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myHR: October 17, 2018

The Intercultural Leadership Team, a Model of Collaboration

Group_ILT_200“Whenever somebody asks me what I do for a living, I always have a lot of fun describing this incredible job and the great team in my office,” says Ryan Villanueva, Program Coordinator in International Student and Scholar Services and member of Penn’s Intercultural Leadership Team.

Since 2006, the Intercultural Leadership Team has worked together to manage Penn’s Intercultural Leadership Program (ILP). Every year this group of professionals from around the world--Rodolfo (Rudie) Altamirano, Batsirai Bvunzawabaya, Valerie De Cruz, Katie Bonner, Yuhong He, Umi Howard, Matthew LeRoy, Soumya Madabhushi, Sarvelia Nonantzin Peralta-Duran, Julianne Reynolds, Charquinta Sullivan and Ryan Villanueva--combine their time and talents to enhance Penn’s intercultural learning and planning for the program’s major event, the ILP Weekend.

In April 2018, the group, along with former team member Shaina Adams-El Guabli, received a Models of Excellence Award for their service.

Created by Altamirano, ILP grew into a joint effort by the Office of the Provost for Global Initiatives, International Student and Scholar Services, the Provost for Student Life, Weingarten Learning Resources Center, Albert M. Greenfield Intercultural Center, Office of Student Affairs, Counseling and Psychological Services, Wharton Global Consulting Office, the Lipman Family Prize and the Graduate Student Center.

As part of the group’s work, the Intercultural Leadership Team develops a curriculum to build Penn students’ intercultural competency, creating a safety zone where first-year students can address their understanding of different cultures, so they can function successfully in an interconnected global society.

Although the ILP Weekend event takes place over a few days, its impact can be felt for years and across borders. After his ILP Weekend experience, alum Ben Brockman says he was “inspired to continue to engage with all the diversity and international programs Penn had to offer.” Brockman chose to major in International Studies and travel the world from Ghana to Switzerland. After graduation and spending a summer working for the State Department, he now enjoys a career working overseas.

The Intercultural Leadership Team’s success stems from its unique interdepartmental collaboration. “No single department could execute such a complex program in isolation,” said Batsirai Bvunzawabaya, who nominated her fellow team members for a Models of Excellence award last fall. 

Just as the ILP program teaches intercultural competency to students, the team also demonstrates the importance of building faculty and staff partnerships across schools and centers to advance Penn’s mission. “There are so many people on campus who are eager to build relationships and partner,” says Valerie De Cruz, Director of Greenfield Intercultural Center.

2019 Models of Excellence Nomination Deadline Extended
If you know any examples of outstanding teamwork at Penn, nominate them for a 2019 Models of Excellence award. This is the 20th anniversary of Penn’s premiere staff recognition program and an ideal opportunity to spotlight successful collaborations like the Intercultural Leadership Team. All nomination materials are due Friday, October 26.

Visit for details.

Build Your Financial Literacy and Retirement Security

red-lego-dollar-sign_200Retirement security is a vital piece of your financial wellbeing. Participating in Penn’s Matching and Supplemental retirement plans is one of the best ways to build that security, but are you making the most of this opportunity? In recognition of National Retirement Security Week 2018, Penn offers a series of programs by TIAA and Vanguard to help you optimize your retirement plan investments.

Live On-Campus Events
To register for these financial literacy events, click the links below.

TIAA Presentations
Tuesday, October 22, ARCH 108, 3601 Locust Walk
Money at Work 1: Foundations of Investing, 11am – noon
Money at Work 2: Sharpening Investment Skills, October 17, 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Vanguard Presentations
Wednesday, October 25, Houston Hall
Create Your Plan, 11am – noon
Vanguard’s Principles of Investing, 1:30pm – 2:30pm
Benefits-eligible attendees will earn 10 Be in the Know Bonus Action points for these financial-wellness events.

Online Digital Challenge
You can also take TIAA’s Digital Challenge, October 22 through November 5. The Digital Challenge lets you explore secure 24/7 access, simplified account management and online tools and resources. Earn a Digital Challenge superstar badge and you’ll be eligible to win an Apple Watch.

Remember, Penn’s Matching and Supplemental retirement plans allow benefits-eligible faculty and staff members to enroll or make changes at any time. Simply visit the Saving for Retirement webpage and click Enroll or Make changes.

Lights, Camera, Job Interview!

bearded-man-using-web-cam-200Like many organizations, Penn uses Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform that allows job applicants to record answers to interview questions from any location at convenient times. This technology lets you get a virtual foot in the door, but it can be a bit intimidating if you’re not familiar with video interviewing.

Learn how to make the right impression at the Using Spark Hire Video Interviewing workshop, October 23, 12:30pm to 1:30pm. This free class will show you how Spark Hire fits into Penn’s recruiting efforts. You’ll also learn tips and techniques for giving a star performance in your next video interview.

Register for Using Spark Hire Video Interviewing and be ready for your close-up and new career opportunities.

A Drug-Free Workplace

close-up-hands-200The University of Pennsylvania is committed to maintaining a drug-free workplace for the health and safety of the entire Penn community. Drug and alcohol abuse can harm not only the users, but also their family, friends, and coworkers. As Penn observes National Drug-Free Work Week, please take the time to review the University’s drug and alcohol policies.
Penn’s Drug and Alcohol Policies

Penn prohibits the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, sale, possession or use of any drug by its employees in its workplace. Complete policy details are available online:

Drug-Free Workplace Policy
The University Alcohol and Drug Policy

Understanding Addiction
Addiction is a serious disease, but many effective treatments are available. Contact Health Advocate for facts about addiction, recovery, and support services.

Help Is Here
If you or a family member has a substance abuse problem, we encourage you to seek help. Penn provides free, confidential counseling services for you and your immediate family members through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP will assist you with challenges that may interfere with your personal or professional life, including substance abuse.

For more information about the EAP’s counseling and referral services, visit the Employee Assistance Program web page or contact the Employee Assistance Program 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 866-799-2329.

You can also refer to Penn’s addiction treatment publication for information about treatment benefits and resources.

myHR Reader Pro Tips

email-overload-200Last month, we invited myHR readers to share their Penn Pro Tips for productivity, and they delivered. Here’s one of the helpful tips we received from Shannon A. Connelly, Director of External Engagement, Wharton MBA Admissions & Financial Aid. Many faculty and staff members receive dozens of emails a day. Connelly’s systematic approach can help you manage the flood.

Email can overwhelm quickly, and I try to touch an email only once, doing one of four things: 
  • Delete 
  • Respond and delete 
  • File away 

If I can’t take immediate action, then I leave in my inbox with a follow-up notification, reminding me when/how to take action.

I scroll through my inbox ruthlessly throughout the day, working to eliminate the clutter as frequently as possible. As long as I keep my inbox below a certain number, I don’t feel too overwhelmed.

Thanks to everyone who sent in pro tips to share. Look for new workplace wisdom from Penn faculty and staff members in upcoming myHR newsletters.

If you have a tip to share, please send it to Describe your tip in up to 200 words. Everyone who sends in a tip between now and December 20, 2018 will be entered in a prize drawing for a productivity pack.


Healthy Meals: Thai Garlic & Pepper Chicken

Thai-Chicken200Try some pink-ribbon cooking during Breast Cancer Awareness month with this simple, subtle, and fresh 10-minute meal for family and friends. 

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


Did You Know: ReThink Your Footprint for a Greener Campus

Penn’s Rethink Your Footprint campaign is underway. The program, which began October 15 and runs through October 19, provides programs, events, and activities that promote environmental sustainability. ReThink Happenings include recycling fairs, a clothing swap, e-waste collection, and Greenfest.