her Marin County hometown of Ross, she has served on the school board for 16 years, on the city council for the past four years, participated in an extensive list of positions on numerous committees and boards – and was elected mayor of the town of Ross last year.

“Being an ongoing, active participant in public education and city government is a special way to ‘give back’ to a community,” said Michelle Hermiston, MD, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics, in nominating Robbins. “She has clearly debunked the idea of the academic that is ensconced in the ivory tower, and has worked tirelessly over decades to improve her community, particularly in the areas of public education and public health.”

Hermiston notes that Robbins embodies the model of public service being consistent behaviors that yield tangible benefits. Some of Robbins’ accomplishments include eliminating second-hand smoke exposure in public parks and open spaces, and making improvements to the curriculum and facilities of the local public school system.

Chancellor Award for Exceptional University Management

Michael Chen
Associate chair of finance in the Department of Medicine, School of Medicine

Michael Chen

Michael Chen oversees the finances of UCSF’s largest and most complex department: the Department of Medicine, which has 30 different divisions at a half-dozen sites with 750 full-time faculty and 3,000 employees overall. He leads a central administrative team of seven who manage the budget and flow of funds of the department’s nearly $500 million annual budget.

“He makes the trains run on time (and ensures that they have the fuel to run at all), but far more impressive is how his creativity, strategic thinking, and can-do spirit make the Department of Medicine far better than it would be without him,” said Robert Wachter, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine, in nominating Chen, who began his career at UCSF almost 20 years ago.

While being an incredibly effective steward of scarce resources, Wachter noted that Chen also does something that finance people frequently find hard to do: be as enthusiastic about spending money as saving money. He realizes that how an organization manages its budgets is how it expresses its values and goals. “At the heart of his work, Michael is the exceptional manager who works with his colleagues to determine ways to bring to fruition individuals' visions within the limits of our funding sources,” said Wachter. “One measure of Michael's true skill is that all of our division chiefs think the world of him – even those that we have said ‘no’ to at budget time.”

Bernadette Jimenez
Assistant director of purchasing services and accounts payable with the Finance Service Center

Bernadette Jimenez

In more than 14 years of experience in several departments at UCSF, Bernadette Jimenez has grown from an administrative analyst to a contracts manager and is now assistant director of purchasing services and accounts payable with the Finance Service Center, part of Campus Life Services.

In her most recent position, Jimenez was personally responsible for improving purchasing’s relationship with Capital Programs and Facilities by building trust and performing services at a high level. She manages a diverse team that focuses on competency, reliability and commitment to their customer – often functioning as a bridge between the goals of the customers and the rules and regulations that govern UCSF activities. Because of her multiple areas of experience and expertise at UCSF, Jimenez will be starting a new role with Campus Life Services/Facilities Services where she will lead the Facilities Renewal and Asset Management Programs.

An expert in UC policy and state and federal law, Jimenez uses this knowledge effectively establishing a track record of achieving dramatic cost savings, said Jodi Soboll, deputy executive director of infrastructure and utilities for Facilities Services, in nominating Jimenez, with whom she has worked for eight years.

“Bernadette is always thinking of what would be best for UCSF and always acting in the best possible way to achieve that outcome,” said Soboll. “Bernadette exemplifies PRIDE values in everything she does.”

Georgina Lopez
Director of Finance and Administration, AIDS Research Institute, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Institute for Global Health Sciences

Georgina Lopez

As the manager of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics, the Institute for Global Health Sciences, and the AIDS Research Institute, Georgina Lopez wears a number of hats. In her 27 years of service, she has provided fiscal and operational leadership, given counsel to faculty leaders, methodically implemented UCSF’s policies and processes, and brought insight into how to advance initiatives within the culture and systems of UCSF. Increasingly, she is called upon to develop better systems and processes for managing UCSF’s growing global health portfolio.

“Georgina combines creativity and pragmatism in her approach to problem-solving, taking time to think outside the box – but not so far outside as to be impractical given the realities of the campus,” said Colin Boyle, MPP, MBA, deputy director for the Institute for Global Health Sciences, in nominating Lopez. “She is not only willing to think outside the box, but she can also create the new box to house a clever new idea.”

When Lopez is involved in any project, he said, progress follows, constructively and with all the right people involved. For example, managing international research operations can be a difficult business, but Lopez worked with partners around the campus and with UC Office of the President to develop a solution: non-governmental organizations in multiple African countries, which now employ more than 200 local people and oversee approximately $40 million in sponsored program revenues.

Chancellor Award for Exceptional University Service

R. Sarah Elmes, PhD
Manager at the Laboratory for Cell Analysis

R. Sarah Elmes

As manager of the flow core at the Laboratory for Cell Analysis, Sarah Elmes, PhD, functions in the key role of maintaining core flow cytometers, performing flow cytometer services, and training others to use flow cytometry at Mission Bay. These instruments are critical to many campus research endeavors, as they allow cells to be separated and counted out of a complex mixture.

Beyond simply maintaining equipment, Elmes empowers researchers to use the instruments through one-on-one training and additionally, makes herself available to help troubleshoot challenges that arise during instrument use. She has trained hundreds of users in her 17 years at UCSF, with the goal of fostering competency in others.

“Entire cohorts of University associates can attribute new skills and abilities to outstanding training provided by Elmes. These transferred competencies are an epitome of continuous learning, equity and inclusion prioritized by the University,” said Kirk Ehmsen, PhD, an assistant researcher in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, in nominating Elmes. “Elmes represents the best kind of professional that the University can hope for: a professional who is also a true colleague, one who promotes the success of another.”

Leeane Jensen, MA, MPH
Executive director, Wellbeing Services and Operations in Campus Life Services

Leeane Jensen

Leeane Jensen, MA, MPH, began her career at UCSF more than a decade ago by working part time as a personal trainer for the Fitness and Recreation division of Campus Life Services (CLS) while attending graduate school. She now lead CLS’s Wellbeing Services and Operations division, which includes the department that plans and implements wellness programs that benefit the UCSF community.

Making UCSF 100 percent tobacco free in 2013 and implementing the Healthy Beverage Initiative, which removed beverages with added sugar from sale at all UCSF campus locations in 2015, were some of Jensen’s early accomplishments.

In 2016, Jensen had another big idea: establish a movement, now called the “Great People, Great Place” initiative that would identify shortcomings that once remedied would make UCSF a “best place to work.” She leads a team with representatives across campus and UCSF that established the Great People, Great Place program charter and garnered multiple years of funding to implement strategies to improve the culture.

Among the areas targeted in the first year was for the campus to adopt a common set of established values, which was already successfully incorporated by UCSF Medical Center. The Officially endorsed by the Chancellor’s Executive Cabinet in October 2016, PRIDE Values now are part of the performance evaluations and Chancellor awards. “Because of Leeane’s work across UCSF, we all embrace PRIDE Values,” said Clare Shinnerl, the associate vice chancellor of Campus Life Services.

Jensen also aimed to address numerous campuswide surveys that found that many UCSF employees often do not feel adequately appreciated for their hard work. So she collaborated with partners in UCSF Health, Human Resources and others to design and develop “UCSF Recognize,” a website that can be used by anyone at UCSF to send either a card or an email recognition, with a copy sent to the recipient’s supervisor. Within the first six months of launching the site, more than 15,000 recognitions were sent.

Heather Nichols
Project manager in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging

Heather Nichols

Project manager Heather Nicholshas been with UCSF since 2001, starting when she was a full-time student at San Francisco State University, and has worked in various campus offices before landing in the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging in 2015. Her job description focuses on managing projects for quality, safety and operations activities, but she has taken on a number of supplemental roles.

Notably, Nichols taught herself how to use the patient satisfaction survey system, learning how to analyze data to improve metrics such as appointment wait time and ease of scheduling, which are critical to improving patient experience. She communicates the results monthly so improvements can be made and there can be prompt service recovery when needed. Some of the things she has already improved include radiology signage to help patients find their way to destinations and patient notifications of upcoming appointments.

“Because of her skills and passion, she is frequently called upon by faculty leadership for various projects which often involve activity outside the department. Her motivation and performance is not self-serving, but rather she seeks to improve performance on measures that will enhance patient experience and care,” said Mary Bobel, chief administrative officer of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, in nominating Nichols. “Heather has an outstanding reputation in the department and serves as a ‘go to’ person because the radiology faculty and staff recognize that she is committed to the values of UCSF and will drive a project to completion.”

Distinguished Nurse Award

Sylvie Baudart, RN, BSN, MS, CCRN
Clinical nurse in the intensive cardiac care unit

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

Sylvie Baudart

Sylvie Baudart, RN, BSN, MS, CCRN, has been a clinical nurse and leader in the intensive cardiac care unit since 2007. She is widely respected as a clinical coach and leader, staff mentor, advocate for patients and families and collaborator the multidisciplinary team, said Lee Greenholtz, RN, the director of intensive cardiac care unit, who nominated Baudart for the Distinguished Nurse Award.

In particular, she said, Baudart does an excellent job of communicating with families about the plan of care and answering questions. Her calm demeanor, compassion and humor puts families at ease and gives them a sense of confidence in the care their family members are receiving. Baudart is frequently singled out for recognition and thanks by discharged patients and their grateful families. “Using warmth, grace, humor and skill, Sylvie excels at helping patients and families in crisis find hope and courage,” said Greenholtz. “Sylvie tirelessly and effectively promotes excellence in nursing at UCSF.”