Nursing AwardNine nursing superstars—a faculty member, a student, and two Johns Hopkins Health System nurses—are the inaugural winners of the Johns Hopkins Nursing Shining Star Awards. 

The awards were bestowed during “An Evening With The Stars,” a gala celebration on September 29 held under the stars in the courtyard of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing’s award-winning Pinkard Building.

The nurses were nominated by their peers at the Johns Hopkins-affiliated hospitals and School of Nursing, chosen as finalists by each institution’s leadership, and selected as winners by a committee of Hopkins nurse leaders. They represent a diversity of specialties and skills, experience and strengths—and all serve as shining examples of Johns Hopkins Nursing in word, deed, and attitude. 

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.”

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.

Runners-up are Lori Keim, RN, a nursing informatics associate at Sibley Memorial Hospital, Kathy Lee-Wisdom, RN, a wound care nurse on 4 South at Howard County General Hospital, and Chona Umali, RN, an oncology staff nurse at Suburban Hospital.

Shining Faculty Star

Kathryn Kushto-Reese, MSN, 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 .    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.

Runner-up is Kathleen Becker, DNP, MSN, RN, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Community-Public Health and a nurse practitioner at Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore.

Shining Student Star

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 , 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.”

Runner-up is Rebecca Coppola, RN, a graduate student in the MSN/MPH program, who serves as leader of the School of Nursing’s Graduate Student Organization (GSO). 

To learn more about An Evening With The Stars, visit