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  • Kristin Luciani

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  • Kristin Luciani

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Community Health Representative Who Supports Families Through Organ Donation Process Among Exemplary Staff Awardees

Belen Bell, senior community health program representative for the UC San Diego Health System’s Lifesharing program, was named Principal Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year.

Belen Bell, senior community health program representative for the UC San Diego Health System’s Lifesharing program, has a job that would be considered difficult, at best, for most. Lifesharing is the Health System’s organ and tissue recovery program, and Bell has the delicate task of asking families to donate the organs of their loved ones.  

“Belen enters her families’ world on the worst day of their lives, the day their loved one has died under often tragic, unexpected circumstances,” said Marina Baroff, associate administrator for the UC San Diego Health System. “Then Belen does what few of us ever could. With great compassion, she asks the grieving family to donate their loved one’s organ and tissues. And they say ‘yes’ in amazing numbers because of Belen.”

Bell has transformed Lifesharing’s relationship with donor families since joining the staff nine years ago. When she first arrived, donor families received a single thank you letter. Now, donor families receive quarterly letters, a poignant moment of silence in surgery before the organ recovery begins, a packet of resource materials to take home, a semi-annual Day of Remembrance at Lifesharing’s Donor Memorial and much more. In addition, Bell has helped many recipients to meet their donor’s family—a rare occurrence at the national level.

For these efforts and more, Bell was named the 2012 Principal Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year at the 27th Annual Exemplary Staff Awards ceremony that took place this month.

“It is an overwhelming honor to receive this award,” said Bell. “I love what I do. I get to meet the most incredible families, and I feel the work is so important.”

Representing a broad cross-section of the university, from facilities management and student affairs to marine biology and health sciences, ten UC San Diego employees were named Exemplary Staff Employees of the Year.  Each honoree was recognized for his or her unique contributions to the campus. All were celebrated for going above and beyond the responsibilities listed on their job cards and for designing and implementing innovative new programs and processes that increase efficiency, create a better work culture and enhance the UC San Diego community.  

“Our staff members are the backbone of this university, ensuring the smooth operation of all aspects of campus life,” said Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. “UC San Diego’s transformation over the past 50 years would not have been possible without their exceptional work and dedication. I congratulate this year’s recipients of the Exemplary Staff Award. ”

The award winners were selected from among 114 nominations submitted to a committee representing each UC San Diego vice chancellor area, the Health System and the Chancellor’s Office. “When you think of the hundreds of thousands of job applications to the university, and the thousands of employees who have been nominated over the past 27 years, the awardees truly join a very select and exceptional group of people,” said Thomas Leet, assistant vice chancellor for Human Resources.

In recognition of their outstanding work, the honorees received commemorative gifts, awards for continuing education in their specialty field and will have their names added to the “perpetual plaque,” a permanent display including the names of previous honorees.

The Exemplary Staff Award recipients with Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Thomas Leet

In addition to Bell, the 2011-2012 Exemplary Staff Employees of the Year include:

Amber Bareno - Administrative Coordinator—Supervisor

External and Business Affairs: Housing, Dining, Hospitality


Somphos Chin - Payroll/Facilities Assistant

Marine Sciences: Marine Biology Research Division


Michelle Corcoran - Program Representative III

Chancellor’s Office: Special Events and Protocol


Anthony Jakubsin - Resident Director I

Student Affairs: Sixth College Student Affairs


Kathleen Margenau - Administrative Specialist

Marine Sciences: Climate, Atmospheric Science and Physical Oceanography


Jennifer Oh - Principal Administrative Analyst I

Academic Affairs: Research Affairs


Michelle Perez - Administrative Analyst

Resource Management and Planning: Facilities Management


Richard Sharp - Computer Research Specialist I

Health Sciences: Psychiatry


Phillip Zerofski - Marine Technician III

Marine Sciences: Marine Biology Research Division


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