Sarah Hokenmaier, MPA, has a lot on her plate as a program director in the Department of Family and Community Health at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON). This was made crystal clear on May 15 at the Saratoga Building, where Hokenmaier was honored as the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s (UMB) Employee of the Month of April.
UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, surprised Hokenmaier with the award, and before he began to detail what made her such a deserving winner, he stopped and marveled, “The one thing I’ve figured out from all of these accolades is that you do a heck of a lot. You’re involved in everything!”
This came after some playful banter with Perman, who asked Hokenmaier what she was doing in the President’s Conference Room. She said she had been summoned to a meeting with Jennifer B. Litchman, MA, senior vice president for external relations and special assistant to the president, to talk about the coaching program sponsored by UMBrella, a group that works to support the success of women at the University that Litchman chairs. She is Hokenmaier’s mentor, and they did meet — “It was a real/fake meeting, and we need to finish it!” Litchman said with a laugh — but the true reason for Sarah’s presence was to be praised by the president.
“Some very wise people here put you at the head of the table, because this is all about you,” said Perman, who added that one trait in particular stood out from the nomination form sent in by Hokenmaier’s colleagues at the school, several of whom attended the ceremony, including Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Pat McLaine, DrPH, RN, director of the Community/Public Health Nursing Specialty.
“I saw a word that I really like — and I know Dean Kirschling likes it, too — and that’s ‘team,’ ” Perman said. “It says you enhanced the department’s ability to function as a team through your high-level assessment, communication, and strategic planning skills. That’s something I really value, and that advances the University’s mission. So congratulations, Sarah, and keep up the great work.”
Patient and Pleasant
Hokenmaier received a plaque, a letter of commendation, and the promise of $250 in her next paycheck, which she says she’ll save for a rainy day and is a nice reward for someone whose work brightens her colleagues’ days.
“Sarah is extremely patient, pleasant to work with, very focused on getting the job done, and has a great sense of humor,” McLaine said of Hokenmaier, who also was recognized by UMSON in December, winning the school’s Staff Excellence Award. “Her performance has been outstanding, and she gets excellent results.”
To that end, Hokenmaier works diligently with the five specialty directors in Family and Community Health and serves as a liaison to other departments and offices at the school, including admissions, communications, administrative services, and information and learning technology.
“Her work with the Office of Admissions has streamlined processes, improved communication with the specialty directors, and resulted in higher-quality applicants to our graduate programs,” McLaine said. “Sarah’s work has enabled us to think bigger and focus on how to grow our programs.”
Asked to describe her duties in a nutshell, Hokenmaier said, “I do a wide variety of things, but I would say that I help faculty achieve their goals — related to all different activities. Because of my background in public health, I’m able to work on all sorts of different things — grants, marketing, anything related to the goals the faculty are trying to achieve.”
Hokenmaier has a passion for improving community health outcomes and says this is what drives her to succeed. Before joining UMSON in October 2016, she worked nearly eight years for the Center for Cancer Prevention and Control at the Maryland Department of Health, including the last three as deputy director.
“My master’s degree in public administration focused on nonprofit administration and management, so I’ve always had a heart for community work and community service,” Hokenmaier said. “I love that I have the opportunity to make a difference in public health through my work at the School of Nursing.”
Hokenmaier was thrilled to be rewarded – “I really do work hard, and I try to achieve my goals every day,” she said — and honored to be recognized. She thanked Kirschling and McLaine; Susan M. Wozenski, JD, MPH, assistant professor and interim chair of her department; and the specialty directors as a group. “And I can’t forget my co-workers Terria McClain and Phyllis Lovito, who work alongside me in everything I do.”
These colleagues all add to the depth of talent at UMSON, which Hokenmaier says is a great place to work.
“I am impressed every time I am involved in a new project with different staff in other departments,” she said. “I am impressed with how dedicated the staff are, how knowledgeable they are, how creative they are. I have never seen so many people dedicated to doing things right.”
As for herself, Hokenmaier remains dedicated to family and community health.
“I care about the mission. That’s always been important to me, and it makes whatever work I’m doing matter,” she said. “So it means everything to me that the mission is being recognized with this award.”
— Lou Cortina
To read about previous Employee of the Month winners, visit Human Resource Services’ employee recognition web page.