Awards & Grants

2010 NGSC Leadership Award Recipients

Natalie Weissberger Paul National Achievement Award Winner: Bonnie Baty

During the awards selection process, a committee member observed that selecting the recipient of the Natalie Weissberger Paul Award is like choosing between diamonds. Each one is special, a rare and valuable individual in the field of genetic counseling, making the selection process a challenging one. The 2010 Natalie Weissberger Paul recipient, Bonnie Jeanne Baty, is an especially bright diamond, whose lifetime of accomplishments and contributions to the field of genetic counseling and to NSGC clearly stand out among the rest.  Bonnie is a pioneer in the field of genetic counseling. She received her genetic counseling degree in 1973 from Rutgers University and shortly thereafter began an almost 37 year career at the University of Utah, first as a research associate and genetic counselor and then as the Program Director for the University of Utah Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling. She is a Professor of Pediatrics and an Adjunct Professor in the College of Nursing. Bonnie's professional achievements and contributions are vast in all arenas including clinical, academic, and research. She established genetic counseling services at the University of Utah for perinatal, clinical, and metabolic genetics; for families with hemophilia, retinoblastoma and Huntington disease; and for cancer genetic counseling in a research setting.   She has authored 28 peer-reviewed journal articles, written seven book chapters (two that were published this year alone!), and edited two seminar editions of the American Journal of Medical Genetics.  Her areas of research include genetic counseling practice, the natural history of genetic conditions, and cancer genetics research.  Of course, for someone as passionate about genetic counseling as Bonnie, being a counselor, professor, program director, and author is certainly not enough.

In addition to these responsibilities, she has been an active leader within the NSGC. She has been a member of the NSGC since it was formed in 1979 and since then has served as Chair of the Logistics Committee, a member of the Nominating Committee, a Region V representative, a Board of Director for the JEMF, a member of the Scope of Practice Task Force, and a Region V education conference co-organizer. She has presented at both regional and national meetings. Her contributions were recognized in 1996 when she received the NSGC Region V Leadership Award.  Bonnie believes in leading by example and her leadership within NSGC speaks for itself. She also believes in the mission and vision of NSGC and is an advocate for membership. Within the first few days of coursework her counseling students are introduced to NSGC as their professional organization. They are taught the history and application of the Code of Ethics and the importance of professional growth and development as a genetic counselor within NSGC.  In addition, to work with NSGC, Bonnie is also a member of the American Society of Human Genetics, Transnational Alliance for Genetic Counseling and the Association of Genetic Counseling Program Directors, for which she is the current Recruitment Workgroup Chair. Her passion for education of genetic counselors, other health professionals and the community at large, is evident from her CV (which reads like a university course manual!). As a professor and program director, she has developed and directed nine different clinical genetics and genetic counseling courses. She has served on many professional and scientific committees and given lectures at local schools and for parent and community groups. She is a Charter Member of the American Board of Genetic Counseling and has served as an ABGC Accreditation Chair. Yes, Bonnie, you are truly a rare, sparkling diamond among us. An individual who nominated Bonnie summarized it best: “Bonnie is a true advocate for our organization. She upholds the mission and visions of the society in all of her professional interactions and volunteer work, as well as in her teaching of future genetic counselors…I believe that recognizing lifetime contributions to the society and profession are due.” We can't agree more. It is with great honor we award the 2010 Natalie Weissberger Paul Award to Bonnie Baty. Please join me in congratulating her.

International Leader Award Winner: Rawan I. Awwad

Rawan was born and raised in the cities of Jerusalem and Ramallah. After finishing high school she moved to the United States for higher education. She graduated in 1998 from Earlham College in Indiana with a BA in Biology and minors in psychology and chemistry. In 2001 she received a MS in Genome Science and Technology at The University of Tennessee. She then went on to complete her MS in genetic counseling at the University of Minnesota in 2006 followed by a publication in the Journal of Genetic Counseling titled “Culture and Acculturation Influences on Palestinian Perceptions of Prenatal Genetic Counseling” relating to her MS thesis work. After completing her education, Rawan moved to San Francisco to provide prenatal genetic counseling services, and after two years she returned to the Palestinian Territories and Jerusalem. She has been a member of NSGC since 2005 and recently started working on the Communications Committee. She has served as a reviewer for the Journal of Genetic Counseling since 2008. What is most impressive about Rawan is what she has accomplished in a region with very difficult political and cultural challenges in such a short time. Upon returning to Jerusalem in 2008, Rawan volunteered at a main clinical genetics center in the city which serves both Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews. She was the first Arabic-speaking genetic counselor, and managed several genetic counseling cases with geneticists who previously resorted to translators to communicate with patients. After achieving licensure by the Israeli Board of Clinical Genetics she was granted a position. Since early 2009 Rawan has expanded GC services to include Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza who, due to the current political situation, cannot enter Jerusalem without special permits that are often hard to obtain.

Rawan made GC services available to them remotely and/or in-person by travelling to their cities of residence. She also coordinated their genetic testing process by transferring their blood samples back to the hospital. At the end of 2009, Rawan volunteered with a newly formed Palestinian genetics center which aims to provide genetic and metabolic testing services to Palestinians in the West Bank. She created an educational brochure on “Genetic counseling in prenatal care” that was distributed widely among obstetrics and gynecologists to raise awareness and increase referral. She also prepared lectures and training material on GC that aim to raise awareness among nurses, doctors, and social workers. In June of 2010, she participated as a lecturer in the first workshop on genetic counseling at Al-Quds University, Abu Dies, Palestine. During Rawan's work in the past 2 years she identified several ethical and social issues involving Arab patients that were shared with other professionals through conferences and meetings at various cities such as Haifa, Ramallah, and Geneva. In May, 2010, she was invited to share her experience with counseling consanguineous Arab families at the International Workshop on Consanguinity, Geneva. The workshop concluded with several working papers that aim to address issues of GC on consanguinity. Outside of work, Rawan enjoys running, swimming, and travelling to different countries to learn about other cultures and cuisines. She has been active in dialogue workshops between Israelis and Palestinians which aim to increase awareness on the thoughts, struggles, and lives of individuals from "the other side." She believes that the two populations have completely different narratives on the history and reality of the current political situation. Although these workshops will most likely not bring a solution to the complex and painful struggle between Palestinians and Israelis, Rawan believes that knowledge and understanding of the other side is a power that will eventually bring change. It goes without saying that Rawan has been an incredible advocate for her patients and continues to strive to bring genetic services to populations otherwise without access. She demonstrates the very best of genetic counseling with her dedication and compassion for the people, particularly women, of Palestine. She continues to be an active member of the genetic counseling community. 

International Leader Award Winner: Janice G. Edwards

The International Leader Award is bestowed upon an individual whose contributions to the profession have reached an international scope. This includes such activities as expanding the reach of genetic counseling services outside the United States; significant contribution to educating international lay and healthcare communities on genetic counseling; and significant contribution to research involving genetic counseling in an international venue. Our next recipient of this award has performed all of these activities many times over. In fact, as the Awards Committee was reviewing nominations, a committee member said, “Seriously, she hasn't received this award? With everything she's done, I just figured she had.” Please join me in thanking Janice Edwards for her international leadership and congratulating her for this well deserved award. Janice's record of accomplishment within the global genetic counseling community is distinguished and influential. I imagine that many of you are familiar with the Transnational Alliance for Genetic Counseling, which fosters communication and collaboration among genetic counselor educators throughout the world. As Founding President of the TAGC, Janice incorporated the alliance and chaired TAGC meetings in Manchester, Barcelona, and more recently, Gothenburg, Sweden. This is no small feat, considering the inaugural meeting gathered genetic counseling educators from 18 countries and included the 15 professional organizations in the world that represent genetic counselors. Janice continues to lead the board of directors and manage the TAGC website, which links international genetic counseling programs and professional societies; this website (http://tagc.med.sc.edu) is a great resource for our now global profession. Janice's work in advancing international collaboration includes other service as well, as former Chair of the ABGC's Ad Hoc Committee on International Genetic Counseling Education and as a member of the NSGC's International Service Providers Committee. She has given professional talks in China and Australia. And, as the Director of the Genetic Counseling Program at the University of South Carolina, Janice has educated international students and coordinated clinical rotations abroad for several graduate student – her students, other North American students, and students from programs on other continents as they seek international experiences. It is clear that the potential in transnational collaboration is enormous. 

Strategic Leader Award Winner: Angela Trepanier

Angela Trepanier wears many hats. She is the director of the Wayne State University Genetic Counseling Graduate Program. She is a board member for the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics and a founding board member of the Genetic Counseling Foundation. 

She is currently the NSGC appointed liaison to the NHGRI's G2C2 project. She has been a liaison to the Coalition for accessible family history tools and a liaison for the task force on the evolving role of the medical geneticist. She has served on many NSGC committees, including Communications and AEC planning. She helped found the Michigan Association of Genetic Counselors, took part in a workgroup on NBS and helped plan a conference for Genetics in Primary Care. She has a longstanding record of doing community outreach, speaking at career fairs, in schools and national conferences.  She has given many interviews on the role of genetics in health to a wide variety of media sources including Self Magazine, Parents.com, The Advocate, the los Angeles times, and the catchy Pharmacogenomics Reporter. She probably holds the record for longest serving on the NSGC Board of Directors-7 years! The ways in which Angie has contributed to the promotion of the NSGC are almost too numerous to count. The foundation of her work has been her tireless service on the NSGC board of directors, especially during the transition to the new leadership model.   She has been a clear, articulate voice for genetics/genetic counseling both within the medical community (her work with the G2C2 project), policy makers (all of her presidential work), and the lay public (as the formal presidential face of the NSGC). Without her vision and energy, the NSGC's growth in the late 2000's would not have been the same. It goes without saying that Angie has contributed a tremendous amount to NSGC's strategic planning for over more than a decade. Her contributions in virtually all areas of NSGC's strategic plan has enabled NSGC to move forward in becoming recognized as a thought leader in genetics/genomics. She is very deserving of this award/recognition.

New Leader Award Winner: Bronson Riley

A few years after graduating from University of Nebraska with a dual major in English and Education Bronson began his work as a registry coordinator and genetic research associate for Henry Lynch, M.D. at the Hereditary Cancer Institute at Creighton University.   It was through his work at the institute Bronson became interested in the field of genetic counseling.  He received his Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Case Western Reserve University in 2006.   After graduating, he started the genetic counseling program at the Southeast Nebraska Cancer Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. He currently sees patients for hereditary risk assessment, genetic counseling, and genetic testing. He is also a research assistant in the Center's department of clinical research. Bronson's contributions to NSGC in the last five years are countless.  Currently Bronson serves as the as the Practice Issues Subcommittee Co-chair for the Familial Cancer Risk Counseling Special Interest Group, as well as being an active member of the communication committee, membership committee and genetic counseling access and service delivery committee.  He has previously participated in the NSGC Core Skills Task Force.  If his contributions to NSGC weren't enough, Bronson also serves as the chair of the Genetic Counseling State Licensure Committee for Nebraska and was just elected as the upcoming co-chair of ABGC's Genetic Counseling Certification Exam Committee. One would assume with this number of responsibilities that Bronson would be limited in the amount of time and energy he could afford to give to each project, but that is not the case.  Instead Bronson takes on more and more tasks and brings endless amount of energy and enthusiasm that inspires others around him to do more.  In Bronson's own words “NSGC has given so much to me I feel a need to give back.” His tireless service and eagerness to volunteer is why he is so deserving of the New Leader award.  

Outstanding Volunteer Award Winner: Susan Hahn

When writing about Susan Hahn, one of her nominators stated a common theme for those who have had the pleasure to work with her, " I amazed by her energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to NSGC and its projects. " To say that Susan is an tireless worker on behalf of the NSGC is an understatement. Just in 2010, she has been the Vice-chair of the Public Policy Committee, co-chair of the Public Health SIG, and a member of the practice guidelines committee of the American College of Medical Genetics.  And her work on behalf of the NSGC in 2010 is by no means an deviation from the norm for Susan. In the past, she has also chaired the Practice Guideline Subcommittee and the Research Sub-Committee. She has contributed to a variety of continuing education programs for NSGC including Co-chairing the NSGC Annual Education Conference in 2005 and the Research Short Course in 2004.  Related to this, she also either chaired or co-chaired the NSGC AEC Communications Committee (2002), EBS Committee (2004), and Abstract Committee (2001), and participated in an EBS on the Genetics of Cardiovascular Disease (2001).  Over the years in Susan's "spare time" she has served in many professional roles. After completing her graduate degree at Brandeis University in 1996, Susan began her genetic counseling career with a private clinical genetics laboratory with both clinical and administrative responsibilities. In 1998, she became a study coordinator at the Center for Human Genetics at Duke University for GENECARD, an international study aimed at identifying the genetic factors that contribute to early onset coronary artery disease.  After almost 10 years at Duke University, she was recruited to a faculty position at the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in 2007 where she is currently the Assistant Director of Communications, Compliance, and Ethics.  Needless to say, as an employee and a volunteer Susan seems to always be on the cutting edge of the genetic counseling profession. Susan has a gift of getting to the heart of an issue, identifying what needs to happen to move it along... and most of all getting it done (and motivating others to the same).She always has ideas to do things better and has incredible insight to many difficult, complex issues that come before the various committees and SIGs she is involved with.  It would be hard to say enough about Susan's generous spirit to friends, colleagues, the profession of genetic counseling and the NSGC. 

Outstanding Volunteer Award Winner: Shannan Delaney-Dixon 

Shannan DeLany Dixon has a long volunteer history with NSGC. She has been involved in all facets of the Annual Education Conference, including as a member of the Program Committee in 2000-2001, a member of the Mini-Course Committee in 2001-2002, co-chair of the Abstract Committee in 2001-2003, co-chair of the Educational Breakout Session Committee in 2002-2004, vice-chair for the 2009 meeting, and chair for the 2010 meeting. Shannan was the NSGC state representative from Georgia for a number of years and currently is a CEU evaluator.   She has also been a member of a number of advisory boards and committees outside of NSGC, including her current membership on the New York Mid Atlantic Consortium for Genetic and Newborn Screening Services Committee for Genetic Education of Primary Care Physicians.  Shannan has been the Director of the Genetic Counseling Training Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine since 2004. In addition to being an instructor for many courses, she has mentored students as a clinical rotation supervisor and has been a member of a number of students' thesis committees. She also instructs medical, nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students. Shannan has extensive clinical experience in many areas of genetic counseling and medicine, which has translated into numerous poster presentations at society meetings and platform presentations at ACMG and ASHG. She has been an invited speaker for many organizations' meetings, including the Susan G Komen Maryland Annual Symposium.  Shannan has continuously dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to volunteer work for NSGC. When she was informed that she received this award, her first question was, “is there anything I can do to help?” As one of her nominators stated, “Shannan DeLany Dixon exemplifies an outstanding leader of the National Society of Genetic Counselors and is deserving of this recognition” as Outstanding Volunteer.

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