2020 MNA Award Recipients

Carolyn Hietamaki Political Nurse Activist Award

Stephanie DePetro, RN, BS, MS, BSN, CNOR

Stephanie DePetro (left) with Governor Whitmer (center) and Dianne Adams.

Stephanie is an OR nurse at Upper Peninsula Health System in Marquette and has been employed there for more than 15 years. She has been President of the Marquette General Hospital RN Staff Council for 3 ½ years and is finishing her first term as a Director at Large on the MNA Board of Directors. Stephanie speaks out for nursing and patient safety at every opportunity. She goes to town hall meetings, taking the time out of her busy schedule to make sure nursing is represented. Suzette Hantz, a registered nurse, co-worker and friend says that, “Stephanie has our representative on speed dial; she is not afraid to raise her voice to defend nursing and the need for safe patient care both in the hospital and publicly. She has taken lessons from Carolyn,” Suzette says, “and is following in her footsteps.”

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Labor Leader of the Year Award

Judy Moore, RN

Judy Moore, RN (left) and Kathy Lehman, RN (right).

A critical care nurse in the step down unit of Huron Valley-Hospital, Judy has a strong work ethic and it shows with each encounter she has with all her colleagues. She is able to collaborate with her nursing team, including nurses and other health care workers. Kathy Lehman, RN, a friend and co-worker, provided this description of Judy’s role in organizing Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. Kathy reached out to nurses on all units and helped them learn how to raise their voice in advocacy for patients and families. “Judy spent many hours and years negotiating with Tenet-owned Huron Valley Hospital in order to gain a fair first contract. Without her, we would not have been able to achieve the goals we had set when we began to form our union. She walked many miles knocking on doors in our community getting petition signatures and spoke at many county meetings. Judy has reached out to representatives and senators at the Capitol in Lansing. She has helped bridge the gap between staff and administration by opening up communication between all. While she is an expert on filing grievances, it is apparent that her wish is to uphold our contract with communication and collaboration between all. And it’s working!”

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Nurse Hero Award

Rebecca Cherney, RN

Read this article for more information on Becky and Operation Face Shield.

Becky has worked at Michigan Medicine for over 6 years on the intermediate care floor. She’s always thinking up new things to help patients, such as researching and creating the Trach Trail program, which helps family members of newly trached patients to receive proper education and care at home. Most recently, on March 24, 2020, Becky and nurse Kevin Leeser began Operation Face Shield to step up and address the lack of PPE crisis by 3-D printing face shields and delivering them directly to healthcare workers who needed them. Becky and her team didn’t stop there. They recruited volunteers to use their private 3-D printers and then reached out to universities to use their equipment for mass-production. Some of her volunteers used private planes to deliver to COVID hot spots such as Michigan, New York, Louisiana, and internationally in locations in Central America. The group offers ear savers and face shields to all essential staff that request them. Becky has also reached out to long-term care facilities to offer protection.  “Becky has demonstrated leadership by being part of the PPE solution that many of our MNA members/healthcare/essential workers faced early on,” says Stephanie Ruzzin, a fellow Michigan Medicine registered nurse. “It cannot go unnoticed the hard work and impact both her and her team had in saving lives of countless healthcare professionals. Her advocacy gained national attention when she was featured in the pandemic series by Wired.com. Above all, Becky always remains a nurse at heart. She aims to improve the human condition, advocate for patients, her peers and community. She does not wait for someone to come save her, she is her own hero. She is definitely one of mine.”

Award video

Outstanding Contribution to MNA Award

Katie Pontifex, BS, BSN, RN, CMSRN

Katie trains the next generation of activists.

The list of places Katie is involved in is amazing. How does she balance it all? Katie is a float nurse at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and is the Professional Employee Council of Sparrow Hospital (PESCH) vice president and communication chair. She also serves as a grievance rep and is a member of numerous committees at PECSH-MNA including the negotiations team. An MNA Board of Directors member, Katie also serves as the Chair of the MNA Bylaws Committee and sits on the MNA Impartial Committee and several other committees. “Katie always gives selflessly and is a passionate advocate for all healthcare professionals,” says Jessica Lannon, BA, Supporting Borgess’ fight for safe patient care. RN, C-FEM, PECSH Grievance Chair and a fellow MNA Board member. “She is always willing to jump in and help with the needs of the organization. She is often called at the last minute and asked to represent MNA. If you Google her name, you will find many examples of how she has become a well-known face and spokesperson for MNA and PECSH.”

Award video