2021 Infinite Mile Award Recipients

Our congratulations and thanks to the recipients of our twenty-first Infinite Mile Awards.

Tami Kaplan for Collaboration/Teamwork
MITAC Team for Community Building
Taj Dickson for Public, Customer, or Client Relations
MIT News Office Writing Team for Public, Customer, or Client Relations
Gayle Gallagher, Special Recognition
Kate Eastment, Special Recognition


Tami Kaplan

Tami Kaplan, Faculty Governance Administrator, Office of the President, for Collaboration/Teamwork

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At MIT, faculty governance depends on collaboration and teamwork, and you are the indispensable connector whose sure touch keeps staff, students and faculty working together in sync.

In one of the most difficult periods in MIT’s history, you contributed immeasurably to the community through your wise counsel and thoughtful attention to those hardest hit by the pandemic. Skilled, generous and calm in the face of pressure, you approach even the most complex and delicate problems with determination, sensitivity and good humor.

You are unfailingly responsive to all who need you, at all hours of the day and night. From the Undergraduate Association to the President’s Office, just about every committee and community at MIT has reason to be deeply grateful to you.

As one colleague puts it, “You are our organizing center, our barometer, our beneficent task master, our institutional wisdom, our colleague and our friend.”

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Traci Swartz, Manager Community Services Office; Edith (Phoophie) Chavez, Events and Program Assistant; Anthony Farrell, Events and Program Associate; Jodi Schwedelson, Events and Program Assistant; Diane Tavitian, Senior Events and Program Associate; MITAC, Institute Affairs, for Community Building

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MITAC has served our community for more than 35 years, offering countless opportunities for enrichment, connection and fun.

When the pandemic hit, your team swiftly banded together to lift our hearts and bring us together. You created an ambitious slate of original productions—like Netflix without a budget!—and with MIT vendors, faculty and staff shining in the starring roles.

You invited us to explore everything from gardening to beer brewing, tarot cards to golf. And you created a Jeopardy-style game show that unleashed the competitive spirit of the MIT community, with family and friends eagerly joining in.

You produced an array of virtual talks, introducing us to beekeeping and harmonica playing, mysteries and mansions. And if we missed anything, we can always find it on the MITAC YouTube channel!

Traci, Phoophie, Anthony, Jodi and Diane: Your team’s inspiration and resourcefulness run deep. On campus or off, you bring the MIT community warmth, connection and joy– for which we are infinitely grateful.

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Taj Dickson

Taj Dickson, Administrative Assistant II, Copytech, for Public, Customer, or Client Relations

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Working at the main office of Copytech, you quickly became known for your professionalism and positive outlook. So it’s no wonder you were “stolen” from that location by the Institute Copier Program!

ICP is often swamped with last-minute, high-priority jobs and panic-stricken customers. Colleagues say no one handles the pressure better than you do. They also report that you never seem to have a bad day, or complain about…anything. (And for someone working in a fast-paced, customer-facing role, that is rare, indeed!)

A go-to expert for MIT departments, labs and centers, you are always ready and willing to assist customers quickly and efficiently, no matter what they need. Your upbeat personality and considerate, helpful approach have gained you wide admiration and respect from across the MIT community.

Your colleagues especially appreciate that even in this incredibly challenging year, you have not lost your friendly, gracious manner. Instead, you have reached new heights of sunny excellence. Copy that!

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MIT News Office Writing Team

David Chandler, Institute Writer; Jennifer Chu, Senior Writer; Peter Dizikes, Institute Writer; Anne Trafton, Senior Writer; Office of VP for Communications, for Public, Customer, or Client Relations

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Week in and week out, you produce clear, concise, engaging stories that elevate MIT’s reputation among journalists, scientists and the public.

You fearlessly tackle any topic, and at MIT, the topics can be formidable: Black holes, quantum mechanics, genome editing, machine learning. You also dive into the fascinatingly fun: artificial dog noses, the mathematical mysteries of spaghetti and Jenga-playing robots.

A small but mighty team, you have also covered the Institute’s response to the pandemic and other issues of enormous social importance, including U.S. elections, misinformation on social media and vaccine hesitancy.

Colleagues praise you as not only talented and hardworking, but gracious, supportive and kind. David, Jennifer, Peter and Anne: You tell MIT’s story to the world—and help MIT understand itself. Through your intrepid research and reporting, you remind us every day to appreciate the world-changing work happening around us.

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Gayle Gallagher

Gayle Gallagher, Special Recognition

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On the occasion of your retirement, you may be feeling a bit of déjà vu. Wasn’t this supposed to happen…last year? It didn’t, of course, because you saw right away that MIT could not live through a pandemic without you. Your staying on was above and beyond what we expected – but it was what we needed, even more than we knew.

Everyone at MIT sees the flawless works you create: spectacular inaugurations and Presidential visits, beautiful meals and joyous dance parties. But only we see how you work. Forever admonishing us to pay no attention to what’s behind the curtain, expertly dodging the paparazzi who see you as the real celebrity, you make it easy to believe that the elaborate MIT events machine works by magic.

We will miss your sleight-of-hand, but the magic will live on through your singular legacies: Conference Services, which you had the vision to create early in your career, and the incredibly effective, creative, loyal army of colleagues you developed over time – and whom you leave behind to help the rest us live up to your high standards.

We say goodbye reluctantly but with wholehearted congratulations and every best wish for happy new adventures. We will always be in awe of your powers – and always miss the pleasure of joining you in making magic happen for this “special place.”

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Kate Eastment

Kate Eastment, Special Recognition

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To your MIT colleagues, you are many things: The ultimate team player. A fountain of knowledge. A North Star. And in a nod to your love of word games, you are also our Kind Awe-inspiring Trustworthy and Estimable…KATE.

You have brought countless alumni, donors and friends closer to the Institute with your creative, thoughtful innovations. You have built a pipeline of strong, diverse candidates for the Corporation, enhanced the member experience and kept members engaged even after their terms ended—honoring and invigorating every stage of the volunteer life cycle.

We will miss your humor and intellectual curiosity, your skillful untangling of seemingly impossible problems and your ability to enliven any conversation with rich details of MIT’s history. (As one colleague explains, “I could go to Kate with the most obscure questions, and she always knew the who, the what and the when.”) And those of us who worked with you in person will never forget your effortless personal elegance and inimitable style.

Quite simply, we will miss YOU. We are honored that you have shared your creativity, talent and wisdom with MIT for 21 extraordinary years. Congratulations!

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