UC College of Nursing
Torch Awards

For three decades, the Florence Nightingale Awards for Excellence in Nursing brought the Greater Cincinnati community together to recognize and celebrate outstanding nurses who go above and beyond to provide exceptional patient care. To create opportunities to celebrate and honor other nursing leaders through history and allow for further insight and a richer understanding of the nursing profession, the awards were renamed Torch of Excellence Nursing Awards.

Torch Award recipients

Photo: Malinda Hartong

View photos from the 2024 Torch of Excellence Nursing Awards celebration.

Nominate a Nurse

Do you know an outstanding nurse in the Greater Cincinnati region who deserves recognition? We're accepting nominations for our 2025 Torch of Excellence Nursing Awards in the individual and team-leading nurse categories.

Join Us to Celebrate

Details to come for the 2025 celebration.

Recognize Excellence

Beyond their reputation for compassion and dedication, nurses are highly specialized professionals, constantly evolving with patient and population needs and advancements in education and research. The annual Torch of Excellence Nursing Awards recognize and celebrate outstanding individual and team-leading nurses in the Greater Cincinnati region who combine these traits to raise the bar for patients and the profession.

Provide Opportunities

As the nursing profession faces substantial challenges — an aging U.S. population that requires more complex care, a large contingent of nurses reaching retirement age, unacceptable levels of health inequity exacerbated by the pandemic — attracting, retaining and graduating a diverse nursing workforce is paramount to ensure equitable care for all. Funds raised at the annual Torch of Excellence Nursing Awards celebration support scholarships for students of underrepresented and/or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Pass the Torch

As part of the annual Torch of Excellence Nursing Awards celebration, we honor nurse leaders throughout history who who boldly reinvented and reinvigorated the way health professionals provide care, igniting and stoking the flame for the nursing profession. Each Torch of Excellence Nursing Award recipient is a present-day advocate for patients and the nursing profession and symbolically preserves and passes along this flame by improving lives and inspiring others in the local community.

Igniting the Flame

Luther Christman (1915 – 2011)

Luther Christman

The 2024 Torch of Excellence Nursing Awards celebration highlights Luther Christman, PhD, RN, FAAN, an American nurse, professor of nursing, university administrator and advocate for gender and racial diversity in nursing. His career included multiple terms serving as president of the Michigan Nurses Association, service with the Michigan Department of Mental Health and academic posts at several reputable universities.

A strong supporter for the recruitment of male nurses and the first man to hold the position of dean at a nursing school, Christman overcame gender discrimination during his own education – he was refused admission to two university nursing programs because he was male and, as a nursing student, was denied a maternity clinical rotation.

Throughout his nursing career that spanned 65 years, Christman was a champion for improving professional nursing practice and elevating the educational level of the nursing profession. He also helped establish the National Male Nurse Association, which later became the American Association for Men in Nursing.

2024 Awardees

Carrie Goddard-Roaden

Carrie Goddard-Roaden, BSN, RN
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Carrie Goddard-Roaden has a resume rich in accomplishments and honors. But the most powerful insights about her come from the patients and families she serves as Care Manager in the Complex Care Center (CCC) at Cincinnati Children’s. Described as “reassuring, supportive, and encouraging,” by one parent, she is also lauded for her ability to advocate for patients, anticipate their needs, and alleviate the stress and anxiety of families caring for a child with chronic and complex medical conditions. “Carrie has helped my family create incredible memories,” states a family member. Whether she is appealing for insurance benefits, connecting a family with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, or arranging a child’s coveted visit from Santa, Goddard-Roaden uses her communication, networking, and nursing expertise to help patients achieve their healthcare goals. She has worked to improve and streamline processes in the CCC and guides new care managers as well. “It is often said that there is not a question that Carrie can’t answer,” states her manager. Goddard-Roaden serves on the Board of Directors for the local chapter of the Case Manager Society of America (CMSA), which named her Case Manager of the Year in 2022. She also co-chairs the Care Management Practice Council and Peer-to-Peer Council at CCHMC and was nominated for CHMC’s Susan R. Allen Excellence in Leadership Award in 2021.

Apelete Sani

Apelete Sani, BSN, RN
Cincinnati VA Medical Center

Described by a co-worker as “one of the most outstanding nurses I have had the pleasure of working with,” Apelete (AP) Sani is devoted to easing the discomfort of the veterans he serves, especially those who suffer from PTSD. With a passion for knowledge and a gift for putting families at ease during difficult situations, Sani is praised for alleviating the fear of patients and enhancing their safety, not only through his skill and competent care, but through his advocacy for alternatives to restraints to defuse challenging inpatient situations. Sani became interested in nursing while working as a registered medical assistant in a community-based clinic. He became a registered nurse in 2015 and joined the Cincinnati VA in 2016. He is now a trained preceptor for student nurses and those new to the VA Medical Center. Sani has served on a variety of hospital-wide committees, including one that implemented music therapy (VetTunes) and another that implemented the brief Confusion Assessment Method (Bcam) to detect and treat hospital delirium among elderly patients. When Sani isn’t caring for veterans, he represents the United Mission to Africa (UMA), the nonprofit he founded to provide humanitarian assistance to rural clinics in his native Togo in West Africa. UMA’s first medical mission team, composed primarily of nurses, is scheduled for October 2024.

Corinn Taylor

Corinn Taylor, EdD, MSN, BSN
The Empowerment Foundation

Dr. Corinn Taylor has a mission to empower and inspire the Black community, particularly Black women, by providing resources and support to help individuals become the best versions of themselves, explains an admirer. For 26 years, Taylor has served the community as a nurse, healthcare leader, and entrepreneur. She has worked in a variety of settings and been instrumental in the creation of numerous community programs and services, including a safe sleep program at the Cincinnati Health Department and other Ohio programs that address breastfeeding, prenatal, postpartum, and newborn needs. As founder and CEO of The Empowerment Foundation and the Dr. Corinn brand, she oversees a variety of initiatives, from mentorship programs and educational workshops to community events. The Empowerment Foundation was awarded two grants in 2023 that focus on listening to the voices of pregnant and postpartum black women in Hamilton County, notes a friend. Taylor’s book, _The Journey to Self-Discovery: Tapping into your Inner Power and Purpose, was published in 2020. A frequent speaker and presenter at health forums, Taylor has also garnered a long list of accolades and awards, including Realizing Our Promise Community Leader Award (2022), TriHealth Working Mother of the Year Award (2013) through _Working Mother Magazine and Nurse Researcher of the Year Award (2012), presented by the Northern Kentucky Nursing Research Collaborative.

Julie Dversdall

Julie Dversdall, MSN, APRN, CPNP
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

For seven years, pediatric nurse practitioner Julie Dversdall has served the children and families that visit the growing CHECK (Comprehensive Health Evaluations for Cincinnati Kids) Foster Care Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. And for the last four years, Dversdall has led the team at CHECK-IN, the CHECK-Interagency Nursing Program responsible for coordinating the care of more than 6,000 children annually. She moves “seamlessly” between Cincinnati Children’s and Children’s Services, a division of Hamilton County Job & Family Services (HCJFS), notes a colleague. Described by coworkers as “the perfect combination of medical expertise and trauma-informed social worker,” Dversdall is praised for her “kind and compassionate presence,” her professionalism, “calm and empathetic manner,” and her willingness to share expertise. She frequently responds to calls beyond routine work hours and is available for consultation “at all hours of the night,” states HCJFS’s Children’s Services Section Chief. Her collaborative spirit is evident as she facilitates training sessions and provides guidance to parents and caseworkers. From Dversdall, “we have learned grace and understanding, and she is a role model in demonstrating these abilities on a daily basis,” notes a colleague. Cincinnati Children’s named Dversdall the winner of the Carol McKenzie Award for Excellence in Advanced Practice Nursing in 2023.

Steve Rogers

Steve Rogers, MSN, PNP-AC
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Pediatric ICU nurse practitioner Steve Rogers is a “quiet, strong leader” who puts as much effort into managing the staff and complex operations of the PICU as charge nurse as he does in caring for the children and families he serves. Notes the Clinical Director of the PICU, Rogers “comes to work every day to give 110 percent regardless of the role he is filling.” Multiple parents recount how his calm presence put them at ease during stressful times, noting how he checked on their child even when he was working elsewhere in the hospital and remarking that his attention to detail and devotion to their child’s well-being helped them cope with the multitude of procedures, equipment, and medication in the PICU. “We wouldn’t have been able to get through those first couple days if it wasn’t for Steve caring for our child and us as a family,” states a grateful parent. A nurse since 2011, Rogers has a hands-on style and the ability to bring “tranquility” to families during their most difficult days. He is also credited by staff for being approachable and for “incorporating coaching and mentoring while assisting with patient care.” Rogers will soon transition to become one of the PICU’s Advance Practice Providers and will continue to provide expertise and leadership to the PICU team in his new role, says a colleague.

Andrea Thomas

Andrea Thomas, DNP, FNP-C
UC Health

As lead advanced practice provider at UC Health in Neurosurgery, Andrea Thomas works primarily with patients who have experienced traumatic brain injury (TBI). She is known for her soothing presence, says a co-worker, and is credited with easing the anxiety of a patient population that requires delicate care. Such compassion, and her decision to embrace nursing as a vocation, comes from her experience as a patient herself years ago. “I realized the direct impact my bedside nurse had on me and my day, how her kind words, patience, and small gestures like holding my hand helped me fight through the pain and suffering,” Thomas explains. In addition to being a certified neuroscience registered nurse (CNRN) and a certified brain injury specialist (CBIS), Thomas has earned multiple degrees in nursing and received a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from the University of Cincinnati in 2021. She is actively involved in research and quality improvement initiatives as well. “Her leadership and dedication to her role make me want to be a better nurse,” writes her colleague. Thomas is also founding member and secretary of African American Ambassadors of Excellence in Advance Practice Nursing, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing leadership, empowerment, mentorship and education to the African American Nurse Practitioner.

Danielle Wessel

Danielle Wessel, MSN, RN
Mercy Health Clermont

As nurse manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation at Mercy Health Clermont, Danielle Wessel is recognized for her initiative, whether she is seeking innovative techniques to enhance the department’s capabilities or establishing a therapeutic support group to help program graduates maintain their progress. One colleague recounts how Wessel worked with other healthcare professionals to create the Better Breathers Club for pulmonary rehab patients to share their experiences, challenges, and successes. The Better Breathers Club has become a comprehensive and successful program that addresses “not only the physical aspects of pulmonary health but also the emotional and psychological well-being of the members,” explains a coworker. Described as a “true visionary,” Wessel is lauded for fostering “a positive and inclusive work environment where ideas are shared, teamwork is encouraged, and everyone’s contributions are valued.” She continues to develop her knowledge in the field as she pursues her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and works toward obtaining advanced certification through the American Lung Association. In her personal life, Wessel demonstrates the same compassion and initiative, particularly evident when she adopted a large family for Christmas and raised more than a thousand dollars to give them a joyous holiday, notes an admirer.

Margot Daugherty

Margot Daugherty, MSN, Med, RN, CEN
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

Margot Daugherty joined Cincinnati Children’s in 2005 as a trauma educator and immediately set about developing the first-in-the-nation Trauma Core Nursing (TCN) Team. Named Clinical Trauma Program Director in 2021, she continues to lead and mentor the hospital’s Trauma Advanced Practice Providers as well as current and past trauma care nurses who have advanced to leadership roles. Described as compassionate and non-judgmental, Daughtery is a clear communicator and a “relentless advocate for nurses.” She is “seen as a leader by all disciplines,” states a colleague. Her accomplishments are vast. She has spearheaded multidisciplinary team simulation-based training, streamlined communication during high-stress situations, and served as faculty instructor for multiple trauma courses. She leads the Multiple Resuscitation Process, which provides structure during a mass casualty event, and her efforts implemented “Stop the Bleed” kits across Cincinnati Children’s campuses. And while Daugherty strives for improvement at CCHMC, her influence stretches throughout the city and far beyond as she collaborates with local adult trauma centers to ensure pediatric readiness, works to improve state trauma care and, together with her own trauma team, partners with hospitals worldwide (particularly in the Netherlands and Poland) as they work to establish pediatric trauma centers modeled after Cincinnati Children’s. Daugherty is a member of the Ohio Society of Trauma Nurse Leaders (OSTNL) and has held leadership positions within the Pediatric Trauma Society (PTS).

2024 Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

  • UC Health

Gold Sponsor

  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center
  • Mercy Health

Silver Sponsor

  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare
  • The Christ Hospital Health Network
  • Trihealth

Bronze Sponsors

  • Cincinnati Magazine
  • Maple Knoll Village

For details on event sponsorship, contact Matt Pearce, assistant vice president of development for UC's Academic Health Center colleges, at 513-558-5386 or matt.pearce@uc.edu.

Individual Award Nominees

  • Veronika Astapenko
  • Anne Auberger
  • Angela Baehr
  • Ciara Baker
  • Brittany Ballinger
  • Matt Bartley
  • Kelli Beecher
  • Jessica Benedict
  • Mary Berwanger
  • Kara Boles
  • Lisa Bosley
  • Lisa Bowman
  • Nicole Burns
  • Melissa Campbell
  • Arielle Carson
  • Mya Carter
  • Marie Choate
  • Suzanne Clepper
  • Marissa Collins
  • Melissa Corso
  • Miranda Coyle
  • Jessica Crowe
  • Sarah Dakin
  • Rebekah Davidson
  • Aaliyah Davis
  • Kaitlin Dixon
  • Candace Donell
  • Lisa Duguid
  • Julie Dversdall
  • Mallory Edwards
  • Molly Egnot
  • John Fahey
  • Kameelah Faulkner
  • Amy Fink
  • JoAnn Fisher
  • Kirk Fisher
  • Karen Fox
  • Shannon Freimuth
  • Katherine Fruhling
  • Vicky Gass
  • Carrie Goddard-Roaden
  • Sarah Greenlee
  • Jamee Groneck
  • Katrina Harrill
  • Brandi Harris
  • Michelle Heitzman
  • Noel Helton
  • Megan Lynn Henley
  • Danielle Hetteberg
  • Lauren Hice
  • Rebecca Hickman
  • Cynthia Hinkle
  • Dajia Hooks
  • Lorraine Hughes
  • Cora Hurdle
  • Lisa Jackson
  • Sasha Jenkins
  • Carrie Jennings
  • Ellie Jordan
  • Sean Kathman
  • Julia Keeling
  • Erica Kirk
  • Kyla Kirk
  • Kathleen Knizner
  • Tina Koch
  • Emily Kraft
  • Julie Krieger
  • Lauren Kruso
  • Patrick Lammers
  • Meryll Langford-Thomas
  • Derrick Lykins
  • Glenn Maddy
  • Gabrielle Marcheschi
  • Dr. Debra Mardis
  • Emily McCarthy
  • Laura Mcgee
  • Kristen McSorley
  • Aubrey Melko
  • Liz Messer
  • Chantia Miller
  • Beverly Miller
  • Emilie Moore
  • Sarah Morejon
  • Lisa Moton
  • Chelsea Myers
  • Sue Nickoson
  • Laurence Nkurunziza
  • Deborah Overly
  • Tyler Parsons
  • Ashley Paul
  • Jill Perry
  • Christopher Pinkerton
  • Elizabeth Praust
  • Jeannie Puckett
  • Ronda Purdin
  • Katherine Rich
  • Steve Rogers
  • Amy Roll
  • Felicia Rose
  • Hannah Ruehlman
  • Lissa Rullman
  • Apelete Sani
  • Aby Schaper
  • Jean Schott
  • Allyson Schulte
  • Kathleen Shade
  • Chelsey Shelton
  • Bianca Sidoti
  • Natalie Slavik
  • Roddale Smith
  • Joy Sowders
  • Joey Speigel
  • Ashley Sperling
  • Michelle Stacy
  • Heather Stevens
  • Bonnie Stewart
  • Sheila Sullivan
  • Krystal Sumner
  • Andrea Thomas
  • Angela Trigg
  • Vanessa Vonderhaar-Picard
  • Joan Vonkorff
  • Olivia Voskuhl
  • Matthew Watson
  • Jeffrey Weigand
  • Paige Weimer
  • Shannon Weinstein
  • Lexie Weithman
  • Olivia Wellbrock
  • Danielle Wessel
  • Stephanie Whitt
  • Jennifer Williams
  • Sarah Williams
  • Beth Wills
  • Carolyn "CJ" Wilson
  • Rebecca Wilson
  • Ellen Wittekind
  • Rebecca Wood
  • Levi Yager

Team Award Nominees

  • Amber Antoni
  • Shannon Asbach
  • Maria Ashdown
  • Sarah Barwell
  • Lyndsey Bengal
  • Kyle Coorey
  • Karen Daniel
  • Margot Daugherty
  • Julie Dversdall
  • Lori Fey
  • Lisa Hachey
  • Kenna Halter
  • Erin Kennedy
  • Terri King
  • Katie McDonald
  • Melenie Meyers
  • Amanda Miller
  • Melody Moss
  • Angela Mullins
  • Trisha Ofstedal
  • Amanda Olding
  • Connie Palakodeti
  • Sheila Palmer
  • Jill Panko
  • Kathleen Pember
  • Trena Pistolesi Sanchez
  • Amy Plapp
  • Ashlry Powell
  • Karen Rasso
  • Chantal Robinson-Gibbs
  • Katherine Schadler
  • Brian Schumacher
  • Heather Scroggins
  • Kristen Steinle