nursing schoolA gala celebration Saturday evening, September 29 at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing will showcase the outstanding accomplishments of the nurses and nursing students who comprise “Johns Hopkins Nursing.”

Held under the stars in the School’s courtyard and throughout its award-winning Pinkard Building, the event will offer a tour of the Hopkins Nursing galaxy, including demonstrations of nursing learning experiences:

  • A “Walk a Mile” simulation that introduces participants to the sometimes limiting experiences of aging.
  • Live nursing simulations in a mock patient room.
  • Poster sessions highlighting community health nursing programs.

At the conclusion of the evening, the “Shining Stars” awards will be presented to a nursing faculty member, a nursing student, and two nurses within the Johns Hopkins Health System.    

Nine nursing superstars have been chosen as finalists in this inaugural Johns Hopkins Nursing Shining Star Awards Program. They represent a diversity of specialties and skills, experiences and strengths—but they all serve as shining examples of Johns Hopkins Nursing in word, deed, and attitude.  

Each was nominated by their peers at the Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospitals and School of Nursing and chosen as finalists by each institution’s leadership.

Shining Hospital Stars

Sherry Belcher, MSN, RN, a clinical leader in the emergency center at All Children's Hospital, “inspires others to strive for nursing excellence by truly leading by example.” Under her leadership, door-to-antibiotic time for hematology/oncology patients with a fever has decreased from 150 minutes to 85 minutes. She serves on the Patient Care Practice Council, chairs the department Downtime and Disaster Committees, serves as her department’s safety officer, and, according to her coworkers, “her drive and enthusiasm is infectious.”

Lori Keim, RN, a nursing informatics associate at Sibley Memorial Hospital, leads the implementation of the new Epic clinical information system while simultaneously enhancing and maintaining the current system (QCPR). As she prepares Sibley hospital for the new Epic system, Keim is leading multidisciplinary teams and workgroups, making complex clinical practice and workflow decisions, and ensuring that Sibley nurses have the technological tools they need to care for their patients. She's "creative and resourceful" in her work and "is seen as a true 'shining star' and clinical leader."

Kathy Lee-Wisdom, RN, a wound care nurse on 4 South at Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine, is described as "a wonderful nurse" who goes the extra mile for her patients. She devotes extra time on the wound care committee, even coming in on her days off to assess patents who are at high risk for decubitus ulcers. She frequently acts as charge nurse, serves as a nurse educator, and "has been a great team leader to 4 South and motivates her coworkers to do the same."

Deborah Michell, RN, a nurse clinician in the medical nursing department at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, coordinates care for complex HIV/AIDS patients on the Polk Unit. "She is always willing to go above and beyond with an upbeat 'can do and will do' attitude. She has endless compassion for HIV patients and underserved populations," said her nominator. She also hasn't missed a day of work in more than eight years! She's active in her community, too, and this year she raised more than $13,000 for Movable Feat, an organization that provides meals to underprivileged HIV patients.

Chona Umali, RN, an oncology staff nurse at Suburban Hospital, is responsible for the daily care and medication of Suburban's cancer patients. One of her patients recently wrote to the hospital: “I wanted to fight the [care] plan, [but] Chona was just as strong and persistent and managed to kill all my fears and anxieties with her love and affection… Chona is one of the most special people I have met in my life and is a clear role model for all human beings – especially nurses across the world. She goes way over and beyond the job description, putting her heart and soul into every patient she cares for."  

Shining Faculty Stars

Kathleen Becker, DNP, MSN, RN, is “devoted to the health of the homeless in Baltimore and committed to mentoring nursing students.” An Assistant Professor in the Department of Community-Public Health, Becker teaches in both the nurse practitioner and DNP programs and coordinates the adult nurse practitioner program. She has also worked as a nurse practitioner at Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore since 1987.

Kathryn Kushto-Reese, MS, RN, “really knows her stuff and helps you learn without making you feel stupid,” said one of her students. Kushto-Reese coordinates two baccalaureate nursing courses and works to develop and implement the School of Nursing’s Simulation program. She’s known for her dedicated mentorship of new faculty members and “her ability to teach her students in a manner that inspires is a true gift in academia.” She is a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Acute and Chronic Care.

Shining Student Stars

The baccalaureate student finalist is tireless in her work promoting women's health. She is an advocate for women experiencing domestic violence—her name remains unpublished here because she is a survivor herself—and leads the school's Birth Companions Program, working to assign student-peer birth companions to assist pregnant moms before, during, and after birth. She’s the bridge between her fellow students, the faculty, and the local Baltimore women the program serves. Her nominator described her as a leader for her peer birth companions and “a true patient advocate, empowering patients to make their own decisions about labor and birth.”

Rebecca Coppola, RN, a graduate student in the MSN/MPH program, is the leader of the School of Nursing’s Graduate Student Organization (GSO). She revitalized the GSO this year with an “I am SON” campaign to encourage more active student participation and has worked to strengthen ties with other graduate student organizations across JHU. A “professional yet persistent leader,” Coppola is currently mentoring other graduate students to assume the GSO leadership next year.

To learn more about An Evening With The Stars, or to RSVP to attend, visit