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RPSLNAA Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented by the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Nurses Alumni Association Board of Directors and honors those who have brought distinction to the College of Nursing through their service, research or practice in the nursing profession as well as beyond. Nominees are reviewed by a Distinguished Alumni Awards committee and approved by the Nurses Alumni Association Board of Directors. Nominees are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Professional contributions
  • Community involvement
  • Education
  • Clinical significance of work
  • Unique characteristics


The Excellence in Practice Award

The newly created Excellence in Practice Award is presented by the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Nurses Alumni Association Board of Directors and recognizes those who demonstrate clinical expertise and have made outstanding contributions in health care. Nominees are reviewed by a Distinguished Alumni Awards committee and approved by the Nurses Alumni Association Board of Directors. Nominees are evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated impact in the development and applications of evidence based practice
  • Demonstrated commitment to improving the quality of health care and patient safety in his/her practice setting
  • Recognized leadership through relevant awards, publications, involvement in policy setting or presentations 

To be eligible for nomination of either award, a candidate must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must be a graduate of Presbyterian, St. Luke’s, Presbyterian-St. Luke’s or Rush University College of Nursing
  2. Must be living
  3. Cannot have received this award previously
  4. Must be nominated by a graduate of Presbyterian, St. Luke’s, Presbyterian-St. Luke’s or Rush University College of Nursing
  5. May not self-nominate


Profiles of previous recipients


2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Ruth Kleinpell, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP, FCCM (CERT '95 and '16)


Dr. Ruth Kleinpell, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAANP, FCCM, is currently Associate Dean for Clinical Scholarship, Independence Foundation Chair in Nursing Education at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tennessee. Dr. Kleinpell is also a Professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and Rush University College of Nursing.  Dr. Kleinpell is certified as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and has over 25 years of clinical experience in the ICU and acute care settings.

Dr. Kleinpell has received federal and foundation grant funding to conduct research related to outcomes after critical illness, the role of the advanced practice nurse and patient and family centered care. Dr. Kleinpell currently serves as a board member on the World Federation of Critical Care, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the Tennessee Nurses Association Political Action board.    

Dr. Kleinpell is a past president of the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the third nurse to serve in this capacity in the 46-year history of the organization. Dr. Kleinpell is also past president of the World Federation of Critical Care Nurses, an international organization with over 40 country members representing over 500,000 critical care nurses worldwide. Dr. Kleinpell is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the American College of Critical Care Medicine, the National Academies of Practice, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the Institute of the Medicine of Chicago.


2021 Excellence in Practice Award Recipient: Mary Carol Racelis, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, ONC-A (MS '92, CERT '10)


Mary Carol Racelis, MSN, APRN, ACNS-BC, ONC-A, is an Advance Practice Clinical Nurse Specialist at Rush University Medical Center and an instructor in the Department of Adult Health and Gerontological Nursing Rush University College of Nursing (CON). She received a BSN degree at the University of Iowa in 1987 and an MSN degree at Rush University CON in 1992. Mary Carol will be entering the Rush University CON Transformative Leadership: Systems DNP program this upcoming September. 

Before joining Rush University Medical Center in 2012 as a CNS, she worked at three other Chicagoland hospitals in various nursing roles. Tapping into these experiences and learning from mentors along the way, Mary Carol has a passion for partnering with clinicians and leaders to improve patient safety and outcomes to care. One area has been applying orthopedic pain management best practices elevating care quality and patient experiences. Over the past nine years at Rush, she has mentored CNSs and collaborated with others taking organizationally supported steps empowering the APRN-CNS role. Recent work includes teaming to design the CNS and clinical nurse leader (CNL) dyad model, advancing clinical quality roles. During the spring 2020 pandemic, she gained crisis leadership experience supporting clinicians and practice on the first acute care unit caring for Covid-19 inpatients. Recently, Mary Carol achieved ONCB advanced orthopedic certification by portfolio and completed a team-based Duke Johnson & Johnson Fellowship strengthening Rush academic – medical center partnership and mentorship for MSN student capstone projects.  

Mary Carol has published and presented clinical best practices at national conferences both podium and poster for the American Organization for Nursing Leadership, National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, and National Association for Orthopaedic Nurses, and Society for Vascular Nursing.  


2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient: Angelique L. Richard, PhD, RN, CENP (MS '88, BS '85)   


Angelique L. Richard, RN, PhD, is the senior vice president for hospital operations; chief nursing executive for the Rush System; vice president, clinical nursing and chief nurse officer for Rush University Medical Center; and the associate dean for practice at Rush University College of Nursing. She provides administrative oversight and accountability for professional nursing practice, operations and performance improvement.

Dr. Richard has extensive experience in the field of nursing, leadership and hospital operations. Before joining Rush in 2016, she served as the vice president, clinical operations and chief nurse executive at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Prior to that, Dr. Richard worked as the chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services at AMITA Health Saint Francis Hospital, where she led her organization to achieve Magnet designation, the American Nursing Credentialing Center’s highest recognition for nursing excellence. She has held several nursing and hospital leadership roles over her career. Dr. Richard also participated as the only nurse representative on former Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot panel discussion at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and represented the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance at the Moonshot Cancer Summit in Washington, D.C. in 2016.   

Dr. Richard started her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and went on to finish that degree at Rush before receiving her Master of Science here. She also received a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


2020 Excellence in Practice Award Recipient: Susan O'Conner-Von, PhD, RN-BC, CNE (PhD '01)   


Susan O’Conner-Von, PhD, RN-BC, CNE, is associate professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing and director of graduate studies at its Center for Spirituality and Healing. Dr. O’Conner-Von has been on staff at the hospital and clinics for Children’s Minnesota in St. Paul for more than 30 years. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis; and her PhD in nursing at Rush University.  

Dr. O’Conner-Von’s program of research, teaching and service activities are focused on palliative care with an emphasis on pain management and spiritual care. In the classroom, Dr. O’Conner-Von’s personalized involvement with her students ignites for them a passion for nursing research, professional development and the desire to be life-long learners. 

She received the Certified Hospice and Palliative Pediatric Nurse of the Year from the Hospice and Palliative Credentialing Center in 2016, and in 2017 she received the Dr. Jo Eland Excellence in Pediatric Nursing Award from the American Society for Pain Management Nursing. In 2019 Dr. O’Conner-Von was named Nurse Educator of the Year by Mlps.St.Paul Magazine, received the University of Minnesota’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Graduate and Professional Education and was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. 


1977 – 2019 Recipients


Tracy E. Williams, DNP, RN, FAAN, FNAP (CON '11)

Sally H. Lemke, DNP, WHNP-BC (CON '15)

Marcia Murphy, DNP, ANP, FAHA, FPCNA (MSN '80, CERT '97, DNP '07)
Denise Schentrup, DNP, MSN, ARNP, BC (DNP '07)
Jeanne Roode, DNP, RN, NEA-BC (DNP '11) 
Cathy Catrambone, PhD, RN, FAAN (MSN '89, PhD '00)
Kathleen Delaney PhD, PMH-NP, FAAN (PhD '83, Cert. '05)
Gay Landstorm, PhD, RN, NEA-BC (BSN '83)
Christine E. Kasper, PhD, FAAN, FACSM (MSN '76)
Jane G. Llewellyn, PhD, RN, NEA-BC (PhD '82)  
Paula Meier, DNSc, RN, FAAN (PhD '85)



Lynne T. Braun, PhD, RN, CNP, FAAN (MSN ’80, Cert. ’97)


Judith J. McCann, PhD, RN (MSN ’78,
PhD ’91)


Maria Connolly, PhD, APN/CNS, CNE, FCCM (PhD ’92)


Andrea Barsevick, PhD, RN, AOCN (MSN ’75, PhD ’84)


Courtney Lyder, ND, GNP, FAAN (BSN ’89, DNP ’91)


Sarah H. Kagan, PhD, RN (BSN ’86)


Daniel J. Sheridan, PhD, RN (BSN ’82, 
MSN ’85)


Kathleen Potempa, DNSc, RN, FAAN (MSN ’78, PhD ’86)


Ginny Casey, MS, RN (MSN ’79)


Carol J. Farran, DNSc, RN, FAAN (PhD ’85)

Kathryn E. Christiansen, DNSc, RN, FAAN (PhD ’81)

Jane E. Van Drunen Zwiers (Pres.-St. Luke's ’67)


Barbara Edgar Schmidt (St. Luke's ’53)


Margaret Faut-Callahan, PhD, CRNA, FAAN
(CRNA ’76, MSN ’79, PhD ’84)


Marca L. Bristo (BSN ’76)


Judith A. Paice, PhD, RN (MSN ’82)


Deborah Ann Gross, DNSc, RN, FAAN (PhD ’83)


Maureen E. Shekleton, PhD, RN, FAAN (PhD ’82)


Joyce K. Keithley, DNSc, RN, FAAN (PhD ’80)


Christine Ann Garvey, PhD, RN (BSN ’76, PhD ’99)


Judith Venema Dombrow (Pres.-St. Luke's ‘61)


Marie Steinke, MS, BSN (St. Luke's ’37)


Ruth Johnsen (Presbyterian ’47) 


Martha J. Mills, MS, RN (Pres.-St. Luke’s ’65)
Dorothy Hughes (Presbyterian ’53)