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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 29, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 5
Tribute: Judy Peregoff, Employee Standard-Bearer, Leaves Her Mark

At last week's reception in her honor, Judy Peregoff, director of the Office of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs, talks with Gordon Dean, manager of Human Resources Information Systems.

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

In the closing moments of the past four United Way campaigns, there have been mass sightings of a costumed crusader at Johns Hopkins. Perhaps you've seen her. She comes decked out in a Wicked Witch of the West hat and mask, a Jack-O-Lantern plastic bucket in her hand. Either by herself or with her trusty sidekicks, this masked woman goes office to office in search of the last few dollars necessary to put the university's campaign over the top.

Displaying her distinctive brand of humor, our hero holds out her bucket and asks in a congenial southern accent, "Give to the United Way, or I'll put a spell on you."

Who is she? Why, it's Judy, the Good Witch of JHU employees, of course. Sadly for the university, however, this Judy is now clicking her heels and heading for home.

Judy Peregoff, the founding director of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs, will officially step down from her Human Resources post on Tuesday, joining the ranks of the retired population she has championed for nearly a dozen years.

In fact, this country girl from Dillwin, Va., has made quite an indelible mark at the institution she has called home for 21 years. Her long list of accomplishments includes the establishment of retiree programs and the notable expansion and enhancement of the university's blood drive, United Way campaign and staff recognition program. According to colleagues, Peregoff has an uncanny ability to take something good and make it great.

Her results speak for themselves.

Since she became the administrator of the university's United Way fund-raising effort in 1991, the campaign has nearly tripled, topping the $1 million mark for the first time in 2001. Johns Hopkins is now the single largest contributor to the United Way of Central Maryland campaign.

For the Johns Hopkins American Red Cross blood drive, Peregoff became its chair in 1998 and quickly set out to develop ways to increase its success. Today, the university annually collects some 1,600 units of blood and is the top college and university contributor in the region.

She has also established the Adopt-a-Family Program, Discovering Careers at JHU, Hopkins Night at Camden Yards, the Vernon Rice Memorial Butterball Turkey Program and the Professional Clothing Drive, among others.

When asked to describe her, friends and colleagues use such words as "tireless," "passionate," "inspiring" and "zealous to an extraordinary degree."

Edgar Roulhac, who worked closely with Peregoff during his days as interim vice president for human resources, said Peregoff's enthusiasm for both her work and life knows no bounds.

Peregoff at the recent JHU Day of Caring at St. Jerome's Head Start Program.

"Judy is a controlled and continuously effective burst of energy and good will, who, in the words of the great jazz musician and singer Nat King Cole, will always be unforgettable," said Roulhac, vice provost for academic services. "She will certainly be sorely missed."

Peregoff joined the university in 1982, taking the position of a receptionist for the Office of Facilities Management. Prior to coming to Hopkins, she was a regional sales manager for Sarah Coventry Jewelry, where she won an award for being the top manager in the nation.

In 1987, Peregoff joined what was then the Office of Personnel Programs. For the next five years she served as administrative assistant to the office's vice president. In 1992, Peregoff became the inaugural manager and later the director of Faculty, Staff and Retiree Programs, an office created by then vice president for human resources Jimmy Jones.

From a staff of one and a limited budget, Peregoff has nearly singlehandedly built up the office to what it is and does today.

For retirees, Peregoff was instrumental in organizing a program that includes social events, library privileges, access to Homewood's recreation center, volunteer opportunities and a host of other benefits. For staff and faculty, she has been a staunch crusader, her office responsible for the creation of an assortment of annual events and volunteer opportunities intended to promote community and workplace pride.

Pat Kramer, director of the Office of Design and Publications, who has known Peregoff for 21 years, said Peregoff has been nothing short of the employees' standard bearer.

"Judy has fought for staff, faculty and retirees here from the moment she became director, and has changed so much in that time," Kramer said. "She would always go the extra step necessary, whether it be dressing up as a witch for the United Way campaign or using her own personal resources to put a finishing touch on an event. She did her best to make life for all of us better. Her goal has always been excellence, asking what is the best we can get for those who work here?"

Diane Lawrence, who joined Human Resources at the same time as Peregoff, said her friend has an innate ability to motivate and is someone who is "very hard to say no to."

"Her enthusiasm for volunteering became contagious, and I'm sure in retirement she will continue to volunteer and engage people about giving back to the community," said Lawrence, who retired from the university in 2000. "She would never ask her staff, or anyone for that matter, to do something she wouldn't do, and she did everything with both grace and conviction."

Peregoff's list of accomplishments haven't gone unnoticed. In 1999, she received the Clementine Peterson Award for outstanding community service, the United Way of Central Maryland's most prestigious award. In 2000, The Daily Record placed Peregoff on the list of Maryland's Top 100 Women for that year. Her other honors include the American Red Cross World Series Award for outstanding leadership and support, and the Hometown Heroes Award for increasing the blood drives at the Johns Hopkins campuses. In addition, she has received the Maryland Volunteer Network Volunteer and Community Service Advance Award.

Peregoff said she lives by the motto "If you are going to do something, do it right, and do it with a smile on your face."

When asked what she is most proud of, Peregoff said it's a toss-up between the introduction of retiree programs and the success of the volunteer programs.

"I felt it was terribly important to keep folks connected to Johns Hopkins, and recognize all that they've done for the university. I also felt it was important to provide vehicles for university employees to give back to the community," she said. "There are many unsung heroes here, and they deserve attention."

Talking about retirement, Peregoff said she has mixed feelings. She said she's sad to leave but secure in knowing that hers was a job well done. She is also happy to spend more time with her husband, Samuel, and their four children and two grandchildren.

"I know I put my heart and soul into this university," she said. "I can't believe I'm leaving, but I know the good things my staff and I started here will continue."

Peregoff's spirit of volunteerism will continue also.

She is currently in training to respond to disaster relief at the American Red Cross. After her training is complete, Peregoff will become part of a team who will respond to emergencies anywhere in the world for up to one month at a time. Starting this fall, she also will work part time in an advisory role at the United Way of Central Maryland.

At Peregoff's farewell reception on Sept. 23 at Evergreen House, where her office is located, Larry Walton, director of the United Way of Central Maryland, said that to many of his staff, Peregoff is known simply as "Ms. United Way."

"We truly love this woman," he said. "She has been an extraordinary champion of our campaign year after year. I know she will be a wonderful influence on all our leaders."


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