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myHR: March 22, 2017

Katie Carlin Birch: Proactive Partner and Pillar of Excellence

Katie Carlin Birch

“Katie is always organized, proactive, and a pleasure to work with,” says Vanessa Joseph, Associate Director of Finance for Parking, Transportation, Penn Ice Rink, and Mail Services (PTIRM). “She’s always willing to roll up her sleeves and help. She takes action without being asked. She involves the right people, and she move things forward.”

Taking the initiative to move PTIRM forward is part of what earned Katie Carlin Birch the 2017 Pillars of Excellence Award. As Financial Administrative Coordinator for PTIRM, Carlin Birch works as a partner with the operational units, not only processing invoices and handling payroll, but helping improve processes and performance. For instance, when she saw the recurring challenges of hiring seasonal staff at the Ice Rink, she redesigned the payroll process for hiring and onboarding. The new process is more efficient and effective, and the documentation she developed now serves as a training guide for new staff.

No detail is too small for Carlin Birch to ignore. In addition to streamlining processes, she regularly spots errors with vendor invoices, such as misapplied sales tax, charges for services that have already been paid for, and other charges for discontinued services. Each of these discoveries translates into direct savings for the PTIRM departments.

“She takes her fiduciary responsibility seriously, and it makes a difference in our operations and, in turn, improves our ability to fund the University’s overall mission,” Joseph says.

PTIRM is financially complex, yet Carlin Birch has an in-depth knowledge of each of the operations. This makes her a valued partner to her colleagues in finance, PTIRM, and across Business Services.

“The net effect of Katie’s contributions is seen in our improved operational efficiency. The business are doing well. Our quality of service continues to improve, and our financial positions have also improved,” says Brian Manthe, Director of Business Services.

“She’s a team player, and she’s the kind of person everyone wants on their team,” Manthe adds.

That PTIRM team will be on hand for the Models of Excellence Ceremony on March 28 at 4pm in Irvine Auditorium to see Carlin Birch receive her Pillars of Excellence Award from University President Amy Gutmann, along with the other Models of Excellence nominees.

“I’m excited and honored,” Carlin Birch says of receiving the award. “It’s amazing to be recognized among all the hard-working and talented people here at Penn.”

Penn's HealthTrails Wellness Adventure


HealthTrails®, Penn’s six-week wellness challenge, begins March 27. Take a virtual trip through trails in the Pacific Northwest or along Snowman Trek in the Himalayan Mountains to boost your energy and reach new heights in your journey to wellbeing. Registration ends Friday, March 31, so sign up for your HealthTrails adventure now.

HealthTrails is an inspiring, interactive way to track your fitness progress. Earn credit for Be in the Know or just for fun by logging your steps, hours of sleep, and times of active relaxation each day.

Do what you like! You can participate on you own or as a team with your coworkers. All activity counts. Whether you bike, garden, or swim, you can convert your activity to steps using the conversion table.

Reach 300 miles over the six-week challenge to earn 20 Bonus Action points for Be in the Know. You’ll also be entered a drawing for exciting prizes!

Fun features include:

  • Easy device integration with Fitbit®, Jawbone®, Garmin®, Fitbug, Moveable®, Sony Lifelog®, or Yoo, or manual tracking with use of MapWalk™ route planner.
  • Friendly team competition with your Penn colleagues as an option to keep you motivated.
  • Social support with Trail Mates and an interactive Trail Talk message board.
  • Easy-to-make healthy recipes to fuel success.
  • Mobile app to make logging your results a breeze.

Visit Penn’s StayWell portal for details on HealthTrails and other online wellness opportunities.

Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day on April 27


On April 27, Penn welcomes children and teens to campus for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Annually, this national event offers youth 9-15 years old a unique opportunity to explore career interests and have fun. Whether you’re a parent, other family member, or mentor, faculty and staff can sponsor a young guest to participate.

More than just a career day, the slate of activities gives participants enriching hands-on experiences in Penn’s dynamic, diverse work environments. In the process, they’ll learn new ideas and maybe even discover exciting new possibilities for their future.

Schools, departments, and groups across Penn are collaborating to offer more than 25 activities this year, including these new sessions:

  • Explore a real laboratory and learn about the people and machines that turn blood samples into medical research information
  • Pick up a pedometer from Human Resources to track your steps throughout the day
  • Be a good sport to build both physical and mental skills. Sessions include:
    • Tennis Instruction
    • Open Courts: Tennis and Basketball
    • Athlete for a Day
    • Soccer Tennis: two sports in one!
  • See Penn Museum’s Cultures in the Crossfire, featuring ancient objects and contemporary art from Syria and Iraq

Popular returning sessions include hands-on workshops from the School of Nursing, Penn Museum, Penn Dental Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery, and Information Systems and Computing (ISC). Participants can also enjoy the Penn Relays, a book party, and activities from Penn Vet, Public Safety, Office of the VP for Finance and Treasurer, WXPN, and many other departments. 

See all of this year’s activities on the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day website. Registration opens on April 11 at 9am. Sessions include both limited and unlimited registration events. You may attend one limited registration activity and as many unlimited registration activities as you like. Space is limited for certain events, so be sure to sign up early

Please note that supervisor approval is required prior to participation. Participating parents and sponsors must accompany children to all activities, and you should work with your supervisors to ensure coverage for operational needs.

For more information about the national Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day event, visit

Healthy Meals: Lentil Salad with Olives, Mint and Feta


Skip those salty seasoning packets and use this simple recipe for full-flavored tacos.

Lentils are a great protein alternative that are high in fiber, folate, thiamin, and iron.  

Find the recipe here or send us your healthy recipes and tips.  

Did You Know? Free YMCA Day Passes

Give the Y a try with a free one-day family pass. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn about discount YMCA memberships for faculty and staff. To get your pass good for one-day use April 1-30, 2017, just download this form and present it with your PennCard at participating Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA location or Regional Y Alliances.