Congratulations to Jessie Brunner, senior program manager and director of human trafficking research in the Center for Human Rights & International Justice, for receiving the 2021 Dean’s Award of Merit in the innovation category.
Each year, the innovation award goes to an individual in the School of Humanities & Sciences who has initiated change by implementing procedures, systems, organizational structures, or strategies that resulted in improvements in service, efficiency, value, or effectiveness.
More than 30 students, staff, faculty, and alumni from across campus wrote letters of support for Brunner, which highlighted the ways she embodies innovation and the positive contributions she has made to SGS, the university, and the world.
In her role at the Center for Human Rights & International Justice, where she has worked since 2014, Brunner advises undergraduate students pursuing a minor in human rights, develops innovative programming, and helps lead several interdisciplinary research collaborations, including the Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Program and the Human Trafficking Data Lab. Most recently, she launched the Re:Structure Lab, a project working to end forced labor and modern slavery by reimagining the business dynamics that sustain it.
“Even on her worst days, Jessie seems able to do the work of three people. She is unfailingly reliable and takes more initiative at work than anyone I have ever supervised or collaborated with,” wrote Center for Human Rights & International Justice Director David Cohen and Associate Director Penelope Van Tuyl in a joint letter. “Jessie has been the driving engine for growth in several of our most exciting and productive research program areas, which have in turn produced blossoming professional partnerships with organizations on campus and around the world.”
In addition to her research, Brunner is a valued member of SGS’ Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee and an active participant in the Stanford Environmental Justice Working Group.
“This past year, she was interested in learning more about effective D&I approaches and ways the division could instill a heightened D&I ethos into our collective activities. To this end, she partnered with other likeminded SGS staff members and convened what has become a weekly D&I Working Group,” wrote SGS Faculty Director Jeremy M. Weinstein and Executive Director Kate Kuhns in a joint letter. “We think everyone in SGS would agree with us when we say that Jessie brings a dash of energy to all of the work that she does, big and small. She has a great attention to detail and a dedication that is hard to find.”
Brunner is one of three recipients of this year’s award.
The Dean’s Award of Merit originated in the School of Humanities and Sciences in 1999 to acknowledge the important role staff play in the success of the school and the university. Additionally, this award helps supervisors recognize significant contributions made by their staff. In 2019, the Dean’s Award added specific categories for recognition in the areas of Innovation, Spirit, and Leadership.