Alumni Awards

Award Winners

NAA Award Winners

The Nurses' Alumni Association is excited to congratulate the 2015 award winners. These awards were presented during Homecoming Weekend on September 24-27.

Mary Zellinger MN, RN, ANP-BC, CCRN-CSC, CCNS, has served as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Critical Care and Cardiovascular Care Unit at Emory University Hospital (EUH) for 30 years and has been an adjunct faculty member at the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University for 26 years. In her role at EUH, Zellinger chaired the Resuscitation and Nursing Champions of Quality Committees to advance quality patient outcomes. She worked closely with staff in the Cardiovascular Critical Care Unit to be the first ICU at EUH to receive Beacon Status and Outstanding Critical Care Unit designation from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).

Zellinger’s dedication to the nursing profession extends far beyond Emory. She served on the national board of directors for the AACN, and on the national Certification Board of AACN.  She has been a local and regional leader for AACN, and has chaired their regional conference for many years. She is also a Director on the Board of The International Society of Cardiovascular Critical Care, the Foundation for the Advancement of Cardiothoracic Critical Care (FACTS CARE). She has made international impact by serving as a FACTS CARE international board member, and as Faculty in the International Leadership Course for Archil and Sergo Gobiladze School of Nursing in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Zellinger has received many awards and honors including the March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award for Advanced Practice, AACN’s first National Mentor, CNS of the Year at EUH, and the Teaching and Innovation Award in Critical Care Medicine.  Zellinger has published numerous articles and book chapters in cardiovascular and critical care, and is an international speaker.  

Crystal Johnson is one of three Emory Nursing alumni who volunteered to care for the Ebola Virus patients being treated at Emory University Hospital (EUH). Johnson has served on the EUH Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU) for nine of her sixteen years at Emory. Johnson volunteered to help staff the isolation unit while working in the cardiovascular surgery ICU at Emory University Hospital Midtown. Since she joined the SCDU, she has trained yearly with other clinicians to work as needed in the unit.

Last August, the SCDU unit was activated to receive its first Ebola patients – Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol. Johnson helped successfully treat these two high profile patients, as well as two other Ebola patients, despite the stigma, fears, and threats surrounding her. She built awareness about the disease and shared lessons learned by participating in media interviews, forums, and website development. Johnson utilized her special training and nursing knowledge to provide care above and beyond the call of duty, and was part of the team named one of Time Magazine’s 2014 Person(s) of the Year and awarded the first Team Daisy Award by the Daisy Foundation.

Laura Mitchell is one of three Emory Nursing alumni to have selflessly volunteered her time and utilized her training in the treatment of the Ebola Virus patients at Emory University Hospital. Mitchell trained yearly as a member of the Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU) to prepare herself for serious health situations such as the Ebola Virus. Mitchell served as part of the healthcare team that attracted international publicity for Emory and transformed Ebola care procedures at hospitals across the world.

Mitchell, who recently completed her Masters of Science in Nursing, serves as a nurse clinician in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at Emory University Hospital Midtown. She played an integral role in the fight to reduce the spread of the Ebola Virus and used her prior training and “patient and family first” motto to excel in the intense training used to provide direct patient care of the Ebola patients. Mitchell helped spread the word about the Ebola virus by participating in exclusive interviews and news articles. She was also part of the team named one of Time Magazine’s Person(s) of the Year in 2014.

Jason Slabach is one of three Emory Nursing alumni to have successfully treated the Ebola Virus patients at Emory University Hospital (EUH). Slabach’s prior training as a paramedic in Virginia helped him prepare to serve the nation in such a significant way. After leaving Virginia to complete his BSN at Emory, Slabach joined the EUH cardiovascular ICU in 2013. While working in the ICU, he was asked to join the Serious Communicable Disease Unit (SCDU) to ramp up the staffing needed for the Ebola patients’ care. Slabach’s belief in taking care of one of America’s own, and his interest in health care and missionary work led him to serve on the SCDU unit.

While serving on the SCDU, Slabach handled the patients’ every need – including drawing blood, taking vital signs, administering IV medications, cleaning up bodily fluids – all while following the stringent guidelines set by the SCDU unit. He participated in exclusive interviews with NBC News’ Matt Lauer, in order to demonstrate the importance of “donning” and “doffing” the Ebola Personal Protective Equipment. Slabach was part of the team named one of Time Magazine’s Person(s) of the Year in 2014

Michelle Dynes is currently a Senior Global Nursing Advisor in the Center for Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dynes recently completed service as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer at CDC. In 2014, she left her family to deploy for six weeks to Kenema, the third largest city in Sierra Leone and one of the epicenters for the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

While in Sierra Leone, Dynes and her colleagues taught local health care professionals how to reduce the chances of contracting and spreading Ebola. She also created a counseling space in the hospital to provide ongoing psychosocial support for health care workers and Ebola survivors. By conducting interviews and focus group sessions with new mothers and health workers in Sierra Leone, Dynes and her colleagues identified ways the hospital could continue to serve patients without Ebola – and figured out ways to spread the word that the hospital was safe for those without the virus.

Dynes has been frequently recognized for her accomplishments and dedication to nursing. She was recognized with CDC’s Excellence in Emergency Response award for exceptional multi-sector efforts to provide direct, rapid, and significant public health support. Dynes also received the CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Honor Award for Excellence in Emergency Response. She was part of the team named one of Time Magazine’s Person(s) of the Year in 2014.