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Staff Council Winter 2013 Newsletter

Welcome to 2013!

We are pleased to bring you the AU Staff Council Winter 2013 Newsletter! Inside this issue, we'll recap our fall successes and forecast our upcoming projects and events for the spring. Read on as we interview staff council representative, CTRL staff, avid painter and super woman soccer player- Anna Olsson. Also, read about how AHealthyU is flourishing and creating an inclusive AU community. Lastly, see who's on Facebook at AU! Thank you all for the great turnout at the Fall Luncheon held in November and your continued support. As always, we at Staff Council are honored to represent you.

Matteo Becchi, Chair
Adell Crowe, Co-chair
Kat Mirance, Secretary

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This past fall, Staff Council has contributed to helping the communities of AU staff and those residing near AU. Through a successful giving campaign, AU donated a generous $600.00 toward helping Martha's Table further their commitment to needs of low income and homeless families.

November yielded such a terrific response to the Winter Wear drive (with a collection of more than 50 coats and 7 boxes of scarves/hats/gloves), that we hosted a second Winter Wear Drive this January! Another 8 bags of cold-weather clothes were donated to local non-profit A Wider Circle (whose founder is an AU alum).

The ever popular Staff Council Book and Media Swap has gained more momentum and an additional media swap will be held this February. In October, nearly 150 staff members participated, which resulted in 15 boxes full of books donated to Better World Books.

More than 300 staff members joined us for the annual Staff Luncheon held in November. Thank you for joining us for a delicious meal, a look at our benefits, an introduction to the organic waste initiative and a deeper look into the revamped PMP.

If you missed this in our last issue, get to know our team! Aside from learning which department they work for, who they represent on campus, what committees they take part in and how they enhance the AU community, you will find out interesting information on the members. They have answered the really tough questions in life…

1. What is your favorite movie/book of all time?

2. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have 1 song to listen to, what would it be?

3. What difference do you want to make at AU?

4. How do you think Staff Council can help this year?

5. If you could have one super power, what would it be?   

Simply click click on the Council Representatives tab on the Staff Council homepage. Get to know them more than just by name!


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Staff Council will be busy this spring with meetings, new initiatives, and our favorite service activities! We’re working hard to finalize our spring 2013 events calendar and will you keep updated on developments through the AU Staff Council website and Facebook page. In the meantime, check out what’s already planned:

March 10-17, 2013: Spring Break- no classes, university offices open

April 29, 2013: Spring Classes end. Finals week begins

May 7, 2013: End of Spring term

May 11-12, 2013: Commencement Ceremonies


Staff Council events:

February 6, 2013: The Staff Council Book and Media Swap is back and better than ever! Drop your books off at Bender from 9am-12pm and then pick up new-to-you items from 12pm-2pm.

February 6, 2013: The Staff Appreciation Week committee will be meeting to plan for our annual celebration in May! Watch out for more details as activities, foods and time frames are finalized.

Don't worry if you miss it, Staff Council will offer another book/media swap on the Wednesday during Staff Appreciation week. That same day we will be collecting clothes for the Professional Clothing drive; another successful drive benefiting the A Wider Circle charity. More information to come.More activities, events, and service opportunities are in the works – remember to “Like” us on on Facebook for up-to-date event announcements!

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Anna Olsson is the Manager of Training, Performance Management and Assessment at the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning, and a valued member of American University’s Staff Council. But that’s not all…

Anna Olsson in Sweden

Growing up

“There is something about learning a language very intensely…”

Anna Olsson speaks 4 languages (“maybe 4 and a quarter if you count my Spanish”) – German, Japanese, English, and Swedish. Anna grew up in Boras, Sweden and travels there twice a year to visit friends and family. During high school, she was an exchange student in Japan where she lived with a family that she is still very close to. “It is wonderful to be able to go back after 11 years and see them.” Although she tries to practice speaking Japanese with students she meets at AU, the opportunities are rare. Despite this, Anna says that last year, when she was in Japan visiting her surrogate family for the New Year, she was amazed that it only took her a couple of days to pick the language up again. “I had no idea my brain worked like that!” Anna is a person who loves to learn foreign languages and experience different cultures. Being an exchange student in high school and then living in Germany for eight years before coming to the United States has opened her eyes to the world, and to the value of spending time abroad.

Staff Council - Anna Olsson soccer


“If you are having fun, you tend to do well.”

Anna, who has been playing soccer since she was 8 years old, is a member of Montgomery County’s recreational women’s soccer team, Storm. Though this team of 11 women rarely has time to practice, they are top ranked and won every game but one last season. Anna joined Storm by pure coincidence. “I had a list of game dates for the league. I was looking for a team to join and Storm happened to have no games scheduled on the one weekend I was going to be out of town.” Perfect!

Staff Council - Anna Olsson painting


“I love doing creative things - especially using the medium of paper and paint or ink."

When she’s not on the soccer field, Anna can be found painting or drawing in her kitchen or outside if it is a nice day. She recently took an art class at AU where she composed an ink painting of a portion of the AU campus as seen from Katzen Art Center. Anna explains that she has always loved painting and drawing, but didn’t have much time for it in college. Recently she has begun to take the time to rediscover her love for creating art.

Staff Council - Green tea

Green Teaching

“As much as we can do at AU at the grassroots level, it is amazing to watch it snowball into something even bigger.”

Five years ago, while earning her Master’s Degree in Political Science, Anna was teaching the “Dynamics of Political Change” class at American University and was amazed at the amount of paper she wasted. She decided to test herself to see how much paper she could save throughout the semester. This simple experiment gave Anna the idea to start the Green Teaching Program, which is now in its 4th year and boasts a hearty participation count of 300 professors, and has received several inquiries from other universities about ways they can start similar programs. The Green Teaching Program helps professors track waste associated with teaching classes, and rewards and recognizes professors who succeed in reducing waste. Throughout the course of the year, if they are able to reduce their waste, they can become certified. The Green Teaching Certificate is based on a system of self-reporting. Faculty members at American University can qualify for a Green Teaching Certificate by answering a number of questions about their efforts to make their courses more sustainable. Upon evaluation, qualified courses will be rewarded with a seal representing one of five different levels of the Green Teaching Certificate, which can be put on syllabi and Blackboard pages to market courses as green. “I am most proud of the people who have committed to [the program], who keep coming back and recertifying. The program really lives from all of the professors who take the time and commit to and really try to be greener in the classroom.” – Anna Olsson

To find out more about the Green Teaching Program at American University, please email Anna at or visit their website:

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In May, 2013, AU's AHealthyU program will turn 5 years old. To celebrate this milestone (since we probably shouldn't eat a huge slice of birthday cake), Staff Council invited AHealthyU Health Promotion Coordinator, Matthew Barresi, and Senior Director of Employee Benefits for HR, Ann Joiner, to recap the last five years, and share their hopes and ideas for the future of AHealthyU.

Q: Can you tell us about the history and development of the AHealthyU Program?

The program was recommended by an outside consultant in 2006 as a way to help improve our faculty and staff's overall health status. A subcommittee was formed, focus groups were held to gauge interest in a wellness program, and research was done on programs at peer institutions. The AhealthyU program kicked off in May 2008.

Q: In what ways has the program changed or evolved since it's creation?

 Ann: Initially the program was focused on health education, but as it evolved over time, we implemented a wider array of activities, including the health screenings and fitness classes.

Q: What are some examples of typical AHealthyU programs?

Matt: We provide programming related to all of the generally recognized areas of wellness - social, environmental, physical, spiritual, occupational, emotional, financial, and intellectual. A majority of our programming focuses on physical health because improvements in physical health often bring about positive changes in other areas of wellness too. Our programs include brown bag lunches and healthy cooking demonstrations, an annual pedometer challenge, Weight Watchers on campus, the farmer's market, and fitness classes.Our latest program, Fit and Lean in 2013, is a new program that is a combined fitness and weight loss challenge - it follows last fall's very successful Great American Weight Loss Challenge.

Q: About how much time goes into planning, managing, and evaluating each AHealthyU program?

Matt: This is difficult to measure. We are constantly going through the cycle of creating, running and evaluating programs. We run one large program per semester and in the summer, but many other smaller programs are running throughout the year. One of the fun things about this program is that we are constantly thinking of new ways to help faculty and staff make healthy behavior changes. There is no typical day-to-day schedule.

 Q: What is your favorite AHealthyU program?

Matt: The Couch to 5k Training Program! I enjoy meeting with participants regularly and watching their improvement from week to week. The program allows me to meet new people and share in the great accomplishment they experience on completing a 5k after 8 or 9 weeks of training. It was my passion for running that led me to a career in Health Promotion, and the Couch to 5k program let's me share my love of running with new people.

 Q: What is your vision for the future of the AHealthyU program?

Ann: Our vision is to continue to match the program offerings to the needs of our community. We're hoping the opening of North Hall in the fall will give us access to a facility (either in JFC or North Hall) for regularly scheduled faculty and staff fitness classes. We want to inspire a culture of health and well-being at the university.

Be sure to check out AHealthyU's full schedule of upcoming events - we'll see you there!


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Do you want to know what's going on in other corners of the university? See what your friends are up to that work in Sustainability, Career Center, Alumni Relations, WAMU 88.5 (and nearly 50 other departments)? Did you know Bon Appetit has a page too? The AU Social Media club has a list of various Facebook pages (and Twitter) surrounding American University! Check out and stay updated on what is interesting to you. Also, contact the Social Media Club (or Staff Council) if you'd like to add your department to the list!

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