2023 Illinois ENA Award Winners

Congratulations to all of our 2023 Illinois ENA Awards Nominees and Winners!

Clinical Leadership Award


  • Jennifer Love, MBA, BSN, RN (Memorial Health System)
  • Carol Tulley, MSN, RN, TNS, CEN, CPEN (Central DuPage Hospital)
  • Angelica Abuton, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CSSBB (Ascension Saint Mary's)
  • Janelle Kusz, MSN, RN, CEN (Ascencion St Mary's and Elizabeth)

Winner: Janelle Kusz

As she grew in her career, she became the Charge nurse everyone looked up to. She never missed an opportunity to mentor a nurse the rest of the team had declined. She was the absolute best preceptor, balancing strict high standards with a compassionate spirit of guidance. COVID-19 was a challenging time for the world, let alone anyone working in the emergency department. By the time the pandemic was upon us, this nurse had accepted a leadership position in the department as Night Shift Team Leader. (Just to complicate things at the time, the ED nursing director position was vacant, and the ED manager was on a well-timed maternity leave.) In her immense dedication to the safety of her family and her calling to fight the pandemic, she made the tough decision to isolate herself from her husband and two young sons. This nurse worked tirelessly to educate the night shift on policies, procedures and workflows that changed on almost a daily basis, trekking to the hospital nightly--working well over the required 36 hours. She was the first one in the room with a hypoxic patient and calmly directed the team to their roles. Have you seen the AHA ACLS video of a cardiac arrest in an ideal world where everyone remains calm, and the leader patiently and predictably speaks? The one with a scenario you never thought you would see play out? Well, every critical patient scenario she was a part of flowed like that. She is truly an amazing inspiration to all the nurses who have had the pleasure of working with her and she has truly been successful in improving nursing care provided in the ED.

Nursing Practice Award


  • Natalie Plovanich, BSN, RN (Rush University Medical Center)
  • Janelle Kusz, MSN, RN, CEN (Ascencion St Mary's and Elizabeth)
  • Carol Tulley, MSN, RN, TNS, CEN, CPEN (Central DuPage Hospital)

Winner: Natalie Plovanich

This nominee is not only an exceptional preceptor but has functioned in a variety of roles. The nominee’s knowledge of her specialty and outstanding communication skills are exhibited in the education she provides to her orientees. Her leadership skills have been heightened over the last year when the department experienced massive nursing staff turnover. While working as a preceptor she also takes on other leadership roles in the unit such as triage and greet nurse on days she’s not precepting. As a preceptor, she continues to engage new staff not just by learning new skills; but also, proactively gauge their critical skills and challenge them to do so in critical situations and patient encounters. She does this with humility and “generosity of spirit” making her a preceptor that every orientee feels comfortable opening up with for her “no judgment” and nurturing attitude. She continues to be engaged in the unit as a member of the unit advisory committee and department advisory committee. She is an excellent mentor not only to the new staff that she comes to precept but to her peers. She is a role model for her professionalism and work ethics as demonstrated by her continued engagement in the department as an ultrasound guided IV trained nurse. She holds herself to a high professional standard in all that she does and advocates the same from those around her. Her attitude has always been linked with her desire to “do the right thing”. She is an advocate for professional development and her patients. She makes everyone around her a better nurse and is deserving of this award.

Nursing Education Award


  • Allison Helmerichs, MSN, RN, TNS, CEN, CHSE (Springfield Memorial Hospital)
  • Carol Tulley, MSN, RN, TNS, CEN, CPEN (Central DuPage Hospital)

Winner: Allison Helmerichs

She leads the department orientation task force. Her efforts have brought about significant culture change in our department over the past ten years. Transforming a department where many new staff left because they felt under prepared to practice in the ED to a supportive environment that is focused on safe patient care and continuous professional development. She has brought about a number of innovations from incorporating multi-disciplinary simulation into orientation to an 8hr preceptor development training. Her efforts have been highlighted in several poster and classroom presentations at both IL ENA and National ENA conferences. Most importantly she has become a mentor to numerous staff members. Both learners who have been guided by her through orientation as well as preceptors. I count myself lucky to be among those who have been mentored by this nominee her support has provided major momentum to my career.

EMS Award

Winner: Katie Smith, BSN, RN (Ascencion St Mary's and Elizabeth)

Katie Smith is defined as someone who thoroughly enjoys her position. She is extremely passionate about her relationships with EMS personnel, and it's proven by her high EMS satisfaction scores. She goes above and beyond not only organizing regional ECRN courses, but she also coordinates with the regional level to ensure we stay up-to-date with the latest trends with our EMS partnerships.

President's Award

Winner: Karen Battaglia, DNP, RN, CEN, TNCC, TNS

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