In August, the IAPHS Board approved the naming of the IAPHS Mentoring Award for Stephanie Robert, a founding member of the IAPHS Mentoring Committee and its longest-serving member to date. The IAPHS Mentoring Award is given annually to recognize an outstanding mentor who has given time and dedication as a mentor and in so doing, has made a significant positive impact on the intellectual and professional development of emerging scholars in IAPHS.
Beginning in 2022, the “Stephanie Robert Mentoring Award,” endorsed by the University of Wisconsin and sponsored by anonymous donors, will each year acknowledge Steph’s foundational role in the Mentoring Program and her leadership as a mentor across multiple disciplinary fields throughout the years. Steph’s contributions have had a major impact on the design, operation, and success of the IAPHS Mentoring Program. When the program was first conceived, those tasked with developing it lacked the necessary expertise in mentoring and program design to guide its development. Despite arduous competing commitments, Steph agreed to serve on the committee to provide this needed expertise. Steph consistently provided essential guidance in articulating principles of the program and crafting design features that optimize service to mentees while minimizing the burden on mentors and IAPHS. She also played a key role in guiding decisions about issues affecting specific mentor-mentee pairs and the committee’s operation. She served as a mentor herself for two years under the program. The IAPHS Mentoring Program would not be what it is today without Steph’s guidance, and thus it is fitting that the IAPHS Mentoring Award bears her name.
Steph’s expertise and legendary reputation as a mentor is well earned. In addition to continuous service as a mentor and countless mentees guided throughout her professional career, she has become a recognized expert on how mentors can be better prepared for their roles. She runs trainings throughout the country, helping interdisciplinary faculty improve their mentoring skills, and has offered to run a similar workshop for IAPHS at one of its conferences. She also runs trainings to help doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows “mentor up” in their roles as mentees and prepare them for their roles as mentors moving forward. She has received five important mentoring awards since 2009 as well as three faculty excellence awards.
In her “day job,” Steph serves as Director of the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Trained in sociology and social work, Steph focuses her research on how social and economic aspects of people’s lives affect their health and well-being over the life course. Many of her publications focus on how neighborhood context affects health and contributes to socioeconomic and racial health disparities. Her focus is on seeing social policy as health policy – determining how to best improve social policy rather than only health care policy to maintain people’s health and reduce health disparities.
Steph will be cycling off the Mentoring Committee after this October’s IAPHS Conference. Join us in thanking her for her contributions, and congratulating her for this new honor.