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Rewarding excellence

Annual MIT honors go to 15 individuals and three teams
JoAnne Knoll
JoAnne Knoll
Photo courtesy / JoAnne Knoll
MIT's Medical's Department Diversity Steering Committee: From left to right, Debbie Friscino, Lisa Owens, Winnie Dansby, Dian Magnuson, Leslie Patton and Annette Jacobs. Committee member Rosie Huntress is not pictured.
MIT's Medical's Department Diversity Steering Committee: From left to right, Debbie Friscino, Lisa Owens, Winnie Dansby, Dian Magnuson, Leslie Patton and Annette Jacobs. Committee member Rosie Huntress is not pictured.
Photo / Donna Coveney

The 15 individuals and three teams who won MIT Excellence Awards this year went to extraordinary lengths to improve the lives of others, whether those were colleagues deployed in distant lands or working right on campus.

JoAnne Knoll, technical assistant at Lincoln Laboratory, has received an MIT Excellence Award in the Creating Connections category.

Knoll has been the driving force behind the Laboratory's "Support Our Troops" program since 2006, according to Gerald Augeri, assistant division head, Ballistic Missile Defense Technology, who nominated Knoll for the honor.

Knoll, who served four years in the U.S. Air Force, manages the laboratory's weekly campaign to ship care packages to soldiers and reservists, affiliated with Lincoln, who are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

"I care very much about our troops. I remember what it was like to be stationed far from home," she said. "Those packages reminded me that someone cared."

You'll know Knoll by her office, Augeri said: "You'll see boxes of coffee, microwave popcorn, oatmeal, books, magazines, games, CDs, DVDs, personal care items -- all waiting to go to our troops."

Prepaid international phone cards and coffee remain the troops' most-appreciated items, Knoll said. The only special request she has received was for laundry detergent for a base in Afghanistan.

Closer to home, MIT Medical's Diversity Steering Committee concentrated on improving workplace awareness of bias and its effects. Their group has received the Fostering Diversity and Inclusion team award.

Winnie Dansby, director of human resources; Debbie Friscino, director of operations; Rosie Huntress, senior administrative assistant; Annette Jacobs, executive director; Diane Magnuson, diversity and inclusion manager; Lisa Owens, chief radiologic technologist; and Leslie Patton, claims and members services administrator, comprise the award-winning team from MIT Medical.

Margaret Ann Gray, director of organization and employee development, nominated the Diversity Steering Committee for the Excellence Award. She described the women as "seven people caring enough to make it their business to change the environment in which they and their colleagues worked."

Owens, speaking for the Diversity Steering Committee, said of the team, "We think of our workplace population as a constantly growing quilt made up of different colors, fabrics and textures. To maintain the quilt's strength, MIT Medical needs to be a workplace where everyone feels valued, respected and safe."

The catalyst for their work was the group's discovery, two years ago, that clinical and support staff members were often subject to racial epithets and other signs of bias, Gray said.

Among other achievements, the steering committee publishes a department diversity newsletter and has set up programs for diversity training and monthly discussions of issues related to inclusiveness. Perhaps most important, Magnuson said, "We are having open dialogue on subjects we would never have been able to discuss a few years ago. Our greatest success became clear when people began to ask for more."

Service, support, administrative, sponsored research staff and, where their work meets program criteria, faculty, are eligible, through nominations, to win Excellence Awards. Individual award recipients receive $2,000; teams receive up to $10,000.

A ceremony to honor the 2009 MIT Excellence Awards winners will be held from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4, at Kresge Auditorium. All members of the MIT community are invited to attend.

Go to for a complete listing of the 2009 award recipients and a schedule of ceremony events.

Fostering Diversity and Inclusion

Arnold R. Henderson, Jr.
Associate Dean & Co-Director
Student Support Services
Division of Student Life

Eric Hudson
Associate Professor
Department of Physics
School of Science

MIT Medical Department Diversity Steering Committee
Winnie Dansby, Director of Human Resources
Debbie Friscino, Director of Operations
Rosanna Huntress, Senior Administrative Assistant
Annette Jacobs, Executive Director
Diane Magnuson, Diversity and Inclusion Manager
Lisa M. Owens, Chief Radiologic Technologist
Leslie A. Patton, Claims & Member Services Administrator

Bringing Out the Best

Diane McLaughlin
Assistant Dean for Finance & Administration
School of Architecture & Planning

Jed W. Wartman
Assistant Dean for Student Activities
Division of Student Life

Serving the Client

Michael Tarkanian
Technical Instructor
Materials Science & Engineering
School of Engineering

Andréa E. Lamberti
Senior Secretary IV
Air & Missile Defense Technology
Lincoln Laboratory

Creating Connections

JoAnne Knoll
Technical Assistant V
Air & Missile Defense Technology
Lincoln Laboratory

Parents Forum Team
Christine Bates, Senior Administrative Assistant, System Design & Management Program, School of Engineering
Eve Odiorne Sullivan, Senior Editorial Assistant, Laboratory for Nuclear Science, School of Science

Innovative Solutions

David DeCaprio
Associate Director
Chemical Biology Platform
The Broad Institute

Carl H. Fischer IV
Technical Staff
Lincoln Laboratory

Resource Development and Alumni Association W98 Core Move Team
Jose Acosta, Professional Development & Administration Associate, Resource Development
Tasha Clark, Finance & Administration Associate, Resource Development
Nicole Balkissoon, Senior Finance & Administration Assistant, Resource Development
Bill Fitzgerald, Director of Finance & Administration, Alumni Association
Jacqueline A.C. Granville, Personnel & Operations Administrator, Alumni Association
David F. Hegarty, IT Consultant II, Alumni Association
Rebecca E. Heiser, Systems Analyst III, Development Research & Systems, Resource Development
Scott C. Jensen, Assistant Director of Information Services, Corporate Relations/Industrial Liaison Program, Resource Development
Lorraine Ng, Director of Finance & Administration, Resource Development
Beth Ogar, Recording Secretary & Executive Director of Administration, Resource Development
Judy Patterson, Director, Human Resources, Corporate Relations/Industrial Liaison Program, Resource Development
Nicholas A. Ralton, Technology Support Assistant, Development Research & Systems, Resource Development
Timothy Recher, IT Consultant III, Hardware & Network Support, Alumni Association
Helen Rose, Senior Associate Director, Development Research & Systems, Resource Development

Unsung Hero

Shirley A. Entzminger
Administrative Assistant II
Department of Mathematics
School of Science

Michael J. Person
Research Scientist
Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences
School of Science

Antonio Ruscitti
Associate Staff
Lincoln Laboratory

Thomas C. Willard
Endicott House
Division of Student Life

Fostering Community

Ryan Gray
Administrative Assistant & Public Service Support Associate
Engineering & Science Libraries
MIT Libraries

Jarek Koniusz
Associate Professor/Coach
DAPER Intercollegiate Sports
Division of Student Life

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 11, 2009 (download PDF).

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