More than 1,000 nurses nominated for Atlanta Journal-Constitution awards

2018 Celebrating Nurses trophy
2018 Celebrating Nurses trophy



Nurses and other health care workers have been putting their personal safety at risk to save lives during the pandemic. This has been physically taxing, emotionally jarring and seemingly unsustainable — yet they keep going.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been celebrating nurses who go above and beyond every year for the past 16 years.

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In 2021, we proudly honor 10 of these hardworking individuals for their service during the pandemic, an unparalleled and extraordinary public health emergency now in its second year.

More than 1,000 nurses were nominated for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Celebrating Nurses awards. We heard compelling reasons from patients, families, co-workers and bosses why these nurses should be recognized.

In the past year, Georgia nurses have been there when we needed them, answering the call day after day, hour after hour, grueling shift after grueling shift.

They have held the hands of dying patients who could not be with their loved ones because of the no-visitor policies that have been in place. Many have switched gears from treating relatively routine illnesses to dealing with the sickest of the sick — all while taking unprecedented safety precautions. All have practically lived in face masks, rubber gloves, and other personal protective equipment.

In honor of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, 2020 was declared the National Year of the Nurse. This year, nurses continue to inspire and earn our gratitude.

An independent panel of judges selected the nurse award winners: Angie Millan, member of the board of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses; Thea Ducrow, executive director of the Louisiana State Nurses Association and Louisiana Nurses Foundation; and Lindsey Harris, member of the board of the Birmingham Black Nurses Association and president of the Alabama State Nurses Association.

The judges who selected the nurse leadership winner were: Omolara Fyle-Thorpe, clinical assistant professor at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing, Mercer University; Tammy Barbe, associate professor and associate dean for graduate programs at Georgia Baptist College of Nursing, Mercer University; and Linda Morrow, staff nurse director, Georgia Nurses Association.

This year’s Celebrating Nurses award winners are:

Danielle “Dani” Giaritelli with Emory University Hospital, nominated by her father, Chris Giaritelli, and sister, Kristina Perea

Jody Leonard with Southern Regional Medical Center, nominated by her former manager, Brian Cesar

Rochanda Crawford with Grady Memorial Hospital, nominated by co-worker Pamela Vaughn

Laura Toops with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, nominated by Colleen Znoj, mother of a former patient

Laurie Pazda with Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, nominated by co-worker Cherie Baxter

Laura Moss with Wellstar Spalding Regional Hospital, nominated by her manager, Terry Hosch

Kathleen LePain with Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital, nominated by Lindsey McCloskey, her manager

Clayton Fowler with Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, nominated by the hospital’s nursing director, Marsha Kadner

Beth Dziczkowski with Northside Hospital Cherokee, nominated by co-worker Coley King

Tasneem Malik with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nominated by Gulshan Harjee, her colleague and supervisor at Clarkston Community Health Center

In addition, Vicky Hogue, chief nursing officer and vice president of patient services at Wellstar Paulding Hospital, was chosen from 47 nominees to receive the Nurse Leadership Award. The award is sponsored by Mercer University.