Food is Opportunity

Come one, come all, to our Food is Opportunity Day that we’ll be hosting in partnership with the Montgomery County Food Council on Tuesday, February 12th!

Food is Opportunity Day will be a multi-part event, including two educational panels — a “Food Careers Panel” and a “Scaling a Food Business Panel” — as well as an expo featuring product samples from Montgomery County food and beverage businesses, and information tables hosted by USG programs and local food system partner organizations. Learn about the diverse opportunities available within the food system, including unexpected career paths, current job openings with local food businesses, improved food access through on-campus initiatives, and more! Please use this link to sign-up for the event and to volunteer.

Event Schedule: Three sessions, described below, will be held in the Rockville/Potomac Ballroom in Building II at USG.

Session 1: Food Careers Panel (12-1pm, open to all students)

  • Students will have the opportunity to jump start their food system careers by learning about professional opportunities beyond the kitchen: from local food artisans, to social entrepreneurs, to nonprofit leaders. Q&A to follow.
  • This panel will feature Sophia Maroon, Founder of Dress it Up Dressing, Jackie DeCarlo, CEO of Manna Food Center, and Ryan Walter, Co-Founder of Compost Crew.

Session 2: Food and Beverage Expo (Students are encouraged to attend from 1-2pm)

  • At the Expo, local food and beverage producers will be hosting tables to connect their business with retail and wholesale buyers and provide samples of their products.
  • Additional organizations/businesses representing a wide variety of food resources and programs in the County will also be exhibiting, including Community Food Rescue, Crossroads Community Food Network, Manna Food Center, and the Montgomery County Office of Agriculture.

Student Networking with Businesses and Organizations (2-2:30PM)

  • During this time, students can network with and learn from local producers, entrepreneurs and nonprofit organization representatives and inquire about volunteer/internship/job opportunities.
  • Students will receive information prior to the event on which participating businesses have internship/job openings.

Session 3: Scaling a Food Business Panel (2:30-3:30pm, open to all students)

  • In growing your food business it’s necessary to understand the moving parts of your regional ecosystem — from business development resources available to sales and distribution channels to policy and regulations knowledge.
  • This panel will feature Judy Stephenson, the MoCo Small Business Navigator, Kelly Dudeck with Grown Fortify, and Bart Yablonsky, Owner of Dawson’s Market.
  • Students attending this panel will also have the opportunity to taste a dish created by CulinArt during the expo.

Please visit the Montgomery County Food Council’s website to learn more. We hope to see you there!

Food is Opportunity Day-1

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A Shift in Performance Appraisal. Guest Post: Dr. Elliot Lasson, UMBC Program Director and Professor, M.P.S. I/O Psychology

Elliot D. Lasson Headshot

Dr. Elliot D. Lasson, UMBC Program Director and Professor, M.P.S. I/O Psychology

Performance reviews have been part of the annual Human Resource (HR) cycle for many years.  In theory, they represent an opportunity for management to discuss the performance of employees on an ongoing basis.  However, performance reviews have been notoriously an event which evoke anxiety in employees and a certain level of discomfort for managers.  Because of this, they have been something which are subject to avoidance and procrastination.  HR often ends up playing the role of “performance appraisal police” to ensure managerial compliance in performing this annual ritual.

There are three basic functions which appraisals play in the performance management process.  First, they are a basis for administrative decisions such as bonuses, promotions, and raises on one hand, and discipline and termination on the other.  Since these decisions are often difficult, it is no wonder why these uneasy conversations are prone to being put off.  From the manager’s perspective, it is uncomfortable to evaluate others.  Even if the evaluation is satisfactory or positive, from the employee’s perspective, it might not be good enough especially when a bonus might be riding on the outcome.  Plus, it is uncomfortable hearing others point out our deficiencies.  When management does not have sufficient training in conveying feedback, then it might not be delivered in the most tactful or constructive manner.

The second function of performance appraisal is for employee development.  This is an opportunity for a manager to sit down with an employee to discuss performance.  This might include if any additional resources might be provided or impediments removed.  It might also be a way of identifying training or other professional development opportunities that might support the employee.

The third purpose of performance appraisal is to serve as a data metric to assess how well the organization’s selection decisions have been faring.  For example, if those who had been selected based on a high interview score ultimately perform on the job at high levels, that demonstrates that hiring decisions have been by and large effective.

Elliot teaching

Dr. Lasson teaching class

Based on reasons most linked to the challenges associated the first function mentioned above, some notable organizations like Netflix, Adobe, and Deloitte have reinvented their performance management system.  A recent article published by the Society for Human Resource Management describes this recent paradigm shift and the reasons for it.  One of the other premises behind this is the evolution of work.  To think of performance as adhering to a static annual period after which an evaluation is recorded represents a certain disconnect.  If an appraisal takes place every year in December, situations which happen in January may not be able to wait until the end of that year.  In addition, communication in life and in organizations is shorter and constant.  So, it makes sense that the performance management process is indicative of that reality.  For these reasons, many organizations have shifted to more periodic check-ins.  In a sense, this places more of a short-term responsibility on managers.  But, in the long run, it might make the end-of-year conversations to be less fraught with surprises.

As an HR professional and professor of UMBC’s Masters of I/O Psychology at USG, I was asked to discuss the evolution of the performance appraisal on Maryland Public Television. In my interview I discuss how HR needs to shift from a “transactional” emphasis toward one of “talent management.” HR should be seen less as a gatekeeper for functions like payroll and benefits and more of a facilitator for career development and workforce planning. Watch the video to learn more.

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Welcome Back Message from Dr. Edelstein

Dr. Stewart EdelsteinDear USG Students, Faculty and Staff:

Welcome back! We hope you’re as excited as we are about the start of a new semester.  As always, we want to thank each and every one of you for being such a vital part of our campus community. USG is firmly dedicated to our mission of supporting student success. Whenever you step on this campus, we want you to feel welcome, inspired, challenged and supported in all of your endeavors. As the semester begins, I wanted to share with you a few highlights of what’s ahead in 2019.


When the Dust Settles…

Our construction team is making great progress on the spectacular new Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Education (BSE) Facility, the fourth and largest building on the growing USG campus. As of now, the project is right on track for its scheduled opening in fall 2019. We know that everyone will be thrilled when “the dust finally settles” and we can fully benefit from the opportunities that the BSE’s opening will bring for our students and the greater community.

BSEJan.2019The BSE will provide state-of-the-art science and engineering laboratories, clinical training facilities, active learning classrooms, academic offices, and an expanded level of student services necessary to support the growing number of students who enroll in degree programs on campus.

We’re working with our partner universities to bring in additional academic programs and we’ll be inviting an array of elected officials, university colleagues, and business and community leaders to learn more about the BSE in the months ahead. We also look forward to working with our state legislators and with our Student Government and our Board of Advisors, as we prepare for the legislative session in Annapolis.

­­Stay Connected…

There are several ways you can stay connected to what is happening around campus. The USG Mobile app provides notifications for special announcements and events on campus, the ability to schedule appointments and view the weekly dining menu, and more. Follow USG on social media and sign up for USG Alerts to receive information on news and events, as well as campus closings (especially with the weather this time of year).

You can find out what students are doing around campus on USG’s student blog, Around the Grove, and read interesting guest blog posts on DiscoverUSG.  We invite you to participate in the Town Hall meetings of our Student Council and Graduate Student Association. Each of their advocacy efforts help to benefit the USG community. I would encourage you to get involved and be a part of campus life.

Around the Campus…

USG staff are working to strengthen our campus services today and into the future. The Priddy Library is currently developing a strategic plan, which will serve as a guide for it to continue providing high quality services and resources in the most efficient manner. The library team is seeking input from many stakeholders through focus groups and individual interviews. If you are interested in participating, please contact Eileen Harrington at

Have you heard about Mobile Market Mondays at USG? The Campus Rec Center has partnered with the Capital Area Food Bank to provide fresh seasonal fruits, vegetables, and other food items at no cost for distribution to the campus and community. Those in need are invited to bring their grocery bags to campus on the fourth Monday of every month to Parking Lot 5 (visitor’s parking lot), to pick up some free food.

Several events and activities are planned throughout the semester by our partner universities as well as our Student and Academic Services centers. I encourage you to subscribe and read the USG Weekly which highlights upcoming events and activities each week.

USGInternationalNightThe Center for Student Engagement and Financial Resources has some exciting upcoming events. All are invited to International Night on Thursday, February 21st, from 5-8pm. in the Multipurpose Room (MPR) in Building II. Enjoy delicious cuisine from around the world and witness the pride in our diverse student body.

The next USG Civic Engagement event will be on Thursday, March 28th. The topic is #Transthriving, which will explore transgender visibility and support in the community.

And, if you are graduating this year, make sure you mark your calendars for the Graduation Celebration and the Graduate Gala on May 9th and May 10th, respectively.

Thanks to all of you for helping to make USG such a great community! I look forward to seeing you around campus.


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From Student to Alumni Ambassador. Guest Post: Katie Webber ’18, UMD Communication


Alumni Ambassador, Katie Webber ’18, UMD Communication at USG

Season’s greetings to my friends at USG! My name is Katie Webber and I am a graduate from the University of Maryland College Park Communication program at USG. While attending classes at USG I served as a student blogger for Around the Grove and as a Student Ambassador. Now I am honored to be the first alumni blogger!

Since I graduated in May 2018, many things have happened in my life. The largest life change happened about two weeks after graduation; I was offered a full-time position as a Marketing Coordinator for an architecture firm in Rockville. I began my job at the beginning of June and have been loving it ever since. Main responsibilities of my job include creating proposals, organizing and planning events, writing website posts, executing photography shoots, and updating data entries.

One of the things I like most about my job is my ability to impact my community and the State of Maryland. My firm works with designing public K-12 schools across Maryland. Some days are spent in the office while others are spent on job sites for meetings or at new schools for photography shoots. I work in Adobe Creative Suite every day at my job, so my Communication classes prepped me very well for this role. I had no problem jumping into InDesign or Photoshop on my first day.

Gaining experience as a student blogger also helped me prepare to write evolution posts for my company’s website on a regular basis. Serving as a Student Ambassador on campus was also a great experience to prep me for planning large-scale corporate events. As I’m writing this, I’m in the midst of planning a huge open house/retirement party at my firm. Having Jen (Cohen) Riehl as a mentor for my two years at USG really helped me gain experience in event coordination and planning. Shout out to you Jen! Although I have sprouted many grey hairs in the past seven months from stress in my new position, I’ve gained a lot of experience working in marketing and the architecture/engineering/construction field.

I love being able to stay connected to everything happening at USG and especially being in the Alumni Ambassadors group. Overall, I think the Alumni Ambassadors is a great initiative that provides opportunities for continual professional growth for students who have graduated from programs offered at USG. Finding a job after graduation was stressful and tedious but attending alumni networking opportunities can help with the process. So I encourage you all to stay connected, engaged and active members of the USG community long after you graduate! You can follow the Alumni Ambassadors on Facebook and LinkedIn, and make sure your contact information is current. This way you will receive Alumni Ambassador communications in a bi-monthly e-newsletter and emails about upcoming events and other fun happenings at USG. I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming event in the New Year!

Katie webber Discover USG

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Let A stand for Asleep! Guest Post: Adam Binkley, Center for Academic Success

Adam headshot.jpg

Adam Binkley

For those of us at the Universities at Shady Grove, A doesn’t stand for Apple or Aardvark but instead Academic, Assessment, and Achievement. For students in particular, A takes on a more symbolic meaning—the letter grade that has represented our best work on report cards from first grade to Introduction to Financial Accounting.

My name is Adam Binkley, and I am the Senior Coordinator at the Center for Academic Success. This time of the year, many students come to our offices wondering how they can do better on their final exams and are seeking strategies for how to chase down that elusive A.

Letter A

Luckily, I have something to share with you that just might improve your performance in your coursework. This is a method that students often overlook, but has always helped humans reach their peak, leading to countless inventions and innovations. And the good news is that you (yes you, reading this right now) don’t have to learn anything—you have already been doing this your entire life!

I’m talking about sleep. Get that A from catching ZZZZZZs. Stop pulling all-nighters cramming and cram yourself into a nice warm bed or pile of pillows. When we feel the pressure of deadlines and upcoming papers and tests, sleep is often one of the first things we sacrifice. But sleep allows our brain to recover from all the academic work we’re putting it through. ZZZZs can actually be a critical boost during exam week.

This is according to new research out of Baylor University that challenged students to get an average of 8 hours of sleep per night. Offering students extra credit as an incentive, the researchers wanted to see how students fared when they reached the recommended time spent in dreamland compared to their more sleep deprived peers. And their findings indicated that students who met the challenge performed better on their final exams than those who didn’t.

Don’t just take my word for it—check out the research yourself (just don’t stay up late reading it!).

Thinking back to my own experience as an undergraduate and professional procrastinator, these claims definitely ring true. I had far too many all-nighters and late night study sessions that directly contributed to me feeling bad on exam day. Operating with too little sleep and too much caffeine, my brain felt like a self-driving car without a functioning navigation system. So the next time you are setting out to plan your study time, try to spread it out over the week in order to save time for shut eye.

Let A stand for Asleep, so that you are Awake and Alert come exam time!


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#GivingTuesday: One Day for One More

Here’s to the folks whose favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  Who doesn’t love a day dedicated to appreciating the gifts of family, friendships, and community? And here’s to the special people who always make a point to invite someone to celebrate Thanksgiving, who, without the invitation, would be left out.  You know the type — the people who always make sure that there is room at the table for one more.

You can be one of those special people this coming Tuesday, November 27th, by joining in the Universities at Shady Grove’s #GivingTuesday “One Day for One More” campaign. It’s an easy way to share your kindness and we think you’ll feel great for doing it.

#GivingTuesday is a social media-based event dedicated to philanthropy and community voluntarism. It began some years ago as a way to counter the extremes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This #Giving Tuesday, USG is asking our community to help set the table of education for one more student by contributing to its General Scholarship Fund. The General Scholarship Fund allows USG to help students with the greatest need. It’s just one day and we hope to raise enough to invite one more to the table. Go online and use the drop-down menu to give to USG’s General Scholarship Fund. Your kindness can help make room for one more scholarship recipient at USG.

Of course, #GivingTuesday gifts can be made to any USG fund on #GivingTuesday, and contributions at every level are appreciated. No gift is too small. The important part is to celebrate by sharing. There are 365 days in a year. Let’s use #GivingTuesday as One Day for One More.


By: Tom Clifford, USG Director of Major Gifts
Please contact me if you would like more information about additional giving opportunities.

Tom Clifford


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Read and Re-Gift! Guest Post: Juanita Benavides-Alcala, Towson University student


Juanita Benavides-Alcala

I told everyone that it was going to be impossible to forget about me! My name is Juanita Benavides-Alcala and I am a former student blogger for Around the Grove, but now I am back to tell everyone about our exciting Book Drive! As the Chair of Events and Initiative of the Student Council, we teamed up with the American Association of University Women (AAUW): Gaithersburg chapter to have a school-wide book drive here at our beloved USG. I just wanted to tell everyone a bit about this awesome organization and convince you guys to bring in some books.

The AAUW is the nation’s leading voice promoting equity and education for women in higher ed and beyond. Their work has been an ongoing effort since 1881. Today, they provide scholarships to women in many colleges and universities, including USG. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from them to attend a conference at UMCP this May, where I got to learn so much about leadership and how to make everyone feel welcome in our school. These wonderful ladies have not only financially supported students, but they have become like a mentor to others. They are always willing to share their experiences and listen to others. Another scholarship recipient, Jathselle Pierre-Louis, and myself have decided that we needed to step up to the plate in order to give back as much as they have given us.

The AAUW: Gaithersburg hosts an annual book sale at Asbury (a retirement facility located near Lakeforest Mall) in order to gain funds for scholarships to give to female students here at USG and at Montgomery College. So what we have done, with the help of the Student Council, is set out a couple boxes so that everyone and anyone can donate books for us to take. They are in need of children’s books, however, we will take what we can get (in good condition, of course.) So if you guys happen to have any spare books laying around, please bring them and put them in the colorful boxes labeled “Student Council + AAUW: Gaithersburg Book Drive.” I worked really hard on making them as colorful as possible 🙂 So do your girl a favor and bring some by!

Thanks for reading and re-gifting!

Book Drive

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