“Come on, it will be fun!”
That’s Jody Federer’s response whenever there’s an opportunity to show Pitt spirit.
According to coworkers, Federer, the assistant director of operations for the College of Business Administration, enthusiastically steps up whenever there’s a need for an office potluck, service project or holiday decorating contest.
At Pitt’s annual faculty and staff appreciation picnic, she makes sure her unit is represented. A photo scavenger hunt? A video competition? Carnival games? Pitt Business is there.
At Homecoming, when departments are challenged to decorate their suites, she ensures there’s blue and gold everywhere—all the way down to her homemade Pitt-themed chocolate lollipops and Pitt script cookies.
“When there is a University-related competition, Jody is the leader of Pitt Business to put together a team and a plan to win,” said colleague Derek McDonald.
She steps in with a strategy and a checklist so no detail is omitted—including ensuring teammates are properly attired in matching Pitt Business shirts.
“I am a little competitive,” Federer admits. “But I couldn’t do all this without my team—they’re willing to do it!” she said.
“I just get so happy and excited, I’ll jump in to organize,” she said.
I always wear something Pitt everywhere I go. It’s out of control.
“I love Pitt so much, it’s in my nature.”
Indeed, she was born into it. Her late parents both retired as Pitt employees. A sister, aunt and cousin also are part of the Pitt family.
Federer is, of course, a Pitt alumna. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2000. “I’ve been coming to campus since I was a little girl. I didn’t want to go anywhere else,” she said.
She wears her blue-and-gold enthusiasm on her sleeve—literally. “I always wear something Pitt everywhere I go,” she said. Pitt sandals, jewelry, purses. slippers, boots and T-shirts are all part of her wardrobe. “It’s out of control,” she said.
Federer’s unabashed enthusiasm for encouraging participation in University-wide events helps get the Pitt Business name out there among Pitt colleagues, she said. It’s also brought the team some sweet Pitt prizes.
Last year, their skill at picnic carnival games earned them a lunch in the Babcock Room atop the Cathedral of Learning. (There are prizes to win during this year’s Faculty and Staff Appreciation Week, too.)
In 2016, the Pitt Business submission to the “Why You Love Working at Pitt” video competition won the top prize. The team won Pitt basketball tickets and some ongoing visibility: Their video was shown as part of Pitt’s new employee orientation sessions.
Within the school, pausing for an ice cream social or an office door decoration competition takes just a little time out of the day, but it brings staff together. “It keeps us going and it builds rapport,” she said.
Her organizational skills and attention to detail aren’t just for fun and games. Federer recently took on responsibility for managing CBA’s student records, quickly creating an online process to help certify that students had fulfilled all their prerequisites and graduation requirements.
Her foresight served the team well when the pandemic interrupted spring term and Pitt adopted flexible grading policies.
“She was both calm and incredibly detail oriented as we sorted through to change final grades to S or NC,” after students were given the option to change their letter grade to Satisfactory or No Credit after final grades were posted, said colleague Liz Adams. “I don’t know how we would have gotten the April 2020 graduates out the door were it not for her work. That absolutely saved us this term.”
Like many at Pitt, Federer is working from home and the pandemic has put the teambuilding traditions on hold.
“We’re missing out on the summer social this year,” she said. “I’m going to have to come up with some creative ways online.”