Three University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) employees have been recognized with University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents Staff Awards for 2020, and a professor from the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD) was honored with a USM Board of Regents Faculty Award earlier this year. These annual awards are the highest honors bestowed by the board to recognize exemplary staff or faculty achievement at USM institutions.
The staff recipients are Mishawn Smith, MPA, executive administrative assistant, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON); Mary Beth Gallico, CRA, administrator, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM); and Judith Edelman, MA, administrator, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, UMSOM. The faculty winner is Norbert Myslinski, PhD, associate professor, Department of Neural and Pain Sciences, UMSOD.
The Staff Awards honor non-exempt and exempt employees. Smith (non-exempt) and Gallico (exempt) each won in the category of Inclusion, Multiculturalism, and Social Justice, while Edelman (exempt) was honored in the Effectiveness and Efficiency category. For the Faculty Awards, Myslinski won in the category of Excellence in Public Service.
“I am so proud of each individual Board of Regents staff winner and the collective success of UMB for this award cycle,” says UMB Staff Senate president Kristy Novak, MS, associate director, student placements, UMSON. “UMB has such a wealth of resources across our diverse staff, and to see them acknowledged for the incredible work they do just goes to show how much of a large-scale positive impact they have across the UMB community.”
Mark A. Reynolds, DDS, PhD, MA, dean and professor, UMSOD, says of Myslinski: “Early in his career, Dr. Myslinski recognized the importance of nurturing aspiring young neuroscientists when he envisioned and founded the International Brain Bee. I am pleased that his commitment and work is being recognized with a USM Regents Faculty Award in Public Service.”
Each award carries a $2,000 prize provided by the USM institutions and the University System of Maryland Foundation.
Here’s a look at each award winner:
Smith was honored for her commitment to diversity and passion for making UMB a better, safer, and more inclusive place for people to work. In her UMSON role, she supports associate dean for diversity and inclusion Jeffrey Ash, EdD, and founded the Booked for Lunch Book Club, where faculty, staff, and students can have honest discussions and review books, literature, and media on diversity, social justice, and professional development. The book club was named one of Insight Into Diversity magazine’s 2020 Inspiring Affinity Group Award winners and will be featured in its August 2020 issue.
In addition, Smith is the chair of Stonewall Pride, a UMB affinity group under the Diversity Advisory Council (DAC) that strives to ensure that LGBTQ+ faculty, staff, students, and visitors feel welcome and have equality, inclusion, and respect. She also is a member of the executive board of GLSEN Maryland, which advocates for LGBTQ students, and volunteers with PTECH Maryland, a program in which school systems partner with community colleges and businesses to provide students with pathways from high school to college and careers.
“Since her childhood, Mishawn has always been an activist. Her grandmother would always say she should be a lawyer or politician,” Ash says. “Mishawn comes from a diverse family and was taught that regardless of background to treat everyone with dignity and respect. Mishawn’s mother often referred to her as a change-maker, a young Shirley Chisholm, because of her passion and advocacy for others.”
Smith, who worked in UMSOM’s Department of Pediatrics from 2011 to 2016 before joining UMSON’s Dean’s Office, says, “I am grateful and honored to receive this prestigious award. Thank you to the Board of Regents, UMB, and my colleagues internal and external who wholeheartedly support me and the work that I do. I am overwhelmed with joy.
“I believe that diversity and inclusion is about meeting people where they are. When you take the time to meet people where they are and truly listen to their needs, you can build relationships that respectfully value one another’s experiences and history to grasp a better understanding and acceptance of each other’s culture and differences.”
Mary Beth Gallico
Gallico, who has worked at UMB for 28 years including nearly 10 in her current position, was nominated by Gloria Reeves, MD, associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, UMSOM, who says, “Ms. Gallico has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to improving the culture of civility and inclusiveness on our campus.”
As a member of UMB’s Staff Senate, Gallico worked with representatives from DAC, the Faculty Senate, and Human Resource Services to create and implement a climate and engagement survey to the University community and use the results to shine a light on barriers to inclusion for women, the LGBTQ+ community, employees dealing with parenting/family crises, and individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups.
Gallico also led the Staff Senate’s Civility Campaign, which urged the UMB community to share thoughts and examples on what UMB’s core value of civility means to them, and she serves as an “Engagement Champion” to work with managers to help them engage, develop, and retain staff while also increasing connectedness and job satisfaction across campus.
“People like Ms. Gallico truly live UMB’s core values,” says Interim President Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS. “She deserves our utmost thanks for her role in elevating the dialogue in our community and building new initiatives to demonstrate that one person’s voice matters and change benefits all of us.”
Gallico says she was honored to be nominated for the award, let alone win it.
“This award means so much to me because I am dedicated and committed to practicing and increasing the awareness of civility,” she says. “In creating the concept of a Civility Campaign, it inspired me to bring my commitment and the UMB community together based on this UMB core value. This award reflects my hard work and dedication to a cause that can promote positive change.”
Edelman was nominated for the USM award by Asaf Keller, PhD, professor and interim chair, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, UMSOM, who estimates that she has saved the department more than $1.5 million over her 26-year tenure.
Keller notes that Edelman’s achievements include moving the noncapital asset inventory to an electronic tracking model, creating and implementing an innovative electronic grant management program to reduce personnel costs and increase efficiency, and creating an electronic resource management tool to show financial commitments across the department.
“Judith is honest, trustworthy, and unswervingly loyal to advancing the department’s welfare,” Keller says.
Jarrell concurs, saying, “Ms. Edelman has been excellent in her position with the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. Employed at UMB since 1994, she has the combination of a tremendous amount of institutional knowledge with an eye toward always improving the way she does her job.”
Edelman was “shocked and happy” upon learning of the USM award.
“I did not expect this at all, and I am grateful and proud to represent UMB,” she says. “The University offers our staff many opportunities for growth. We also interact with various professionals throughout the schools. There is never a boring day. I am happy to contribute to the department and be part of its growth. I enjoy supporting the faculty and contributing to their success.”
Myslinski is a renowned educator and 45-year UMSOD faculty member who has spread his passion for neuroscience and the study of the brain to students through publications, lectures, and innovative programs.
One such initiative is the International Brain Bee, a competition he founded in 1998 that is designed to motivate students to learn about the human brain and inspire them to consider careers in clinical and basic neuroscience. Participants are tested on their knowledge of the brain including dysfunctions and research.
He is chiefly responsible for growing the Brain Bee from 12 local chapters upon its founding to over 170 chapters around the world. More than 40 nations hold their own Brain Bees, and the national champions represent their countries in the International Championship, which is largely coordinated by Myslinski and last year hosted a record number of high school students from 28 countries and six continents.
Also, for 20 years beginning in the 1980s, Myslinski directed the High School Summer Biomedical Research Program at UMB, an eight-week, full-time, hands-on program for 30 poor and disadvantaged Maryland students. The annual program involved more than 75 faculty and staff from UMB schools and departments.
Myslinski also founded the International Youth Neuroscience Association, an organization dedicated to inspiring the next generation of neuroscientists. In 2016, he was named Science Educator of the Year by the Society for Neuroscience, the largest neuroscience organization in the world, for his commitment to training scientists dedicated to treating and researching cures for brain disorders.
“This University System of Maryland award is a reflection of my love of neuroscience education for everybody: the young and old, the rich and poor, the deaf and blind, and all those with special needs,” Myslinski says. “I accept it on behalf of the hundreds of organizations and thousands of colleagues in more than 50 countries who helped me inspire and motivate young men and women, the next generation of clinicians and researchers who will find treatments and cures for brain disorders.”