The Presidential Award is one of the highest honors given to Duke University faculty and staff. The awards program recognizes full-time employees who have excelled in their positions, having made exceptional contributions to the university and health system during the previous calendar year. The program annually presents Presidential Awards and Meritorious Service Awards in five categories.
This year’s 2015 honorees were recognized at the Presidential Awards luncheon, held Thursday, April 14, at the Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club. Five Duke employees received the Presidential Award, including the Duke Cancer Institute’s Jean Hartford-Todd. Mairead Alcorn, formerly affiliated with the Duke Cancer Center Raleigh, was among the 23 employees receiving the Meritorious Award.
Celebrating 30 years of service this year, Jean Hartford-Todd, CCLS, is a child life specialist with the Duke Cancer Institute’s patient support program. She received a 2015 Presidential Award in the Clinical/Professional Non Managerial category. A 1984 graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington, Hartford-Todd joined Duke in 1986, accepting a role as a child life specialist in Pediatrics. Eleven years later joined The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor and in 2012 she teamed up to serve with the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program.
“Jean’s collaborating nature and willingness to go the extra mile for families is beyond incredible,” wrote her supervisor Tracy Berger, MS, LMFT, medical family therapist with the Duke Cancer Patient Support Program. “She has enhanced the reputation of Duke University and Health System by daily exemplifying our mission and values.”
In her nomination, Berger shares how Hartford-Todd went beyond the call of duty to, over the course of two years, facilitate biweekly sessions specifically designed for four young children of a terminally ill cancer patients. In doing so, Hartford-Todd equipped the children to better navigate the many emotions resulting from their mother’s illness and eventual loss.
As a certified child life specialist at the cancer center, Hartford-Todd co-facilitates KidsCan!, a group program meeting monthly to support children, ages four to 18, who have a parent or significant caregiver diagnosed with cancer.
“I love feeling as though I fill a need that is often unmet when I am working with families who are living with cancer,” said Hartford-Todd, who in 2007 received the Excellence in Cancer Patient Education award from the Cancer Patient Education Network (CPEN). “So many people want to be honest with their children about their cancer but don’t know how. I use education and play to translate technical medical information into words families can use in ongoing conversations about the illness.”
Hartford-Todd has served on many groups and committees. She is a member of the Child Life Council, Cancer Patient Education Network and the Association for Play Therapy.
“As much as the recognition for my work, I appreciate having the opportunity to shine the light on the often unnoticed needs of families facing cancer,” Hartford-Todd said. “This award allows me to share my passion with others and to spread the important message about the work we do here at the Duke Cancer Center.”
Mairead Alcorn (pictured in the circle above), received the Meritorious Award in the Clerical/Office Support Category. Alcorn began her career at Duke in 2003 in Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs. She recently joined Duke Network Services, having previously served for more than five years as an administrative assistant at Duke Cancer Center Raleigh.
“Mairead views her job description as the minimum expectation,” wrote Lindsay MacDiarmada, MHA, administrative director for Duke Cancer Center Raleigh, in her nomination letter to Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. “She doesn’t have an easy job. Our program is growing rapidly. As we toil away at a conference table, racking our brains to find ways to help people enjoy their work, Mairead is talking with staff, smiling and saying, ‘How can I help?’”
Alcorn said the recognition, although unexpected, is exciting and meaningful.
“It was a huge privilege and honor to receive the president’s award for meritorious service,” she said. “And I’m beyond proud to receive this award.”
Alcorn went on to say that she loves the type of work she does as it enables her to help others. “To make someone else’s day easier is an awesome feeling.”
Presidential Award winners received a Presidential Medallion and $1,000. Meritorious Service Award recipients received a plaque and $100. For more information on the annual Presidential Awards program, visit Duke Human Resources.