Annual awards

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The University of Washington Tacoma Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a UW Tacoma Nursing Program alumni whose career in nursing exemplifies excellence in clinical practice, education or leadership. This award is based on the individual's record of achievement. The award recipient should be able to attend the UW Tacoma Nursing Program Award Ceremony in June to receive the recognition.


Specific criteria include:

  • The nominee must be an alumni: a former student who received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or Master of Nursing degree at UW Tacoma
  • The nominee has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments and contributions to nursing in leadership, education or practice roles
  • The nominee's selection will bring recognition to UW Tacoma

Nomination Process

Please send a letter of nomination addressing the above criteria to the UW Tacoma Nursing Program by May 1. Include nominee contact information, a description of why the nominee should receive the UW Tacoma Nursing Alumni Award and any supporting documents (resume or curriculum vitae, newspaper clippings, publications, etc.). Send via email to or U.S. mail to:

University of Washington Tacoma
Nursing Program
Campus Box 358421
1900 Commerce Street
Tacoma WA 98402

Questions?  Please contact us.


Spring Quarter 2014

MN Outstanding Scholar Award: Linda Gilson
Linda Gilson is an expert RN, demonstrating deliberate, independent thought, bolsterd with years of experience and a persistent theme of high standards of ethical practice. Linda has practiced in a range of settings and has been in perianesthesia at Franciscan Health Systems for 20 years

Linda spearheaded a series of dicussions to determine what data is needed to describe how throughput alters the ability to acheive both productivity and budget goals. As a result, the information will be available to tackle "bed holding", both a need and obstacle to effective throughput. Linda also acquired additional skills related to budte building. As a result, she was able to maintain, rather then cut, her staff.

Her scholarly inquiry project, on undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea in perianesthesia adult patiens, Linda worked with Dr. Bill Cammerano, a FHS anesthesiologist and other stakeholders in evaluating assessment tools, developed a protocol and algorith for use by peri-operative nursing staff, anesthesia providers and respiratory therapists and organized the results into an order bundle and care pathway for patients at risk. Franciscan Health Systems are underway to make all this work part of the processes and procedures of their organization.

MN Outstanding Alumni Award: Julie Peerboom
Julie Peerboom is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award.  Julie earned both her BSN (2000) and MN (2005) degrees from UW Tacoma.

In October 2011, Julie completed postgraduate studies at Gonzaga University and earned her ARNP board certification. She is a primary care provider with the Franciscan Medical Group in gynecological oncology.  Julie is an expert clinician and a leader within her practice and throughout the region. As a national recognized resource for education on cancer care, she lectures on those issues across the country. Julie knows the key to delivering the best care to clients is to listen to their own unique stories and provide expert clinical professional support and guidance as they navigate complicated times.

Julie personifies the Nursing program’s commitment to academic excellence and equitable access to healthcare. We are fortunate to call Julie Peerboom our 2014 University of Washington Tacoma Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award winner.

Community Partner Award: Gretchen Hansen and the Salishan Community Health Advocates
Gretchen Hansen, Health Advocate Coordinator for the Comprehensive Health Education Foundation, has helped organize community health advocates in Salishan, the largest and the most racially diverse public housing community in the state.

This team supported the education of UW Tacoma Nursing BSN students in their community practicum. The students saw first-hand how advocates help neighbors with health issues and link them to resources. Recently, the Community Health Advocates have become research partners with faculty and conducted focus groups among Salishan residents to explore community needs.

Gretchen Hansen and the Salishan Community Health Advocates’ work is transforming communities today. They earned a national reputation for development of this new, vital role in healthcare. The Community Partner Award is given to Gretchen Hansen and the Salishan Community Advocates who exemplify the best of partnership, promoting social justice and interdisciplinary efforts.

Spring Quarter 2013

MN Outstanding Scholar Award: Lori Chudnofsky
Lori Chudnofsky has focused on leadership in healthcare in her graduate program, displaying autonomous critical thinking as evidenced by her ability to identify and address quality and safety needs on the UWMC neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).  In her courses, Lori identified an issue, crafted a protocol to address the issue, and improved patient outcomes resulted.  Subsequently, she developed a DVD for NICU families, teaching them to reduce infection rates.  She also moved this issue on to become an evidence based protocol and translated it to actual practice in the NICU. 

Lori presented her work on empowering families in infection control at an international conference.  She has also presented on family centered care and how to include parents in interdisciplinary rounds.  Most recently, she crafted a pilot project to improve the patient/family experience of hospitalization for underserved populations, focusing on the Somali population.  A grant to design staff education programs will help her to continue this work.

With three national and international presentations, a written grant, appointment to a local board of health, and improved NICU outcomes, Lori clearly demonstrates her impact on the nursing profession.

Community Partner Award: MultiCare Health Systems
MultiCare Health System (MHS) has long been a community partner with the University of Washington Tacoma Nursing Program, providing clinical faculty and fieldwork placements to nursing students.  For the last three years, they have supported our BA in Healthcare Leadership students, as well.  MHS exemplifies the very best of partnership and interdisciplinary educational efforts, providing clinical faculty and fieldwork placements.  Students gain valuable clinical and non-clinical health-related experiences and benefit from the one-on-one mentoring.

In recent years, MHS has increased its involvement by providing more than 25 fieldwork placements for undergraduate and 17 for graduate students in both the Healthcare Leadership and Nursing programs.  Students have gained real-world experience by completing projects while receiving valuable mentoring from MHS leaders.
MHS personnel have shared their wisdom and experience about the always changing healthcare environment and associated  challenges environment.  We are grateful to have MHS as a community partner and would like to recognize this with the UW Tacoma Nursing and Healthcare Leadership Program 2013 Community Partner Award.

Spring Quarter 2012

MN Outstanding Scholar Award: Lori Neptun
Lori Neptun has held herself to the highest academic standards while continuing to practice as a pediatric nurse. In her coursework, she has focused on nurse educator roles, primarily with respect to caring for pediatric patients and their families. Precise, evidence-based, thorough, and funny, her coursework paralleled her role working with prelicensure students in her professional practice.

Demonstrating a keen sense of her own learning needs and what actions are needed to meet those needs, Lori has independently developed case studies, related guidelines, and resources for instructors of prelicensure students; presented a session on pediatric emergency assessment in the school setting; learned from debriefing experts presenting at a conference; and developed a resource book for emergency personnel regarding infrequently used equipment.

Lori is a person of integrity and high ethical standards. A quiet, competent leader, she is our educator and leader of the future: skilled, knowledgeable, caring, and collaborative.

MN Distinguished Alumni Award: Laurie Brown
Laurie Brown is the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for the Franciscan Health System, part of Catholic Health Initiatives.  As the CNO, Laurie is accountable for the vision and strategic direction for the practice of nursing.  She has also served as interim hospital President at St. Anthony, and currently serves as executive service line leader for Oncology Services.

A 2001 graduate of the MN program, Laurie has been a member of the Clinical Faculty of the UW Tacoma Nursing and Healthcare Leadership programs since 2005.  She is an avid supporter of the Nursing and Healthcare Leadership programs and frequently guest lectures in courses.  Most recently, students were inspired by Laurie’s career path and real-life stories about her work.   Furthermore, Laurie has served as a graduate fieldwork preceptor for several of our MN students, and she supported a scholarly project on recruitment and retention issues.

Spring Quarter 2011

MN Outstanding Scholar Award: Peter Mendy
In his first class in the BSN program, Peter Mendy's high potential for scholarly work was evident and the nursing faculty moved him to the accelerated Master of Nursing program path. He attended both undergraduate and graduate classes where he proved himself as an outstanding scholar. He expressed himself articulately in both written and oral format and he was an extremely self-directed and motivated learner. He consistently exhibited both depth and breadth of knowledge, along with an ability to critically analyze and synthesize research findings and theory. Many students mentioned that his insightful contributions in class contributed to their learning.
Outstanding scholarship and 3.96 GPA are enough to recommend Peter for the MN award but he has numerous strengths that really set his apart. He immigrated from Gambia and has worked in many professional and volunteer roles that focus on the needs of vulnerable populations.
This interest in serving vulnerable populations guided his research for his MN project. Peter became interested in urban gardening and health during one of his classes. On his own time, he made contacts in the Kenyan immigrant community to talk about health and urban gardening. Due to this interest, he designed a research project that explored the perceptions of health of Seattle's Kenyan population and their use of urban gardening. The results of this research have resulted in two articles that will be submitted soon to two different journals. One article identifies barriers to urban gardening for immigrants; the other examines perceptions of being healthy among immigrants and identifies factors that are barriers to a healthy diet.
Peter is able to work with populations in the community, students in the classroom and in clinical practice. He is positioned to make significant contributions to nursing practice. However, before returning for his PhD, Peter is taking some time off to perfect his skills on the guitar and continue to work with underserved populations.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Ginger Dunston Hill
This year’s recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award is Ginger Dunston Hill. Ginger earned the first Master of Nursing degree that was awarded at the University of Washington Tacoma. From that time forward, she has maintained an unsurpassed record of service. She worked tirelessly as the graduate advisor and an undergraduate lecturer for UW Tacoma Nursing, and she also contributed greatly toward improving elder care for Pierce County Aging & Long Term Care. While Ginger performed at a high level in these professional roles, she continued serving in the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps.
During the Iraqi Freedom campaign, the Army deployed Lieutenant Colonel Hill to Madigan Army Medical Center where she coordinated healthcare needs for returning injured soldiers and provided additional assistance that went beyond professional nursing. Because of her much needed skill set, the U. S. Army has kept LTC Hill on an active status.
Ginger Dunston Hill’s contributions to UW Tacoma Nursing, to her community, and to her country exemplify excellence in nursing leadership. Her service represents two great traditions: the high standards upheld by UW Tacoma Nursing and those of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

Spring Quarter 2010

MN Outstanding Scholar Award (tie):
Preicy Frianeza-Garin
In nominating Preicy Frianeza Garin, faculty wrote that she is one of our most capable and passionate students. Her scholarly project was "Filipino Nursing Student Barriers to Success." Preicy’s interest in this topic is evident in her course papers on the "migration of health professionals," not only from the view of those immigrating, but also in terms of problems created from the "brain drain" for the countries the health professionals leave. Preicy used research literature to describe the complex factors that contribute to migration, addressing current immigration laws and needs for change. Though this is a topic that garners lots of discussion and conversation, there is actually very little we know from evidence or data about this topic. Preicy has an opportunity to apply the findings of her work to advance research AND to improve nursing education for Filipino and other minority nurses."
MN Outstanding Scholar Award (tie):
Kimberly Redifer
In nominating Kimberly Redifer, faculty wrote about her academic ability, professionalism, dedication to her specialty, independence of thought, and creativity. In a course on health and human rights, Kim tackled the problem of trafficking women and girls into and within the US, addressing the social and political factors contributing to this problem and the health consequences of it as well. Her scholarly project on end of life care and palliative sedation provides evidence of her substantial ability to apply research findings to practice and policy development. Working with physician colleagues, she created a critical path or road map for using palliative sedation to provide comfort, dignity and care at the end of life."
Distinguished Alumni Award: Linda Montgomery
Linda Montgomery received the 2010 University of Washington Tacoma Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award for her outstanding accomplishments and contributions to nursing in leadership, education and practice roles. Linda received her BSN (’98) and her MN (’02) from the UW Tacoma Nursing Program. She recently received a post master’s certificate in Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) Expert Mentorship from Arizona Statue University.
Linda is the Director of Nursing Practice, Quality, Research, & Informatics at Providence St. Peter Hospital (PSPH). Prior to this position, she was the Manager of Nursing Research & Quality and the Nurse Recruiter. Linda has contributed to the culture of nursing inquiry at PSPH, a key reason why they achieved Magnet recognition in 2010. She was named in the Magnet award summary as an exemplary individual for mentoring staff on EBP. For example, in 2006, Linda started an evidence-based practice council. One of her many contributions was writing and directing a video on evidence-based practice, “How Now, Sacred Cow.”
Over the years, Linda has contributed enormously to the education of our UWT students. During the first year of the Providence St. Peter Hospital - UWT BSN program, Linda served as a formal writing coach for students during their first quarter. She has served as a fieldwork facilitator for MN students. Linda has been a guest speaker on evidence-based practice at conferences in the region. Linda’s career in nursing exemplifies excellence in clinical practice, education, and leadership.

Spring Quarter 2009

MN Outstanding Scholar Award: Jillian Edwards
Besides excelling in her thinking and creativity as a Master of Nursing student, Jillian Edwards consistently expressed informed opinions that went far beyond the readings and taken-for-granted asumptions in our courses. Besides applying theory and evidence-based knowledge in her work here, Jill constantly synthesized such knowledge and research in her practice, first as a staff nurse and then as a public health nurse.
As a public health nurse for Pierce County Public Health Department, Jill created a program for Adolescent Health Education on Tobacco. She developed motivating interviews and trained other nurses to present them. Besides handling the usual caseload one would expect of a relatively young BSN graduate, she has applied her knowledge and expertise from the graduate program to work with colleagues across disciplines to propose and develop a number of extremely innovative programs, particularly those aimed at highly vulnerable populations.
Jill is being recruited to teach by one of our community college partners, and she will be starting the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at the UW School of Nursing later this month. Throughout all her work, Jill adheres to the highest standards of performance, expertise, commitment, and professional ethics.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Carolynn Morris
Carolynn Morris graduated from the Master of Nursing Program in 2006. Since earning her degree, Carolynn has been promoted to several leadership positions in the Emergency Department at MultiCare Health System, most recently to Trauma Educator and Outreach Coordinator. She organizes all trauma training for MultiCare and chairs their annual trauma conference.
In 2008, Carolynn was selected as the chair of the Pierce County Leadership for Alcohol and Drug-Free Youth, a coalition that works to promote a community environment that strengthens factors minimizing substance abuse. Recently, she led this group in obtaining a $1.2 million grant to prevent and reduce the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among youth in Pierce County. Carolynn is nationally known as a leader in adolescent alcohol abuse prevention and community interventions.
Community Partner Award: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Environmental Health Program
The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (TPCHD) has been a strong and constant community partner since the UW Tacoma Nursing Program started in 1992. In particular, the department’s Environmental Health Program has provided our students with collaborative learning opportunities on a range of important public health issues.
This year, BSN students in “Health, Communities, and Populations” (T NURS 414 and 415) conducted three projects with Environmental Health Program staff: carbon monoxide prevention, environmental action plans, and lead exposure prevention. Students gained expertise in community assessment, planning, intervention, and evaluation. Our students learned first-hand the importance of collaboration and partnership, not only with the TPCHD, but with other community agencies with whom they partner.
The ongoing support of Steve Marek, Senior Public Health Manager of the Environmental Health Program, and Frank DiBiase, Prevention Coordinator, has been vital in maintaining the ongoing partnerships that promote and protect the health of our local citizens.

Spring Quarter 2008

MN Outstanding Scholar Award: Theresa Braungardt
As a staff nurse, manager, and learner, Theresa Braungardt has consistently adhered to the ‘beat of her own drummer.’ In doing so, she has taken established high standards of performance, patient care, and professional ethics for herself and the staff with whom she works. In her coursework, Theresa worked at the Department of Health, seeking to understand the state level organization and political and economic forces affecting clinical health systems; she sought to influence policy at a local level as a healthcare provider and to focus care of the uninsured/underinsured population.
Theresa oversaw a unit tripling in the number of patient beds and staff nurses as a nurse manager for a busy neuro intensive care unit. Rather than simply let growth occur, she created a coalition to manage rapid change, focused on communicating vision, and empowered others to act. The results of this change were amazingly successful.
Because of her commitment and ability, Ms. Theresa Braungardt has, in recent weeks, been named the Interim Assistant Administrator for Patient Care Services at Harborview Medical Center. Her 20 years of experience in intensive care nursing and management have joined with her integrity, commitment to high standards of ethical practice, and commitment to caring for patients and their families.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Candace Goehring
We honor Candace Goehring as an alumnus who exemplifies the mission and values of the UW Tacoma Nursing Program. Candy completed the communities, populations and health curriculum option and graduated from the Master of Nursing Program in 2002. Since earning her MN degree, Candy’s nursing career exemplifies excellence in leadership and management of community-based healthcare. She is known at the state level for her expertise in regulatory and accreditation issues that relate to the cost and quality of home healthcare, aging, and adult services.
Currently, Candy is a unit manager for Home and Community Programs, a division of Washington State’s Aging and Disability Services Administration. She presents state-level policy to Long Term Care Financing and Chronic Care Management Task Force advisory groups and participates in various state-wide planning groups. Candy is an outstanding example of a UW Tacoma alum who is changing community-based healthcare delivery in Washington State.
Community Partner Award: Providence St. Peter Hospital
We are proud to recognize Providence St. Peter Hospital as a community partner who has formed strong bonds with UW Tacoma Nursing. Providence entered into a collaborative partnership with the Nursing Program in August 2005 to help working, registered nurses earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. Aware of the importance of BSN education to staff development, the Providence Foundation provided funds to offset costs. Connie Huber, Assistant Administrator Patient Care Services, and Sandra Penland, Director of Nursing Practice, gave their full support, and, along with Dannah Madden, UW Tacoma BSN Advisor, coordinated student advisement and recruitment. Due to this unique partnership, the first group of Providence nurses will collect their baccalaureate degrees this coming Friday. Because of the positive experience of the nurses and the positive outcomes of the partnership, the Providence Foundation is providing funds for another group of PSPH nurses to start their BSN education this fall in Olympia.

Spring Quarter 2007

MN Outstanding Scholar Award: Andrew Nolze
Andrew Nolze is in the process of developing a new area of research: intimate partner violence (IPV) in homosexual men. His ability to identify this research interest indicates the independent thought capability Andrew possesses. His deep understanding about the complicated issues of power, marginalization, and bias inspire him to continue to learn and seek answers addressing current social and health problems.
Andrew has a passionate and positive creative nature evidenced in his daily interactions with people at work and at school. His personality lends itself to mentoring many of his peers in the community, at his professional work place, and within the Master of Nursing program. He is a comfortable natural leader who offers support and accurate assistance to those who are beginning to travel the academic road.
Intelligent, questioning, and energetic, Andrew is an outstanding role model for aspiring nurses and students wishing to pursue higher academic education. Andrew leaves a legacy at UW Tacoma and also the State of Washington as he continues his research and pioneering study in intimate partner violence.
Distinguished Alumni Award: Kathy Bressler
Kathy Bressler has been an integral part of Franciscan Health System since 1990, starting as a nurse manager at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma. Today, Ms. Bressler is Chief Operating Officer for St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, one of four and soon to be five hospitals in the Franciscan system. As the head administrator, Kathy is responsible for daily operations, as well as strategic planning and development, physician relations and financial performance.
Ms. Bressler received her Master of Nursing degree from UW Tacoma in 2000. Her degree was a blend of two study options: Leadership and Communities, Populations & Health. As a Clinical Faculty member for the University of Washington, she has made substantial contributions to the UW nursing program through her expertise and desire to share her leadership experience to students. She is also a member of the NW Organization of Nurse Executives, the National Association of Orthopedic Nurses and is the recipient of numerous citations for community service.
An athlete, a mother of three and a focused competitor, Kathy has risen through the ranks of her profession as the result of her enthusiasm, incisive thinking and compassionate leadership.
Community Partner Award: Faith Homes
Faith Homes has been serving teen girls and young women since 1959. As the needs of this population have changed over the years, Faith Homes programs have changed. Today the agency provides housing and treatment for abused, homeless, and victimized young women, many of whom are pregnant or parenting. Through a continuum of care that includes group care, foster care, emergency shelter, transitional housing and follow-up services Faith Homes seeks to serve the clients regardless of their specific needs. The therapeutic model, Relational Healing, a recognized promising practice, is the focus that drives the work with clients. It facilitates healing from the pain caused by severe trauma and it is the basis for reestablishing positive family relationships.