2011 HR Infinite Mile Award Recipients

2011 HR Infinite Mile Award Recipients

Creativity and Innovation
HR Diversity and Inclusion Team: Joan Fusco, Alyce Johnson, Adrienne McCosh, Ken Paul, Judith Stein, Janet Walzer

Collaboration and Community Building
Jonathan Barnes

HRO Team: Wayne Turner, Jennifer Walsh, Joan Fusco, Bob Muti, Lianne Shields

Leadership: Growing a Culture of Development
Judith Stein

Initiative and Customer Focus
Jackie Cancell
Izzy Choute
Bob Muti

HR Diversity and Inclusion Team

Our first award goes to a cross-functional team that supports and advances staff diversity and inclusion at MIT by creating tools and resources, providing consultation and guidance to clients, maintaining visibility in HR and the DLCS, and assisting with outreach on behalf of the Affirmative Action plan. The HRDI team demonstrated creativity and innovation in their approach to accomplishing these challenges. They learned from each other; leveraged each other; and worked well together. The impact of their work can be seen in a variety of results:

  • DLC members are more aware of and are actively engaged in identifying and implementing strategies to ensure a culture of development and a climate of inclusion.
  • They worked collaboratively with the HRIS team, producing a user-friendly online web solution for reporting Affirmative Action DLC strategies.
  • Approximately 23 customized diversity and inclusion workshops have been delivered across the MIT community since the inception of the HRDI Team in 2009.

As the nominator stated, "This team epitomizes cross-collaboration within HR. As an effective team, each member brings their own professional expertise that creates a more comprehensive and better result."

Because they demonstrate that the sum of their creative efforts provides innovative results, this year it is our pleasure to recognize the HR Diversity and Inclusion Team with an Infinite Mile Award for Creativity and Innovation.

Jonathan Barnes

"Our first recipient sets a great example of what collaboration and community building should look like. Over the years, his efforts to bring union employee groups, union representatives, and MIT managers together have created strong collaborative relationships in solving union issues.

He is very thoughtful in his approach with all groups. Not only does he help others understand why he is asking a question, but helps others understand the need in a way that helps them learn about labor relations. He teaches others and helps them grow though his collaborations.

He always demonstratives the importance of involving the right groups, ensuring individuals feel part of the process. He gives all involved an opportunity to provide feedback and feel heard and valued. He has created a community across the bargaining table. He appreciates – and helps those unionized employees feel – that they work for MIT; they may be represented by a union, but fundamentally, they are MIT employees.

As one nominator put it, "He has always taken the time to help me learn and understand the importance of collaborating. His help has been invaluable to me and others in solving difficult problems."

For bringing everyone to the table in a cheerful, collaborative style, it's our pleasure to award Jonathan Barnes for an Infinite Mile Award for Collaboration and Community Building."

HRO Team: Wayne Turner, Jennifer Walsh, Joan Fusco, Bob Muti, Lianne Shields

The second award in this category goes to a team that held down the fort when it lost three of its members. Despite taking on additional departments and managing a demanding workload, they pulled together and did not sacrifice the service provided to their client areas. They sought to make the best of a difficult situation.

When two new members came on board, this team took the initiative to create a training manual for on-boarding and education about the complex, decentralized world of MIT. The manual has been supplemented by the teams' above-and-beyond genuine sensitivity to what it takes to become acclimated to MIT. Additional efforts have included the following:

  • Creating a personalized plan and schedule to meet with HR colleagues and client areas
  • Always being available to answer questions and help the newbies acclimate to the new roles while managing their own workload
  • Sensitivity to the transition and understanding of the learning curve
  • And seeking and valuing input and fresh set of eyes

The nominators reflected, "We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this team and to nominate our colleagues for this recognition."

For working through a challenging time and serving as a model for welcoming new employees, it is our pleasure to recognize the HRO team with the Collaboration and Community Building Infinite Mile Award.

Judith Stein

"This individual, as her nominator noted, deserves this award for many reasons: she is an excellent course developer, a superb teacher, and an amazing coach. This nomination, however, focuses on her role as the coaches' coach. First, a little background: Every year, L2L has four project teams and each project team has a coach. It has taken several years to hit the mark on this aspect but that has now happened, and one important reason is this person.

From the beginning, she volunteered to coach the L2L process coaches. And she has done a thorough job by:

  1. Creating documents to carefully define what their role is and isn't.
  2. Meeting with the project coaches throughout the year to build community and continue their own learning.
  3. Debriefing the year's work as process coaches.

As one coach put it, "Because of this person, I got more out of being a process coach than my project team got from me."

For coaching the coaches—and all of us—about a culture of development, it is our pleasure to recognize Judith Stein with an Infinite Mile Award for Leadership: Growing a Culture of Development.


Jackie Cancell

Our first recipient works strategically and thoughtfully, often making suggestions or providing guidance about the best way to tackle problems. She sticks with each issue until it is fully resolved, using whatever resources are necessary to find the most appropriate solution. She does this with humor and creativity.

HR has made tremendous strides directly attributed to this individual's technical skills, but yet this award is to recognize her initiative and customer service. She is conscientious and an excellent communicator. She always clarifies anything that might be confusing for our users. She attempts to accommodate any request – if she can't come up with a solution, chances are, there is no solution. As one nominator put it, "She lets me interrupt her and never makes me feel like I'm bothering her—even though she's typically knee deep in another project and I probably am bothering her!"

Her unique perspective has been very helpful when planning new projects. In addition, she is very independent in how she handles her work. Many of her tasks are accomplished in a way that you don't even know she's been working on it.

Because she provides the best in customer service with diligence, insight, and style, it is our pleasure to recognize Jackie Cancell with an Infinite Mile Award for Initiative and Customer Focus.

Izzy Choute

Our second recipient in this category is always willing to take on any task or project, with a positive attitude. She shows a thorough interest in whatever she is working on, and always approaches the work at hand with an open mind. Follow-through is always important, and she makes sure to do a quick check-in, even when her schedule is full with projects and tasks requiring great attention to detail.

This person personifies customer services. She always greets everyone first thing in the morning with her sincere hello and ready smile. When asked to assist with an issue, she always ends with "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

As her nominators commented:

  • She is warm and gracious under stress.
  • She is tactful in dealing with difficult and demanding visitors and she never shows exasperation.
  • She does not hesitate to find out the answers if she is not sure and is diligent about getting back to me.
  • It would be wonderful if everyone could stride to be even half of the employee that this person is, which she does seemingly without effort, each and every day.

For her gracious style, impeccable customer service skills, and commitment to doing a great job, it is our pleasure to recognize Izzy Choute with an Infinite Mile Award for Initiative and Customer Focus.

Bob Muti

This person provides an exemplary level of customer service to both individuals and managers. He has handled difficult situations with such grace and composure that the individual often ends the conversation with a "thank you for making this difficult issue" easier. His customers' comments really say it all. Here are just a few:

He is extraordinarily wise, thoughtful, and knowledgeable; he reads the needs of the client with care, and responds with highly-textured advice—advice that works with the realities of the client, and without the slightest baggage of "bureaucratic" posturing.

He is someone I trust completely—to maintain discretion, to be politically sensitive, to handle matters ethically and judiciously, all the while maintaining the client's best interests in mind. Even though he has a huge client population, he always has time to talk, and does so without seeming harried or stressed; in his conversations he talks to the client as if s/he is the most important concern at the moment.

He is excellent in taking initiative to solve some of the bigger problems through training and through coaching. He is exceptional – one of the best.

For delivering the highest standard of customer service in a kind and generous manner, it is our pleasure to recognize Bob Muti with an Infinite Mile Award for Initiative and Customer Focus