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School of Nursing Honors Faculty and Staff at 2024 Award Ceremony

  By Margaret Calkins
  Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The University of Rochester School of Nursing hosted an end-of-year celebration to honor its faculty and staff for their significant contributions to the school.

Staff & Faculty Awards

Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing Caroline Nestro, PhD, MS, RN, received the Mary Dombeck Diversity Enhancement Award in recognition of her significant commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusiveness at the University of Rochester School of Nursing. Nestro currently serves as interim director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School.

Gamji Rabiu Abu-Ba’are, PhD, MA, assistant professor of nursing and public health, was named Most Promising New Investigator. His current research studies into HIV/AIDS will impact care internationally and have a positive impact on communities in need.

Assistant Professor Meredith Kells, PhD, RN, CPNP, FSAHM, received the Professional Advancement Award in recognition of her activities as a committed researcher and clinician focused on eating disorders and adolescent medicine.

Assistant Professor Ann Leonhardt-Caprio, DNP, RN, ANP-BC, FAHA, was presented with the Outstanding Scholarly Practitioner Award in recognition of her excellence in both scholarship and clinical leadership in stroke care and the mentorship of DNP students.

Shannon Moreland, DNP, MS, RN, FNP, CEN, assistant professor of clinical nursing, and Meghan Underhill, PhD, PRN, AOCNS, assistant professor, were named recipients of the Outstanding Faculty Colleague Award which recognizes faculty whose help and guidance are frequently sought by individuals to enhance the quality of their endeavors in education, research and/or practice and to promote their professional advancement.

Maria Sepúlveda, MBA, associate director of admissions operations and strategy, and Cesar Nuñez, assistant director of admissions and enrollment management, were each presented with the Outstanding Staff Colleague Award in recognition of their dedication to the University of Rochester School of Nursing community and supporting recruitment efforts over the past year.

Lizze Mournighan, education innovation team assistant, and Kyle Dembrow, senior research administrator, each received the Outstanding Staff Member of the Year Award in recognition of their exemplary performance and commitment to the education and research missions. This award recognizes individuals who exhibit a positive attitude, show commitment to the School of Nursing, and continuously show respect for others.

Gianluca D’Elia, MMC, communications specialist, received the Mary Dombeck Diversity Enhancement Staff Award in recognition of his dedication to improving diversity and inclusiveness while also demonstrating respect, support, and appreciation. His efforts to raise awareness about health equity and support the Council for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have greatly enhanced the visibility of the School’s work in this area.

Special Recognitions

The Josephine Craytor Nursing Faculty Award was established to recognize outstanding nurse educators to further the professional development and research efforts of exceptional nursing faculty. This year’s Craytor award went to Caitlin Dreisbach PhD, RN.

The Drs. Jeremy A. Klainer and Pamela York Klainer Endowed Dean's Discretionary Award in Nursing provides financial support in furtherance of an idea that corresponds to the School's strategic priorities. 

This year the School awarded two teams for their grant proposals:

Natalie Leblanc PhD, MPH, BSN, RN and Erin Baylor DNP, RN, PPCNP-BC, ONP, CHSE, FNAP, for their proposal titled “An Interprofessional Simulation to Improve Sexual Health & Wellness Training.”

Meredith Kells, PhD, RN, CPNP, Heather L. Wensley, NP, Mary Tantillo, PhD, PMHCNS-BC, FAED, CGP, Suzanne Conolly, RN, for their project titled “Nasogastric tube in individuals with avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).”

The Dean’s Appreciation Award was presented to the following individuals for their exceptional work in response to the SCOTUS race-based admissions decision last summer.

  • Luis Rosario-McCabe DNP, RN, CNE, CNL, WHNP-BC, FNAP
  • Carla DeLucia, EdD
  • Kimberly Starken, MS
  • Maria Sepúlveda, MBA
  • Cesar Nuñez

Anniversary Milestone Recognitions (service awards)

  • Autumn Jones – 10 Years
  • John Eaves – 10 Years
  • Kendra Pokhis – 10 Years
  • Peggy Rapp – 10 Years
  • Nora Williamson – 10 Years
  • Kelly Bellenger-Fedele – 15 Years
  • Karen Kirkey – 20 Years
  • Ann Delario – 20 Years
  • Jason DeVoe – 20 Years
  • Sandy Gasserlick – 20 Years
  • Philip Frey – 20 Years
  • Jeanette Hunt – 25 Years

Media Contact

Contact the Communications Office with media inquiries related to the University of Rochester School of Nursing.

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