2019 USF Outstanding Staff Award recipients honored

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Several USF College of Public Health staff members were awarded the 2019 Outstanding Staff Awards. Each year, the University of South Florida seeks to recognize employees who exemplify “above and beyond” performance excellence through their daily commitment to the University.

This year, the COPH recognized individual award winner Paige Hunt, academic program specialist for the Genetic Counseling MSPH Program and USF Genomics Program, and two team nominations for Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative (FPQC)—Nicole Pelligrino and Estefania Rubio—and USF SafetyFlorida—Thalia Barber, Alejandro Fernandez and Amal Forbes.

Paige Hunt, MA (Photo courtesy of Hunt)
Paige Hunt, MA (Photo courtesy of Hunt)

“To say Paige has been essential to the ongoing growth and success of our newly established graduate program seems an understatement,” said Dr. Kathleen Pope, medical director of the Genetic Counseling MSPH program. “She can be counted on to complete every task, not just as expected, but even better and more efficiently than we could have thought to ask. She somehow manages to do this while maintaining a calm, yet energetic attitude, at all times. We are so lucky to work with Paige!”

Hunt is the administrative specialist for both the Genetic Counseling MSPH degree program and the USF Genomics Program. She works with the genetic counseling faculty and students to help coordinate admissions, outreach events, clinical rotations and the day to day logistics of the academic program. For the USF Genomics Program, she coordinates training workshops, organizes the annual symposium and Code-a-thon, assists with faculty recruitment and provides administrative support for the USF Genomics Equipment Core and the Omics Hub.

“My favorite part of my job is helping others be successful; in genetic counseling that is done by helping our MSPH students navigate the rigorous program from admissions through graduation, and in the genomics program that is done by helping to connect people with the incredible resources the program has to offer,” Hunt said.

“Paige goes above and beyond in working weekends or evenings when needed because she plans and runs multiple events. I never have to worry about anything if I know Paige is in charge,” said Dr. Deborah Cragun, director of the USF Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. “She thinks of everything and goes above and beyond to ensure that all of the guests at various events feel welcome, are comfortable and that everyone has what they need.”

“I am honored to have made a significant and positive impact at COPH and I look forward to helping both the Genetic Counseling Program and USF Genomics Program continue to be successful.” Hunt said.

Nicole Pelligrino, MPH, CHES (Photo courtesy of Pelligrino)
Nicole Pelligrino, MPH, CHES (Photo courtesy of Pelligrino)

Pelligrino is a social/behavioral researcher and quality improvement analyst for the FPQC. She supports their quality improvement initiatives aiming to standardize care across Florida delivery hospitals and neonatal intensive care units and recruits new hospitals into the collaborative.

“I think it is an honor to be recognized alongside my FPQC colleagues for our solid teamwork, commitment to improving perinatal healthcare quality and overall contributions to the COPH and greater USF community,” Pelligrino said. “We have accomplished so much, but the work of improving the health and wellbeing of pregnant and postpartum people and their infants is never done!”

Pelligrino said that she is looking forward to continuing her work with FPQC and COPH faculty, staff and students as they continue to expand.

“This past year, the FPQC has reached new heights which is only possible with the support of an outstanding team including having 84 Florida hospitals now participating in a quality improvement initiative, implementing newer effective strategies to engage, educate and support hospital teams and launching a new online hospital data-reporting system providing enhanced capabilities,” said Dr. William Sappenfield, director of the Chiles Center.

Nicholas Girod, Amal Forbes, Thalia Barber and Alejandro Fernandez (Photo by Caitlin Keough)
Nicholas Girod, Amal Forbes, Thalia Barber and Alejandro Fernandez (Photo by Caitlin Keough)

“Thalia Barber and the communications and marketing team, which includes Amal Forbes and Alejandro Fernandez, have done an outstanding job promoting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) USF SafetyFlorida Consultation Program aimed at worker protection and reducing workers compensation rates,” said Dr. Brian Warrick, director of USF SafetyFlorida and COPH assistant professor.

Barber is a marketing and communications specialist with the consultation program. She works to support OSHA and the USF College of Public Health’s mission, as well as, Florida’s small business community, to maintain a level of visibility as leaders in their industry.

“In my position, I strive to activate key constituencies and small employers by providing resources, tools and outreach training to sustain safe and healthy workplaces across the state,” Barber said. “Being an award recipient meant everything to me. My efforts, hard-work and dedication to the position I hold is being recognized and appreciated. Furthermore, I feel empowered that I am making a difference in the community.”

Fernandez is a staff assistant for the program handling the logistics, payments, and arrangements for marketing and communications team along with additional support they may need.

“I was really grateful to be on the team that was accepted and awarded the Outstanding Staff Award. I look forward to continuing our efforts in making workplaces safe in the state of Florida,” Fernandez said. “What I love most about COPH is the people who work here and the community, that we are all working towards the betterment of health for the public everywhere. My favorite part of my job is being able to work with such a great department and the warm people who are my coworkers.”

Forbes is a training support specialist who provides training and administrative support to all external clients seeking to improve their safety and health management systems along with support to program’s staff.

He also ensures efficient operation of the office, provides key leadership supports to managers and employees through a variety of tasks related to organization and communication, manages the overall program’s Safety and Health DVD and Streaming Video Library system and the program’s consultation customer satisfaction surveys system.

“I enjoy seeing not only splashes of how leadership cares about staff successes, but how it permeates into the lives of students and customers,” Forbes said. “Seeing the end results of our passion and labor is extremely gratifying.”

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health