What is the Cultural North Star Award?
The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA’s annual Cultural North Star Award launched in September 2019 as part of the Cultural North Star Recognition Program. The award is designed to recognize a member of the DGSOM community (staff, faculty, trainee or student) who has gone above and beyond to exemplify and champion our Cultural North Star values in their work, actions or interactions. As an agent of change, the awardee's contributions have helped DGSOM build a positive, mission-driven culture by doing what’s right, making things better and being kind.
Who is eligible?
The award is open to all DGSOM staff, faculty, students and trainees. As a peer-nominated award, all candidates are nominated by their peers/colleagues.
How is the winner selected?
The Cultural North Star Award Review Committee evaluates nominees across six Cultural North Star criteria and selects the nominee with the highest cumulative score as the winner. The Review Committee comprises members of the Cultural North Star Steering Committee, as well as select Cultural North Star Ambassadors.
In the spirit of working together to eliminate inequity, the names and pronouns of all nominees and nominators are redacted as part of a blind review process.
Is there a prize?
The 2019 award included a $500 prize, custom Cultural North Star plaque and recognition by Dean Kelsey Martin at DGSOM’s annual Cultural North Star Day event in November. (Prizes may vary year to year.)
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kauser Ahmed, PhD
The winner of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA’s 2019 Cultural North Star Award is Kauser Ahmed, PhD, clinical psychologist and director of the Simms/Mann – UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.
Dr. Ahmed has been part of the Simms/Mann team since 2002, during which time she has played a critical role in establishing evidence-based psychosocial assessment and treatment protocols, as well as scaling the Center’s services to meet the growing needs of our community. As the Center’s training director, Dr. Ahmed has developed and implemented a nationally recognized multidisciplinary psycho-oncology training program, in addition to supervising the teaching/training of more than 100 pre- and post-doctoral clinical psychology students, MSW oncology students and chaplaincy interns. Dr. Ahmed received her BA from Brown University and her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Denver. She completed her clinical internship and postdoctoral training at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA.
Nearly a dozen of Dr. Ahmed’s colleagues and mentees submitted testimonials on her behalf, sharing countless stories of their “loving and brave” leader’s compassion, creative problem solving and mission-driven commitment to do what’s right, make things better and be kind. From expanding psychosocial care to address access disparities to piloting data-driven psychoeducational workshops for research staff, Dr. Ahmed has not only exemplified our Cultural North Star values in her own work, but she has also inspired and empowered those around her to do the same.
As illustrated in the highlighted testimonials below, Dr. Ahmed’s contributions have helped advance our mission while making a deep and meaningful impact on her colleagues and the community at large:
Kauser Ahmed has continuously and constantly worked to eliminate inequity in the quality of care offered to everyone at UCLA. She has defended the offering of psychosocial support to oncology patients, UCLA system-wide, free of cost.”
“Kauser has created a culture of kindness at our center, [so much so that] our patients refer to our team as ‘family.’ The kindness and warmth that she shares with patients and colleagues makes them feel at ‘home.’”
“In the last year, I’ve seen Kauser foster collaborations with several other teams at UCLA, including ongoing efforts to develop and test a supportive program for bone-marrow-transplant patients and an educational workshop on suicide risk assessment for research staff working on a breast cancer survivorship study.”
Above all else, Kauser has helped shape a work culture that is absent of gossip, insecurity or fear, and has led her team to embrace and share all of their unique gifts.”
Kauser has taken leadership at a critical time […] when the Center, with University support, is expanding exponentially into geographically far-flung UCLA community practices […] Kauser has not only demonstrated a commitment to promote diversity and equity within our team, but also to address inequity within the ways patient populations receive care, across a range of demographics including geographical differences.”