Penn GSE Community Donates 17,000 Masks to Penn Medicine

May 13, 2020

Members of the Penn GSE community have stepped forward amidst the shortage of personal protective equipment brought on by the COVID-19 crisis, donating a total of 17,000 masks for medical professionals to Penn Medicine. Penn GSE Education Policy alumna Sunny Jingwen Jiao, GED’15, organized a donation of 5,000 N95 and 10,000 surgical masks, while Penn GSE Board of Overseers member Doug Korn, W’84, and Betsy Korn have contributed 2,000 surgical masks.

“I felt that this is a time to give back to Penn and also to help Penn and the community cope during a shortage of personal protective equipment,” says Jiao. A researcher at the nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank American China Public Affairs Institute in New York City, Jiao makes good use of her master’s degree in education policy from Penn GSE. Gratitude for her experience at Penn and a desire to send a message of solidarity propelled Jiao to organize the donation.

“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen that the Penn GSE community is a resilient and generous one.” —Dean Pam Grossman

Sunny Jingwen Jiao, GED’15

“My personal experience as a student was quite positive,” says Jiao. “Penn provided a very safe environment for students to study, with very thoughtful services such as walking escorts from Public Safety to accompany students on campus. Within that environment I could really learn and grow and be myself, and not worry about anything else,” she says.

The sense of safety Jiao felt as a student drove her to do what she could to help the Penn community stay safe during the crisis. Working with a close family friend, she arranged for FDA-registered and approved face masks to be sent to Penn Medicine from a factory in China. She reports that her recent personal experience of bias-motivated harassment also provided an impetus for her donation.

“I started thinking about ways to voice that no matter where this virus came from, we are all in this together, and we all have responsibilities. As one of many Chinese alumni of Penn GSE, I wanted to send a positive message.” Jiao is currently coordinating with fellow Chinese graduates in hopes of securing goggles and gloves for a second donation.

Doug Korn, W’84, and Betsy Korn

For Doug and Betsy Korn, their donation is an outgrowth of longtime commitment to and support of Penn. Doug, a Wharton graduate, has served as a member of the Penn GSE Board of Overseers since 2013. He and Betsy have supported priorities across the School, including scholarship aid, annual giving, and the capital expansion project, as well as other areas of the University.

“We were thankful that we could find a way to support and help protect Penn’s brave and dedicated medical professionals, who are putting themselves at risk to help the Philadelphia community during this severe healthcare crisis,” says Doug.

Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman says, “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen that the Penn GSE community is a resilient and generous one. These donations of much-needed supplies for our colleagues at Penn Medicine are yet another mark of the commitment and care that our community has shown.”