“Jeanie brings excellence to everything” – Celebrating a Career Milestone with Jeanie Knox Houtsinger

This month, Jeanie Knox Houtsinger (Department of Psychiatry Director of Academic Affairs) celebrates a thirty-year career at UPMC, the last 13 of those years in the Office of the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. A fount of institutional knowledge who has dedicated her career to supporting our scientists and clinicians, it is common across the Department for the most obscure or vexing questions to be met with “Just go ask Jeanie Knox Houtsinger, she’ll know.”

Jeanie began her career at the UPMC Cancer Institute (now the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center) in 1989 and arrived at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital (WPH) in the division of child and adolescent psychiatry five years later. There, under the leadership of David Brent, MD (Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry), Jeanie provided high-level managerial and administrative support to the division and served as the center administrator for the Child & Adolescent Developmental Psychopathology Research Center for Early Onset Affective and Anxiety Disorders. Of these years, Dr. Brent remembers, “There wasn’t a day in the office with Jeanie that there wasn’t something she said that made me laugh. In fact, she was the person who told me that Irish diplomacy is the ability to tell a person to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

In 2007, Jeanie joined the Office of the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, led at that time by David Kupfer, MD (Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry). When David Lewis, MD (Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Thomas Detre Professor of Academic Psychiatry), assumed the role of chair two years later, Jeanie’s experience and renowned problem-solving skills were indispensable to him. He explains, “In those early days when I was still learning the ropes, Jeanie had the uncanny ability, which she retains to this day, to suggest great solutions to challenges while making me think that I had come up with the idea. And not only does she have great solutions, she willingly engages in their execution with enthusiasm and excellence.”

Lori Zippay (Department of Psychiatry Academic Administrator) has worked with Jeanie for the better part of both their UPMC careers. “I’ve known Jeanie for decades and she is amazingly kind, creative, and persistent, and easily the best problem solver I know. It’s been a great privilege to have worked so closely with her over these many years! She has always been (and always will be) my first choice when I need to ‘call a friend.’”

Jeanie’s unflappable demeanor and continuous flow of great ideas have been admired and appreciated by colleagues and leadership across the Department of Psychiatry and WPH. Ken Nash, MD (Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, Department of Psychiatry), describes how Jeanie subtly and skillfully supports the Department behind-the-scenes: “Jeanie brings excellence to everything and makes the rest of us look good. She has a way of having a great idea and making it appear like it didn’t come from her. I think of her like an artist—you know it’s a Jeanie Knox Houtsinger when you can’t find the signature. She is like a great painter who doesn’t sign her paintings.”

“The last item in UPMC job descriptions is frequently ‘other duties as assigned,’” adds Dr. Lewis. “Jeanie epitomizes the individual who embraces that responsibility in her heart and lives it out every day. She is always willing to do whatever is needed to advance our multi-faceted Departmental mission, and to always do everything with excellence. Thank you, Jeanie!”

When you see Jeanie, please join us in congratulating her on thirty years with UPMC.