Before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, Palm Beach Atlantic’s 2021 Employee of the Year spent countless hours helping students succeed in the classroom, in community service and in living away from home for the first time.
When COVID-19 hit, she applied that same dedication and care for students to the University’s response. Kate Magro, associate vice president for student development, received a standing ovation when she was named Employee of the Year during Community Day last week.
Dr. Bob Lutz, vice president for student development, described Magro’s influence over the past year as “profound.”
“Many call her tenacious, passionate or a tour de force,” Lutz said. “To understand the source of this passion, you need to know this: She loves students. She wants to see them thrive, see their culture grow and see them reach goals.”
Magro took the reins from Ann-Marie Taylor, who led the University’s crisis response at the pandemic’s outset. Magro worked directly with President Dr. Debra A. Schwinn and her leadership team to develop policies and set up daily protocols for student care, Lutz said. She ensured that isolation facilities were cleaned by custodians from the University’s facilities management company; that meals were delivered by Residence Life workers; and that sick students were transported to receive medical care, Lutz said. She took the time to call and reassure worried mothers.
During the 2020-21 academic year, Magro established Daily Wellness Checks and hired a Health Alert Team of 12 nurses. When it became imperative to have an on-campus testing center, she hired a staff of eight. The center tested 4,500 people over the course of the spring semester and reopened this fall, Lutz said.
Said Magro, “In a year in which all PBA staff sacrificed for the vision of in-person, Christ-first education, it is an especially rich honor to be recognized as the staff person of the year. I would like to extend a special thank you to the Student Development team for the sacrifices they made to help me fill this needed role. I’d also like to thank the Health Alert Team for their selfless service. Without them, this past year would not have been possible.”
Magro’s background prepared her to lead through crises. She previously worked in domestic and international relief work, aiding with Hurricane Katrina relief and helping communities recover from instability in East Africa. She serves as an instructor and field supervisor for PBA’s international development program. She chairs the Student Care and Concern Committee.
When she came to PBA, Magro reimagined Workship, PBA’s distinctive community service program that responds to human needs with Christ-like action in the community and the world. Students began to gain valuable vocational discernment and friendships while completing their required community service hours. Under Magro’s leadership, Workship surpassed 3 million hours served. Most of those hours were in Palm Beach County, Lutz said.
Magro earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology/Christian education from Wheaton College and her Master of Arts in Christian education from Asbury Theological Seminary. She began her career in residence life at Huntington University.