Back to top

Faculty & Staff Newsletter

January 2020

l to r, Andrea Gulezian, Lisa Sullivan-Werner, Pat Harmsen, Extension Nutrition Education Program Extension Retreat: Serious Fun 

Was it fun or was it work? CAFE’s Fourth Annual Extension Retreat promised both and, by all accounts, delivered on that promise. An opening keynote by comedian (and serious professional development speaker) Kelsey Flynn showed nearly 100 participants how to cultivate ‘connection and contentment’ in our workplaces. She led the group through exercises that allowed participants to acknowledge our ‘inner critic’ and shared techniques to restore positive energy and deep listening with our colleagues. The normally beady-eyed Extension crowd let down their usually skeptical postures for a few minutes and seemed to appreciate the opportunity.

A seamless transition to a raucous game of CAFE JEOPARDY! resulted in much laughter (and some real learning about Extension). Categories included: Extension People, Places, History, Animals, Research, and Programs & Publications. Contestants Mary Owen, Peter Holden, Alice Newth, Eileen Vazquez and Tom Waskiewicz rang bells and blew whistles to indicate their readiness to provide the correct question.  Joe Shoenfeld, Lisa Sullivan-Werner and Bob Skalbite stood in as intrepid scorekeepers. After many hilarious answers and comments by Host Kelsey, Tom Waskiewicz emerged as the winner, all the while sporting his own personally-designed ‘What is CAFE?” teeshirt.

Lightning Talks, five-minute jam-packed presentations, were a major highlight of the day. Members of Extension and CAFE faculty and staff used a few slides each to underscore one aspect of their work along with a brief description of their job or of a project. Their passion, commitment, and ability to pack a whole lot into five minutes was evident. Thanks to Lynn Adler, Jason Lanier, Kathy Cunningham, Bethany Bradley, Amanda McCabe-Hernandez, Amy Branham, Zara Dowling, Madeleine Charney, Christine Hatch, and Sai Sree Uppala for their inspiring talks. 

A panel discussion drew attention to Extension work happening in Springfield. CAFE Assistant Director Bill Miller moderated the discussion about public needs and program opportunities in the third largest city in the Commonwealth. Panelists Arlene Iraola, Lizmarie Lopez-Ortez, Michael DiPasquale and Rick Harper shared accomplishments, ongoing research, and challenges they face. 

And a CAFE Extension Retreat is not complete without some well-deserved awards:                          

  • Andrea Gulezian and Pat Harmsen, long-time UMass Extension nutritionists received Career Recognition awards. Both are field supervisors for the Extension Nutrition Education Program, Pat (right, in photo above) in Springfield and Andrea (left), in photo above in Raynham. The awards were presented by Lisa Sullivan-Werner (center), Program Director. 
  • Lauren Potter (Accountant in the CNS Finance Office) received the Unsung Hero Award;
  • Tracie Gillespie (Field Supervisor for the Extension Nutrition Education Program in Boston) was presented with the Innovator Award; and
  • Keith Lilly (Assistant to Farm Superintendent at the Crop and Animal Research and Education Farm in South Deerfield) received the Ol’ Faithful Award.  
Panel discussion on Springfield needs
Kelsey Flynn with crowd at retreat
Playing CAFE Jeopardy
Receiving awards: l to r, Lauren Potter, Tracie Gillespie. Not pictured: Keith Lilly
Amy Branham, Extension Nutrition Education Program, delivering lightning talk
Kelsey Flynn discovers Tom Waskiewicz