Institute Awards

Institute Awards

Nursing Excellence Awards 2016.

Across Cleveland Clinic hospitals, nurses are consistently the largest employee group. To recognize their invaluable contribution to patient care, we have a robust group of awards honoring those within our institution.

Do you know a nurse who:

  • Courageously inspires hope & touches the human spirit?
  • Exemplifies the highest standards of quality & patient safety?
  • Dedicates a career to exceptional patient care, mentoring or evidence-based practice?
  • Collaborates to promote teamwork & quality outcomes?

2016 nominations are now closed.

View sample nomination form.

2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Colegate Bell, MSN, RN, IBCLC

Cleveland Clinic healthcare system
Regional Assistant Director of Nursing

A 22-year nursing veteran, Colegate Bell serves as the Regional Assistant Director of Nursing overseeing childbirth education and lactation services for three hospitals: Fairview, Hillcrest and Medina. She has spent her entire career in women and children's services, beginning as a student intern in maternal/child units and the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Francis Hospital in 1992. Colegate joined Fairview Hospital in 2000. She was the lead facilitator for the Cleveland Clinic healthcare system to gain Baby-Friendly status from the World Health Organization. Under her guidance, Fairview, Hillcrest and Lakewood Hospitals gained this status, and Medina is working toward the designation. Colegate also has implemented outpatient lactation consultations for patients, increased the number and locations of breastfeeding support groups and promoted awareness of the Safe to Sleep® campaign throughout Northeast Ohio. She currently serves as the president of the Ohio Lactation Consultant Association. “Colegate always puts the patients’ needs first and supports them to establish a special relationship with their infants,” says Annette Nedrich, RN, IBCLC, who works in lactation services at Fairview Hospital. “She is a fair, kind and thoughtful manager who values integrity.”

Susan Cotey, RN, CDE

Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center
Program Coordinator

After earning her associate's degree in nursing 31 years ago, Susan Cotey began working as a staff nurse on a cardiac unit at a hospital on the west coast. While there, she developed educational classes for patients with diabetes. Her commitment to patients with the chronic disease has grown ever since. For 22 years, she has served as program coordinator at the Lennon Diabetes Center, first as part of Huron Hospital and now in the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center. Susan started a self-management program for patients with diabetes, writes for the diabetes blog on Cleveland Clinic's Health Essentials website and co-teaches a diabetes management course at Cleveland State University for students interested in becoming Certified Diabetes Educators. A respected leader in her field, Susan represented Cleveland Clinic at the World Diabetes Congress in South Africa in 2006 and has presented at numerous national and international conferences. As chair of the Diversity Council at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center, she has hosted many programs to promote tolerance and respect. "Susan is one of the most amazing, compassionate and kind people I have ever met," says Michele Reali-Sorrell, RN, Clinical Coordinator at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center. "She has made the world a better place to live, work and play."

Roberta "Robbi" Cwynar, MSN, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC

Main Campus & Family Health Center
Nurse Practitioner

Robbi Cwynar has been a nurse for more than 30 years and a nurse at Cleveland Clinic since 1996. Her clinical expertise and passion has been with the critically ill patient population in both cardiovascular surgery as well as the AMET team. She worked as an acute care NP in Critical Care Transport prior to transitioning to NP in the Express Cares. Robbi continued her love for advanced practice nursing by recently pursuing her post-masters' certification as a family nurse practitioner. She is involved in the Advanced Practice Nurse Council and the Nursing Research Council. Robbi serves as the APRN Council Research Subcommittee Chair, where she has successfully led multiple nursing research projects involving the role of APRNs. Robbi is a member of the American Association of Critical Care Nursing and the Ohio Association of Advanced Practice Nurses. She has presented at multiple conferences over the years, including podium and poster presentations.

Kathy Azores Huggins, BSN, RN

Marymount Hospital
Staff Nurse

Kathy Azores Huggins began her nursing career in 1992 as an LPN on the dementia unit at the Margaret Wagner House. This experience influenced her decision to devote her career to the geriatric population. She began working at South Pointe Hospital in 1999 and moved to the older adult behavioral health unit at Marymount Hospital in 2011. Kathy is active in the hospital and unit-based Clinical Practice Councils and was instrumental in developing and implementing new processes for pain assessment, falls reduction and hospital acquired pressure ulcers. She was a key player in Marymount Hospital's campaign to earn ANCC Pathways to Excellence® designation. Kathy also is the resource person for Career Ladder on her unit, encouraging peers to participate and providing them advice. In addition, she regularly precepts senior nursing students for their practicum. "Kathy is recognized consistently by her peers for her ability to work as a team player," says Kathleen McKenzie, BSN, RN, nurse manager of Older Adult Behavioral Health at Marymount. "As charge nurse, she is respected for her ability to take charge, confident in her decisions."

Mary R. Kennedy, MBA, BSN, RN

Medina Hospital
Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer

Mary Kennedy's career spans 44 years of progressive nursing experience in multiple hospital and ambulatory settings. For the past 4½ years, she has served as Vice President of Patient Care and CNO of Medina Hospital. Prior to that, she worked at Lutheran Hospital for 24 years, including serving as CNO from 2005 to 2012 and interim president in 2011. Under Mary's guidance, Medina Hospital began working toward ANCC Pathways to Excellence® in 2012 and earned the designation last September. Mary holds standing positions on numerous committees and councils throughout Medina County and the Cleveland Clinic healthcare system, including board member of the United Way of Medina County, member of the Women's Network of Northeast Ohio and CNO representative for the system-wide Obstetrics and Gynecology Affinity Group. She completed a U.S. Department of Homeland Security FEMA course in healthcare leadership for mass casualties in 2013 and was a graduate of the Leadership Medina County class of 2014. In 2016, she received the Leadership Medina County Excellence in Health Care Leadership Award. She has served as a guest lecturer on quality, accreditation and case management topics. "The breadth and range of her expertise at all levels of the nursing profession is not easily duplicated," says Dennis Hess, MBA, BSN, RN, Director of Nursing at Medina Hospital. "Mary is a dedicated and ethical nurse who has always placed the interest of her patients and colleagues before her own."

Sandra Larsen, RN

Hillcrest Hospital
Staff Nurse

Sandra Larsen has worked at Hillcrest Hospital for 47 years, beginning her career there on a medical-surgical unit. In the 1980s, she served as a critical care float nurse. During a stint in the Emergency Department, Sandra found her passion. She joined the department full time and held several positions through the years, including EMS manager, trauma manager and ED nurse manager. Sandra was instrumental in many achievements of Hillcrest's Emergency Department. In 1993, she oversaw the hospital's verification by the American College of Surgeons as a Level II trauma center. In 1996, she worked with colleagues to implement a t-PA program for patients having a myocardial infarction. She assisted in the hospital's accreditation process as a Chest Pain Center and lobbied for the placement of automatic external defibrillators throughout the hospital. Larsen also became an Ohio-certified EMS instructor in 1997. After she officially "retired" six years ago, Sandra couldn't stay away from nursing and became a staff nurse in the perioperative unit. "Sandra's vast knowledge and dedication to bedside nursing has touched all who work beside her," says Amy Berardinelli, MSN, RN, CPAN, Nurse Manager of Surgical Services at Hillcrest. "I do not know a nurse who hasn't learned something profound from Sandra – something that has changed his or her practice for the better."

Anita J. Meehan, MSN, RN-BC, ONC, FNGNA

Akron General Hospital
Clinical Nurse Specialist

A nurse for 48 years, Anita Meehan has been at Akron General since 2006. She joined the hospital as director of the Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE). As a geriatric CNS, Anita works diligently to support best practice care for older hospitalized patients. During the past decade, she facilitated development of a nurse-initiated protocol for management of indwelling urinary catheters, championed a "nutrition with med pass" initiative to ensure timely provision of supplemental nutrition to at-risk patients, partnered with a multidisciplinary group to establish new mobility protocol and more. Anita is the founder and current ambassador of the International Collaboration of Orthopaedic Nurses and a fellow in the National Gerontological Nursing Association. She has presented regionally, nationally and internationally on various topics related to care of older adults and has published several peer-reviewed articles, research projects and book chapters. "Anita consistently demonstrates attributes of a change agent to expand older adult care by Cleveland Clinic Akron General nurses," says Kimberly Kerr, MSN, NEA-BC, RN-BC, CRRN, Director of Nursing Professional Practice, Development & Research at the hospital. "She applies clear vision that considers safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, efficacy and patient-centered geriatric care."

Lori Pennell, BSN, RN, CMSRN

Main Campus
Staff Nurse

Lori Pennell has been a nurse for 31 years, all of them at Cleveland Clinic's main campus. She joined the vascular medical/surgical unit after graduating from Kent State University with her BSN. In 2006, she moved to the colorectal unit. Dedicated to teaching and helping other nurses, Lori is a unit preceptor, Vascular Access Resource Nurse and Diabetic Resource Nurse. She is the "go-to" person for both new and seasoned nurses who have questions or need assistance. She has oriented more than 20 nurses, some of whom have pursued advanced practice nursing careers and leadership positions. In 2014, Lori chaired the colorectal unit's Quality Committee and helped plan and implement patient edu-cation for post-surgical colorectal patients on the importance of taking anticoagulants and wearing intermittent pneumatic compression stockings. "During her tenure here, Lori has become a fixture of the colorectal surgery group, applying her superior clinical knowledge and compassionate, holistic patient care to the thousands of patients she has cared for," says Lauren Rogers, MSN, BA, RN, NE-BC, Manager of Nursing Education Unlicensed Caregiver Onboarding and Development. "She embodies the world-class care that Cleveland Clinic is known for."


Medina Hospital
Clinical Nurse Manager

Ann Roach has spent most of her 33-year nursing career promoting the health and wellness of women and newborns. After a stint in a medical/surgical unit at Lakewood Hospital, she moved to obstetrical nursing at Fairview Hospital. For years, Ann served as the perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist at Fairview Hospital's Level III Birthing Center. A year ago, she joined Medina Hospital as Clinical Nurse Manger of the Family Birthing Center. In that short time, Ann has spearheaded several positive changes, including bringing the unit into compliance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act and contracting with an OB hospitalist service to provide additional care. Ann has served as chapter president of the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses. She is an instructor and coordinator for the Neonatal Resuscitation Program and teaches classes throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system on a variety of OB-related topics, such as fetal monitoring and high-risk obstetrics. "Ann has the exceptional ability to identify areas of patient care that need improvement, the vision to see the possibilities for improved outcomes and the expertise to coordinate multidisciplinary implementation for change," says Heatherly Kilbane, BSN, RN, Assistant Nurse Manager at Medina Hospital's Family Birthing Center. "She is an extraordinary clinician whose skillfulness and knowledge allow her to navigate easily from the classroom to the patient room to the boardroom."

Carla Saracusa, RN

Cleveland Clinic Children's
Care Coordinator

Carla Saracusa has spent her entire 36-year nursing career caring for newborns and children. She began working in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Luke's Hospital, then moved to a pediatric unit. She served as a staff nurse on a pediatric unit at Cleveland Clinic before joining the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases as a care coordinator 26 years ago. Carla is responsible for every facet of patient care at the Center: she participates in direct patient care, coordination of outpatient antimicrobial therapy and the Pediatric Travel Clinic. She coordinates the infectious diseases aspect of all pediatric solid organ and hematopoietic and stem cell transplants. She developed the center's Pediatric Travel Clinic and the Pediatric Home IV Antibiotic Therapy program. Carla is currently creating a TeleHeath Travel Clinic and working with a physician to develop a Transplant Infectious Diseases program. She has funneled her experience into clinical research projects, including taking the lead role in projects related to outpatient antimicrobial therapy and pre-transplant vaccination data. She also has trained many residents and fellows on how to conduct a travel clinic. "The vastness and diversity of Carla's roles – many of which have been developed as a result of her own initiative – make her truly visionary and innovative," says Camille Sabella, MD, Director of the Center for Pediatric Infectious Diseases. "It is remarkable that Carla has been able to fill all these diverse roles and has maintained excellence in every aspect of her work."

Linda A. Seamon, RN

Main Campus
Staff Nurse and Nurse Coordinator

Linda Seamon has spent all but one year of her 26-year nursing career at Cleveland Clinic. She joined the cardiovascular ICUs in 1991 and has worked with the vascular surgery patient population ever since. Through the years, Linda has served as a bedside nurse caring for patients right out of surgery, as a nurse clinician alongside surgeons and as an assistant nurse manager of the vascular surgery ICU. She currently is a bedside nurse and nurse coordinator in the cardiovascular ICUs. Other staff view Linda as the ultimate resource, and she has oriented many new nurses. Linda has been the Skin Care Resource Nurse on her unit for about five years. During this time, the pressure ulcer rate dropped to 3.03 in 2015 compared to 8.63 in 2012. She is also co-chair of cardiovascular ICU Shared Governance, a pain mentor, a Vascular Access Resource Nurse, Magnet® ambassador and co-chair of the Retention Council at main campus. "Linda is passionate about Cleveland Clinic and the values we uphold as an organization," says Laura Idzior, BSN, MBA, RN, CCRN, Nurse Manager of the cardiovascular ICUs. "Recently, she stepped into the nurse coordinator role in the CVICUs, helping usher families through the day of surgery. This role has really shown how Linda can mix both her knowledge and compassion as the families need to be educated, but at the same time cared for."

Denise Snyder, BSN, RN

Marymount Hospital
Nursing Quality Program Manager

Denise Snyder began her 38-year nursing career at Marymount Hospital and has since worked in numerous roles, including staff nurse on obstetrics, medical/surgical and orthopaedics units; an instructor in the LPN program and a nursing education clinical instructor; and nurse manager. For the past six years, Denise has served as Nursing Quality Program Manager, working tirelessly in the name of quality and patient safety. She focuses on quality metrics and works with staff to ensure they understand the "why" behind initiatives related to CAUTI prevention, CLABSI prevention, falls reduction, pain management and more. Denise led Marymount Hospital's ANCC Pathway to Excellence® designation process in 2012 and 2016. She has represented the Cleveland Clinic Nursing Institute at local and national conferences, with six poster presentations related to various quality improvement and employee engagement projects. Denise earned the 2015 Faces of Care award presented by the Greater Cleveland Nurses Association and Cleveland magazine. "Denise's hard work and dedication to our hospital and to Cleveland Clinic has helped elevate the level of professionalism among our nurses," says Donna Koterba, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Director of Nursing at Marymount Hospital. "When I became an RN, she encouraged me to take leadership classes, and when she left as manager, I was able to step up as her successor. I cannot say enough about how having her as a role model has helped me."

Previous Winners

More Awards

National Nurses Week

During National Nurses’ Week, the Cleveland Clinic honors and recognizes its more than 11,000 nurses who work in the hospital units and ambulatory clinics. A central feature of Nurses Week at Cleveland Clinic is the presentation of annual excellence awards, given each year to select nursing, clinical and administrative personnel whose efforts exemplify the ideals and goals of nursing. Each award is named for a Cleveland Clinic nursing employee who in her career here exemplified the ideals and objectives of the nursing profession.

It is with great pleasure that we announce the winners of the excellence awards. This tradition is one that celebrates and recognizes the work and talents of the finest clinical leaders among us. Though we appreciate all the efforts of each and every caregiver throughout the year, this special time offers us the chance to single out those individuals who have made outstanding contributions. Let us congratulate these winners for their ongoing dedication to their profession.

Nursing Research Fund Award

The Purpose of the Nursing Research Fund (NURF) Award is to help Cleveland Clinic nurses, especially those providing clinical nursing services, conduct nursing research that promotes evidence-based nursing and management practices that lead to quality patient outcomes, enhanced nursing processes, and professional development.

Monies in the Fund are provided by patients and their families in recognition of nursing care received during hospitalizations. Additional contributions to the Fund are made from private donations and honorariums from nursing staff members for presentations and other professional work done in conjunction with their staff role.

Awards up to a maximum of $2,500/each aid registered nurses in conducting research and can be used to provide time to collect data, offset costs of supplies and equipment and statistical analysis, or to travel to a meeting to present findings. It is expected that research results will be shared within the Division of Nursing and to other departments, as appropriate and that generalizable results will be translated into nursing practice. A maximum of $15,000 in awards are presented annually.

National Awards

National Awards

Cleveland Clinic has a national reputation as a top hospital and our nurses play a vital role in this success. We are proud to present those nurses who have received national recognition for their contribution to our model of world-class care.

2016 National Award Winners

Lynette Nied, MSN, RN, CNP, received the 2016 American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) State Award for Excellence for the state of Ohio.

Toni Zito, MSN, RN, CPAN, received the 2016 American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses “Above and Beyond” service award, which recognizes preoperative and PACU nurses for their outstanding contributions to local facilities and the organization.

2015 National Award Winners

Nancy Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NEBC, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN, was named a 2015 fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She was one of 163 nurse leaders from across the country to be inducted during the Academy’s annual policy conference.

Nancy Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN,CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN, received the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s (SCCM) Presidential Citation at the organization’s Critical Care Congress.

2014 National Award Winners

Julie Green, RN, was recognized for outstanding professional achievement as the winner of the 2014 Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN) Clinical Practice Award.

Debra Hain, PhD, APRN, ANP-BC, GNP-BC, FAANP, received the GAPNA Award for Excellence in Research. The award is from the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association.

Several nurses were presented with the 2014 Annual Infection Specialty Award by the Society of Critical Care Medicine. They were recognized for outstanding research contributions for their team abstract “A RCT of Infection Rates in ICU Environments by EKG Lead Wire Type: Disposable and Cleaned, Reusable.” Recipients included Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NEBC, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN; Ellen Slifcak, BA, RN; Katrina M. Hartig, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC; Gregory Horvath, RN, BA, MBA; Heather Lachiewicz, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNML; Victoria Rhoades, BSN, RN, CCRN; Terri Murray, MSN, RN; Joel D. Roach, BA; Rosslyn Van Den Bossche, MBA, BSN, RN; Nemy Vargas, MSN, RN, CCRN, CEN; and Sue Wilson, BSN, RN.

Previous Winners

Learn about more of our previous year's national award winners.

View list of awards and recognitions.