Topics Map > Ballot Statements

SMPH CASI Election Statements

Jess Benton, Graduate Medical Education (GME) Coordinator, Ophthalmology & Visual Science

Diversity in perspective is crucial in making positive change. This can be in streamlining processes, advocating for Academic Staff needs/support, professional development opportunities, communal growth/development, and continual quality improvement in the service of UW-Madison’s multiple audiences. I just completed my first year as a Graduate Medical Education (GME) Coordinator and an employee at UW-Madison. For 21+ years, I served learners, faculty, leadership, stakeholders, and the greater community in a variety of roles through the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). Working in a different higher education system gives me a unique perspective on process improvement, student support and access, growing DEI initiatives, creating safe spaces, and representing our programs, the College, and the greater community. My experience in serving/leading committees include, but are not limited to: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Organizational Communication, New Employee Mentorship, training/facilitating small groups, adjunct teaching, event coordination and recruitment/retention of both adjunct faculty and new advisory committee members. Educationally, I have a BS in Political Science/International Studies (UW-Stevens Point), MS in Business Management (Cardinal Stritch University), and an advanced certificate in Diversity & Inclusion (Cornell University). I am a advocate for personal/professional development, celebrating diversity, encouraging a learning environment for staff and students, and provoking positive change/continuous improvement. As a new employee with a higher education background, I see processes and policies through a different lens than veteran SMPH employees. Having a blend of both serving on CASI ensures that growth gaps, blind spots, and unique solutions are brought forth for the betterment of all. I am passionate about shared information/best practices, exploring innovations that encourage working smarter/not harder, improving efficiencies, being student-focused, and solution-driven. I will bring to CASI an eye for collaboration, innovation, and successfully conquering unimaginable projects with limited resources. I am a proponent of celebrating ALL milestones/successes, turning failures into learning opportunities, asking “why”, “why not”, & “what if”, incurably curious and eager to learn how my role impacts not only the UW-Madison SMPH, but how my puzzle piece fits in the greater visage. Thank you for your consideration.

Tola Ewers, Lecturer, Population Health Sciences; Clinical Research Coordinator II, Medicine/Infectious Diseases

I’m seeking re-election to CASI because I believe I can help sustain momentum we’ve built in our efforts to be an engaged and included voice in SMPH matters affecting us. I am committed to building an inclusive environment for all members of our SMPH community. I believe that being inclusive translates to being intentional in giving voice to those with a vested interest in the decisions that occur. I have been connected to campus as an employee in some capacity since 1997; most of my tenure has been in SMPH’s departments of Medicine, Family Medicine and Community Health, and Population Health Sciences, both before and after earning my M.S. and Ph.D. from UW-Madison's School of Education. I wear two hats as an SMPH employee: lecturer in the Spring semester for a Population Health Sciences course on translational and outcomes research, and year-round as a clinical research/health services research coordinator in the Department of Medicine. This blended identity affords me an opportunity to shape the educational experiences of learners while also engaging in the practical side of research. I believe this split scope of responsibilities enhances insights and ideas I bring to CASI conversations. While on CASI, I have served on internal-to-CASI subcommittees and SMPH-level groups, including: I am the CASI representative on the SMPH Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC) which provides oversight and guidance on SMPH policy standards, policy development, revision, routine review, coordination of procedures, and recommendation for approval to the SMPH Dean’s Leadership Team or the designated governance body. I was a member of the Equity, Inclusion and Engagement Workgroup which developed the SMPH Policy Development and Review Toolkit. This equity toolkit provides guidance and structure for the development of new, and examination of existing, policies to ensure a systemic approach for equitable outcomes. I facilitated the development of the glossary component of the toolkit. I assisted with the logistics of the Fall 2023 CASI-sponsored All-Staff Forum. I was CASI rep on SMPH’s Performance Management and Development Program work group. We oversaw SMPH’s adaptation and implementation of the campus-mandated electronic staff evaluation initiative. I served as a CASI self-study subcommittee member that shaped the CASI Five-Year Strategic Plan. This Fall, I became the District 21 representative for the UW-Madison Academic Staff Assembly.

Angela Gifford, Clinical Research Manager, Neurology

As a current SMPH CASI representative, I am excited to be running for reelection to serve on behalf of SMPH staff. During my time on the SMPH CASI board, I have helped manage our staff spotlight series, assisted in keeping our webpage up to date, and have contributed to helping shape our committee's growth and bylaws. I wish to continue serving in CASI as I feel the SMPH CASI provides an important voice in its communications with school leaders. Further, the SMPH CASI provides space for staff to stay up to date on the latest school policies and to raise concerns when staff needs are not being met. I have been working within SMPH in the realm of clinical research since 2021 and in my time have gained insight for many of the challenges faced by current SMPH staff, both internal to our school and across the UW system. If reelected, I would continue to serve to the best of my ability as a voice for our school's staff and I would begin to serve as the committee chair in 2024. Thank you for your consideration.

Janae Goodrich, Researcher III, Population Health Institute

I have been a member of SMPH academic staff for over 15 years. I started my employment as a student hourly at UWPHI for a year before being hired as a full staff member. In my time, I have seen both the positive aspects of SMPH and University employment, and I have experienced challenges related to bureaucracy and the hierarchy of University culture. I have both supervised and mentored staff over the years, and I lead and serve as a PI on several evaluation research projects focusing on behavioral health interventions. Most of these projects have been at the intersection of behavioral health and the criminal justice system. I have taken several UW trainings including the Principles of Supervision Management Course. Over the past several years, I have dedicated significant time immersing myself in DEI learning, unlearning, and making efforts to change my personal and professional practices. I served on the SMPH DEI Policy Assessment Team, a DEI-related policy assessment team within UWPHI, and I was lucky to be selected to participate in UW’s Leadership Institute. I am passionate about improving systems and structures so that they best serve and bring out the best in the individuals they impact. I am a committed member of SMPH. I recognize both the strengths of SMPH and the opportunities for improvement. I have been fortunate to be afforded with opportunities to participate in learning and to advocate for change, and I am committed to continuing this work into the future.

Nicole Senter, Department Administrator, Medical History and Bioethics

I would love the opportunity to serve as a representative for Academic Staff at the SMPH CASI. I am a Department Administrator in Medical History and Bioethics, and I have MS in Project Management (2022), and a BS in Business Administration (2015). In addition to my education and work experience, I served on the Academic Staff Personal Policy and Procedures Committee (PPPC) in 2019 as a member, and from 2020-2023 as a co-chair. Since 2021, I have been a member of the I&T Leadership Conference, and it has been a great way to learn more about the I&T community at UW-Madison. Much like the role of a CASI rep, in PPPC we reviewed and clarified current P&P’s, as well as provided feedback on new policies that were being introduced. I really enjoyed my role there, asking questions on why a policy was in place, who it impacted, and how we could improve the policy to help AS employees. With the Committee members being from all different colleges, and positions, we received a lot of perspectives on the policies. The part I miss most about serving on PPPC, and why I want to join SMPH CASI, is the in-depth (and often lively!) discussions on why a policy should, or shouldn’t, be changed. We had to look at the whole picture, to determine who the change would impact, and how it would change other University policies, and the legalities of that change. When looking at current policy, I am always asking myself why the policy was enacted, who it impacts, why it was made, what the future of that policy looks like, and if the policy change will make employees lives better.

Brianna Torres, Research Specialist, Hematology

When I arrived in Wisconsin, I was initially employed at Millipore-Sigma. After some time, I noticed several groups catering to underrepresented communities (Women, LGBTQ+, Veterans, etc.) that met frequently. While there was an I’M Able (disability-focused) group nationally for Millipore-Sigma, it seemed it was inactive at our site. With the help of a colleague, I was able to start holding meetings for I’M Able locally. Our goal was to create a community where we could discuss issues we were facing, workshop them alongside peers, and raise attention to potentially non-accessible procedures and policies. I also participated in the organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion book club, held nationally. To close our book club, we spoke to the DE&I board of Millipore-Sigma, and I was very intrigued by their response to the book we had read. The book was on neurodiversity and how that impacts how someone navigates the world. When asked what changes they would make given the new information they had learned, they said nothing. They explained that if an accommodation was needed, it is up to the employees to advocate for themselves, but I believe we should want an inherently inclusive workplace. Hearing lived experiences from underrepresented communities should actively inform the practices of our company. Policies and procedures should frequently be evaluated, and as we learn more about obstacles someone may face, we should work towards eliminating those. As someone who appears able-bodied but has a physical disability, advocacy is imperative to the way I navigate the world, education, and the workplace. Accessibility is not just something we should consider; it is something we should prioritize. By creating a workplace that is safe and inclusive to all identities, we will attract a wider pool of incredibly talented professionals. In addition to that, we will help retain staff and ultimately cultivate an environment where employees feel able to bring their entire selves to work. While I have only been here at UW SMPH for a few months, I have been through the accommodations process and was incredibly thankful for the positive experience. I hold DE&I very closely to my heart and have been involved in several advocacy-based organizations both during my undergraduate career and my professional career; I hope to continue to be an advocate and resource to my peers.

Michaela Van Hierden, Project Manager, Surgery

I have been with SMPH for three years. I first worked in research and am now in administration as a Project Manager. I began my career as a clinician, providing direct patient care as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist (CEP) at UW Health. While I no longer practice as an EP, I remain up to date on my clinical certifications and skills. I have found that my clinical background and work experience has helped me build connections in SMPH because I can speak to and understand the unique needs of our clinical staff. Having now experienced employment with our institution as an academic staff member, I have become increasingly more aware and passionate about academic staff issues.

To say our institution is complex is an understatement. Our complexities are also our strengths; however, it is easy for certain groups to feel unseen or forgotten. Despite the majority of our employees being academic staff, it often feels like the focus is elsewhere. I admit to having felt this way myself as well as heard this from many other academic staff members. I believe this has resulted in the perceived, and real decline in staff engagement.

As a CEP, I have always been passionate about wellbeing and have been in the “wellness” field for over 10 years. I intentionally put quotations around wellness because our culture’s definition of wellness has historically been problematic. For many, wellness means 10,000 step challenges, going on a diet, or simply guilt and shame about factors that are largely outside of one’s control. I can happily say the culture around wellbeing is shifting and the time is now to take ownership in defining what it means for our institution. Being engaged and connected to your work is a vital part of wellbeing and directly correlated with equitable polices and safe and inclusive environments. I intentionally transitioned out of patient care to address wellbeing at the system and institutional levels. Serving on the Committee on Academic Staff Issues (CASI) would allow me to do that while building connection and learning from others.

In addition to my formal title of Project Manager, I serve as the operational lead for all culture, climate, and wellbeing initiatives in the Department of Surgery. I solely manage the Project Portfolio in this area and co-lead the Department’s Culture and Climate Committee. I work alongside department leadership on initiatives, assessment, and program development in these spaces. I also serve on the SMPH Building Community Steering Committee and was a Subject Matter Expert last year on a project team whose focus was wellbeing in our complex institution. I am active in local and national Culture groups such as Culture First and Culture Con, and I am eager to become more involved with CASI to better serve in my current role. I feel that my unique work experience combined with my personal passion would make me a useful addition to the group.   

I appreciate your consideration!

Paul Westerman, Assistant Program Coordinator, Medicine-Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship Programs

University Service and Engagement: Assistant Program Coordinator for Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship Programs, Department of Medicine, UWSMPH Elected by the Academic Staff Assembly to PDRC Mentee in 2022-2023 ASMC Mentor Match Program Enrolled in Principles of Supervision and Management Certificate Program My background in medical education equips me with the skills and abilities necessary to successfully serve the University of Wisconsin as a member of the SMPH CASI. This is illustrated by my status as being elected by the Academic Staff Assembly to the Professional Development and Recognition Committee and as a Mentee in the 2022-2023 ASMC Mentor Match Program. From both experiences I have been able to observe and learn how academic staff committees successfully govern. This has inspired me with the desire to further support the needs of academic staff through the operations of CASI advising the Dean on the development of policies and procedures related to academic staff. Well into my second year as an Assistant Program Coordinator for Cardiovascular Medicine Fellowship Programs at UWSMPH my duties include ensuring accreditation standards are met through faculty cardiology conference offerings to fellows. I have been afforded the opportunity of knowing the importance of academic staff having the ability to contribute their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions for the successful operation of the University of Wisconsin.

KeywordsSMPH CASI   Doc ID132996
OwnerLesley F.GroupThe Office of the Secretary/ Academic Staff
Created2023-11-27 10:42:37Updated2023-11-27 11:40:26
SitesThe Office of the Secretary/ Academic Staff
Feedback  0   0