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Harvard Hero: Mario García

Posted On June 18, 2015 | 14:21 pm | by meredithb | Permalink

Mario García, Facilities and Services Coordinator at Dumbarton Oaks, was recognized in April as a 2015 Harvard Hero. Harvard Heroes is an annual program that recognizes and celebrates the exceptional contributions and exemplary achievements of Harvard staff. García has been at Dumbarton Oaks since July 1999, when he joined the staff as a part-time car attendant. While he was initially scheduled to work only twenty hours a week, García quickly made his work ethic and commitment clear, always ready to come in when his supervisors had last-minute needs. Within the year he became a full-time building assistant, a role that allowed him to observe the changes at Dumbarton Oaks as the institution grew. “At that time, it was only the main building, and there was much less security. In the morning, we cleaned and then in the afternoon, we were gallery assistants. The museum was open only from two to five then,” he remembered of the Dumbarton Oaks of the early 2000s.

Sixteen years later, García is known as a jack-of-all-trades at Dumbarton Oaks. “I’m a locksmith—I’m in charge of the locks and preparing keys. I work with A/V and projectors. I handle accommodations: I was the superintendent in La Quercia. Now that the Fellows are in 1700, there is an outside company working there, but I am their priority person to help. I work with Friends of Music, the gardens, everything. I’m the mailman. I do events,” he said of his day-to-day duties on the job. And, just as in 1999, García is always the first to respond when last-minute emergencies arise.

García said that he was surprised when Director Jan Ziolkowski called his name at a staff coffee to announce that he had been chosen for the award. His colleagues, however, agreed that the title of “Hero” was a clear fit. According to Events Manager Susannah Italiano, who works closely with García, “Mario completely embodies the description of the ideal Harvard Hero: his work ethic, his collegiality, and his willingness to always go above and beyond in order to make operations at Dumbarton Oaks run smoothly. What’s more, he is completely dependable and is always open to new ideas and suggestions. He’s the ideal colleague and I am grateful to be able to work alongside him.”

García is looking forward to the Harvard Hero recognition ceremony in June, for which he and his wife will travel to Boston for the first time. Even so, García was characteristically modest: “I just try to make difficult times easier,” he said.