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Read about the accomplishments of NEAOHN's 2019 Medique Leadership Award winners!

Posted 8 months ago by Nancy Clover

Congratulations to each of our recipients for their dedication to occupational health and their leadership within our field and organization.  NEAOHN is proud of your accomplishments and we are happy to honor you today.

The State of Connecticut is proud to honor Kurt Krukas with our 2019 Medique Leadership Award.   

 Kurt is a graduate of Framington Union Hospital SON in 1992 and earned his BSN from Central Ct State University 1996.  Kurt practiced in a variety of settings during his career including Pediatrics office, School nursing, Walk in health center, Hospital Med-Surg floor, Step Down unit, ER.  For the last 7 1/2 years he has worked at The Hartford in their Corporate Health Center.  It was through the efforts and generous advocacy of Jeannie Tomlinson MSN, RN, COHN-S, FAOHN, FAAN,  that I learned about Occupational Health as a specialty, with its own opportunity for Jeannie has been a supportive mentor to me, as I am studying toward COHN certification.

 In his free time, his hobbies include, spending time with friends and family, hiking in the outdoors, volunteering with my community CERT team, and working with HAM radio.

The State of Delaware is proud to honor Michelle Garnett with their 2019 Medique Leadership Award

 Michelle obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Delaware in 1985, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Delaware Association of Occupational Health Nurses.

 Throughout her career, Michelle has acquired vast experience and skills as a Nurse Case Manager, through diverse employment opportunities. She has been employed in a variety of settings including field medical case management companies, employers, and healthcare providers. In addition, Michelle's background includes health coaching, disease management, human resources and marketing.

 Michelle thrives on working in fast-paced, results-oriented environments and embraces a motto of "lifelong learning".


Maine is honored to present Deborah R. Roy MPH, COHN-S, CET, CSP with our 2019 Medique Leadership Award. 

Deb is currently Corporate Director of Health, Safety and Wellness at L.L.Bean where she leads staff and consults with senior management globally.  She has been an active member of the Maine Chapter Occupational Health Nurses for several years and has served on the Board of Directors as well as other officer positions. She was instrumental in the re-writing of the Maine Chapter bylaws this past year.

Deb proudly represents the field of occupational health nursing in all her professional interactions and presentations. Prior to her work at L.L.Bean, Deb was the President/Owner of SafeTech Consultants, Inc., a training and consulting firm serving global clients.  In addition to her corporate role, Deb also continues to provide part-time consulting through her firm SafeTech in global safety and health management systems, sustainability, and control of chemical risks.

Deb received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) from Northeastern University in Boston and her Master of Public Health degree (MPH) in Occupational Health and Safety from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In addition to her contributions in Occupational Health Nursing and her service on the Maine Board, she has been an active professional member of American Society of Safety Engineers (now called ASSP) since 1993. She is a frequent speaker at ASSP conferences and webinars.  She was inducted as an ASSP Fellow in 2018 and is currently President-Elect of ASSP.


Massachusetts is proud to honor our own Stephanie Chalupka, EdD, RN as our 2019 Medique Leadership Awardee

Stephanie is a Professor of Public Health Nursing and Director of the Master of Science in Nursing Program at Worcester State University. She also holds an appointment as a Visiting Scholar in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health   NIEHS Center for Environmental Health and as a Visiting Scientist at the CDC and EPA funded Mid-Atlantic Center for Children’s Health and the Environment (Region 3 Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit). 

Dr. Chalupka is a scholar in the fields of epidemiology, public health and environmental health. She the author of several scientific publications and book chapters in occupational and environmental health including the AAOHN Core Curriculum in Environmental Health for Nurses. She has presented papers on environmental health at numerous national and international nursing, occupational health, and public health conferences.  Dr. Chalupka serves on the editorial advisory board and as a peer-reviewer for several scientific publications including the American Journal of Nursing, Workplace Health & Safety, Research in Nursing & Health, International Nursing Review, American Journal of Infection Control, and the Journal of the American Public Health Association.

 Dr. Chalupka’s research has been funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and numerous private foundations. Her research aims to reduce and prevent harmful occupational and environmental exposures to children and underserved disproportionately impacted low income, minority, and tribal communities, and support community efforts to build healthy, sustainable green neighborhoods. Dr. Chalupka received the University of Massachusetts President’s Award for Public Service for her work with refugee and immigrant families.

Dr. Chalupka has served as an appointed member of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee and as a consultant for the World Health Organization Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean. Dr. Chalupka serves as an Education and Research Center (ERC) site visitor for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and as an accreditation site evaluator for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. She currently serves as an environmental health nursing expert consultant to the International Council of Nurses. Dr. Chalupka is an elected fellow of the National Academies of Practice and the American Association of Occupational Health Nursing. Dr. Chalupka was the 2012 recipient of the Charlotte Brody Award and the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s 2017 Public Health Nurse Clinical Specialist of the Year Award. 


New Hampsire is proud to honor Lisa Worden as their 2019 Medique Leadership Awardee.

Lisa began her career as an Occupational Health Nurse working at AT&T’s North Andover manufacturing plant in 1990. New to the field of Occupational Health, she became a member of the MaAOHN North of Boston chapter thankful for the educational opportunities and networking the group provided. Through the group, she met Dorothy Reid and credits her exam preparation sessions as helping her obtain her COHN-S certification in 1995. 

During her 15 years with AT&T, she grew in her role and was promoted to Nurse Manager of the Northeast Region.   Working for AT&T/Lucent Technologies exposed Lisa to many areas of Occupational Health including the company’s Integrated Disability Management program. She worked with many employees who were out of work receiving STD, LTD and WC benefits and saw firsthand the negative impact of disability and joblessness on a person’s well-being. Lisa was determined to help employees from becoming needlessly disabled following an injury or illness and began focusing on absence and leave management.

 In 2005, Lisa was offered an opportunity with her current employer, Exeter Hospital, to create a new leave management program for Exeter Health Resources and its affiliates.  After receiving a certificate in FMLA and ADA Compliance and Best Practice from the George Washington University in 2008, she began educating members of management by holding supervisory training on FMLA, ADA, and Fitness for Duty evaluations.

In 2015, she obtained her CM certification and was the recipient of the Ada Mayo Stewart Excellence in Occupational Health Nursing Award in June 2016. Currently, Lisa works as the supervisor of the Workers’ Compensation Center at Exeter Hospital’s Center for Occupational and Employee Health (COEH). She believes her role providers a unique opportunity to work with and educate all WC stakeholders about their role in preventing needless disability following an injury.

Lisa was the recipient of the Kathy Schusler Fund for Nursing Education and Professional development in 2017 and 2018 and used the funds to secure a national keynote speaker who presented to employers, case managers and claims adjusters at COEH’s annual Workers’ Compensation Symposium.  One of Lisa’s goals is to improve and standardize methods used by the medical providers she works with in their stay at work and return to work decision-making process. She remains passionate about her mission to minimize life and work disruption following an employee’s new injury or illness.


New Jersey is proud to award Connie Kijek with the 2019 Medique Leadership Award

Connie has been a nurse for 52 years. She was a graduate of Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing and received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Thomas Edison University.

Connie worked as a night shift charge nurse at St Barnabas Medical Center and the VA. She applied for a college health nurse job at Princeton University and was hired, that same day, assuming the responsibility of 21 students in the infirmary, a walk-in clinic and Princeton employees injured at work. She was the sole occupational health nurse at Foster Wheeler and the Division Nurse at Wegmans Food Markets.

Connie has been an occupational health nurse since 1989 when she transferred to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. She was mentored by Dr. John Caruso, one of the first board-certified occupational health doctors in the US.

Throughout her years as a nurse Connie has developed and utilized many skills on the job: organizational skills to ensure efficiency in the workplace, interpersonal skills to directly address a patient’s well-being, and teaching skills to motivate and instruct people looking for guidance.

She was an early advocate for AEDs in the workplace. While on the education committee for the Central NJ Association of Occupational Health in 1998, she invited a sales representative from Medtronic to demonstrate the AED. Each nurse present had an opportunity to practice CPR and apply the AED electrodes to the manikin. The CEO of the company had shared her vision, immediately purchasing two of the AEDs. In 1998 she attended the Conference of Leaders. As a grass roots effort, they met with legislators of the Senate to discuss the importance of the confidentiality of personal information. This effort resulted in the passage of HIPPA.

Connie is thrilled to pay it forward, evaluating and mentoring student nurses. She assisted several RN’s with preparation for their COHN-S examinations, including the Health Center Manager at NJM.

Connie has been employed at YOH Healthcare for over 12 years. Job functions are varied, based on the needs of the company and the resources that are available. As a contract Occupational Nurse Consultant, she adapts to both the corporate culture and the trends of medical technology to best meet the needs of the employees in her care.

When not working, she enjoys connecting and sharing time with her family, friends and community. Thanks to her adopted dog Carly she walks two to three miles a day while listening to audiobooks. She enjoys musical theater, especially Plays in the park in Edison, NJ.


 New York is proud to honor Diane Olejar MSN, ANP-BC, DOT-CME with the 2019 Medique Leadership Award.

Diane has been an Adult Nurse Practitioner and practicing within Occupational Health for 31 years.  Diane served the past two years as President Elect of the New York State AOHN chapter and serves on the Nominating Committee for the Northeast AOHN chapter. She will assume the Presidency of the New York State AOHN chapter January 2020.

Diane's first job in occupational health was at the University of Rochester's University Health Service.  Currently she is the Occupational Nurse Practitioner at FIFCO USA/ Genesee Brewery in Rochester NY where she manages most workers' compensation injuries in house resulting in significant cost savings for her employer.  She also diagnoses and treats employees with minor non-occupational illnesses allowing employees to stay on the job and avoid lost time for visits to their provider.  She also worked as a Nurse Practitioner at the Finger Lakes Occupational Health Services, part of the NYS Occupational Health Clinic Network for 7 years.

Diane is an accomplished nurse educator whether it is teaching her employees how to manage their health condition or other nurses about a clinical topic. She has presented concurrent sessions at the AAOHN National Conference on Occupational Concussion and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Conditions. She has also presented on numerous occasions at other conferences and meetings.  Previously she was a clinical instructor in orthopedic and vascular nursing and an adjunct faculty in massage therapy at Monroe Community College, Rochester NY.

Pat Sadowski, current President of NYS AOHN was instrumental in furthering her knowledge of the workers" compensation system and an ongoing support in more active participation in the occupational nursing community.  

Diane resides in the Rochester NY region.  She is married to an Occupational Nurse Practitioner, Joe Achtyl and has 3 adult children and a grandson with another on the way! She enjoys gardening and spending time with her family. She has been an active volunteer at St. Pius Tenth Church and School for the past 35 years.


“Pennsylvania’ is proud to honor “Nancy Ritz RN, CCM, BS, COHN-S” with the 2019 Medique Leadership Award.

 “Nancy Ritz” has been a Registered Nurse for “48 “years and practicing within Occupational Health for “23“years.  “Nancy” has been active with her state and regional chapter and has held multiple offices for over “11 “years.

 “Nancy’s first job in OH was in an Occupational Health Clinic for United Health Services in Binghamton, N. Y. Currently I have retired from my profession. Past jobs include Employee Health Nurse at Wilson Hospital for United Health Services and Occupational Health Nurse, Case Manager, Nurse Manager contracted into manufacturing at Harley Davidson for approximately for 14 years.

 Kim Smith who I met at Harley Davidson was a mentor to me learning the culture of the manufacturing setting at Harley-Davidson. Kim and I were the co-leads at the two clinics before the plant was downsized. We both joined CPOHN and held various positions.

 I currently live in a small town in Lancaster County with nearby farms and Amish neighbors. Since retiring I have time to enjoy my grandchildren’s activities. I spend time with my siblings//family traveling. We have a yearly camping trip to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate which is an event. Currently I volunteer at my Church as a Eucharistic Minister, visit the elderly at Masonic Village along with other activities. I am currently going to oil painting classes as a novice.


Vermont is proud to honor Marcia T. Podolec RN CIC COHN with the 2019 Medique Award.

Marcia has been a Registered Nurse for 32 years and practicing within Occupational Health since 2011.  Marcia has been active with her state and regional chapter and is currently Vice President of the Vermont chapter.

Marcia’s first job in OH was the Employee Health Nurse at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington Vermont. Current duties include the annual flu vaccine campaign, evaluation of new hires and volunteers for vaccine requirements, annual fit testing and PAPR training programs, managing workers compensation claims and a crucial active member on various committees to keep over 1000 staff safe.

With a background and certification in Infection prevention (one of 5 certified in both Occupational Health and Infection Prevention in the country), Marcia was contacted by AAOHN to be part of a project collaborating with CDC and American Nurses Association (ANA) to “train” nurses in infection prevention and control. After many drafts and dry runs, the presentation was ready for prime time.  The ANA webinar “6: Empowering nurses to protect themselves and their patients: Disaster preparedness through the seasons” aired on Friday, March 16, 2018, at 2:00 PM with over 1200 participants.

In her free time, Marcia likes to enjoy nature: Biking, Hiking, skiing, walking, gardening and even mowing the lawn to be outside.  But most of all spending time with her family, husband Jeff for 30 years and 3 children and currently 3 grand dogs.