Class News Fall 2023

Fall 2023 As Seen in Our Fall 2023 Issue
Class News Fall 2023

Alumni Community Week Recap

This September, the Johns Hopkins Nurses’ Alumni Association (JHNAA) hosted its second annual Alumni Community Week, aimed at bringing together the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Community.

The week included both in-person and virtual events, including a New Nurse Mentoring Meet-Up designed to help ease the transition for recent graduates into the nursing profession, a Virtual Nursing Grand Rounds by Dr. Cecilia Tomori, who presented on “Ensuring Breastfeeding Success in a Market-Driven World” as part of the 2023 Breastfeeding Series, and the annual JHNAA Business Meeting & Dean’s Address, which included an updated from Dean Sarah Szanton on exciting new initiatives like the Institute for Policy Solutions at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the Neighborhood Nursing pilot. The week also included a Mix and Mingle social event for local alumni to connect, and concluded with the Isabel Hampton Robb Lecture, featuring Dr. Katherine Ornstein.

We are grateful to all who participated in Alumni Community Week!

2023 Alumni Awards

Alexis Bakos is the 2023 recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award. Alexis is program director of the Supportive Care and Symptom Management Science portfolio at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health, where she oversees extramural research on the prevention or treatment of acute and chronic symptoms and morbidities related to cancer and treatment interventions. In addition, Alexis has worked in a number of research positions within the federal government.

Deborah Baker is the 2023 Distinguished Alumna Awardee. Deb is the first senior vice president for the Johns Hopkins Health System and serves as VP for nursing and patient care services and chief nursing officer for Johns Hopkins Hospital. Deb started a career with Johns Hopkins Hospital as a clinical nurse in 1992 and has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of other nursing leadership roles, including a former role as director of nursing for surgery, and currently as DNP faculty for JHSON and associate dean for health systems partnership and innovation. 

Kelly Lowensen is the 2023 Community Champion Awardee. Kelly has dedicated her entire nursing career to caring for Baltimore’s most marginalized communities. She has extensive experience in female and reproductive health services, AIDS Hospice, HIV and HIV prevention clinical care, and led the Center for Infection Disease and Nursing Innovation (CIDNI) efforts to implement four community-based COVID-19 research efforts. She is currently leading the CIDNI team in efforts to end HIV in Baltimore and precepts students of all levels in the JHSON Community Outreach Program. 

Natalie Bush is the 2023 recipient of the Heritage Award. Natalie is currently the chair of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing Advisory Board and has been a member of the board since 2014. She has supported and led JHSON’s most critical priorities, in time, talent, and treasure. Natalie represents nursing leadership through her engagement and advisory capacity, bringing knowledge of the profession with business savvy. JHSON is grateful for her active leadership and compassionate partnership.

Wally and Mary-Ann Pinkard are the recipients of the 2023 Community Champion Award. The Pinkards are deeply committed to the city of Baltimore. They work tirelessly to revitalize neighborhoods, strengthen schools, and bolster the business community through professional and personal pursuits. Mary-Ann is a founding member of the Baltimore Women’s Giving Circle, which invests in organizations that empower women and their families, and a founding board member of the Baltimore Design School, a middle/high school that integrates design throughout the academic curriculum. Her past board experience includes the Maryland SPCA and the Baltimore School for the Arts as well as organizational affiliations with JHSON and the Hippodrome Foundation. Wally gives his time to several organizations. For 25 years, he served as the chair of the Johns Hopkins Nursing Advisory Board, where his leadership had a demonstrable impact on its success as the No. 1-ranked school of nursing. In addition, he has served as a trustee at Johns Hopkins University and Medicine, lending his support across the enterprise in the spirit of One Hopkins. His community involvement is broad and meaningful—he is chair of the France-Merrick Foundation, which provides grants to nonprofit organizations across the state with a focus on the Greater Baltimore area. He is a trustee with the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation, focusing on aiding the fields of mental wellness, aging, and health. With a desire to introduce the arts to children, he is board chairman of the Hippodrome Foundation. Both Mary-Ann and Wally are on the board of the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation, where they share their passion for local sports.

Scott Newton is the 2023 Outstanding Recent Graduate Awardee. Scott has 35 years of experience in health care as a nurse clinician, leader, educator, and trusted advisor. He collaborates with teams to address complex challenges using evidence-based principles of high reliability, strengths-based leadership, change management, and patient focus that enables high-quality clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. He continues to practice in prehospital, emergency, disaster, and humanitarian care. Scott is also a former Nursing Advisory Board member and continues to demonstrate deep engagement with JHSON through a variety of alumni and annual giving initiatives. 

Yvonne Commodore-Mensah is the 2023 recipient of the Global Achievement Award. Yvonne is a cardiovascular nurse epidemiologist and associate professor at JHSON and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her program of research seeks to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease risk among Africans locally and globally (sub-Saharan Africa) through community-engaged research.  

SON Dean’s Awardees 

Sara Cawrse is the 2023 Outstanding Nurse Clinician Award recipient. Sara is a nurse practitioner with MedStar and Shepherd’s Clinic in Baltimore City and is deeply committed to serving the local community. She is dedicated to all of her patients’ care and always considers structural determinants of health such as treatment costs and transportation. 

Erin Wright is the 2023 Outstanding Nurse Educator Awardee. Erin is passionate about helping students understand and develop excellence for nursing in women’s health areas. She is an assistant professor at JHSON and is highly respected among students. Erin is a certified nurse-midwife and a board-certified advanced practice holistic nurse.

Sondra Leiggi Brandon is the 2023 Outstanding Nurse Leader. She serves as VP of patient care and behavioral health at Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, HI. A board-certified family nurse practitioner and psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, Sondra has been recognized for her strong leadership skills and advocacy for patients with mental health needs. Sondra actively works with other hospitals in the community, trains police officers in Crisis Intervention Training, and works with government relations on various legislative bills relating to mental health issues in the state. 

Veronica Barcelona is the 2023 Outstanding Nurse Researcher Awardee. Veronica is a perinatal nurse-epidemiologist with over 20 years of experience in maternal/child health nursing research. She is an outstanding scholar with exceptional skills in data analysis and manuscript writing. Veronica’s program of research interrogates the root causes of inequities in pregnancy and birth outcomes for pregnant people and their newborns.

Sara Russell Rodriguez is the 2023 Outstanding Policy Influencer. Sara is a nurse, community leader, public health professional, entrepreneur, proud mom, and lieutenant governor of Wisconsin. As a health care executive and a public health advocate, Sara is passionate about working with health care providers, employers, and communities to improve the cost and quality of health care for the entire population. Her approach to addressing problems is rooted in fact-based practices, science, and connecting with communities across Wisconsin.

More Class News

  • Lauren Underwood, ’09 wasnamed in 10 of Chicago’s Top Black Women of Impact.
  • Dean Sarah Szanton, ’07 testified before the Senate HELP Committee at an informational hearing on nursing shortages.
  • Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, ’14 was named grant recipient of the Discovery and Innovation Fund. The fund provides grants to support groundbreaking work of SON pre- and post-doctoral students, as well as faculty. Yvonne is studying cardiovascular health and disease prevention in African immigrant communities.
  • The Board of Trustees of the University of Maine System recently awarded Paula Nersesian, ’17 tenure and promoted her to associate professor. “It’s pretty exciting to achieve this in just six years since graduating from JHU with my PhD in 2017,” she says.
  • Traci M. Krause, ’99 will serve as the next chancellor of St. John’s College of Nursing.
  • Congratulations to the following JHSON alumni inducted as 2023 fellows in the American Academy of Nursing:
    • Binu Koirala, ’19
    • Tamar Rodney, ’18
    • Vanessa Battista, ’21
    • Trudy Gaillard, ’93
    • Sara Rodriguez, ’04
    • Katherine Scafide, ’12
    • Janet Selway, ’04
    • Martha Sylvia, ’09
    • Sherri Johnson Wilson, ’12
    • Melinda Sawyer, ’09

Julie Nicholas, ’94, is the lead author of the article “Addressing Underreporting of Blood and Other Body Fluid Exposures Among Perioperative Personnel,” published in AORN October 2021.

  • Baltimore Magazine included several JHSON alumni in Excellence in Nursing Awards for 2023:
    • Kimberly Seifert, ’97
    • Amber Richert, ’15
    • Mary Nayden, ’98
    • Hannah Fetting, ’17

In Memoriam

Blanche Childs, ’47

Claire Titus, ’47

Louise Guest, ’51

Carolyn Boykin, ’53

Mary Cobb, ’53

Marian Jameson, ’54

Margaret-Anne Warlick, ’55

Linda Baker, ’57

Mary Browning, ’58

Cynthia Brown, ’59

Betty Berg, ’60

Mary Ann Slowick, ’61

Virginia Highsmith, ’62

Lois Grayshan Hoffer, ’62

Merrill Brophy, ’63

Marjorie Elam, ’63

Suzanne Hyatt, ’65

Patricia Baxter, ’65

Ruth Thornton, ’67

Constance Waxter, ’69

Pace Jagodzinski, ’75

Pamela Welch, ’97

Ashley Wiggins, ’09

Joanne Timmel, ’10

Peggy Daw, ’15

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