“It’s so hard to say goodbye…” 

On November 15, staff of The Health Collaborative (THC) will experience a bittersweet contrast: it’s payday (yay!), but it’s also the day that our long-time Senior Accountant, Jean Armstrong, closes the books on her career and embarks on the next grand adventure: retirement.

Jean’s first day as an accountant and human resources specialist at the Greater Cincinnati Health Council (now known as The Health Collaborative post-2015 merge) was November 1, 2004, which puts her retirement date at exactly 13 years and two weeks later. That means she graciously stuck around to see us through one last payroll period, further reinforcing her affectionate title of “Jean the Payroll Queen,” before she hops a plane to her favorite getaway spot in Florida. Now that’s dedication.

Jean Armstrong, Paul Schmeltzer, Sandy Street
Jean Armstrong, Paul Schmeltzer, Sandy Street

There are many ways to characterize Jean’s tenure at The Health Collaborative over the years – staff have used lots of words like “detail-oriented,” “dedicated,” and “reliable” over the past few weeks – but rather than tell you about it, let’s hear from the colleagues who know her best.

Well-wishes and fond memories

CFO and SVP Business Development, Keith Hepp is one of Jean’s biggest fans and will miss her sharp mind and meticulous nature: “Jean has been a talented and incredibly detailed senior accountant for the past 13 years… We’re very lucky to have clever people behind the scenes to make the organization run, and she has been one of those people for over a decade.”

Hepp went on, “There’s a large amount of detail-oriented work associated with filing all the company’s payroll and benefits reports, and Jean has expertly managed these tasks over the years. I’d like to personally thank Jean for agreeing to stay through the [2015] merger as the accounting issues are complex and would have been very difficult for us to wade through without her. She’s such an instrumental part of our team that we hope to invite her back as a part-time, short-term contractor at some point in the future to help out with annual filings.”

Nicci Weber is THC’s Director of HR and Organization Development, and seconds Hepp’s praises for Jean during the 2015 merger (the word “instrumental” was used more than once). She also points out that Jean’s personal background may have played an important role in her success as our Senior Accountant. “Jean has an interesting background as a small-town-Kentucky native – we’re talking a one-room-schoolhouse type of situation – which has made her an incredibly down-to-earth, fun-to-talk-to kind of person,” says Nicci. “She always tells it like it is, and is relentless in her pursuit of state tax & legislative policy information like nobody else.”

Walking the talk: finding creative ways to stay healthy & active

“Jean may have had a “desk job” all these years, but she hasn’t let that keep her from getting her daily steps in and working physical activity into her day,” said Amy Goetz, Communications Manager. “She is often seen walking around THC’s Elsinore Place offices and the surrounding area, and she even walks during her lunch break – carrying her daily salad container with her as she walks laps around the building or in our Learning Center space. I’m aspiring to reach Jean-like levels of daily activity, but I still have a long way to go!”

Claudia Allen, THC General Counsel and Privacy Officer, has known Jean for many years and shares: “For those who are winded walking from one side of the office to the other: did you know that Jean Armstrong takes the STAIRS up and down to our offices everyday?!” Well done, Jean! Very Gen-H.

Full of surprises

Colleen O’Toole, our Chief Administrative Officer, shared a couple of tidbits most people wouldn’t know about Jean: “First, I may be able to ‘crunch’ my boss [CEO Craig Brammer] in sit-ups [such as during our recent sit-up challenge for the United Way Campaign], but I’ll never be able to match Jean in jig-saw puzzles – she’s the jig-saw GURU! I’m really going to miss swapping puzzles with her.”

O’Toole went on to drop a “bombshell” – pun intended: “Who knew when we hired Jean that, in one of our ‘get to know each other’ activities, she’d spill the beans on a little-known fact from her past – she was a ‘go-go dancer’ when she was younger!!” Jean, you’re like an onion without the odor…so many layers!

Becca Cochran, Manager, External Affairs, shared with a smile: “There are very few people I let call me ‘Becky.’ …I happily let Jean call me Becky!”

Accounting Clerk Sandy Street has been Jean’s office-mate for the past several years, and therefore few know Jean better than her. Simply saying, “I’m going to miss her,” Sandy shared a list of things she loves best about Jean – and we dare you not to smile while reading it:

Sandy’s Top 10 List of Things She’ll Miss About Jean

[ultimate_icon_list icon_size=”14″ icon_margin=”2″][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-heart” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]10. Gives great advice[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-star” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]9. Always helpful[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-graduation-cap” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]8. Good teacher[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-comments” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]7. Good listener[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-smile-o” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]6. Makes me laugh[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-share-alt” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]5. Shares homemade granola[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-thumbs-up” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]4. Taught me all the uses for coconut oil[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-slideshare” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]3. Easy to share an office with[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-puzzle-piece” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]2. Shares puzzles[/ultimate_icon_list_item][ultimate_icon_list_item icon=”Defaults-newspaper-o” icon_color=”#eb7625″ content_font_size=”desktop:16px;” content_line_ht=”desktop:2px;” content_font_color=”#eb7625″]1. Has good stories[/ultimate_icon_list_item][/ultimate_icon_list]

Sandy added, “Jean doesn’t correct Sue at the [DuJours] café downstairs when she calls her Anna.” Pure gold.

Jean Armstrong collage

We all wish the best for Jean as she departs for the sunny skies and balmy breezes of Florida. Upon her return to the Cincinnati area, she’ll resume her most important and beloved role as full-time grandma to her granddaughter – and that “accounts” for a lot of time well spent. Congratulations and best wishes on the road ahead, Jean, from all of us at The Health Collaborative!