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Newsletter Profile of a Senator September 2021

Meet LaTisha Elcock: Staff Senator and Administrative Assistant, Helen Kellar Institute for Human disAbilities

LaTisha Elcock, Staff Senate. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services

Mason journey: I came to Mason in April of 2019 as a part-time employee. Since then, my duties have expanded and now include editorial assistant on an academic journal, early researcher on an Institute of Education Sciences grant, and most recently, student. I am currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Education Policy and, honestly, I could not be happier.

COVID-19 transition: Like most of the university, my team transitioned to remote work in March of 2020 and I am just beginning to return to the office. I was initially very nervous about the remote transition but everyone on my team was able to adjust in record time. My dining room table is now my office desk, and while my family no longer has a designated location for formal, in-house dinners, I can say that I have been super productive in my work-from-home space. My work is both rewarding and relevant.

Best thing about working for Mason: The people, including the staff and faculty, as well as all of the work that everyone is doing here at Mason. It inspires me so much. I believe that the university’s potential is limitless and I am beyond excited to see where GMU will be in 10 years.

Unique fact: Few things make me happier than creating a new recipe and baking a decadent dessert. When I am not working or shuttling my two active high schoolers from one event to another, I can be found in the kitchen working miracles with butter, sugar, and eggs.

Why I serve on the Staff Senate: As an undergraduate at Howard University, I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In doing so, I pledged to provide service to all mankind. Whether I am volunteering at my kids’ school, serving on the board of my neighborhood pool, or presenting an issue to the university’s administration on behalf of my peers here at GMU, I believe strongly in working with and advocating for those whose voices may not always be heard.

At the end of the day: I love my job and am proud to be a Patriot. I am especially proud of the work that the Staff Senate does and hope to continue serving in this capacity for years to come.

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Newsletter Featured on Homepage Profile of a Senator September 2021

September General Meeting Recording

The September Staff Senate meeting featured guest speaker Paul Allvin, vice president of strategic communications and marketing, who discussed the university’s rebranding campaign as Mason approaches its 50th anniversary as an independent institution.

If you missed the session, you can watch or listen to the recording.

 

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Featured on Homepage September 2021

Support Group for Working Mothers at Mason

The Support Group for Working Mothers at Mason is one way Mason faculty, staff, and students can come together, discuss the issues confronting working mothers, and perhaps motivate changes on campus. The 20th year of group meetings kicked off September 7, and meetings will continue virtually for the fall semester with the next one set for Thursday, September 23 at 2 p.m. We are offering a couple of in-person meetings in October and November as well. If you are interested in sharing stories and being part of an informal organization of working mothers, please visit our website for more information: 

http://wmst.gmu.edu/center/organizations/working-moms 

 Point of contact:  Heather Aleknavage, haleknav@gmu.edu, 993-2295 

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September 2021

Leading to Well-Being Speaker Series

Our Leading to Well-Being Speaker Series features free presentations from innovative speakers who work at the intersection of leadership and well-being. They will share some of the latest well-being research and insights with you. After each presentation, you can use what you’ve learned to fuel your professional and personal success. Plan to join us online with your colleagues and friends! 

Join us on September 14 at noon with an inaugural presentation from Anjali Bindra Patel, J.D., author of the bestselling book Humanity at Work: Diversity, Inclusion, and Well-Being in an Increasingly Distributed Workforce. Anjali is a TEDx speaker, lawyer, and founder of Sweatours.com, an inclusion and well-being consultancy. In this presentation, Anjali will share why it is vital to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and well-being to optimize workplace success and show you how to create a workplace where everyone can thrive. She will give you a roadmap of practical tips to engage people in your organization and equip them to tap into the strength of their collective power. 

Learn more and register for the September webinar.

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September 2021

Updates from Parking & Transportation

Try Going Car-Free 

It’s always a great idea to have more than one way to get to Mason.  Car-Free Day, on September 22, is an opportunity to try a new way to commute. Take the Car-Free pledge at https://carfreemetrodc.org/ and receive a Nift Gift and be entered into a raffle for some great prizes. If you’re a full-time employee, remember that public transportation costs are subsidized up to the IRS limit of $270/month. Details on the Commuter Choice Program are available at https://transportation.gmu.edu/commuter-choice/ 

Save the Date: Learn to Ride with FABB 

The Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling FABB and Mason Parking and Transportation will host an adult Learn to Ride biking class on Saturday, October 2.  Details coming soon at http://bike.gmu.edu. 

Mason Shuttles: Fall Changes 

The fall schedule for Mason Shuttles has not yet returned to pre-pandemic service levels.  Please be sure to check the schedule for each shuttle as there have been changes. One change that occurred from the summer service to the fall is with the On-Demand Shuttle. For fall, the On-Demand Shuttle only serves Vienna Metro from 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Friday and during all of its service hours on the weekend. For details on all the shuttle schedules, please visit http://shuttle.gmu.edu.  Please remember a mask/face covering is required to ride the shuttles (unless you have an authorized exception). 

Patriot Bike Check Out: The Re-Launch 

The Patriot Bike Check Out Program relaunched on September 7.  You can once again check out a bike with your valid Mason ID from either the Recreation Athletic Complex (RAC) or the Aquatic and Fitness Center (AFC) and return it to either location at no cost. For details, please see https://transportation.gmu.edu/bicycle-programs/check-out/. 

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September 2021

Announcements from Human Resources & Payroll

Happy Heart Walk 
Bring your walking shoesIt is time for our annual Happy Heart Walk on September 29 at noon! This year marks the 13th year of the Happy Heart Walk 

Join your fellow students, faculty, and staff to promote heart health. You can join either in-person or virtually. 

  • Join the walk in-person at one of the meeting locations at noon on September 29  

or  

Whether you’re walking in person or virtually, share your Happy Heart Walk photos on Twitter or Instagram with #HappyHeartWalk and @GMUHRandPayroll may reshare them.  

No registration required. View the flyer for more details. Questions? Please contact Tamira Colbert at tcolber2@gmu.edu. 

  

Virginia Retirement System (VRS) Member Benefit Profile (MBP) 

If you are enrolled in a retirement plan with VRS (Plan 1, Plan 2, or Hybrid), your annual Member Benefit Profile (MBP) is available on your myVRS account. To view it, select the My History menu then select Annual Statements. 

The MBP is an annual benefit statement based on information reported by Mason to VRS as of June 30 each year. The MBP provides information on your: 

  • VRS member account balance 
  • Projected VRS benefit amount 
  • Retirement benefits estimates 
  • Eligibility for other benefits such as group life insurance and the health insurance credit 

Use your MBPs and myVRS retirement planning tools to help you stay on track with your retirement goals. 

Questions? Contact the Benefits team at benefits@gmu.edu. 

  

TIAA Financial Seminars 

Looking to learn more about your finances? 

TIAA is hosting several financial well-being seminars. Check out the flyer to learn more.

  

CommonHealth Wellness Champion Award 

Is there someone who makes your workplace a healthier place to be? Maybe someone who runs your office wellness challenges, organizes a walking group, or makes sure healthy snack options are available? 

Nominate your favorite encouraging colleague for the CommonHealth Wellness Champion Award. Nominations are being accepted for the next few weeks. The committee will choose awardees in mid to late September. 

  

Virginia Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) Financial Wellness Events and Resources 

Browse the upcoming DHRM financial wellness resources below: 

  • VRS Financial Wellness Resources. Keep track of your income and expenses with the Budget tool from myVRS Financial Wellness. See how much you really spend and where you can add more to your savings. Log in to your myVRS account and select Financial Wellness to access this tool and build your budget. 
  • Virginia Department of Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division. Tasked with reuniting citizens with their lost funds, unclaimed property can include dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, stocks and dividends, insurance proceeds, refunds, and more. One in four Virginians has missing money. Visit our free search site to check your name and start the claim process. www.vaMoneySearch.org. 
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP has legal resources, estate planning products, counseling, employee discounts, health & wellness, etc. You can view more at the Employee Assistance Program. 
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Featured on Homepage September 2021

October General Meeting Announcement

The October Staff Senate meeting will feature Mason Innovation Commission co-chairs Ken Walsh (chief of staff) and Keith Renshaw (psychology department chair and former Faculty Senate chair). The commission has made eight strategic recommendations, at least two of which directly affect staff.

Wednesday, October 6
10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Guest speakers
General meeting will follow from 11 a.m. to noon
Zoom Meeting: https://gmu.zoom.us/j/93999749658?pwd=UGRZMXdJbFpXaXpRdmRhdG1wMXMyZz09
Passcode: SS123
Call in: 301-715-8592 or 267-831-0333
Webinar ID: 939 9974 9658/ Passcode: 224754

The Staff Senate represents all classified and non-student wage employees at George Mason University. Working closely with university administration, we address concerns that have an impact on the quality of work-life for the Mason community. The work of the senate is accomplished through open and continuous communication with its constituents. Find ways to virtually engage with the senate before, during, and after general meetings.