Meet faculty affairs team members Laura Whitley, Mansi Ahuja, and Catherine Severino, who Lawrence Young, MD, vice chair of faculty affairs and professor of medicine (cardiovascular medicine) and of cellular and molecular physiology, describes as “an amazing group of people who are fully committed to the faculty, very professional, and always striving to do the right thing with a good sense of humor.”
What is your role in the Department of Internal Medicine?
Catherine: I am a senior administrative assistant. I work as part of the team with Laura and Mansi, and we oversee many aspects of faculty affairs, particularly the faculty appointment and promotion process.
Mansi: I pretty much do the same thing as Catherine, and we both report to Laura. We make sure that the appointment and promotion process is moving through nicely over the whole year, going through the different phases. We also work closely with the faculty and staff in different sections on numerous other projects.
Laura: I’m the manager of faculty affairs for our department, so I oversee the team. I agree that the appointment and promotion process for our faculty is a key piece of what we do, and it takes up a huge amount of time—the majority of the year—because it runs on a cycle. By the time we're wrapping up one year, we're already starting into the next cycle. And sometimes we have a couple of cycles going at the same time, so we have to juggle.
But a lot of what we do for faculty is outside of the appointment and promotion process. Everything from recruitment through retirement will cross our desks. We'll see everything from faculty searches to onboarding to leave of absences, mentorship program questions, changes in track, people wanting to retire, become emeritus. All of those kinds of things come to us. We handle the faculty policy questions and procedures for the department. So a lot of our work does have to do with the appointment and promotion process, but we also work with the different sections, department leadership, the school, and other departments on a variety of faculty matters.
Have you been involved in any projects that you are particularly proud of?
Mansi: It's the appointment and promotion process. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to get the faculty approved and promoted. The year-round process includes reviewing the faculty members’ materials, communicating with the sections, reaching out for letters, and coordinating the department A&P Committee meetings, department senior faculty meetings, and school committee approvals. I feel very accomplished; I feel that every effort put into the process is worth it when our candidates finally get appointed or promoted.
Catherine: Two ongoing projects that run throughout the year that I’m most proud of are the voluntary faculty and the appointment and promotion reference letter process. I maintain over 430 voluntary faculty appointments in the Department of Internal Medicine, attend the voluntary faculty committee meetings, and keep all reports and records up to date. I’m very proud of the work I’ve done to streamline this process. In addition, I request reference letters from both internal and external referees on behalf of our department for our faculty going through the appointment and promotion process. This process is very rewarding, as I feel I had a small part in our faculty’s new appointment or their promotion.
Laura: I'll add that the faculty orientation is one that I'm particularly proud of. I've worked with the department leadership from the time that they first started that program, and I’m impressed by what it's evolved into now and how established it is. It really is a great, well-attended program that’s held every fall. To be a part of that from the beginning and to still have a hand in it now is something that I'm proud of. Every year it seems to improve, so I like seeing that as well.
But I will also say that I’m very proud of the things my team just mentioned. To see our faculty get promoted or an appointment that goes through seamlessly feels good because it's not just a name on paper, it's not just numbers. It's a person's career, and we're helping them with this transition. To see them succeed is a really nice feeling.
I'm also proud of the work of my team. What Catherine has done with the voluntary faculty is fantastic—that process has been completely revamped since she took it over. Mansi’s level of organization is incredible, and she’s taken on new projects this year including the faculty leave of absences and has done amazing work.
Why did you decide to work at Yale School of Medicine?
Mansi: Yale is a well-renowned institution, and its medical school is one of the best in the world. I have been in the education field for quite some time. I was an elementary school teacher, and then I moved into HR. One of the major reasons I joined the Yale School of Medicine is because I'm part of the education system indirectly and can contribute towards that.
Catherine: I was looking for a new role that was outside my career path of dental hygiene. I needed something that was going to keep my interest, something that was ever-changing, something that kept my hands wet within the medical field itself. This seemed like a good fit. Ever-changing, never bored.
Laura: I've been here for almost 11 years, and I've been handling faculty affairs in internal medicine the whole time. I worked in a law office before I came here. To me it was a completely different career path, but I use the skillset that I developed previously, such as the attention to detail and overseeing multistep processes.
I made the change to Yale and not to someplace else because it was a good fit at the right time, and a way to bring my skillset to a brand-new place in my life.
How did you become interested in your specific line of work?
Mansi: I have degrees in human resources and education. It is the best of both worlds being involved in faculty affairs (especially promotions and appointments of faculty) and indirectly contributing towards the education of our future doctors.
Catherine: The practice that I was in was in the center of New Haven, and I had many patients who loved to work at Yale. So that really sold it.
Laura: I was an English major. My background's a little different from what I'm doing now, but it pulls in a lot of the things that I mentioned, especially the communication pieces. There’s a lot of written and verbal communication that we do in working with different teams.
I also like that we have the ability to review a process that might need to be streamlined in some way and that we have a role in improving it. To me, that is something that you don't always get to do in the workplace, so that's something I appreciate.
Why do you love working at Yale?
Mansi: I love working with my team, including the HR coordinators that we work with. Working hybrid also gives us a lot of flexibility. And I think Yale has a wonderful environment and great benefits. Everything put together, it's a great package.
Catherine: I agree with Mansi on all counts. And the flexibility at Yale is far superior. When I was in private practice, it wasn't so easy for me to reschedule patients to tend to a sick child, and vacations needed to be planned out well in advance. The flexibility here at Yale is part of why I love it.
Laura: I like the way things are structured here, how there are separate teams for HR, employee services, etcetera. Everybody is an expert in what they do, and they’re here to help you. One of the biggest things that jumped out at me is how Yale is set up to help the employees, and it's a comfortable situation in that respect.
But also my team members are phenomenal. I wouldn't have stayed here for 11 years in this role if I didn't like the people I work with and the work that I do. Those are really the key pieces for any successful job.
What is a fun fact about you?
Catherine: When I get stressed, I tend to bake and cook. It brings me great joy!
Mansi: I am a big yoga fanatic. I'm also a bathroom singer. I like to sing to myself.
Laura: I play the piano. I also read almost every day. In our office, you'll usually find me with a book in my bag. I have a tendency to accidentally buy more than one copy of the same book before I read it. And I did it enough times that I realized I should just bring in the duplicates. We started a mini library in the office kitchen with those, and it grew. It's a nice thing that other people are hopefully enjoying.