Employee of the Month - Misty Mazzara

April 2016, General Medical Disciplines

It is often said that dedicated employees “wear many hats,” but in Misty Mazzara’s case, it’s more than just a metaphor… she actually has been filling more than one role for the department. Starting in July 2015 and running through this April, Misty added a considerable challenge to her role as program manager for education and operations: she has also been serving as an interim division manager.

It’s a terrific illustration of what Misty says she likes most about working at Stanford: “The opportunities here are endless, and I work with outstanding faculty. There is certainly a culture of innovation here that keeps my work intellectually exciting and challenging every single day.” The opportunity and challenge are perfect for Misty right now. While moving around for a decade with her husband, who had been in the Navy, it was difficult for Misty to sustain her own professional ambitions. But in 2012 they ended up at Stanford for a new period of their lives: a joint degree program for him and an opportunity for her to focus on her career.

Career advancement at a different level

Misty’s opportunity, it turns out, is in creating and solidifying opportunities for others. “She has helped me personally,” says Baldeep Singh, “get our faculty submission for regional and national awards with great success.” Evaleen Jones explains it like this: “Misty facilitates completion of required hospital staff and academic administrative activities, gently prompts us to get things completed and helps in all ways possible.  She understands that as clinicians we have a priority to our patients – and she seems to make her priority the smooth daily functioning of young professionals on the rise.” Eva Weinlander agrees. She says, “Misty hands things to us ‘on a silver platter’ with the vast majority of the leg work already done. She is the glue that keeps my division and all the various important parts of it moving forward.”

And there are many moving parts. For example, Misty coordinates Stanford Medicine Clinical Summer Internships for high school and pre-med students and facilitates educational and professional development for faculty. She also manages several other processes, including faculty appointments (new hires), hospital credentialing and award recommendations.

But “coordinates” and “manages” are hardly sufficient ways to talk about what Misty does, and her colleagues phrase it much better. “She is tenacious, doesn't take ‘no’ for an answer lightly, sees beyond the status quo and tirelessly embraces the challenges inherent to her work with confidence and conviction,” says Amelia Sattler. “During a recent transition in my position, she spent countless hours and endless energy coordinating with numerous people to miraculously bring all of the pieces together and ultimately exceed my hope for the best possible outcome.”

Erika Schillinger references Misty’s “indefatigable spirit” and her “meaningful, creative and substantive” contributions. Kirsti Weng says she has “unflinchingly taken on more and more work as the division has undergone reorganization” and calls her “the current backbone of the division.” And Kelley Skeff describes her as “the proverbial upbeat, can-do-it, how-will-that-help-the-whole-group, how-can-I-help-you administrator.”

The positive attitude has persisted in the face of quite a heavy workload, according to Tomiko Oskotsky. She says, “Misty is one of those people that you can always rely on. She has an overwhelming workload now and remains super friendly, super approachable and super helpful.  She is Superwoman, literally!”

The bigger picture

While so many of these “super” contributions require deep immersion in the day-to-day, Misty also makes it a priority to consider the Department of Medicine from a strategic vantage point, and so she works on planning and problem solving at the administrative and operations level. “With faculty all over the Bay Area,” says Misty, “it’s important to keep faculty and staff connected and engaged.” And according to her colleagues, it’s clear Misty is succeeding with both connection and engagement. Says Lauren Cheung, “Misty always goes out of her way to make sure she can meet with you face-to-face and comes to each meeting with a smile on her face.”

Gita Dehnad says, “She always has time to listen, time to give a hand, time to just say hello. She is pleasant and kind and a fearless leader who is constantly at work in creating a pleasant and inviting and productive work environment.” Amanda Pecoraro also notes Misty’s role in creative an inviting atmosphere: “Misty is warm and welcoming and always has an open door to lend a hand.  She never brushes you off and always does her best to help solve issues.”

True to Misty’s vision, this plays out both one-on-one and division-wide, says Sang-ick Chang: “Misty works tirelessly, seemingly every night and every weekend, to ensure that the needs of the division and our faculty are met and that everyone feels fully nurtured and supported. She never says no and always responds nearly immediately. She pushes others to perform at a higher level because of her own internal standards and expectations. We are so lucky and grateful for her leadership in the division.”