Jack Wood Innovation Award Recipients

The Innovation award recognizes a short-term town-gown program that is created to meet a timely need.

2023 George Mason University’s Safety, Emergency, and Enterprise Risk Management (SEERM):

George Mason University’s Safety, Emergency, and Enterprise Risk Management (SEERM) team and the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) have a longstanding collaborative relationship, born out of necessity and shared interest in the health and well-being of our shared communities. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Mason’s leadership tapped SEERM to serve as the lead unit in managing and operationalizing Mason’s pandemic planning, response, and recovery. SEERM leadership quickly leveraged Mason’s strong existing relationship with FCHD to enhance Mason’s response to the pandemic by incorporating FCHD’s public health expertise, situational awareness, and access to the vaccine. Conversely, Mason was able to augment FCHD vaccine efforts by expanding access to the COVID vaccine through Mason’s mass vaccination clinics, mobile clinics, and ultimately routine vaccine clinics that are still in operation today. Mason was also able to provide testing to our community which alleviated some of the burdens on the regional and county testing sites.

Once the vaccine became available to the community, SEERM leadership seized the opportunity to support regional public health efforts by providing university resources (including facilities, equipment, funding, volunteers, faculty, staff, and students) to support FCHD in vaccine distribution to the community.

This partnership ultimately led to FCHD entrusting Mason with enough vaccine supplies to operate the region’s second-largest mass vaccination clinic capable of offering up to 3,000 vaccines per day for the regional community, as well as Mason students, faculty, and staff.

2021 EduTutorVA:

Only the second time this category has been awarded, George Mason University recognizes EduTutorVA. The massive education disruption, caused as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has widened the already alarming gaps for K-12 underserved students. EduTutorVA was created to provide free individual or small-group tutoring by trained college students and alumni, including those from Mason and Northern Virginia Community College. The students receive targeted support in core academic areas, and the tutors receive a positive introduction to the teaching profession. To learn more about EduTutorVA, visit https://www.edututorva.org/.

2020 Rachel Picon and Maricza Hinnah:

A first-year award, this year’s recipients are timely indeed. George Mason University seniors Rachel Picon and Maricza Hinnah created a Facebook group called Northern VA COVID-19 Craziness Supply Exchange, a clearinghouse for finding, exchanging or selling supplies at cost, as well as a place to post if you need help because you are immunocompromised.

Ms. Picon mentioned, “Sometimes when we help others, it relieves our own anxiety and makes us feel we are making a difference.” Both students are graduating this year with bachelor of social work degrees.