Infinite Mile Award Recipients | 2015


Warmest congratulations to our 2015 award recipients!

Deborah K. Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), has announced the six winners of this year’s MIT-SHASS Infinite Mile Awards. Presented during a festive luncheon in the E14 Skyline Room, attended by more than a hundred members of the SHASS community, the Infinite Mile awards salute SHASS staff members who have made exceptional contributions to their academic units, the School, and the Institute itself.

Kelly Damm | The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

“A year and a half ago, J-PAL started a new North America office. The office’s second employee was Kelly Damm. Throughout the last year and a half, the office has grown to ten people, and throughout this time Kelly has been instrumental in building a warm, supportive office environment for everyone. Her tireless work and exceptional attitude have been enormously helpful to our collective work.… And, Kelly has displayed a remarkable talent for inclusive leadership that has taken her contribution to the next level.”

Karen Gardner | Science, Technology, and Society

“Karen takes a genuine interest in students’ well-being. Over the years, our department has had a host of issues with the graduate student offices, and Karen has been extremely responsive to our concerns by serving as reliable intermediary between students, faculty, and MIT maintenance staff, and has personally overseen various repairs. Once, when one of the offices flooded, she even went downstairs to clear the floors and cover the desks herself so as to avoid damage to student belongings.”

Irene Hartford | Anthropology

“Irene carries with her the mission of Anthropology, and MIT as a whole, in everything she does here. Perhaps less tangible, but no less important, is the way Irene interacts with the rest of the faculty and staff in Anthropology. She is warm and caring to every person here, every person who walks through the door, every person who calls on the phone. She takes her job seriously while interjecting humor, grace, and a calm approach. Everyone knows that when Irene says she’ll take care of something, she’ll take care of it. This kind of trust and credibility speak volumes about the kind of person Irene is.”

Erminia Piccinonno | Office of the Dean

“Mention the SHASS Dean's office and most people will think immediately of the Dean or Associate Dean. But there is an unsung hero behind the scenes who keeps everything running, keeps morale up, and does some of the most important work in the School. This individual is Erminia Piccinonno, Director of Human Resources, and I believe I can say without exaggeration that the School would not be what it is today without her diligent, efficient, and always-cheerful work behind the scenes.”

Serenella Sferza | Center for International Studies

“If it were not for Dr. Serenella Sferza, and her consistent efforts to make this possible for hundreds of students, I would not have had the best international experiences of my life and be inspired to explore more of Italy and the world.”

Sheelah Ward | Linguistics and Philosophy

“On April 26, 2014 I suffered a spinal cord injury that put me in MGH for one month, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital for seven weeks and the VA Hospital for 4 1/2 months. In the beginning I was so incapacitated that I couldn't lift my arm out from under a blanket. Now, thanks to wonderful medical care and physical therapy, I have begun to walk again. [During my recuperation] Sheelah stepped up to the plate. She kept in constant touch with me and when I was able to communicate in something like a sensible fashion, began to visit me, bringing with her folders filled with the work that had to be done. She did this once a week throughout my time in the hospital.”


Congratulations to the 2015 recipients of the MIT SHASS Infinite Mile Awards: L to R: Serenella Sferza, Erminia Picconino, Dean Deborah Fitzgerald, Karen Gardner, Sheelah Ward, Irene Hartford, Kelly Damm.