Past ENA Foundation Chairperson Earns ENA’s Most Prestigious Award

June 24, 2020 Achievement Awards ENA State Council Achievement Awards




SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (June 24, 2020) – The Emergency Nurses Association named longtime member and past ENA Foundation Chairperson Christine M. Gisness, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, ENP-C, CEN, TCRN, FAEN, as the recipient of the 2020 Judith C. Kelleher Award.

The award, named for one of ENA’s co-founders, is the association’s most prestigious honor. Gisness, a Georgia native, has made many contributions to the association and emergency nursing since joining ENA in 1983. She served as a volunteer on several committees over those years, led the ENA Foundation as its chairperson in 2017 and is a current member of the Foundation’s board of trustees. Her commitment to excellence earned her the 2019 Nursing Practice and Professionalism Award.

“For me, this award is about all the collaboration and hard work I have been a part of. I’m very proud to have been chosen,” Gisness said, adding that she is happy to have met Kelleher. “I owe this award to the many individuals who make up ENA and have made the ED safer for our patients while also improving the image of emergency nursing. I am inspired by them, and they have become colleagues and friends.

“I really feel like I’ve been in the background just doing what I think is the right thing for our profession,” Gisness offered.

ENA President Mike Hastings, MSN, RN, CEN, praised Gisness’ passion and dedication to helping emergency nurses improve themselves over the last three decades, including through the establishment of the Gisness Advance Practice Scholarship which offers financial assistance to an emergency nurse seeking their master’s degree in nursing.

“Chris represents the best of who emergency nurses are in the clinical realm and as a supporter of emergency nurses looking to advance their careers. Her giving nature and professional approach have made her a valuable member of ENA for many years,” Hastings said.

On Wednesday, ENA also announced recipients of 13 other individual awards that highlight emergency nurses who exemplify exceptional performance in professional practice, innovation and leadership.

“ENA members across our country, and internationally, have shown the world the critical role emergency nurses play in our communities. ENA’s 50,000 members are committed to care every day and I am honored to lead an association with so many nursing professionals who go above and beyond to improve the lives of patients and their fellow nurses,” Hastings offered.  

In addition to the individual honors, 12 states – Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas – received 2020 State Council Achievement Awards for their outstanding local efforts. The Colorado ENA State Council also earned recognition with the State Council/Chapter Government Affairs Award for, among other things, launching a blog on important legislation, encouraging students nurses to get involved in advocacy and testifying at state hearings on nursing-related issues, including workplace violence.

Here are the 2020 ENA Annual Achievement Award recipients:

Barbara A. Foley Quality, Safety and Injury Prevention Award: Courtney R. Edwards, DNP, MPH, RN, CCRN, CEN, TCRN, NEA-BC, of Texas

Behind the Scenes Award: Robert E. Sapién, MD, MMM, FAAP, of New Mexico

Frank L. Cole Nurse Practitioner Award: Wesley D. Davis, DNP, ENP-C, FNP-C, AGACNP-BC, CEN, of Wyoming

Gail P. Lenehan Advocacy Award: Barbara Baldwin, RN, of Texas

Lifetime Achievement Award: Jean A. Proehl, MN, RN, CEN, CPEN, TCRN, FAEN, FAAN, of New Hampshire

Nurse Manager Award: Vanessa Gorman, MSN, BSN, RN, Grad Dip Emerg Nurs, Grad Dip HSM, FCENA, FAEN, of Australia

Nurse Researcher Award: Joseph Kennon, BSN, RN, NREMT-P, CEN, CPEN, of Arkansas

Nursing Competency in Aging Award: Denise Cadle Rhew, PhD, RN, CNS, CEN, of North Carolina

Nursing Education Award: Cathlyn Robinson, MN, RN, CEN, of New Jersey

Nursing Practice and Professionalism Award: Tina Williams, MSN, RN, MBA, of Florida

Pediatric Readiness Improvement Award: Cynthia Wright-Johnson, MSN, RN, of Maryland

Rising Star Award: Lauren Plaine, BSN, RN, CEN, of Virginia

Team Award: Central Texas Stop the Bleed Team – Kayla Cehand, MSN, RN, CPN, CPST, and Crissie Richardson, MS, BSN, RN, CEN, CPEN, of Texas

The Emergency Nurses Association is the premier professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With 50,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines and guides emergency health care public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. Additional information is available at

ENA Media Contact

Dan Campana

Director of Communications