The 2016 WNA Awards

The WNA Awards have been a tradition for 40 years—since May Hornback and Alice Weldy received the Service to WNA Award in 1976. Now WNA offers 12 awards. Eight of them were awarded this year at the WNA Membership Assembly. We would like to thank everyone who nominated someone for an award—all the nominations were written beautifully. And congratulations all the nominees—you are all impressive, hardworking, and dedicated nurses, who make us proud to represent this organization. Below are the 2016 winners along with the speeches that were given at the Awards Luncheon on October 22.

Community Service Award – Pamela Guthman

The Community Service Award recognizes a nurse who exercises extraordinary contributions to public education, community outreach, and health promotion. Pam Guthman demonstrates energy and passionate commitment to improve community and population health, particularly through addressing the social determinants of health in multiple ways.

Pam recently completed her DNP at the University of Minnesota. Her DNP project, ‘Initiation of a Preceptor Course in a Rural Community Action Agency’ emphasized the need for a preceptor model unique to the needs of nurses practicing in rural settings.

Pam has always been a leader in whatever she does, and her recent role as CEO for the Indianhead Community Action Agency in rural Wisconsin clearly demonstrates her commitment to community health. This past semester she championed an immersion course for UW Madison nursing students in which they actually lived in rural Ladysmith — seeing exactly what rural community health is all about.

Her students described her as passionate, selfless, knowledgeable, attentive, and insightful. Pam goes out of her way to provide the necessary care, resources and opportunities for the surrounding counties and continues to improve the company to fit the ever changing needs of her neighbors, her friends, her community. Pam recently became an instructor in community health nursing at UW-Madison. There she will be influencing many more nursing students in community health by her commitment and passion for community.

Signe Cooper Image of Nursing Award – Linda Young

The Signe Cooper Image of Nursing Award recognizes a nurse who is involved in activities that enhance the image of professional nursing and the image of WNA. Linda Young has made innovative contributions to the landscape of nursing education, and inspires everyone she works with. She has taught and mentored over 2000 students during her 35-year career as a nurse educator.

She built a coalition of UW System baccalaureate nursing programs to create Nurses for Wisconsin—a program that provides funding to nurses working toward DNPs and PhDs with a promise from those nurses to teach for three years at a Wisconsin nursing program. She researched, wrote, revised, and finalized a grant which was awarded over 3.2 million dollars. Now, 59 awardees will join nursing programs in Wisconsin, which will help alleviate the shortage of registered nurses in the state.

Linda helped to create the Institute for Health Sciences at UW Eau-Claire; she represents nursing on a state-wide committee called “BeBold III: Accelerate Wisconsin” that is working on education and employment issues related to the healthcare sector; and she established student learning and service opportunities in the UK, El Salvador, and China.

Linda Young’s impact on the lives of students and the future of nursing in Wisconsin is profound. We are proud to be able to give her the Signe Cooper Image of Nursing Award.

Norma Lang Excellence in Nursing Research Award – Janet Levey

The Norma Lang Excellence in Nursing Research Award recognizes a nurse who conducts original research of relevance to nursing practice and theory development in nursing; serves as principal investigator on externally funded, peer reviewed nursing research projects; generates a substantial record of data-based, referenced publications; delivers invited research presentations at professional/scientific meetings; and communicates nursing research to the general public and the nursing community.

Janet Levey has shown incredible dedication to nursing research. She has presented her research findings at numerous national conferences and scientific meetings, as well as in peer-reviewed journals. During the 2015 – 2016 academic year, Dr. Levey gave three podium and six poster presentations based on her work, and published research results in two peer-reviewed nursing and education journals.

Dr. Levey’s doctoral work on Universal Design for Instruction was funded by the National League for Nursing and the Nurses Foundation of Wisconsin(!). This work led to publication of two papers in peer-reviewed journals and several national presentations. Dr. Levey is a pioneer in UDI practices in nursing education and believes in powerful teaching moments.

She also partnered with a librarian to create a tool, the Levey-Nowak Embedded Librarian Presence Scale, to assess the utility and student satisfaction of the use of an embedded librarian in an accelerated online RN-to-BSN course. A preliminary study was conducted and results were published in a peer-reviewed journal. An outcome of this study is reflected by the Concordia University Wisconsin School of Nursing’s diffusion and adoption of the embedded librarian concept in on-line courses in the RN to BSN and DNP programs.

Dr. Levey’s dedication to nursing education has inspired countless students and colleagues. Her students say that she is amazing, and genuinely cares for her students and their education. She is respectful, understanding, and highly professional—in tune to students’ needs and concerns.

Dr. Levey strives to use her research as a way to improve the lives of others and the world of teaching. We are proud to present her with the Norma Lang Excellence in Nursing Research Award.

Rita Kisting Sparks Excellence in Nursing Education Award – Pam Turner


Pam Turner with the Award’s namesake, Rita Kisting Sparks, WNA President, Linda Gobis, and Awards Committee member, Deborah Schwallie


The Rita Kisting Sparks Excellence in Nursing Education Award recognizes a nurse who demonstrates extraordinary contribution to excellence in nursing education for students and to the development and implementation of continuing education.

Pam Turner received her BSN from Viterbo University, and then her MSN as a CNS in Gerontology from Viterbo as well. Her passion for nursing education and dedication to the development of professional nurses is apparent. Her manner is quiet but firm, and she models nursing professionalism in an inviting, approachable, supportive, and encouraging way.

She has taught undergraduate nursing courses in both BSN and ADN programs, and has worked in Nurse Educator and Staff Development Coordinator roles in non-academic settings.

Pam is a teacher not only to her students, but also to her colleagues. Her nominator shared that Pam selflessly helped her get her footing in a new role. Together they assisted with the launching of the UW-Madison School of Nursing—Western Campus.

Regardless of role, her love for and commitment to nursing education shines. We are happy to give her the Rita Kisting Sparks Excellence in Nursing Education Award.

Vivien DeBack Leadership Award – Becky Kordahl

The Vivien DeBack Leadership Award recognizes a nurse who is involved in activities that demonstrate innovation in the advancement of the profession.

Becky Kordahl is an executive nurse with an MBA, certification in Advanced Practice Nursing, and over 20 years in patient care. For over 12 years, she worked as the Associate Director for Patient Care Services not too far from here at William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital. There, she exceled as a leader, bringing the hospital many notable achievements.

She led the hospital to Magnet Designation in 2010 and 2014; she was the executive sponsor for a four-year national education grant of over 1 million dollars; she was the 2012 recipient of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Nursing and Advancement of Nursing Programs; she created Nursing Practice and Nursing Quality Councils; and in 2008, the Madison VA was rated #1 among all the VA’s in Customer Satisfaction and #2 in aggregate scores on access, quality and customer satisfaction. This required the creation of highly functioning interdisciplinary teams in all areas of the Madison VA and a collective passion for serving the veteran population, while sustaining the same high levels of performance.

Becky has also been a certified mentor and has mentored numerous nursing staff at local and national levels. Overall, she has promoted quality care of Veterans and has been a steady advocate for professional nursing practice for years. She is certainly more than deserving of the Vivien DeBack Leadership Award.

Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year Award – Carol Lagerman

The Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year Award recognizes a nurse who is employed as an Advanced Practice Nurse, demonstrates expert knowledge and practice in an APRN clinical area of nursing, demonstrates involvement and contributions in the areas of patient care, consultation, education, or research and demonstrates leadership within the nursing profession.

Carol Lagerman has been a highly respected provider in the department of Family Practice at Aurora Health Care for many years. She consistently receives high care management scores, and keeps up with recent studies to ensure she is providing the best care possible.

Carol serves not only her patients and their families, but also the community in which she lives. Carol dutifully serves on the Medical Advisory board at Waukesha Area Technical College. She has been a preceptor to many NP students, who learn from her how to treat every patient like they are the only one that matters. Here are some things that her patients have said about her: “She always talks to you, not at you – she is great.” “She is very committed to my health.” “She listens better than any doctor I’ve had in the past.” “She is kind and attentive, makes you feel like a person, not a symptom.”

Carol also donates her time to the Lake Area Free Clinic to ensure the uninsured and under-insured have access to the care they need. Carol’s giving heart continued throughout her own personal battle with breast cancer—her bright smile never wavered. Carol puts her patient’s and the communities needs before her own. Her colleagues feel honored to be able to watch her servant heart in action daily and feel blessed to live in the community where she is making a difference.

It is our pleasure to present Carol Lagerman with the Advanced Practice Nurse of the Year award.

Service to WNA Award – Lea Acord

The Service to WNA Award recognizes a nurse who exhibits outstanding participation in the WNA, including (but not limited to) service through elected office and committee involvement.

Lea Acord has served in a variety of roles that support the work of the Wisconsin Nurses Association. She has served as Treasurer, President Elect and President. Her efforts and passion for nursing and importance of WNA as a visible leader, convener and the voice for nursing in Wisconsin cannot be understated. Lea’s leadership resulted in increased relationships with nursing organizations, medical societies, and hospital representatives.

As President Elect and President of WNA Lea was visible throughout her tenure. Her major initiative was to inform and encourage nurses to assist their patients on learning the benefits of the health care marketplace and the importance of procuring health insurance coverage. She was an active member of the Health Profession Data Collaborative which supported the RN Workforce Survey and the need for a forecasting nurse supply and demand model.

Lea took her role as President of WNA very seriously. She facilitated many important discussions with the WNA Board of Director that required courage and leadership. Her leadership paved the way for many positive outcomes related to WNA’s financial health and greater coalition-building.

Although Lea was unable to complete her term as President due to priorities beyond her control, Lea remains available as an advisor to the WNA leadership. WNA Presidents have always stepped up and stepped in to lead WNA. Lea is certainly no exception. As President, you would find Lea being a frequent presenter to nursing students, nursing conferences and other health care-related events throughout the state. She always returned exhilarated and would often hear her saying, “I love what I am able to do for WNA… this is such a great organization”. This organization is great because Lea was so involved. This is why Lea Acord deserves to be the 2016 Service to WNA Award.

Political Nurse Award – Barbara Nichols

The Political Nurse Award recognizes a nurse who demonstrates involvement in political activities that promote quality of care; acts as a positive role model in his/her use of the political process to advance health care and/or nursing; encourages nurses to become involved in the political process; promotes the education of nurses and consumers in the use of the political process and the value of involvement in governmental affairs; and promotes increased political awareness and involvement within professional organizations.

Policy and politics is everywhere, be it the workplace, community, professional association, the legislature and the affiliated governmental agencies and boards. The ability to influence and advocate for policies that promote and advance the nursing profession which in turn result in policies benefiting our patients and communities has been consistently demonstrated by Barbara Nichols throughout her career.

The policy and advocacy work undertaken by Barbara Nichols has supported the adoption of municipal, state, national and international initiatives related to nursing education, practice, regulation and the health of the public. Her active involvement in the policy work of the International Congress of Nursing, the American Nurses Association and the Wisconsin Nurses Association contributed to visibility and the recognition of the importance of nursing’s role throughout our health care delivery settings.
Barbara Nichols career as an influencer and advocate of good policy includes the following:

  • Served as the Chief Executive Officer, of Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) International, whose expertise is in credential evaluation, scope of practice standards and licensure of nurses and health professionals globally.
  • Served as the Chief Executive Officer of the California Nurses Association.
  • Past Professor for UW-Madison School of Nursing with emphasis on teaching policy and advocating for policy beyond the nursing program.
  • Served as President of the American Nurses Association.
  • Served as a cabinet member of the Governor’s Department on Regulation and Licensing.
  • Served as President and later interim Executive Director for WNA.
  • Her most recent award was in 2015 where she received from the City of Madison, Wisconsin’s The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award for her social justice advocacy.
  • It is my pleasure to award Dr. Barbara Nichols, the WNA Political Nurse Award.

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