2016 Leadership Award Recipients
2016 Natalie Weissberger Paul National Achievement Award - Beth B. Crawford, MS, LCGC
The Natalie Weissberger Paul Lifetime Achievement Award is the most distinguished honor within the National Society of Genetic Counselors. Natalie Weissberger Paul retired in 1993 after a long career with the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. A long-time advocate for genetic counselors and the NSGC, she was instrumental in promoting the profession and securing financial support for projects and publications. The NSGC established this award in 1994. Ms. Weissberger passed away in 1996. This award honors one outstanding member who has served the NSGC with exemplary national achievements and volunteer activities on behalf of the NSGC and the profession. It is with great pleasure that I am introducing this year's well-deserving award recipient, ELIZABETH CRAWFORD.
I am delighted and honored to award this year's Natalie Weissberger Paul National Achievement Award to Elizabeth Crawford or Beth as many of her colleagues know her. Beth has been a genetic counselor for 37 years before retiring this past year. I won't have time to go through all of Beth's accomplishments but I will attempt to summarize a few of her greatest achievements and some kind words her nominators had for her.
Beth was a graduate of one of the first classes of genetic counselors from the UC Berkley program back when genetic counseling was still a relatively unknown profession. She has served in many roles in her 37 year-long career: clinical genetic counselor, supervisor, Interim Director of the University of CA Berkeley GC Program, developer of the UCSF-Mt.Zion Cancer Risk Program, manager, mentor, consultant. She has contributed to the cancer genetics literature through many publications as well as presentations. She was an early "promoter" and supporter of bringing GC services into the broader health care arena, and by association, advocated for GCs to help guide developments in the provision of services.
Some of Beth's biggest accomplishments to help advance the Genetic Counseling Profession include developing and demonstrating the efficacy of the use of Genetic Counseling Assistants, co-leading the successful effort to gain credentialing as Advanced Health Practitioners for all of UCSF Genetic Counselors, and spending over 10 years contributing to successful licensure of genetic counselors in the State of California. She developed one of the early Hereditary Cancer Genetics programs focused on providing genetic counseling, gene testing and long term follow up for thousands of patients and their family members. She is proud of the amazing team of genetic counselors, physicians and staff that have provided these services at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has also been a consultant for many projects and organizations including the American Cancer Society, Athena Breast Health Network, and is a member of the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Guidelines Panel National Comprehensive Cancer Network. For all of her efforts, Beth won the prestigious Milton and Helen Pearl award for outstanding service at UCSF Mt. Zion in 2013.
Beth had 13 colleagues nominate her for this prestigious award and each of them had amazing things to say about the type of person Beth is. One nominator stated, “In many ways, Beth "lived her profession". She has always been a consummate advocate for the field, a passionate supporter of her patients, technically outstanding expertise, and a superb mentor to her staff. Beth simply saw no barriers she could not navigate when she set out to accomplish a goal.” Another nominator stated, “Beth believes that there is power in numbers and that the best work is done when collaboration takes place. Beth lives and breathes genetic counseling. I remember when she arrived to work with both her arms in casts, emails at all hours of the day, calls to the East Coast starting at 630. For Beth, there was always more that could and should be done for a patient and Beth would go the extra mile (often many miles) to get it done.” And to speak to how much Beth cared about each and every one of her colleagues, another nominator told me how when she got her first job at UCSF and moved to California, Beth personally picked her up from the airport, took her out to dinner and helped her feel at home despite moving to a brand new state.
I could speak for another hour about all of Beth's accomplishments to help advance the field of genetic counseling, her compassion for her patients and her career and just about how amazing Beth is- but instead please join me in congratulating Beth Crawford- this year's winner of the Natalie Weissberger Paul National Achievement Award.
2016 International Leader Award - Mercy Y. Laurino, MS, CGC, PhD
2016 New Leader Award - Misha Rashkin, MS, CGC
Misha began his genetic counseling career as an intern at the Yale Cancer Genetic Counseling Clinic before graduating from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Genetic Counseling program in 2013. In his first genetic counseling role at Geisinger Health System he held a split position, where he spent his time in research and clinical oncology roles. While there, he was the sole counselor at a satellite clinic helping to get patients in his regions access to cancer genetic counseling services. In his research role, Misha coordinated projects in varied specialties, including cardiology, monogenic diabetes, prenatal, and ethical/legal/social issues, while learning from other fantastic leaders at Geisinger and Geisinger’s collaborators. In 2015, Misha joined the Genetics & Genomics department at Mount Sinai in New York. Since joining Sinai, Misha coordinated clinical trials for an enzyme replacement therapy for Niemann-Pick Type B, was the Co-Investigator for a natural history of Types A and B Niemann-Pick Disease, and began seeing patients with the Cancer Genetic Counseling Department. He is also the PI of a study to evaluate an educational video in the cancer genetic counseling clinic.
Misha states he is passionate about increasing the diversity of the genetic counseling workforce, building NSGCs influence and expertise on policy issues, and partnering with students to develop exciting thesis projects. He demonstrates that desire by collaborating with the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics at Sarah Lawrence College to develop a website (www.becomeageneticcounselor.org) to facilitate the recruitment of underrepresented minorities into the genetic counseling profession, which was funded by the Audrey Heimler Special Project Award and presented by the students that Misha co-mentored at past AECs. Misha has mentored or co-mentored a total of seven graduate student thesis projects across two genetic counseling programs.
Misha joined NSGC in 2013 and began volunteering across various groups of NSGC. He has been a member of the Cancer Special Interest Group. He has served on ad-hoc taskforces for the Public Policy Committee (PPC) to write policy statements on cfDNA screening, human germline editing, and human cloning, and a response to the request for comments from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s interpretation of the Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act. He also chaired an ad-hoc taskforce for the PPC on a response to the request for comments from the National Institute of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative, and currently chairs the PPC taskforce on Workforce Wellness Programs. He will be PPC vice chair in 2017. Misha is also a member of the NSGC’s Financial Conflict of Interest Task Force.
Misha’s nominators describe him as a ‘hugely valuable contributor’ to the groups he has been a part of, stating that Misha “truly goes above and beyond in his roles with NSGC and has made a real difference” to the profession. Misha is described as helping others reach their goals through successful mentoring, particularly in mentoring genetic counseling students in successful projects and contributing to research.
When asked for reflections on what leadership means to him, Misha responded: “Leadership has less to do with having a title and more to do with being willing to do the work, speak up even if it risks embarrassment, listen even when you think you’re right, and aim to make a tangible improvement in people’s lives.”
Across all his work and efforts, themes of Misha’s leadership and reach display qualities of a true leader: dedication, innovation, passionate, integrity, inspiration. On behalf of NSGC, it is my true honor to present the 2016 NSGC New Leader Award to Misha Rashkin.
2016 Strategic Leader Award - Quinn Stein, MS, CGC
The strategic leader award is bestowed upon NSGC members who promote the genetic counseling profession as a recognized and integral part of health care delivery. Recipients demonstrate strategic thinking and leadership through their work with NSGC and make significant contributions to achieving goals within NSGC’s strategic plan. This year’s recipients are both personifications of strategic leaders.
I am delighted and honored to award this year’s first strategic leader award to Quinn Stein. From the beginning of his career, Quinn has been actively advancing genetic counseling in the state of South Dakota. As the only genetic counselor in the state for the first five years of his career, he has been instrumental in creating a genetic counseling team at Sanford Health, now boasting more than 20 genetic counselors spanning four states. His hard work was recognized in 2009 when he was awarded Employee of the Year at Sanford. Within NSGC, Quinn served on the AEC committee from 2009-2014, serving as chair in 2013. He also served on the Board of Directors in 2014 and 2015. He has been active in public policy both in helping South Dakota navigate a path to genetic counselor licensure in 2009 and adding ‘’the ability of genetic counselors to independently order genetic testing” to statute in 2016. Quinn has now turned his attention to developing the next generation of genetic counselors as the inaugural program director for the Augustana-Sanford Genetic Counseling Graduate Program, utilizing a variety of technological and collaborative methods to provide students with a diverse experience in service delivery and training. Not only is Quinn’s strategic leadership exemplary, but he is also a wonderful colleague, mentor, and friend to many in the genetic counseling field. Please join me in congratulating Quinn and welcoming him to the podium to accept this year’s Strategic Leader award.
2016 Strategic Leader Award - Jennifer Hoskovec, MS, CGC
The strategic leader award is bestowed upon NSGC members who promote the genetic counseling profession as a recognized and integral part of health care delivery. Recipients demonstrate strategic thinking and leadership through their work with NSGC and make significant contributions to achieving goals within NSGC’s strategic plan.
I am delighted and honored to present this strategic leader award to Jen Hoskovec. Jen has been an active leader within local, regional and national genetics and genetic counseling communities for many years, and was the 2014 NSGC President. During her term as president and beyond, Jen has solidified strategic relationships with groups such as ACOG, NCHPEG, ACMG and the AMA, actively promoting the genetic counseling profession as an integral part of healthcare delivery. She has also communicated this message to a consumer audience, representing genetic counselors and NSGC in dozens of articles in the popular media. More recently, Jen has chaired NSGC’s Workforce Working Group, spearheading the development of a large workforce study, bringing us invaluable data and recommendations by which to evolve our profession to meet the current and future demand for our services. Jen has served for the past ten years as a thesis advisor for genetic counseling students, and as an inspiring mentor for countless NSGC volunteers, including myself. Jen is by nature graciously humble and unassuming, but it is widely recognized that her passion, commitment, and strategic vision for the genetic counseling profession have taken us to new heights. I’m delighted to welcome her up to receive one of this year’s strategic leader awards.
2016 Outstanding Volunteer Award - Colleen Caleshu, MSc, LCGC