D-Lab's Sher Vogel wins Office of the Vice Chancellor Infinite Mile Award

Sher Vogel
Sher Vogel

Sher Vogel, MIT D-Lab Global Trainings Manager, has won an MIT Office of the Vice Chancellor Infinite Mile Award! The program provides an opportunity to formally recognize the outstanding achievements of our peers through an annual nomination and selection process. Sher was nominated by staff from D-Lab in the Community category, for the ways in which she demonstrates a desire to make MIT a richer environment in which to work, live and learn!

Read on for her nomination letter:

Officially, Sher Vogel leads D-Lab’s efforts to support participatory innovation trainings around the world; her work requires complex coordination and relationship building with diverse teams of stakeholders across multiple time zones throughout the year. While most of these efforts are outward facing, Sher's positivity, creativity, enthusiasm, and deep commitment to the common good is a major force within D-Lab—she is a community builder, connector, coach, facilitator, cheerleader, leader, and friend.

As she supports teams from Mexico to Morocco, Colombia to Thailand, Sher can often be found in the office early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends working to support teams working through complex logistical and curricular challenges. She leverages platforms from Skype and Google Hangouts to WhatsApp, short audio messages and even Bitmojis to make collaboration easy and fun. Ever on the lookout for efficiencies, Sher tackled the tremendous task of wrangling 10 years of grassroots-organized summits wisdom into simple, engaging, easy-to-use and access materials that are available both online and offline, enabling anyone, anywhere to create their own participatory innovation events. The core philosophy of all of this work is to build relationships among people that are excited to use participatory innovation to address poverty-related challenges in their communities, and through her passion, skill and hard work, Sher has excelled at doing just that.

Sher’s role as a community-builder, however, is not limited to off-campus activities: she is integral to building a culture of mutual support, joy, and excellence within the D-Lab community. Even with a million things on her plate, Sher always takes the time to appreciate, cheer on, and listen to her colleagues. She brightens each and every day at D-Lab and inspires everyone around her to be a better person. 

Words of support and praise from her colleagues:

“Having worked closely with Sher since she first joined D-Lab, I have had the privilege of seeing how she truly exemplifies all of the qualities of the Community award and how she has done this consistently year after year. One of Sher’s attributes which stands out is how she is very intentional about taking time to check in with colleagues on a personal level, to offer positive encouragement (particularly when she can sense it is needed) and to sincerely and meaningfully appreciate the work of those around her. Sher leads by example when it comes to building a culture of appreciation and of valuing the contributions of everyone with whom she is working (regardless of their position); as a result, she contributes constantly to building a strong sense of morale among her teams as well as within our staff at D-Lab. Sher is an enthusiastic, well-prepared, vigorous ambassador of D-lab’s values and philosophy and has shown consistent leadership and initiative in finding new ways to foster teamwork and collaboration across time zones, across cultures, among highly diverse groups of people, and within our own organization. I find so much inspiration in how Sher approaches her work and all that she is able to accomplish through the power of collaboration and faith.”

“I never cease to be amazed by my the seemingly bottomless positive energy that Sher brings into the office and into the field with her. The work we do has very concrete consequences for our network members, and the burden of that can sometimes be heavy, particularly when things go wrong. Sher feels that weight as keenly as any member of the team, but I’ve never seen it make her ill-tempered or cause her to lose her belief in or passion for the work that we do—if anything, it inspires her to throw herself ever more energetically into executing and improving upon her work. She is an inspiration to the team as a whole—not just because she sets an example, but because she constantly and actively creates opportunities for the rest of the team to join her in channeling that renewed zeal.”

“It’s always in my grumbliest moments—the ones when I’m buried deep in a spreadsheet or an unpleasant e-mail—when suddenly Sher’s sunny face will appear in front of my desk. “I just wanted to say that I appreciate everything you do,” she’ll say. Taken aback, I’ll try to answer with a “Sher, thank YOU for all—” and she inevitably cuts me off with, “Don’t reciprocate, just receive!” At summits and staff meetings alike, Sher insists that “the floor is always open for appreciations.” If gratitude is the key to happiness, then Sher can take credit for creating the environment of joy, respect, and love felt at D-Lab.” 

For her incredible global role as a community builder, MIT D-Lab was thrilled to recommend Sher Vogel for an Infinite Mile Award for Community, and equally pleased to see her chosen!