Public Health staff claim awards in three outstanding categories

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It’s always nice to be recognized by peers. It’s even nicer when the entire University stops to pay recognition. This year, the College of Public Health’s Ellen Kent, Anne Gallacher, Rosemarie Sledge, Joel Velasco, and Brian Kirk are honored with the 2013 Outstanding Staff Award.

For their extraordinary service to the university, all five staff members receive a plaque and a $500 gift. The presentation is part of a USF system-wide ceremony hosted by President Genshaft on April 29 in the School of Music Concert Hall.

(l,r) Anne Gallacher,  Ellen Kent, Brian Kirk, Rosemarie Sledge, and Joel Velasco

(l,r) Anne Gallacher, Ellen Kent, Brian Kirk, Rosemarie Sledge, and Joel Velasco


“It’s clearly evident that Ellen does not sleep,” said Natalie D. Preston, MPA, director of communications and alumni relations.

“She’s in the college when I arrive in the morning and often setting up for an event when I leave in the evening. Given that most of the student service activities are held after hours and on the weekend, she is happily working then, too. As if days, evenings, and weekends weren’t enough, I can attest to receiving e-mail from her between 1-4am. This is when she writes copy for publication, downloads and edits scores of photographs she voluntarily captures of college related events, and more.”

This is one of many testimonials that led to Ellen Kent earning the Outstanding Staff Award for student success.

Ms. Kent’s official roles include coordinating the college’s student research grants, activities for the Sunshine Education and Research Center, and managing the USF Health Service Corps.

In 2013, public health students made 45 presentations at 16 professional meetings in the United States and seven presentations at international meetings in Australia, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and Puerto Rico. This process requires detailed attention for competitive applications for funding, in addition to travel plans, coaching, and presentation preparation.

“Her industry thoroughness, initiative, reliability, co-operation, emotional control, and intellectual capacity for mentoring our highly diverse graduate students has set a precedent unmatched by staff in our college and across the campus,” said Wilbur Milhous, PhD, professor and associate dean for research.

During the ’12-’13 academic year, more than 1000 students practiced their passion by volunteering 16,000+ hours and serving more than 15,000 adults and children. Through service learning opportunities, the student volunteers integrate health theory with practice, connect with peers, demonstrate a philanthropic spirit, and are engaged in the community.

“She is a true ambassador of the university and beloved by all for her tireless energy, commitment to service, genuine enthusiasm, positive attitude, passion for working with underserved populations, and dedication for helping students strengthen their commitment to issues of social justice,” said Joseph M. Ford, JD, assistant vice president of USF Health, Shared Student Services.

“Being a student in the college years ago, I have firsthand experience of how difficult it can be to navigate all the requirements students are expected to complete,” said Sandhya Srinivasan, MPH, MEd, director of educational technology and assessment. “Today’s students have the perfect resource in Ellen. She has a wealth of knowledge on the university, its processes and procedures, and more importantly how it applies to students’ academic and future career success.”

* * *

As manager of the Office of Research, Ms. Gallacher leads a team responsible for a robust portfolio and meeting objectives in the college’s strategic plan. To achieve this goal, she often collaborates with other academic centers and institutions, as well as community and industry partners.

“She has the total admiration and respect of her staff who find her approachable and always willing to listen and seek solutions to complex problems,” Dr. Milhous said. “She has played a pivotal leadership role in balancing activities for best business practices between the college’s HR department, purchasing, and research office.”

Ms. Gallacher’s leadership efforts contributed to increased extramural research awards. Between fiscal year 2013 and 2014, the college’s awards increased from $13,282,080 to $21,566,447. Additionally, Ms. Gallacher created and facilitated a series of faculty development workshops within the college. Topics include “Understanding Research at USF”, “Finding Funding”, and “Post-Award–When the Funding Arrives.”

“Anne’s passion is helping our college faculty, staff, and students pursue their research goals,” said Jay Evans, MPH, MBA, associate dean for finance, operations, and human resources. “Her commitment helps our college researchers in their pursuit of discoveries and knowledge that impacts the health of communities world-wide.”

For her work advancing public health research initiatives and funding, Ms. Gallacher is the recipient of the Outstanding Staff Award for an individual.

* * *

Rosemarie Sledge, Joel Velasco, and Brian Kirk, MPH, represent the Florida Covering Kids and Families/Florida KidCare Community Outreach Team (FCKF). According to nominator and FCKF director Jodi Ray, MA, “The team has dramatically increased their competencies by willingly taking on a significant amount of additional duties as a result of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”

For their initiative and successful outcomes, the group is the recipient of the Outstanding Staff Award for a team.

With the new healthcare act in full swing, everything had to be done quickly and correctly. The team’s commitment to advancing the health and well-being of others is evident from the hundreds of thousands of Floridians covered under the Affordable Care Act.

“Wow!,” was all Ms. Sledge could say upon learning the prestigious honor had been bestowed to her and her team.

“I think it is fitting that Rosemarie, Brian, and I received this award because of the type of team we are,” Mr. Velasco said. “We’re always willing to do anything for one another. Regardless of the situation or task, we will lend a helping hand.”

“I can say that their sense of spirit de corps, dedication to the mission, and true love for the work they are charged with is seen daily,” said Leah Suarez, director of programs for the Health Council of Southeast Florida. “This is not a job to them, it is a passion and that is the difference from the outside looking in.”

As members of the 2013 Class of Outstanding Staff members, Ellen Kent, Anne Gallacher, Rosemarie Sledge, Joel Velasco, and Brian Kirk are worthy of praise and recognition.


Story by Christi Owiye and photo by Natalie D. Preston, USF College of Public Health


-General Statement-

Established in 1984 as the first school of public health in the State of Florida, the USF College of Public Health is a recognized leader in community health, online education, maternal and child health, social marketing, and global infectious disease research. Fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the college offers 25 concentrations that lead to MHA, MPH, MSPH, DrPH, and PhD degrees, as well as a BSPH, several dual degrees, graduate certificates, and online programs. To learn more about the college committed to passionately solve problems and create conditions that allow every person the universal right to health and well-being, visit


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