At the IHP’s Pillars of Excellence Awards, nine individuals and three teams honored for exemplary work and effort in 2022

As rays of sunlight danced from the harbor into the conference room at 1CW, nearly 100 employees gathered – joined by dozens online – to celebrate the Pillars of Excellence Awards, the annual ceremony when MGH Institute of Health Professions celebrates achievement, excellence, dedication, and the collective commitment to the graduate school’s mission.  

This year’s event – held April 11 – honored nine individuals and three teams for accomplishments in 2022.   

“We look forward to this program every year because it’s built upon colleagues recognizing and nominating one another,” said Associate Vice President of Human Resources Sarah Welch, who introduced each honoree. 

IHP President Paula Milone-Nuzzo told the audience she looks forward to Pillars awards every year, “because it really does talk about how you all go above and beyond to make things better for our students better for our community better for our staff and our faculty.  

“And I get a chance to read all of these nominations. And each one of them is just better than the next and it's so heartwarming to know how much you all do above and beyond your jobs, above and beyond the work that we expect you to do. So, it's really an uplifting event and it's one that I think we all can look at and say, ‘You know, the IHP is a pretty special place, and we're lucky to be part of it.’” 

Mass General Brigham President Anne Klibanski addressed the crowd in recorded remarks, congratulating the individuals and team recipients for the critically important work being done.  

“You are educating the next generation of health care professionals and leaders and you are supporting the communities we serve,” said Klibanski. “Some of this work is highly visible, some of it behind the scenes. But no matter where you fit, and our large healthcare organization, we celebrate your achievements and thank you for your contributions.” 

For the recipients, it was confirmation of jobs well done; efforts once in the shadows were now in the spotlight.  

“I'm really honored to receive this award because I'm nominated by my colleagues,” said Dr. Clara Gona, an Associate Professor of Nursing who received an award in the Fostering Community category. “It means so much. I guess people see in me what I don't see in myself. And I think what I was honored for something that happens naturally, because I'm always willing to talk if people need help or want to ask me questions because I have benefited from other people doing the same for me. So, I feel like my approach is an extension of that.” 

Video Content Developer Sally Wu shot, produced, and edited the going-away video for Provost Emeritus Dr. Alex Johnson, an effort that resonated across the IHP. She was recognized in the Advancing Innovation & Progress and Optimizing Teamwork category.  

“I'm grateful, honored, and humbled. This is my first year and I’m surprised, “said Wu, who began with the IHP in 2022. “It was fun to work with the team and work with everybody on the video. I’m glad everybody liked it.” 

Finding the right candidates for any job opening can be daunting, but handling the searches for the Dean of Nursing and Dean of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences positions is on another level. That’s what Assistant to the President Joanna Duggan was tasked with. This 15-year veteran employee with the Office of the President won a Pillar for Optimizing Teamwork and Enhancing Efficiency.  

“Anytime there's a search at that level, there's just a lot a lot of moving parts,” said Duggan. “I’m honored and it’s always nice to receive appreciation. Everyone is working hard all the time – this was a pleasant surprise.” 

Keeping the campus running smoothly doesn’t just happen – it needs someone overseeing events, logistics, deliveries, etc. Campus Services Manager Vanessa Desrochers took home a Pillar in the Commitment to an Exceptional Patient & Student Experience category.  

“I'm kind of humbled about it because to me, it's just my job, right?” said Desrochers. “It’s just how I roll. I just help get done what needs to get done. This award is a nice surprise.”  

Three team awards were also given out. The Simulated Participant Program won for Fostering Community; Standardized Patient Manager Tony Williams was the team leader.  

“First of all, we appreciate the award,” said Williams. “Second of all, I think this is exactly what a team award is all about - this couldn't be done without the hard work, commitment, dedication and self-sacrifice that the team put into it.”  

In the Advancing Innovation & Progress category, the Health Professions Education Executive Committee won for three ongoing innovative growth efforts.  

“I think it’s a testament to that team effort of how we’re able to organize the executive committee for the HPEd department to accomplish the certificates, the masters, the PhDs and really make sure that we can be learner centered and have a degree that meets the needs now and advances the field,” said team leader and HPEd Chair Dr. Roger Edwards.