Council Awards

CAP         CNSW         CNNT         CRN


Council of Advanced Practitioners


Tim Poole Memorial Award: Emily Massey, AGACNP

Emily is a native North Carolinian, and a nurse with over 11 years of experience, seven of those years specializing in kidney transplant in the operating room. For the last 14 months she has been the Clinical Lead-Specialty Coordinator for the transplant and organ donation teams for the Vidant Medical Center Operating Room. This position has allowed her the opportunity to educate incoming staff, build relationships with her patients, and encouraged her to further her own education. Emily works closely with Carolina Donor Services and the physicians from the East Carolina University Department of Transplant and Surgical Immunology to provide compassionate care to their patients and their families. She strives to increase education and prevention of CKD for Eastern North Carolina’s rural population. She has recently been working on a project with her partner in the operating room, to fund and build a Donor Memorial Wall for those patients who have given the gift of life.

Nostradamus Award: Jane Davis, RN, BSN, MSN, DNP

A 16th century seer, Nostradamus has long been portrayed as someone who could see into the future. This award will be given annually to an individual or organization that, through forethought and vision, recognizes and promotes the contributions of advanced practitioners in nephrology.

As a child, one of Jane Davis’ favorite books was Nurse Nancy, a Golden Book.

After graduating in journalism from the University of Florida, she worked in public relations before receiving a master’s degree in English from Samford University and taught in local colleges. Her mother’s CVA had a profound effect on her life. Seeing what a difference a nurse could make, she wanted to be that someone.

After graduating from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), her nursing career began as a nurse on the renal floor. Believing that a nurse’s primary responsibility was to advocate for patients, she has kept that front and center in her work. She later joined the nursing pool working every unit in the hospital. After receiving her master’s in nursing, she moved to oncology. The kidneys beckoned and she became the first nephrology advanced practitioner (AP) and helped open an AP-managed CKD clinic.

Jane was a founding member of the Council of Advanced Practitioners and the original communications chair. She is a mentor to many nephrology APs who have written, edited or contributed to a journals and NKF programs including Your Kidney, Your Choice, Nephrology Essentials, Nephrology News & Issues, JAAPA, JAANP, The Nurse Practitioner  Journal for Nurse Practitioners, CJASN, PA Clinics AJKD and ACKD.

Jane speaks for NKF and AANA, served as the first AP on the NKF Board of Directors, always reminding them to use clinician, not doctor!

She has received many honors in the past but none as meaningful as Nostradamus.

She’ll tell you, her most important accomplishment is mentoring new writers and watching them gain recognition for their articles.

Jane still has Nurse Nancy to this day.


Council of Nephrology Social Workers


Robert W. Whitlock Lifetime Achievement Award: Deborah Collinsworth, LAPSW, NSW-C

This award is named in honor of Robert W. Whitlock, MSSW, MHA, LCSW, Director of the Missouri Kidney Program (MoKP), a leader in the kidney community, who passed away in 2008. Bob was a dedicated nephrology social worker and an outstanding contributor to research, teaching, and clinical practice in nephrology social work.

Deborah Collinsworth has been a nephrology social worker for over 40 years, employed by Dialysis Clinics, Inc. in Jackson, TN. Prior to retiring in 2020, she served as Director of Nephrology Social Work Services for their West TN area dialysis facilities. She is a Licensed Advanced Practice Social Worker, and a 1979 graduate from the University of Tennessee School of Social Work. She has served as a consultant in home health and hospital settings, and as an adjunct instructor for Union University Graduate School of Social Work. She worked with ESRD Network 8 for 20 years, serving on the Board of Directors and Medical Review Board and other committees. 

Deborah is a past Chair for West Tennessee CNSW Chapter, previously served three terms on the CNSW Executive Committee as Region II & IV Representative and worked on several CNSW sub-committees and projects. She has presented on Nephrology Social Work topics at regional and national meetings, including the NKF Spring Clinical Meetings. Highlights of her work with CNSW include the opportunity to meet and form relationships with other social workers across the country, collaborate to promote the field of nephrology social work, and contribute to the mentoring and development of qualified, competent social workers. One of her favorite career experiences has been working as a counselor for Camp Okawehna, a summer camp sponsored by DCI for children on dialysis/transplant. Her interests include church activities, singing with the Jackson Choral Society, reading, traveling, and hiking in the mountains.

Merit Award: Deborah Evans, MA, MSW, LCSW

Deborah has been a clinical social worker with DaVita for the past 24 years. She has spent the majority of her career providing direct services to both in-center and home dialysis patients. Although she no longer provides direct care, she has many fond memories of her patients that will never leave her. These experiences and the indelible mark her patients made continue to inform and inspire the work she now does as a Senior Manager. 

Deborah has contributed to the field’s body of research and practice outcome evaluation in the areas of vocational rehabilitation/employment, transplant and impacts of clinical intervention on patients’ ability to remain employed and adjust to home modalities. She is particularly proud of the collaborative work which won Outstanding Poster at NKF 2016, “Barriers to Employment for ESRD Patients Receiving Dialysis.” Also, it was gratifying to be able to share a practice outcome evaluation at ASN 2017, “Utilizing STI to Help Patients Remain Vocationally Active.” She also published an article in the May 2017 issue of Nephrology News & Issues, “Relationship Between Employment Status and Transplant Status: Why This Matters and What We Can Do.” 

For the last few years, Deborah has turned her focus more towards improving quality and standardizing clinical social work delivery, ensuring patients receive the best care possible. When not working, Deborah loves to spend time outdoors with her husband of 25 years, Gary, and their two children, Corie (22 y/o) and Cal (17 y/o).

Merit Award: Gail P. Nylin, LICSW, NSW-C

Gail Nylin’s career in dialysis began in 1994. She has been the Secretary and Chair-elect, and is currently Chair, of the Upper Midwest Chapter of CNSW. Gail has been a member of planning committees for the Partners in Practice meetings, NKF Minnesota Social Summit and NKF of Minnesota Primary Care Symposium. She is the first MSW to serve on the Board of Directors of the Midwest Kidney Network. Gail was on the Catheter Reduction Project with the Midwest Kidney Network (MKN) and is currently a member of the MKN Transplant Work Group. Volunteer activities include the Minnesota Gift of Life Conference, Kidney Walk, Minnesota State Fair NKF booth, and KEEP Screening. She presented “Insurance Considerations for Chronic Kidney Failure” at the NKF of Minnesota Social Summit and a CNSW Upper Midwest Chapter meeting in 2019. 

Gail’s peers describe her as a devoted, passionate and hard-working renal social worker, who goes above and beyond to care for her patients. She is a respected member of the interdisciplinary team who contributes valuable insight into the psychosocial needs of patients and generates creative ways to meet those needs. Gail seeks to continually improve her skills as a renal social worker by being involved in relevant organizations and seeking out pertinent educational opportunities. She seeks to mentor and provide guidance to those newer to the field. Many of Gail’s colleagues seek her out for her expertise, as well as her willingness to help. Gail is a definite asset to the renal community.

Merit Award: Leanne Peace, MSW, LCSW, MHA

Leanne began her career as a nephrology social worker in 1987, when she was employed as a Dialysis Social Worker at DCI in mid-Missouri clinics. During her 12 years working in the rural clinics, she would fly in a 6-seater Cessina plane with her medical team, piloted by the nephrologist!      

She first became involved with CNSW, providing a rural social worker perception in JNSW articles and conferences. In 2000, she became a kidney transplant social worker at the University of Missouri. For nine years, she worked with kidney transplant candidates, recipients and living donors. She was mentored by Robert Whitlock, who encouraged her to get a master’s in health administration. Ultimately she became the Director of Missouri Kidney Program, after Mr. Whitlock’s passing. She advocated for kidney patients within Missouri State agencies and programs. In the past three years, Leanne has returned to DCI and now works as an Area Operator Director over the same mid-Missouri clinics that began her career. 

She has served as CNSW Region Representative (1997-1999), Membership Chair (1999-2004), Chair-elect (2011-2013), Chair (2013-2015), and Immediate Past Chair (2015-2018). She was Co-Editor of the CNSW  4th and 6th edition of the Standards of Practice, and CNSW’s  Kidney Transplant Primer in 2008. She has had the pleasure to present at numerous national conferences, and authored many articles, plus participated in several research projects. 

The highlight of her career has been her involvement with CNSW and getting to know the very many dedicated and delightful nephrology social workers!

Award for Social Work in a Transplant Setting: Kristen Fischer, MSW, LCSW, NSW-C

Kristen is a certified nephrology social worker, who received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of North Dakota, and her master’s in social work from Loyola University in Chicago, IL. She has spent the last 20 years working with kidney and pancreas transplant recipients. She is currently the recipient social worker for the Sanford Transplant Center at Sanford Health in Fargo, ND. In addition to the general responsibilities of her position, Kristen has also served on the Sanford Clinical Ethics Committee since 2011, participating in Ethics Consultations, policy development, staff education and national conferences. Most recently, she led the Sanford Clinical Ethics Committee’s Moral Distress Team, assisting providers and staff with processing and coping with the moral distress they experience in their daily work, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kristen enjoys educating and public speaking, and has delivered presentations on numerous topics, including cognitive impairment and ESRD, ethics and moral distress, and professional boundaries to local and national professional groups. 

Kristen has been involved with various aspects of the National Kidney Foundation, including local efforts with the annual Kidney Walk and KEEP screenings, participation on the CNSW CE Review Board, and as a member of the NKF Spring Clinical Meetings - Nephrology Social Worker Program Committee. 

To Kristen, being a transplant social worker isn’t just a job, it’s her passion. She’s honored to be given the opportunity to join her patients and families on their complex and emotional health journeys.

New Worker Award: Courtney Farmer, LMSW, ACHP-SW

Courtney Farmer has been working in the field of social work since 2011 after receiving her Master of Social Work degree from Wayne State University. Initially, Courtney started her career in child welfare, and after three years she transitioned into the hospice realm where she worked for 5 ½ years; dedicated to providing compassionate end-of-life care. 

Courtney served as the Director of Supportive Care for her last four years with Seasons Hospice & Palliative Care where she was responsible for the growth of the social work, volunteer, music therapy, chaplain, bereavement, and legacy programs. In October 2019, Courtney joined the team at Fresenius Kidney Care in Berkley to begin her career in nephrology. Since starting with Fresenius, Courtney has enjoyed continuing her passion for medical social work; focused on supporting and empowering patients to be active participants in their own care. With the support of the interdisciplinary team, as well as the other social workers within Fresenius, Courtney’s first year in the field of dialysis has been a rewarding and exciting learning experience. 

Regional Social Work Award – Region 3: Catharine Masarirambi, LCSW

Katy Masarirambi is dedicated to the social work profession and a strong advocate for her patients. She has helped the hiring and training of numerous social workers over her career. She has provided clinical supervision to a many social workers and assisted them reaching their potential.

Born in Chicago and raised in Evanston, IL, Katy received her MSW from the University of Michigan. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. She has been an LCSW for the last 14 years and has been a social worker for the last 16 years. She is currently the Senior Manager of Social Work Services at Fresenius Kidney Care for the Chicago and West Chicago regions. In her prior role as Lead Social Worker within Fresenius, Katy provided guidance and support to a team of 44 social workers. She also assisted with development of a COVID response plan to safely facilitate patient care in isolation clinics without spreading the virus. She is a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and is passionate about those sessions.

Katy lives with her husband who is also her best friend and their two sons. She considers it the biggest honor of her career to work at Fresenius during COVID and to work with such a dedicated group of individuals to assist in the same mission every day.


Council of Nephrology Nurses & Technicians


Outstanding Nurse Award: Farzana Hasan, BSN, RN, CDN


Outstanding Dialysis Technician Award: Arulkumar Natarajan, BSC, PGDDT, CHT

Arul Kumar Natarajan was born in Tamil Nadu, India. He completed BSc in Biotechnology at Presidency College, Chennai, and PG Diploma in Dialysis Therapy at Christian Medical College-Vellore TamilNadu India. He is a certified Dialysis Technologist (BONENT, USA). He has 10 years of experience in the dialysis field, he has worked in various hospitals around the globe, also knowledgeable in acute treatment modalities like CRRT and other extracorporeal therapies, provided technical consultations to set up new dialysis centers in the African region, and has expertise in the water treatment plant. Currently, he is working as a dialysis technologist in Sidra Medicine, Qatar.

Arul also has an interest in clinical research. His last abstract about the online clearance monitor was awarded the best pediatric abstract at the 39th annual dialysis conference presented by the University of Missouri. Arul has trained numerous dialysis technicians in the dialysis market.

He was also recognized by the CEO of Sidra Medicine, Qatar; he received CEO Recognition Award in 2019. He is also serving as a technical committee member of the AAMI Renal detoxification committee. He is pursuing his MBA in Hospital Management. Arul is calm under pressure. He could handle just about anything that was thrown at him. Among his colleagues, he was greatly respected as being willing to share his vast knowledge of dialysis technology. He enjoys reading books, photography, and spending time with his family.

Carol Mattix Award: Maria Rosley de Claro, RN, BSN, CNN


Council on Renal Nutrition


Joel D. Kopple Award: Shivam Joshi, MD


Outstanding Service Award: Kristen Nonahal, RD, FNKF

Kristen Nonahal, RDN, FNKF, is a practicing dietitian with Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. She specializes in chronic kidney disease and has over 20 years’ experience in the field of renal nutrition. Kristen began her career as a dietitian after completing a Bachelor of Science degree from Mercy College of Detroit’s Coordinated Undergraduate Program. Over her 35 year career, she has been employed in both clinical and outpatient settings. Kristen found her passion for working with renal patients while employed with St. John Dialysis in Detroit and later Fresenius Medical Care-NA in both their peritoneal and hemodialysis programs. Seeing the need for more education pre-dialysis, she accepted the position of Renal Nutrition Specialist with the Division of Nephrology & Hypertension at Henry Ford Hospital in the CKD Clinic. 

Here Kristen educates patients and families with CKD stage 3-5, hypertension, and kidney stones. She has also provided nutrition counseling to Pre-Kidney and Pre-Liver transplant patients along with living donors. Her other interests include mentoring new dietitians as she currently serves on the Dietetic Intern Selection Committee and is also a preceptor in the CKD Clinic. She also educates nephrology fellows, nurses, and associated health care professionals on renal nutrition and its impact on patient outcomes.

Kristen has been an active member of the Council on Renal Nutrition both on the local and national level. She has served as past Chair of the Michigan chapter, CRN Region III Representative, and is the past Chair of National CRN of National Kidney Foundation. She has been an invited lecturer with Michigan CRN, the Michigan NKF PATH program, and the NKF Spring Clinical Meetings. Kristen is also a member of the Nephrology Standard of Practice/Standard of Professional Performance committee workgroup, and volunteers on the Michigan Academy of Food and Nutrition Licensure Task Force.

Susan C. Knapp Award: Mary Sundell, RD, MLAS, CSR, LDN, FNKF

Mary B. Sundell is honored to receive the Susan C. Knapp award. Mary knew she wanted to work with kidney patients while she was completing her degree in dietetics at the University of Minnesota in 1986. Impressed by the role of the dietitian on the nephrology team and the impact of diet adjustments on patient health, Mary activity pursued a career in renal dietetics.

Mary has been fortunate to experience variety during her career, including direct patient care for all replacement therapies, as well as working as a research dietitian with a focus on body composition and novel nutrition interventions.

The one role Mary is most passionate is patient educator. A highlight in her career was helping to plan and implement a pre-dialysis education program in the 1990s. In her current position as an outpatient renal dietitian at Vanderbilt, Mary continues to work with patients and their families daily to help them better understand their kidney disease and the role diet plays. She also mentors nephrology fellows and dietetic interns and has spoken on renal nutrition topics both locally and nationally.

Mary has served in leadership positions with local CRNs in Minnesota and Tennessee, as well as volunteering with the NKF Spring Clinical Meetings as a speaker, a member of the Program Committee and as a Course Director for Strategies II. She values these opportunities, not only for their educational impact, but for the opportunity to establish relationships with many people who share her passion for renal nutrition.

Recognized Renal Dietitian Award: Christine Benedetti, MS, RDN, CSR, LD, FNKF

Christine Benedetti is a certified specialist in renal nutrition with over 13 years’ experience in the nephrology field, including adults and pediatrics. She earned her Master’s in Health Science at Georgia State University. With a passion for education, she leads the Clinical Nutrition Internship Program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and offers a 3-week pediatric renal-specific rotation to interns. Christine has held numerous positions on non-profit executive boards in the nephrology field. 

For the Georgia Council on Renal Nutrition, she has held board positions including, Rules and Regulations, Awards, Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, the GA AND Liaison, Chair-elect, Chair and Past-Chair. For the NKF Council on Renal Nutrition, she has experience as the Region 2 Representative, Chair-elect, Chair and Immediate Past-Chair. She was also parliamentarian for the GA AND. Christine was a foundational Advisory Council member for the Pediatric Renal Dietitians of North America (PRONA), assisting the group to gain it’s non-profit status, followed by a year as Chair-elect, and now Chair. 

Knowing the importance for staying current in our field and promoting our profession, Christine is the lead organizer for the two-day Pediatric Nutrition Conference for the last several years, and on the program committees for the Georgia Council on Renal Nutrition for over eight years, and the NKF Spring Clinical Meetings Program Committee for two years. In 2014, she was selected as the NKF’s Regional Recognized Renal Dietitian for Region 2, and as the Georgia Renal Dietitian of the Year. In 2020, she was awarded the AND RPG Outstanding Service Award. 

She has several year’s experience as an adult dialysis Facility Administrator, and owned her own nutrition consulting business, focusing on CKD pre-dialysis education. Christine has spoken across the country on topics involving adult and pediatric renal nutrition. She has participated in multiple research projects, presented poster sessions, and is currently a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Renal Nutrition. Her most rewarding time is spent volunteering within her community and traveling the world with her husband and two little girls (soon to be 3).

Recognized Regional Renal Dietitian – Region 2: Toni DeVane, MS, RD, CSR, CNSC, LDN

Toni is the Eastern Lead Renal Clinical Case Manager for with Pentec Health. She currently covers most of NC, SC, and Savannah portion of GA. She has participated in local and national engagements, most recently on Gastroparesis and Kidney disease with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Renal Practice Group. She is a Registered Dietitian with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition from East Carolina University. She is board certified in both renal nutrition and nutrition support. Toni has been providing renal nutrition education for over 10 years, with experience in both in-center and home modalities. While with DaVita, she was a Kidney Smart Educator and received the 2015 Kidney Smart Shining Star Award.

Prior to her transition to renal nutrition, Toni worked extensively with the pediatric population within the community and hospital settings and was an intensive care dietitian. She currently serves as the pediatric point for Pentec Health.

Toni is a member of ASPEN, NKF, and NC Council of Renal Nutrition, where she is the Social Media Facilitator. Toni currently resides in south-eastern North Carolina with her husband, 3 karate kicking daughters (ages 15, 11, and 7), and her golden retriever, Sadie Belle.

Recognized Regional Renal Dietitian – Region 3: Ann Peterson, MS, RDN, CD

Ann grew up on a dairy farm in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, as one of nine children. She attended the University of Wisconsin – Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin for both her undergraduate degree in dietetics and master’s degree in food science in nutrition. She worked at Luther Hospital in Eau Claire Wisconsin as Food Service Supervisor while in school. After completing her education, she transitioned to role of registered dietitian at the same facility. She was also a consultant RD at two area skilled nursing facilities. 

In 1982, Ann accepted the position of renal dietitian. At that time, the hospital-based dialysis program was open three days per week, with about 30 hemodialysis and home dialysis (peritoneal and home hemodialysis). In the early days, all notes, assessments and care plans were handwritten (staff had to wait their turn to write in the paper chart). The MD wrote the same diet order for every patient: 60 g protein, 2 g Na, 60 mEq potassium, 1500 ml fluid. All patients had aluminum hydroxide phosphorus binders – phosphorus additives in food were not an education topic. 

Over the years the number of patients grew, and outpatient dialysis units were built in Chippewa Falls, Barron, Menomonie and Eau Claire Wisconsin. Ann travelled to all of these locations monthly, until Jill Hoyt came on board to share the load. Along the way Luther Hospital became part of the Mayo Clinic Health System - Northwest Wisconsin Region – creating an opportunity to be part of a larger group of Mayo Renal Dietitians. She is a member of the Mayo Clinic Dialysis Services Patient Education Committee. 

Ann was involved in developing and presenting CKD interdisciplinary education classes and individual CKD nutrition counseling as part of the nephrology clinic. Ann has been a longtime member of the  NKF Council on Renal Nutrition and Wisconsin Council on Renal Nutrition. Attending the NKF Spring Clinical Meetings has been a wonderful way to stay up to date on changes in renal nutrition. Ann and her late husband (who became a dialysis patient in his later years) have three children, now adults, and two grandchildren. Ann is a former Boy Scout leader and currently volunteers at her church’s personal care pantry.

Recognized Regional Renal Dietitian – Region 5: Richard Duque, RD

Richard Duque earned his B.S. in Nutritional Science with a Concentration in Dietetics from San Jose State University in 2007. In 2008, he completed his dietetic internship with Aramark, at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Richard continued his career as a clinical dietitian for healthcare providers Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health, caring for patients in hospital and outpatient clinic settings. 

In 2012, he took on the challenge of becoming a renal dietitian when he joined Satellite Healthcare. He finds Satellite’s patient-centered approach perfectly aligned with his core values. He enjoys working with a dedicated interdisciplinary team to make lives better for those receiving dialysis in center or at home. In addition, he finds great satisfaction in improving patient health through nutrition education as well as mentoring dietetic interns. 

Richard has taken on leadership roles with his local Council of Renal Nutrition of Northern California & Northern Nevada, including CRN Chair in 2018-2019. Richard was also instrumental in creating the CRN webpage, www.crnnorcal.org. 

Recognizing his career-long commitment as a strong patient advocate, Satellite Healthcare recently offered Richard an opportunity to expand his role by becoming a Patient Outreach & Education Coordinator. In this role, he provides dialysis options education and CKD education to people living with CKD/ESRD. 

When not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his loving wife and daughter, traveling to new countries, and playing/coaching basketball.

Recognized Chapter Award: CRN of Wisconsin