Blog Global Health Center

Farewell to a great colleague – Jeanie Bryant

Written by Katie Crowder, administrative coordinator for the Global Health Center

Jacaranda van Rheenen, center manager, at left, Jeanie Bryant departing admin. coordinator, and Victor Davila-Roman, director, Global Health Center gather for a farewell photo

Jeanie Bryant has worked for Washington University’s Institute for Public Health for several years and as a beloved member of the staff, has been invited to transition into many different roles. She is set to retire in the very near future, so we sat down with Jeanie to discuss her time here and received some feedback from her colleagues.

Q:  Talk about your time spent working at the institute. What roles did you take on and how did you end up at the Global Health Center?  

A: While attending my daughter’s Brown School graduation celebration at the Glass Factory, I was introduced to Professor Nancy Morrow-Howell, director of the Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging, and she encouraged me to apply for an open position at her center. I started working at the center on July 5, 2017. It was a good fit for me as I had just retired from a long career with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and I realized that this new position was to become my “encore career.” (The center encourages older adults to find purpose and meaning through encore careers!) My journey has also included a temporary part-time position in HR working with Victoria Anwuri, associate director of the institute. And finally, Center Manager, Jacaranda van Rheenen called me from Kenya and asked me to apply for an open position at the Global Health Center.

“Gratitude” is one word that comes easily to mind when I think of my time here and all that I have learned and experienced! I will miss the camaraderie, leadership, the collective intelligence and the mission to improve health and do good.  

I was so pleased to meet Jeanie when she applied for a program coordinator position with the Center for Aging. She came with much valued experience and many skills to share, and she was a perfect hire for us. I think she has thought about retiring at several points in these last few years, but we keep finding ways to pull her back to the institute. Maybe she really means it this time!

Nancy Morrow-Howell, PhD, director, Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

Not only has Jeanie been a steadfast support to so many of our programs and events, but she’s also been a genuinely curious and inquisitive learner alongside our students, trainees and audience members. She’s been willing to share her perspective and considerable personal and professional experience, deepening our conversations and encouraging us all to think about the practical and purposeful implications of our research and teaching.

Brian Carpenter, PhD, faculty lead for Educational Initiatives in Aging, Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

And just when she thought she was out…we pulled her back in. That’s our story with Jeanie! She has been so great to work with, always willing to step in to help us out and open to learning things. She first worked with our Center for Aging, and then we brought her back to help out during a colleague’s maternity leave. Most recently, she worked with our Global Health Center. Jeanie is REALLY retiring this time, and we wish her all the best.

Victoria Anwuri, MPH, associate director, Institute for Public Health

Q: Are there any institute events or gatherings that really stick out in your mind?

A: As part of the Global Health Center Visiting Speaker Series, the center hosted Solomon F. Ofori-Acquah, PhD, associate professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh and director of the West African Genetic Medicine Center at University of Ghana. His lecture, “Building Capacity in Low-Resource Regions to Catalyze Transformative Research”, was an opportunity to learn about sickle cell disease and how to establish successful capacity building initiatives in Africa. Professor Ofori-Acquah had a very engaging personality and I very much enjoyed his discussion with students at a luncheon hosted by the Global Health Student Advisory Committee. He ended up being the last speaker to visit our campus before the COVID-19 pandemic scattered all of us to our homes!

Solomon F. Ofori-Acquah, at far left, meets with several members of WashU’s African Students Association

It has been a true honor and pleasure working with Jeanie these past years in the Global Health Center. Jeanie’s positive outlook on life and valuable input on our center activities will be greatly missed! We wish her well in her next exciting chapter and look forward to continuing our friendship.

Jacaranda van Rheenen, PhD, manager, Global Health Center

It was wonderful to sit across from Jeanie when I worked in the Global Health Center, and I truly enjoyed all the lunch outings we had together. I send her best wishes and the biggest congratulations on her retirement!

Sandra Lee, MPH, RD, former research assistant, Global Health Center

Q: What has been your mantra or tips and tricks to help the Global Health Center and the institute address the public and global health issues of our time?

A: As a former Rotarian, I still adhere to the motto of Rotary International –
Service above Self. I always considered my time at the institute as service. Yes, it’s paid work, but it involves advancing goodwill and understanding in the world. This is so much a part of the Global Health Center, and why it continues to provide leadership in improving health for everyone, including the poor and disenfranchised.

When Jeanie first joined the institute, what a wonderful coincidence to find that she is a longtime friend of my husband’s family, who I had met on a few occasions! I knew that Jeanie was a sweet person, but that doesn’t even begin to cover her attributes. She is kind and clever, thorough and pragmatic, dependable and an overall pleasure to work with. I feel so lucky that I’ve gotten to know her better and I wish her all the best for a marvelous retirement!

Anna Mazzuca, MA, Business Manager, Institute for Public Health

Q: What are your exciting plans for retirement?

A: I will continue to follow my passion, which is hunger ministry. I have discerned a call to feed the poor, whether it be at the Church of St. Michael and St. George, Trinity Episcopal Church in the Central West End neighborhood, or at Gateway 180, a homeless shelter for women and children in downtown St. Louis. In addition, I volunteer at the Missouri Botanical Garden, where I get my “fix” of beauty and enjoy spending time with my two book clubs. Next up for me is adding wood flooring in my mid-century modern condo. Just can’t wait for the jack hammers!

Jeanie volunteers at a recent foot care clinic at Trinity Episcopal Church in St. Louis, MO