myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: August 7, 2019

Penn Supports Families During National Breastfeeding Month

Gender-Inclusive Nursing Graphic with Penn-Branded colors

Feeding your baby is a precious and unique opportunity for you to bond with your child. Ensuring their comfort, as well as your own, finding a quiet place, and taking burp breaks are all a part of creating a successful feeding routine. That’s why, in recognition of National Breastfeeding Month, Penn is offering a series of workshops and events to support all expecting and chest/breastfeeding parents.

Penn supports all parents whether you are currently expecting or in transition back to work. These services include free lactation consultations to help you meet your infant feeding goals, a lactation resource group that assists with the balance of chest/breastfeeding and work, a nutrition workshop led by Family Food, and a Lactation Plan Document to help you manage your needs.

Here’s a list of events to help support your breastfeeding and lactation needs:

  • Does That Really Work? The Truth Behind Fad Diets, 8/20, 12:30pm-1:30pm, 3624 Market Street, Suite 1A South. Instructors from Family Food will discuss the science and research behind current popular diets.
  • Wellness Walk for New and Expectant Parents, 8/26, 12pm-1pm, Locust Walk, College Hall. Practice self-care and take some time for yourself during this two-mile wellness walk. Bring a colleague, your water bottle, and your sneakers!
  • Lactation Consultations, 8/26, offered in one-hour periods from 8am-6pm. Receive an individualized, on-campus consultation to address your lactation and nutrition-related questions and concerns. This is a free consultation. Register for a day and time that works best for you.
  • Lactation Resource Group: Integrating Lactation and Work, 8/27, 12pm-1pm, PCAM, 12th Floor, Room 122. Whether you are an expecting, new, or experienced parent, this brown bag is designed to address lactation challenges, support a smooth transition back to work, and offer a chance to exchange tips and strategies with your colleagues. The event is held in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) and by Dr. Diane Spatz.

To find an on-campus lactation space, check out the lactation map on the HR website. 

For more information about Penn’s lactation supports and services, visit the Lactation Support Program webpage.

Be in the Know Campaign Year Countdown

African-American man's hand holding stopwatch.

The end of the Be in the Know wellness campaign year is just a few weeks away, but there’s still time for you to learn more about your well-being and earn incentives. Over 6,100 Penn faculty and staff members have participated, so don’t miss your opportunity. All Be in the Know 2018-2019 campaign activities are due by August 31, 2019.

If you’ve done Step 1, the biometric screening, be sure to complete Step 2, StayWell’s online health assessment. When you finish both of these two Core Actions for your first 100 points, you’ll earn a $100 cash incentive.

To score more points and incentives, continue with Step 3, Bonus Actions. Bonus Actions are opportunities to put your wellness knowledge into practice through health and well-being activities. Review the list of Bonus Actions and chose any combination to meet your goals. With Bonus Action points, you can earn up to $200 on top of the first $100 for a maximum of $300 for the campaign year.

Most Bonus Actions are automatically and confidentially reported to StayWell, such as on-campus Financial Wellness Events and nutrition counseling sessions with Family Food.  Some Bonus Actions, such as dental screenings and 5K walk/run participation, require you to submit a 2018-2019 Proof of Bonus Actions Form to AREUFIT in order for StayWell to record the points. By August 31, all your Bonus Actions must be completed and Proof of Bonus Actions Forms must be submitted in order to receive credit for all the points you’ve earned this campaign year.

Faculty and staff participants who rack up more than 350 total points qualify for Be in the Know VIP status. Be in the Know VIPs will receive a wellness gift and an invitation to a healthy reception to celebrate their achievement after the 2018-2019 campaign ends.

For complete program details, visit the Be in the Know web pages.

Are You Thinking About Retirement?

Hand holding sign that asks "What's your plan for retirement?"

If your retirement is within view, gather the right information about medical benefits and income, and start putting a plan in place that works for you by attending Penn’s semi-annual Thinking About Retirement presentations.

The presentations will be held on September 25, starting at 9am at the Inn at Penn. Specially designed for Penn staff and faculty, Thinking About Retirement presents three different concurrent workshops, each covering an important aspect of retiree benefits: Penn Benefits and Medicare, Income Options with TIAA, and Social Security.

At the Penn Benefits and Medicare session, representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, along with Benefits specialists from Human Resources, will explain the Rule of 75*, retirement healthcare options, and how they integrate with Medicare.

At Income Options with TIAA, a retirement plan counselor will discuss such topics as budgeting in retirement, income options, and investments.

During the Social Security session, a representative from the Social Security Administration will share valuable details about how this program impacts your retirement plans. You will also get an overview of Social Security benefits, eligibility rules, how to apply, benefits for your spouse or same-sex domestic partner, and more.

Benefits specialists from Penn Human Resources will be available throughout the event to answer your questions about retirement savings, health care, and other aspects of retiree benefits for you and your dependents.

To register for the presentations just click on the topic name in the table below or visit

Thinking About Retirement September 25 Sessions




Benefits and Medicare


Woodlands Ballroom A

Income Options with TIAA


Woodlands Ballroom C

Social Security


Woodlands Ballroom B

Benefits and Medicare


Woodlands Ballroom A

Income Options with TIAA


Woodlands Ballroom C

Social Security


Woodlands Ballroom B

Benefits and Medicare


Woodlands Ballroom A

Income Options with TIAA


Woodlands Ballroom C

Social Security


Woodlands Ballroom B

Remember that you can see an overall picture of your contribution elections at TIAA and/or Vanguard on Penn’s new retirement savings enrollment system Retirement@Work. Just log in with your PennKey and password. If you want to choose your investment funds or designate beneficiaries, simply click on the TIAA or Vanguard links throughout the Retirement@Work site.

* You are eligible to receive retiree health benefits if you meet the “Rule of 75”. This rule states that you must be a minimum of 55 years of age and have a minimum of 10 years of full-time service; if you meet both minimums, then the total of your age and years of service must equal at least 75.

Varvara Kountouzi Helps Penn Shape the Future with 3D Printing

Varvara Kountouzi, 2019 Model of Excellence Honoree,  pictured in office with plans before her.

Varvara Kountouzi, Head, Digital Media & Virtual Services, manages the Penn Biomedical Library’s 3D and poster printing lab. The service has printed over 3,000 objects since it opened in 2015. Kountouzi’s desk gives her a full view of the lab’s sample posters, featuring some of the unusual 3D items created in the space.

“We do print a lot of crazy things by anyone else’s standards because we’re in the sciences,” says Kountouzi.

Near the top of her list of unusual print projects was a mold for slicing brains. Kountouzi’s comfort with the leading edge has played an important part in her career as a Penn librarian. Her enthusiasm for learning, technology and finding new ways to support research led her to help start the successful 3D printing service. In recognition for this achievement, Kountouzi received a Models of Excellence Award in April 2019. The model maker became a model herself.

Kountouzi began her Penn career as an intern while earning her Library Science degree from Drexel University. She was hired as a full-time educational services librarian, but her role evolved to meet changing demands and take advantage of new technologies.

Kountouzi entered the 3D-printing world over five years ago when she read an inspiring article about medicine and 3D printing. That sparked the idea for a new service. At that time, nearly no university library had a high quality 3D printer available for students or researchers.

Fortunately, Kountouzi’s supervisor was open to new ideas. Kountouzi credits her former boss, Barbara Cavanaugh, now Assistant University Librarian for STEM & Business Libraries and Director of the Biomedical Library, for her willingness to listen.

Kountouzi says, “With all the challenges, your supervisor is your best ally. If that’s not there, nothing is possible.”

Kountouzi and Cavanaugh’s 3D printing plans were relatively edgy, but the execution was very practical. Working with their Business Administrator, they gained administration’s support for the 3D printing initiative thanks in part to the revenue generated by the poster printing service. The Biomedical Library had the funds to purchase state-of-the-art 3D printers to add to their equipment and provide access to the Penn community at no cost to academic, research and clinical users.

Because the service is free to the entire Penn community, it encourages innovation by bringing concepts into reality faster. It allows scholars to explore ideas in real space, giving them true hands-on experiences they might not have otherwise.

The Biomedical Library’s 3D printers have produced everything from model dinosaur teeth to diagnostic orbs for digital mammography research. They’ve formed twisted Lego earrings and a neonatal ear molding device that led to the development of a medical start up. But there’s one critical thing that the printers can’t manufacture, trust. Kountouzi’s idea may have never been realized without trust.

“You need to build it in all directions. This is not something that is built overnight. It’s something you have to strive for every day of your work with everybody you interact with.”

Kountouzi’s work relies on collaboration with librarians, student workers, electricians, and architects who may not be familiar with all the technical demands of a 3D printing lab. “I think we are lucky because people seem excited by the challenge,” says Kountouzi.

Working in a constantly changing field seems to suit Kountouzi well.

“I think I might get bored if things were the same for 15 years. Librarianship is not an easy field. You have to reinvent yourself,” she says. “Anything with technology gets old pretty fast. You can never get comfortable for too long.”

For now, Kountouzi is enjoying what she calls, “this glory with 3D printing” with her current supervisor, Manuel de la Cruz Gutierrez, Director of Data & Innovation Services at the Biomedical Library.

Kountouzi says her Models of Excellence award affirmed the value of her work. She appreciated the ceremony because it gave her an opportunity to learn more about her coworkers’ efforts across the University.

“I was taken aback at the size of the achievement that some of the teams have made,” she says.

“It’s so easy to take things for granted. You use a system and you don’t know how much work it took to make that happen.”

She says seeing the faces of the whole team or the individual honorees involved helped her realize the benefits Penn produces.

Kountouzi is even considering nominating one of her colleagues for a 2020 Models award. “When you work with an amazing person, you want them to be recognized.”

If you know an outstanding Penn staff member or team who deserves recognition, nominate them for the 2020 Models of Excellence program. The next call for nominations opens September 3. Submissions are due by October 25. There will be information sessions on September 30 and October 10 to guide you through the nomination process. Visit or email for details.

Healthy Meals: Lemon Icebox Bars

Lemon Icebox Bars cut into squares.

This simple, no-bake Lemon Icebox Bar recipe is the healthier alternative to the famous namesake cake. It brings all the flavor and sweetness you love without all of the fat.

Find the recipe here.

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.


Did You Know? SEPTA's Trolley Maintenance Begins August 9

SEPTA ‘s annual Trolley Tunnel Blitz maintenance project runs August 9-19. During this time, trolley routes 10, 11, 13, 34, and 36 will not travel through the tunnel at the 40th Street Trolley Portal. Instead, these lines will be diverted to 40th and Market Streets. Visit SEPTA's Trolley Tunnel project page for details.



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