On October 4, the Center’s network of 800 dedicated employees descended upon the iconic Avalon theatre in Hollywood for the organization’s first in-person all-staff meeting since early 2020.
Hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 alum, Kerri Colby, the convening boasted special performances, milestone recaps by the Center’s CEO Joe Hollendoner and a very special commemorative moment. It was before an audience of colleagues and peers that Cynthia Harrison, a nurse practitioner with 24 years of service at the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic, was honored with the first-ever Sharon Franklin Brown Award for Employee Excellence.
Harrison was selected from more than 200 nominations by Sharon Franklin Brown, the Center’s outgoing Chief Impact Officer for whom the award is named. The honor is an employee recognition that will be given at least once per year to an employee who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to their work, the values of the Center, and their fellow colleagues.
To me, Cyndi is the very heart and soul of the clinic.Chief Medical Officer Dr. Kaiyti Duffy
Harrison, known as Cyndi to her coworkers, first started at the Center in 1999, working as a nurse practitioner at the Jeffrey Goodman Clinic, one of the country’s few Federally Qualified Health Centers with providers who specialize in primary care for LGBTQ+ folks and people living with HIV.
“Cyndi has provided medical care to literally thousands of patients with empathy and humor,” said the Center’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kaiyti Duffy. “When Cyndi started, HIV was still a life-threatening condition. She told me that they used to keep sympathy cards in the provider suite because so many of our patients were succumbing to the virus. Cyndi bore witness to this loss and continued to show-up every day, caring for individuals who had absolutely nowhere else to go.”
During the award presentation, videos of Harrison’s colleagues extolling her commitment, generosity, and kindness were shared with the audience. “To me, Cyndi is the very heart and soul of the clinic,” said Dr. Duffy.
“I’ve seen the Center grow so much over the years,” Harrison said in her acceptance speech. “During that time, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with such amazing people. So many of my colleagues have given so much of themselves to provide the best possible health care to our community.”
“You could never find a more kind, compassionate, dedicated group of people than those in Health Services who come together every day, striving to help our community reach their healthcare goals in a supportive and safe environment,” she said. “They are my inspiration.”
In her time at the Center, Harrison has seen the community face a number of health crises, including the HIV and AIDS crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Mpox outbreak last summer.
“Our community was hit hard,” Harrison said. “There were no blueprints on how to handle these crises, there were no easy answers. But Health Services stepped up and continued to show up, day after day, through all the fear and uncertainty, to provide comfort and guidance and help lead our community back to health.”
“I love what I do,” she said. “I love what you all do. And I am so proud of all the work that we do together.”