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UTGSM Employees Recognized for Excellence

The University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine honored employees with the 16th Annual Employee Excellence Awards program. Nominated by peers and supervisors, Excellence Award winners are recognized in four areas for their willingness to go beyond the scope of their jobs by providing: outstanding job performance, leadership, courtesy and customer service, and community service. This year’s winners are Billie Cain (Performance), James “Steve” Foster (Leadership), Kristi Gregg (Courtesy and Customer Service) and Tina Richey (Community Service).

Excellence in Job Performance

Billie Cain
UT Internal Medicine and OBGYN Clinic

Ms. Cain has gone above and beyond her duties as front desk supervisor for the UT Internal Medicine and OBGYN Clinics, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has simplified the front desk procedure, making appointments more convenient for both patients and employees. With COVID-19 prompting many patients to cancel their appointments, Ms. Cain took on the responsibility of rescheduling a telehealth appointment with them to make sure they still received the best care possible. Furthermore, she collaborates closely with the Internal Medicine residents to ensure they have enough clinic hours to graduate, often working creatively to minimize disruption to their schedules.

Kay Rangnekar MS, MHA and Director of the UT Internal Medicine/OBGYN Center wrote in her nomination letter, “Billie has been a great support for us. She constantly manages difficult situations and prevents many scheduling errors. She is deserving of the Excellence Award for Performance.”

From left to right: Amanda Wilson MBA, Kay Rangnekar, Billie Cain, Associate Dean Paganelli, and Dean Hauptman

Excellence in Leadership

James “Steve” Foster

Mr. Foster has taken on a leadership role by mentoring students in the Advancing Access to Careers in Medicine Scholars Program and two recently appointed Assistant Professors in his role as head of the Cell Biology and Hybridoma laboratory in the Amyloidosis and Cancer Theranostics Program. He has collaboratively designed and synthesized five new therapeutic agents for the treatment of systemic amyloidosis, three of which represent new classes of treatment that are being evaluated for efficacy in the laboratory.

“Steve is a remarkably talented cell biologist with experience in numerous areas of biomedical science and he has a vast knowledge of the development and translation of biomedical tests and devices,” said Dr. Jonathan Wall, University Distinguished Professor and Lab Director, in his nomination letter. “He is absolutely a critical member of our research team and deserves recognition for all his superb efforts and leadership roles.”

From left to right: Amanda Wilson MBA, Dr. Wall, James “Steve” Foster, Associate Dean Paganelli, and Dean Hauptman

Excellence in Courtesy and Customer Service

Kristi Gregg
Internal Medicine

Ms. Gregg works in the Department of Medicine and is frequently praised for her professionalism and courtesy. When interviews for Internal Medicine intern applicants shifted to virtual only due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Gregg went above and beyond to become acquainted with virtual platforms to assist the Program Director, other faculty and IM residents with the interview process. She helped to ensure a seamless process and received several remarks from applicants about how great the interview process was in comparison to other institutions.

In his nomination letter, Dr. Rajiv Dhand, Chair of Medicine, said, “Her level of professionalism and personality stand outs in the Department among residents and interns. Ms. Gregg makes sure all of us are taken care of to the best of her ability.”

From left to right: (Back row) Amanda Wilson MBA, Associate Dean Paganelli, Dean Hauptman, (Front row) Dr. Norwood, and Kristi Gregg

Excellence in Community Service

Tina Richey

Ms. Richey has always placed a high value on community service. She hand-sewed masks throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and supplied them to faculty and staff at the GSM and UT Medical Center. In addition, she consistently raises funds for a variety of initiatives at East Tennessee Children's Hospital including “Fantasy of Trees” and “Pops for Patients”. Furthermore, she established the Evan Richey Memorial Scholarship program in 2020, which has awarded $2,000 scholarships to six Knox County high school students.

In her nomination letter, Jennifer Ferris, Director of Research, said, “I cannot think of anyone else more deserving of being recognized this year for the Excellence Award in Community Service. If she can manage all these community service endeavors while maintaining her professional duties, I could do more. She inspires us all to do and be better.”

From left to right: Associate Dean Paganelli, Dr. Wall, Tina Richey, Amanda Wilson MBA, and Dean Hauptman

Posted July 26, 2022


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