Nurses work tirelessly at all levels in healthcare, in both clinical and administrative capacities. There are nearly 2.7 million registered nurses in the United States, and 2.2 million of them are actively employed. Despite their constant presence in the healthcare setting and invaluable contributions to patient care, their efforts are sometimes under appreciated, their skills and compassion often taken for granted. At Cleveland Clinic, we strive daily to continue our legacy for top quality nursing, as well as make every effort to acknowledge those who excel in helping us meet that goal.

Nursing Excellence Awards Post Event 2014

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?

Accepting 2016 nominations starting January 2016.

View sample nomination form.

2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Nancy Albert
Main Campus
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Nursing Research & Innovation

Nancy earned her nursing diploma from the Huron Road Hospital School of Nursing in 1977, then a BSN from Cleveland State University in 1985. She received both her MSN (1991) and PhD (2005) from Kent State University. A 37-year nursing veteran, Nancy joined Cleveland Clinic in 1990 as Nurse Manager of the Coronary Care Unit. Since then she has held numerous positions within the health system, including clinical instructor, clinical nurse specialist, and manager of both the heart failure disease management program and of cardiothoracic surgery clinical investigations and registry. Today Nancy is the ACNO for Nursing Research & Innovation. She has volunteered for many national organizations and currently chairs the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses Certification Board and the American College of Cardiology Clinical Quality Committee Patient Navigator Program Work Group, among others. “Nancy’s vision of nursing is not only to provide the highest quality care that is evidence-based, but to participate in discovering, building, and teaching others about research that supports optimal care,” says Kate E. Klein, MS, ACNP-BC, CCRN, an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner in the neurological ICU. Nancy and her husband Gerard have been married for 35 years and have three adult daughters – Samantha, Alyssa, and Stephanie.

Dawn Bailey, MAOM, BSN, RN, NEA-BC
Dawn Bailey
Euclid Hospital
Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer

Dawn has spent all 33 years of her nursing career with Cleveland Clinic accruing leadership and management experience in both complex tertiary care and the community hospital setting. She has worked on a broad variety of units, ranging from telemetry and nephrology, to maternal-child care and respiratory special care. Dawn has been Vice President and CNO of Euclid Hospital since 2005. She holds a BS from Mercyhurst College, a BSN from Villa Maria College, and a master of arts in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. Dawn encourages all nurses to further their education by returning to school and obtaining specialty certifications. “She establishes an environment where teamwork is cherished and is a reality!” says Vickie Gardner, BSN, RN, Nursing Quality Program Manager at Euclid Hospital. “Her service and dedication to Cleveland Clinic is seen in her daily desire to lead by example, empower others, and promote quality care.” Dawn’s compassion extends outside the hospital: she has served on the board of the Euclid Hunger Center for seven years. She and her husband Jeff have been married for 27 years and have a 25-year-old son Ian, and a 21-year-old daughter Jenna.

Kathleen Burns, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC, ACCNS-A/G, CEN
Kathleen Burns
Medina Hospital
Clinical Nurse Specialist

Kathleen earned her BSN from Cleveland State University and her MSN from the University of Akron. She is currently working toward her DNP at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She has been a nurse for 24 years, serving as Medina Hospital’s only CNS for the past three years. One of her most noteworthy accomplishments is overseeing the development of the hospital’s stroke program in 2010. Thanks in part to Kathleen’s efforts, Medina Hospital is now certified as a Primary Stroke Center. She also helped develop stroke protocols, educated multidisciplinary teams on standards of care, and implemented outreach initiatives to teach the public about stroke symptoms and risk factors. In addition, Kathleen has led an interdisciplinary task force to decrease CLABSI, was instrumental in implementing bedside handoff at the hospital, and mentors nurses in creating poster and podium presentations. “In every situation, she demonstrates integrity and service, ensuring that the focus remains on the needs of the patient,” says Karen Theodore, BSN, RN, a Clinical Instructor at Medina Hospital. “She sets high standards for herself, treats others with respect and serves as a role model to others.” Kathleen has two sons, David and Matthew.

Patricia A. Hess, BSN, RN
Patricia Hess
Lutheran Hospital
Nurse Manager of Perioperative Services

A 39-year nursing veteran, Patricia joined the Cleveland Clinic health system in 1996 at the Strongsville Ambulatory Surgery Center. Patricia has also worked at the Carnegie Ambulatory Surgery Center and Euclid Hospital. Today she is Nurse Manager of Perioperative Services at Lutheran Hospital. Throughout her career Patricia has been on the forefront of medicine, working with coronary bypass patients, patients requiring complex plastic surgery, as well as helping start up an ambulatory care outpatient surgery center. Her insight and awareness of workplace efficiencies are invaluable, and she recently contributed to a team involved with the appropriate use of sterilized equipment. “She demonstrates a true spirit of nursing in her care and concern for patients and their families,” says Janet Schuster, MBA, BSN, RN, Director of Quality Management at Lutheran Hospital. “As a change agent, she lets her staff fly on their own while serving as a sounding board and resource. She is a working manager, always willing to help out.” Patricia is married to Dennis (also a nurse) and has two sons, Ryan and Andrew.

Deborah A. Hibjan, BSN, RN
Deborah Hibjan
Marymount Hospital
Clinical Nurse Manager of the Emergency Department

Deborah graduated from St. Alexis Hospital’s School of Nursing and began her career 36 years ago in a medical/surgical unit at Marymount Hospital. Later she earned her BSN from Indiana Wesleyan University. In 1984 she moved to the Emergency Department, where she works now as the Clinical Nurse Manager. She enjoys the fast-paced environment and mentoring new graduates in a critical care area. Under her helm, the Emergency Department instituted team nursing and the split flow throughput process. “Deborah is the type of person that should be cloned and molded for all Cleveland Clinic Foundation employees,” says Michelle Schreiber, RN, Assistant Nurse Manager of the Emergency Department at Marymount Hospital. “She expects, encourages, and inspires her staff to provide superior, compassionate care to each and every patient. She works endless hours and gives her all every day to make her department the best it can be.” Deborah has a daughter, Lauren, and a significant other, Stephen.

Barbara J. Hocevar, MSN, RN, CWOCN
Barbara Hocevar
Main Campus
Assistant Director of Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nursing Education

Barbara received her BSN from St. John College/Ursuline College and her MSN from the University of Phoenix. She has been a nurse for 36 years; a wound, ostomy, and continence nurse for 32 years; acting as Assistant Director of WOC Nursing Education for nearly three years. Barbara has co-authored more than a dozen publications in textbooks and journals and made 38 podium and poster presentations related to wound, ostomy, and continence nursing. As the former ostomy section editor for the Journal of WOC Nursing, Barbara has helped countless authors nationally contribute to a growing base of evidence related to the specialty. She recently helped update the ostomy curriculum blueprint for WOC schools. “Barbara consistently demonstrates Cleveland Clinic values in all aspects of her work,” says Linda Stricker, MSN/ED, RN, CWOCN, Director of WOC Nursing Education. “If a student or co-worker has a problem, she is there to listen and help problem solve. She sets the tone for compassion with patients and with students.” Barbara is the second of five children and has eight nieces and nephews.

Richard Lowery, MBA, BSN, RN, BHSM
Richard Lowery
Euclid Hospital
Director of Emergency and Outpatient Nursing Services

Richard graduated from nursing school in 1981 and has since gone on to earn his BSN from Ohio University, BHSM from Ursuline College, and MBA from Lake Erie College. He has devoted 33 years to emergency medicine. In 1984, he joined Euclid Hospital, where he serves today as Director of Emergency and Outpatient Nursing services. During his tenure, Richard designed the Hospital Emergency Response Team (HERT), built to serve as the first line of defense in disaster events. He also implemented the split flow throughput process and contributed to the remodel of the Emergency Department. “Richard is one of the stable pillars of not only Euclid Hospital, but the entire Cleveland Clinic health system,” says Betsy Chmielewski, MSN, MHA, RN, Nurse Manager of the Emergency Department at Euclid Hospital. “His compassion truly drives everyone around him to succeed and reach a higher standard. He is hands down the nurse we all strive to be.” Richard and his wife Stephanie have two sons, Timmy and Sean.

Marlene Oblak, RN
Marlene Oblak
Main Campus
Manager of Nursing Informatics

Marlene has been a nurse for 42 years, nearly all of them with Cleveland Clinic. For 19 years she collaborated with cardiovascular clinical teams, where she cared for some of the first heart and lung transplant patients, and the first ventilator and Heartmate patients in a non-ICU setting. She joined what is now called the Office of Nursing Informatics in 1993. As one of the first nurses to work in the specialty practice area of information technology, Marlene has left an indelible mark on the field. She was critical in planning and adopting the electronic medical record and has developed tools in EPIC for improvement projects related to CLABSI and CAUTI. “Marlene is often sought out as an enterprise resource for her historical knowledge of the organization and different solutions that have been trialed over the years,” says Nelita Zytkowski, DNP, MS, BSN, NEA-BC, RN-BC, FHIMSS, Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Informatics. “It is because of her experience that many system design and implementation decisions have been so prosperous over the years.” Marlene has a daughter who is carrying on the family tradition as an RN at Hillcrest Hospital.

Mary Runyan, RN
Mary Runyan
Ashtabula County Medical Center
Director of Nursing

Mary earned her nursing diploma from Fairview School of Nursing and began her career 46 years ago. She started as an ICU nurse at Ashtabula County Medical Center in 1972 and served as its Director of Nursing until she retired in early 2014. During her tenure, Mary has served on the medical center’s Resuscitation and Critical Care Committees and helped develop the Rapid Response teams. One of her crowning achievements is working with a physician to create and implement Ohio’s first DNR directives in 1998. She led the ACMC to an unbelievable string of more than five years without a ventilator-acquired pneumonia. Mary also is past Vice President of the Ohio Nurses Association and a recipient of the Shirley Titus Award from the American Nurses Association. “The Code for Nurses hangs on Mary’s office wall, and she believes in it, lives it, and breathes it,” says John Engelmann, BSN, RN, Director of Nursing at ACMC. “Her innovative ways and out-of-the-box thinking, along with her ability to project certain outcomes based on trends and proposed actions, has put her at the forefront of most new challenges at our facility. She has been a serving leader long before there was such a thing.” Mary and her husband Will have been married for more than 46 years and have two adult sons, Bill and Jake, and two grandchildren.

Mary Ann “Molly” Sammon, BSN, RN, CWCN
Molly Sammon
Main Campus
Manager of Nurse Quality Enterprise Wound Care

Molly received her nursing diploma from St. Vincent Charity Hospital and her BSN from St. Louis University. She is a member of the Wound Ostomy Continence Nursing Society and is WOC certified. She has been a nurse for 48 years and in her current position as Manager of Nurse Quality Enterprise Wound Care for 18 years. Molly was the catalyst for development of Cleveland Clinic’s Unit-based Skin Care Resource Nurse program. Through her expert knowledge in skin care practices, she has bridged the gap in patient care and built collaborative relationships with other disciplines and pharmaceutical vendors. She also has mentored countless nurses in the nuances of skin care, published several articles and chapters on the topic, and presented at wound care conferences. “Molly would never perceive herself as a miracle worker, but she is to the thousands of patients to whom she has provided care and the innumerable nurses to whom she has mentored,” says Mary Beth Modic, DNP, RN, CNS, CDE, a Clinical Nurse Specialist in diabetes on main campus. Molly has been married for 43 years and has five children, the oldest of which is also a BSN and WOCN working in New York.

Cathy Schreiber, RN
Catherine Schreiber
Marymount Hospital
Assistant Clinical Manager

Cathy earned her associate’s degree in nursing from Cuyahoga County Community College after raising her family. She has worked at Marymount Hospital for 18 years in several roles, including Nurse Manager of the medical/surgical telemetry units, Nursing Operations Manager, and Case Management. Today she serves as an Assistant Clinical Manager. She is currently enrolled in Ohio University’s online BSN program and expects to earn her degree early next year. Cathy is committed to quality initiatives that support best practice and best patient outcomes. She is supportive and encouraging to the bedside nursing staff by acknowledging their successes and promoting higher education. “Cathy is a positive role model for excellence in nursing practice,” says Donna Koterba, MSN, RN, Director of Nursing, Medical/Surgical and Behavioral Health at Marymount Hospital. “No job is too small for her. She shares the vision of the Zielony Nursing Institute and by example encourages her peers to be all they can be and to put patients first.” Cathy has been married to her high school sweetheart for 39 years. They have four adult sons and three grandsons.

Cynthia Willis, MSN, MBA, RN, CMSRN
Cindy Willis
Cleveland Clinic health system
Senior Director of Nursing Education

Cynthia has been a nurse for 35 years. She is committed to education, earning her RN from Mansfield General School of Nursing in 1979 and her BSN from Bowling Green State University in 1986. Cynthia received an MBA from Cleveland State University and an MSN from Regis University. She currently is enrolled in a DNP program at Walden University and works as an adjunct faculty member for Ohio University’s RN to BSN program. After serving as a bedside nurse at Fairview Hospital and Nurse Manager at Lutheran Hospital, Cynthia moved into Nursing Education 20 years ago. Today she is Senior Director of Nursing Education for main campus and the community hospitals. Among her many accomplishments is helping to create the Vascular Access Resource Nurse program. “Cindy recognizes the importance of providing our healthcare providers the tools and education needed to care for our patients,” says Nichole Kelsey, BSN, RN, a Clinical Instructor for the western region. “She is a living example of what it means to be a ‘constant teacher.’ She has encouraged 70 percent of her direct reports to enroll in a master’s program.” Cynthia has two children, Michael and Nichole.

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.

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.

2013 National Award Winners

Beth M. Faiman, PhDc MSN CNP AOCN, was named the recipient of the 2013 ONS Commendation for Outstanding Achievement for Oncology Nursing Education or Patient/Family Education Award.

2012 National Award Winners

Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, Senior Director, Nursing Research and Innovation CNS, Kaufman Center for Heart Failure, was named the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) 2013 Distinguished Research Lecturer in recognition her program of research that significantly influences high acuity and critical care.

Meredith Lahl, MSN, PCNS-BC, PNP-BC, CPON, Senior Director, Advanced Practice Nursing, was awarded the 2012 Jean Fergusson Excellence in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nursing Practice Award.  This award is given each year to recognize an Association of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Nurses APHON member for compassion and expertise in clinical nursing practice and for actively incorporating research and new ideas into clinical practice.

Nancy M. Albert, PhD, CCNS, CHFN, CCRN, NE-BC, FAHA, FCCM, Senior Director, Nursing Research and Innovation CNS, Kaufman Center for Heart Failure, was awarded the Sue B. Davidson Service Award. 

Beth Faiman, PhDc, MSN, APRN-BC, AOCN, Nurse Practitioner, Taussig Cancer Institute, received the 2012 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Excellence in Medical Oncology Award for her accomplishments in advancing nursing knowledge with the field of hematology and medical oncology.

Kelly Cherni, BSN, RN, OCN, Nurse Coordinator for Bone Marrow Transplant, received the Josh Gottheil Bone Marrow Transplant Career Development Award from the Oncology Nursing Society.

Tina S. Resser, MSN, ACNP-BC, FNP-BC, CNRN, Nurse Practitioner for the Neurological Intensive Care Unit, received 2011 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) Excellence in Clinical Practice Award for recognition of her excellent clinical care.

Chad Hollis MSN, BSN, RN received the Clinical Excellence in Vascular Nursing Award from the Society of Vascular Nursing for his exceptional clinical skills and direct patient care delivery.

Scott Arkwright, BSN, RN, CNOR, RNFA, Registered Nurse First Assist, received the Outstanding Orthopedic Nurse Practice Award from National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON) for his contribution to providing high quality health care to the orthopaedic patient and his outstanding contributions to the field of orthopaedic nursing.

Esther Bernhofer, PhD, RN-BC, Nursing Education Specialist for Pain Management, received the 2012 American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) Clinical Practice Award in recognition of her many achievements in pain management practice.

K. Kelly Hancock, MSN, RN, NEC-BC, Executive Chief Nursing Officer and Chief Nursing Officer for Main Campus, received the 2012 American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) Circle of Excellence Award.

Laura S. Wood, MSN, RN, OCN, Renal Cancer Research Coordinator for Taussig Cancer Institute,  received the 2012 Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Clinical Lectureship Award for her excellence in clinical nursing practice.

Marie A. Namey, MSN, RN, CNS, MSCCN, Clinical Nurse Specialist for the Neurological Institute's Mellen Center, won the 2011 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses (AANN) Excellence in Advanced Practice Nursing Award in recognition of her excellence in nursing care and promoting neuroscience nursing.

Previous Winners

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

View list of awards and recognitions.