Institute Awards

Institute Awards

2017 Maria and Sam Miller Nursing Excellence Awards Ceremony

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?

2018 nominations are open. Nominate today!

View sample nomination form.

2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Nancy Ann Blackman Kilbane, BSN, RN

Cleveland Clinic main campus
Coronary Intensive Care Unit

A nurse for 34 years, Nancy Ann Blackman Kilbane has been an RN in the coronary ICU at main campus since 1996. Committed to caring for critically-ill patients, she holds certifications in extracorpeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), Impella and intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP). Her dedication was evident early on in her career at Cleveland Clinic when she won the coronary ICU’s Nurse of the Year in 1998. Even though Nancy has since obtained shift preference by seniority, she continues to rotate both day and night shifts to serve as a mentor to newer nurses on the night shift. She is also an active member of her unit’s Shared Governance Committee. Nancy’s dedication extends beyond the hospital and into the community, where she routinely gives heart health talks that she developed. She also conducts blood pressure screenings and participates in many charity drives for a crisis nursery, pet rescue shelters, fallen police officers and firemen, the homeless and other worthy causes. She is an exemplar of outstanding nursing. “Nancy teaches newer nurses to support one another, especially when new admissions arrive on the unit,” says Sandra Galvin, MSN, RN, CCRN, Nurse Manager of the Heart Failure and Coronary Intensive Care Unit. “She shows up during new admissions to offer assistance, if needed. This has become the culture and expectation on our unit that was modeled by Nancy’s behavior.”

Barbara Gill, BSN, RN, NE-BC

Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital
Medical-Surgical and Intensive Care Unit

Barbara Gill earned her diploma of nursing from St. Vincent Charity Hospital School of Nursing in 1975 and her BSN from Bowling Green University in 1989. Today she serves as nurse manager on medical-surgical and intensive care units at Lutheran Hospital, where she is dedicated to instilling in her nurses a passion for providing excellent care. Barbara supports her nursing team in innumerable ways: She has encouraged cross-training to help further their careers, guided staff through projects and poster presentations for the ANCC Pathway to Excellence Conference® and mentored many nurses through the years. Barbara is equally committed to her patients. As a member of Lutheran Hospital’s Readmission Committee, she led nursing staff to increased core measure success for heart failure education. She revived the hospital’s “no pass zone” and developed a falls reduction and patient safe zone plan that has decreased falls on her units for several years. In addition, she implemented the use of timers on patient doors to remind nurses when a new pain score is due. “Barbara exemplifies the definition of teamwork,” says Katrina Hartig, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Director of Nursing for Inpatient and Emergency Services at Lutheran Hospital. “She eagerly takes on challenges and guides the rest of leadership toward goals of the team.”

Debra Hudock, MSN, RN

Cleveland Clinic Akron General
Cardiothoracic and Medical Intensive Care Unit

Over her 40 year career, Debra Hudock has served as an educator, researcher and caregiver. For the past 12 years, she has served as a critical care clinical specialist in a combined cardiothoracic and medical ICU. She considers it a privilege to care for the critically ill and constantly strives to improve best practices, particularly through participation in research projects. Debra’s dedication to improving patient care led her to become a sub-investigator on more than 150 research trials in cardiovascular,pulmonary and neurologic medicine. Her work on treatment of acute coronary syndrome and myocardial infarctions led to the formation of a multidisciplinary reperfusion team at Akron General, greatly improving door to patient treatment time. She also developed a comprehensive pulmonary arterial hypertension program at Akron General and continues to advocate for these patients on a personal level. She has served as curriculum coordinator for two annual events sponsored by Akron General – the Denise Carrabine, RN Memorial Lecture and the World Series of Cardiology conferences. “Debra works as a team member and leader in caring for patients in the critical care units,” says Kathy Frymier-Lazar, RN, BC-CV from the cardiovascular ICU. “With the research she is involved in and the special projects she has brought to Akron General, the staff and institution have benefited from innovation in the care of cardiac, pulmonary and neurovascular patients.”

Irene Kato, BSN, RN, CMSRN

Cleveland Clinic main campus
Colorectal Surgical Unit

Irene Kato has dedicated her entire 32-year nursing career to caring for patients in the colorectal surgery unit. Though she has spent three decades on the same unit, she remains energized by actively participating in numerous projects. Irene organized the procedure room for colorectal patients and was involved in an inpatient flow optimization project that considered milestones for discharge planning. In 2016, she helped create a multidisciplinary group class for patients with ostomies that has demonstrated decreased readmission rates. Hundreds of patients and their families have taken part in the class, which Irene teaches twice a week. Earlier this year, Irene did a podium presentation at Cleveland Clinic’s Digestive Disease & Surgery Institute Week on ileostomy stoma closure enhanced recovery as part of the SOLVE project. She has co-authored articles on chronic pain and negative pressure wound therapy. She passes on information to her nursing peers, sharing a policy or practice of the week at staff huddles. “Irene is a fixture of the colorectal surgery group, applying superior clinical knowledge and compassionate, holistic patient care to the thousands of patients she has cared for,” says Rebecca Garazatua, MSN, MBA, RN, NE-BC, Nurse Manager of the Colorectal Surgery Unit. “Her skills as a clinical nurse, teacher and role model are unmatched.”

Beth Meter, BSN, RN

Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital
Electrophysiology Lab

During Beth Meter’s 33-year nursing career she has worked on several cardiac units at Fairview Hospital, most recently the electrophysiology lab. She has made a difference on each one, initiating projects related to proper positioning of general anesthesia patients in the OR, skin protection for OR patients and use of a smoke evacuation system when using electrocautery during device implants. Throughout her career, Beth has served as a preceptor and mentor to new nurses. She has volunteered on many committees, including Shared Governance, the Patient Experience Committee, the Throughput Committee and more. She currently serves as the Blood Borne Pathogen Champion for the EP lab. Even though Beth is an experienced RN, she values the importance of continuing education. In 2016, she earned her BSN from Ohio University while working full time. She is thankful every day to be a nurse and proud to serve people when they are at their most vulnerable. “Beth is the perfect recipient for the Lifetime Achievement Award,” says Sarah Meter, her daughter who is following in Beth’s footsteps and studying to be an RN. “She has taught me more about compassion for patients than anyone I ever met. I shadowed her in the EP lab and saw her holding the hand of a patient afraid to undergo anesthesia and taking extra time to explain procedures to patients. She is a phenomenal nurse!”

Jacqueline Nowlin, MBA, BSN, RN

Cleveland Clinic Avon Hospital
Nursing Administration

Jacqueline Nowlin began her 44-year nursing career as an LPN in a medical/surgical unit at Lakewood Hospital. Through the years, she has led change in more than a dozen specialties, ranging from orthopaedics and oncology to behavioral health and pain management. A lifelong learner, Jacqueline earned her MBA in healthcare administration in 2009 and will receive her DNP this October. Her wealth of experience allows her to see the big picture when change is needed, and there was no bigger change than the closing of Lakewood Hospital. She helped plan and execute a strategy to decommission the 107-year-old hospital and place all interested caregivers in positions throughout Cleveland Clinic. Jacqueline now serves as Director of Nursing Acute and Critical Care Services at Avon Hospital, where she was instrumental in the inpatient design of the facility and onboarding of employees. Jacqueline is a staunch supporter of shared decision making. She has been a facilitator for the hospital Nursing Professional Practice Council and worked to create a PCNA Council. “Jacqueline has helped so many nurses grow and develop in their profession and their practice,” says Mary Sauer, MBA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, CNO and Vice President of Patient Care Services at Avon Hospital. “By asking questions, stimulating discussion and inserting humor wherever necessary, she has helped many nurses feel passionate about their work. She is a true professional!”

Kathleen Schwetz, MS, RN, CNS

Cleveland Clinic Main Campus
Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research

Kathleen Schwetz has been a nurse for 45 years, beginning her career at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, N.Y. She earned her MS in nursing from Brigham Young University in 1982 and began working as a clinical nurse specialist serving primarily patients with multiple sclerosis. She has since dedicated her career to this patient population. In 1987, Kathleen joined Cleveland Clinic. Today she is a clinical nurse specialist in the Mellen Center for Multiple Sclerosis Treatment and Research. Kathleen has led the way in many MS patient care areas, including comprehensive care, medication education, neurological evaluations and electronic communication with patients. Through the years, she has been active on numerous Mellen Center continuous improvement committees. Her list of accomplishments is long: Kathleen worked with colleagues to develop a master’s specialty track in neurological nursing at the University of Rochester School of Nursing and was a clinical educator in the program. She teamed with a colleague to develop, design and carry out a nursing research study in conjunction with a clinical drug trial at the Mellen Center. “Kathleen is the go-to resource for many young nurses, the Mellen staff and outside medical teams,” says Susan Sharp, BSN, RN, MSCN, CCRP, Research Nurse Coordinator. “She is approachable and humble in regard to her status as an innovator and change maker.”

Sandra Siedlecki, PhD, RN, CNS

Cleveland Clinic Health System
Office of Nursing Research and Innovation

Sandra Siedlecki spent more than 30 years as a critical care and emergency department nurse before joining the Office of Nursing Research and Innovation. For the past 12 years, she has been a Senior Nurse Scientist, contributing to dozens of research projects. Her primary areas of investigation include chronic pain and nurse-collaborator relationships. In 2014 and 2016, she applied for an Agency of Healthcare Research & Quality grant to assist funding of the Zielony Nursing Institute’s annual research conference, a two-day event attracting more than 300 attendees. Through the years, Sandy has also shared her knowledge and experience as an instructor at the University of Akron College of Nursing, Walden College and Ursuline College’s Breen School of Nursing. She is currently an adjunct faculty member at Case Western Reserve University. A nationally-respected nurse, Sandy is a reviewer for 14 peer reviewed nursing publications, a member of the editorial board for Open Journal of Nursing and Research Department Editor for the Journal of Clinical Nurse Specialists. “Sandy has been contributing to nursing science for years,” says Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, FAAN, Associate Chief Nursing Officer for Research and Innovation. “As a coach to nurses interested in research, she has a can-do attitude. She doesn’t say no to anyone, and when she coaches, Sandy makes each protégé feel special.”

Deborah Small, DNP, RN, NE-BC

Cleveland Clinic Health System
Office of Quality and Practice and Fairview Hospital

Deborah Small grew up in a small southern town where the concepts of humility and caring for others were deeply ingrained in everyday life. When she entered nursing school it was a natural fit with her upbringing and career desires. She never dreamed it would be as rewarding as it is today. Her 39-year nursing career spans five states and nine hospitals/systems. Deb began as a bedside nurse in med/surg, moving into critical care, where she experienced her first leadership role. She continued in a variety of leadership positions until her move to northeast Ohio, where she was an adjunct professor at the University of Akron, Director of Critical Care at Akron General Hospital, CNO at Robinson Memorial Hospital and member of the board of Akron’s American Heart Association and Ronald McDonald House. Deb joined Cleveland Clinic as ACNO for Clinical Practice and Research, where she was instrumental in development of the Zielony Nursing Institute’s Professional Practice Model of Care. In 2010, she was named CNO of Fairview Hospital. The hospital has had many successes under Deb’s leadership, including Magnet re-designation, a No. 4 rating in Ohio from U.S. News & World Report and inclusion on the Thomson Reuters Top 100 Hospitals list 2011. She continues to serve as an example to other nurses, mentoring them on their leadership journeys while never forgetting the importance of bedside nursing. Joyce Arand notes a recent scenario that exemplifies Deb’s commitment to patient care: During rounding in the Emergency Department, an elderly man called for help from the bathroom. Deb jumped in and assisted the man back to bed. “Deb may be an executive, but she is still a nurse with a compassionate heart who is willing to serve!” says Arand, MSN, CNS, RNC, NEA-BC, Director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Fairview Hospital.

Lynne Timko, RN, CDE

Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital
Diabetes Education Center

Lynne Timko has been a nurse since 1980, spending her entire career at South Pointe Hospital. Through the years, she has served in several roles, including clinical nurse, nursing educator, staff development coordinator and CPR instructor. She currently is a diabetes educator. More than 25 years ago, Lynne proposed the first outpatient program to South Pointe Hospital administration, and she has since grown the Diabetes Education Center to what it is today. She subsequently brought the program to Cleveland Clinic Family Health Centers in Solon and Twinsburg. During her career, Lynne has led diabetes support groups and contributed to a Cleveland Clinic patient book entitled “Healthy You: A Guide to Diabetes Self Care”. In addition, she has spearheaded the Diabetes Fair at South Pointe for the past 25 years. Lynne instills her passion for patient education in other nurses. She began the first Diabetes Nurse Champion program at South Pointe and has mentored countless nurses to improve quality of care for hospitalized patients with diabetes. Lynne says she could not have achieved her successes without the support of her husband Gary, daughter Holli and mother Betty. “Lynne’s compassion and kindness to each and every patient exemplifies the Cleveland Clinic values,” says Annette Upton, BSN, RN, who was an ambulatory PACU staff nurse prior to retiring in June. “She inspires hope in each patient with diabetes that they can live a healthy and productive life.”

Ann Williamson, PhD, RN, NEA-BC

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
Executive Team

As Chief Clinical and Nursing Officer at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Ann Williamson is not only the voice of nursing – she is the voice in a country developing and finding its role in healthcare. Ann is well suited to the task. A 39-year nursing veteran, she began her career in North Carolina in both the hospital and community setting, as well as serving as an instructor in an RN, then BSN setting. She worked at two hospitals in San Francisco before joining the University of California. She served as a nurse leader there for 16 years before being named CNO and Associate VP for Nursing for University of Iowa Health Care. As a leader at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi since its opening three years ago, Ann has been invaluable to the new hospital’s success. Through the years, Ann has contributed greatly to nursing’s body of knowledge as an author of eight publications and the presenter of 24 posters and presentations. She has achieved four academic appointments, was awarded four fellowships and maintains six professional memberships. In addition, Ann has participated in 12 research projects, many of them centered on nursing hours/patient outcomes, nurse satisfaction and patient safety. Despite her vast experience, Ann makes it a point to hear from staff. Each month, she meets with 20 randomly chosen caregivers for an open session. “Ann takes the time to guide us – at times taking guidance from us – in order for all of use to grow,” says Judy Pearce, BSN, RN, CCRN, Clinical Director of Perioperative Services at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Christine Wrobel, RN

Cleveland Clinic Health System
Nursing Administration

Chris Wrobel began her 35-year nursing career on a medical-surgical unit at Fairview Hospital. While she was pursuing a business degree at Baldwin Wallace in 1991, a position opened up that was a mix of both nursing and business: She became Coordinator of Nursing Resources. In 2006, when the electronic medical record was in the planning stages, Chris became part of the initiative. Since then, she has worked full time as the informatics nurse at Fairview Hospital. Chris has contributed to many projects as Nursing Informatics Liaison, most recently on implementation of VitalScout and the Iris rounding app for behavioral health for at-risk pediatric and adolescent patients. She was instrumental in streamlining the Pediatric Psych and Rapid Observation Unit flow sheets. Chris is energetic, passionate and knowledgeable, rounding frequently and providing one-on-one training to caregivers. She earned a Safety Champion award earlier this year and a Caregiver Celebration Excellence Award in 2010. “Chris touches nearly every nurse and department throughout our community hospital,” says Kathleen Singleton, MSN, APRN, CNS, CMSRN, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Medical-Surgical Nursing at Fairview Hospital. “Her interpersonal communication style spurs critical-thinking, provides an atmosphere of openness and allows the team or group to thoroughly review the purpose, methodology and consequences of their decision-making.”

More Awards

National Nurses Week

During National Nurses Week, Cleveland Clinic honors and recognizes its nurses. 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 exemplified the ideals and objectives of the nursing 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.

Award Categories

Award Categories

The Stanley Shalom Zielony institute for Nursing Excellence proudly honors its nurses for their outstanding achievements and dedicated commitment to the nursing profession annually though the Maria and Sam Miller Nursing Excellence Awards.

These awards are our organization’s most prestigious nursing honors. The nurses who receive these awards epitomize Cleveland Clinic’s values of quality, innovation, teamwork, service, integrity and compassion. Nominations are submitted by fellow caregivers and physician colleagues, patients and volunteers.

Below are the 2018 award categories.