Employee of the Month – John Wolf

May 2018, Department of Medicine

John Wolf, clinical financial analyst for the Department of Medicine, is what one of his colleagues calls an “unsung hero.”  His behind-the-scenes work, in what he likes to describe as “financial archaeology,” is a backbone of the department, both crucial and often invisible.

A finance whiz

John’s work for the department means he is, as he puts it, the “go-to person” for data relating to clinical operations and faculty productivity.  “My data collection supports many of the DOM report systems, including our online DOM Compensation reporting tool,” he explains. He also produces a variety of monthly and quarterly reports, as well as uploads for annual faculty reviews and a massive national survey called the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) survey.

All this would be more than enough, but colleagues like Cathy Garzio, vice chair and director of finance and administration for the department, say John does more than just work: “I nominate him specifically because of his consistent, high quality effort on DOMComp, our bonus tool; his completion every single year (accurately and ahead of the deadline) of the very onerous MGMA production survey; and his fast and helpful responses to requests from our division managers for data, reports, analyses, etc.,” she says.  “John is quiet and effective and his understanding of the SHC clinical funds flow is essential to everything we do.”  Other colleagues describe him as “reliable” and “dedicated,” “a delight to work with.”

A Stanford history

John has worked at Stanford now for 21 years (as of this August 25th, he notes very precisely).  He enjoys “the intellectual and analytical demands” of the work, as well as his wonderful colleagues and collaborators.  He’s also proud of the department itself: “The Department of Medicine is a very large enterprise, but one with a unified mission of patient care, cutting-edge research, and first rate education,” he says.

He was “completely surprised and honored” by the recognition, which came along with cupcakes that spelled out OMG U R A Star. “I thought we were having a meeting on faculty compensation and the FY19 budget,” he says. “My colleagues were very good at keeping this a secret.”

“An absolute rock”

But what people also celebrate about John, beyond his terrific work ethic, is his work outside of Stanford.  His pre-Stanford biography is too long and varied to detail here, but includes time spent on multiple political campaigns in every role from envelope licker to campaign manager, eight years as an investigator of civil rights complaints filed against the United States government, and, currently, his time as a Stanford ABD PhD student in the Department of Anthropological Sciences.  He’s done archaeological fieldwork: in South America, mostly in the Peruvian Andes, but also in the Pacific Northwest, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Guatemala.  In addition to all this, he’s also currently an adjunct professor at Foothill College, where he teaches part-time in various fields including archaeology and anthropology.

“To truly appreciate John, you just need to take a moment to hear him talk about his passion, ‘The World of Archaeology,’ and his students,” says Christina Kasson, operations manager for oncology.  “That passion is what transfers over to his commitment and dedication to the Department of Medicine and his colleagues on a daily basis.”

Phyllis Bussey, oncology division manager, calls him “an absolute rock” (a fitting term for an archaeologist).  “I invited John to give a presentation at our monthly admin meeting and he is a talented and engaging speaker,” she says.  “John obviously loves his side job, maybe even more than Stanford.   Although we have never worked side-by-side, I consider John a trusted colleague, and a friend.”

And even more hobbies

In case John wasn’t busy enough, he also has more hobbies.  He’s an avid hiker and photographer, and a die-hard Giants fan.  As he puts it, “When I am in South America, I always keep an eye on the ESPN Desportes schedule to see when the Giants games are being broadcast.”