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Pieces of Eight

ECU research specialist Joani Zary is passionate about her service for the American Red Cross. She is the site coordinator for the organization’s blood drives at the Brody School of Medicine. (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Zary Gives to Community Every Chance She Gets

In coordination with the Recognition and Rewards Committee of the ECU Staff Senate, the Pieces of Eight series honoring exceptional ECU staff recognizes Joani Zary.

By Judy Currin

“When you give blood, you have to wait 56 days to donate again,” said Joani Zary, site coordinator for the Brody School of Medicine Blood drives.

She should know. Zary donates every chance she gets.

A research specialist in the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Brody, Zary coordinates the drives as part of her responsibilities with the ECU Staff Senate. She has served on the senate since April 2007.

Zary works closely with Elizabeth Clark, account manager for the American Red Cross’s mid-Atlantic Blood Services in Greenville. She said the Red Cross usually sets the dates but allows flexibility for problems that might arise with room scheduling.

“I schedule the room, send out e-mail announcements, hang up posters, help set up on the day of the drive and sometimes help with registrations,” Zary said. Occasionally Zary recruits student groups to help promote the blood drive.

“As Brody’s blood drive coordinator, Joani has consistently accomplished, and most often exceeds her established goals,” said Clark. “Joani is a pleasure to work with. She takes on her role with enthusiasm and a real sense of responsibility, knowing that the blood collected at Brody will directly benefit many people in need, many times over.”

Zary came to Brody in 1994 as a research tech under the tutelage of Dr. Hubert Burden. She has been volunteering since she was a Camp Fire Girl growing up in Pittsburgh, Pa.

While in high school, she worked with a rehabilitation center and a local Red Cross agency.

While earning her bachelor’s from the University of Pittsburgh, Zary volunteered with her sorority and at a local hospital. In addition to her work for the Red Cross, Zary is president of the J.H. Rose High School JROTC Booster Club and a member of the Rose Band Boosters.

“If I’m at an event, I always ask if there is something I can do,” said Zary. “I’m just not the kind of person to sit around and do nothing.”

A mother of three, Zary strives to pass on the value of service to her son, Kyler, and daughters, Kelsey and Katrina.

Katrina, an ECU senior political science major, serves as SGA representative; a member of the political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha; a participant in intramural sports; and treasurer for Silver Wings, support group for the Air Force ROTC.

Kelsey, a senior at Rose High School, is battalion commander of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, captain of the girl’s soccer team and a volunteer with both the Pitt County Animal Shelter and the Red Cross.

Kyler, a sophomore, plays the trumpet in the Rose High School symphonic and marching bands. He fences with New Bern Salle Fencing Club.
For the past six years, Zary has served as an American Heart Association CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) instructor for Brody. She teaches six classes a year.

“The blood drives and CPR classes are areas I feel passionate about,” Zary said. “These services can make a real difference for someone, anyone. You never know when someone will need blood or may collapse from heart failure.”

“In the spirit of ECU’s motto, ‘to serve,’ we have been hearing renewed calls for professionalism and for community service,” said Dr. Cheryl Knudson, professor and chair of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Brody.

“Joani Zary continues to exemplify the ability of an individual to pursue both calls cheerfully.”

This page originally appeared in the Jan. 30, 2009 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at