Awards & Grants

2011 NSGC Leadership Award Recipients

Natalie Weissberger Paul National Achievement Award Winner: Wendy R. Uhlmann

Read Wendy Uhlmann's Natalie Weissberger Paul Lifetime Achievement Award Address:   The Power of Connecting

The Natalie Weissberger Paul Lifetime Achievement Award is the most distinguished honor given by NSGC. This award honors one outstanding member who has served NSGC with exemplary national achievements and volunteer activities on behalf of NSGC and the profession. It is with great pleasure that I announce this year's recipient of the Natalie Weissberger Paul Lifetime Achievement Award, Wendy R. Uhlmann.

While reviewing the nominations for the Natalie Weissberger Paul Award, the Nominating Committee quickly realized that we all felt both honored yet under qualified to judge this set of applicants.  Summarizing the accomplishments of Wendy Uhlmann is inspiring and daunting at the same time.   Wendy has influenced the education and careers of so many genetic counselors and significantly contributed to our profession. We are honored to take this opportunity to say “thank you” for all she has given us. Wendy Uhlmann received her Bachelor's degree in Biology from Oberlin College in 1983 and her Master's degree in Human Genetics with a specialization in genetic counseling from the University of Michigan in 1987.  Prior to graduate school, she started her career in genetics at the microscope as a cytogenetics technologist at the University of Michigan .. Her first genetic counseling job was at Wayne State University in prenatal genetics.  Since 1993, she has served as Genetic Counselor and Clinic Coordinator of the Medical Genetics Clinic at the University of Michigan.  She has also served on the REVEAL Study (Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer's Disease) research team since 2007 Wendy is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the  Department of Human Genetics.  

Wendy serves on the Executive Faculty of University of Michigan's genetic counseling graduate program and has been actively involved in teaching, clinical supervision and mentoringresearch projects. . Her list of publications includes papers on prenatal genetics, predictive testing, genetic counseling, genetic susceptibility testing for Alzheimer's disease, direct-to-consumer genetic testing, ethical and genetics policy issues and integration of genetic services. And of course, as no genetic counseling student can forget, she has also been a co-editor of the book, “A Guide to Genetic Counseling.” 

Wendy served as NSGC President from 1999-2000 and had the honor of representing NSGC at President Clinton's signing of an Executive Order on Genetic Nondiscrimination and at the White House ceremony announcing the completion of the working draft of the human genome. Since her presidency, Wendy has continued to work nationally on genetics policy issues. She served on the SACGT (Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetic Testing) Work Groups on Test Classification and Informed Consent, as NSGC's liaison to the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research and currently serves on NCBI's (National Center for Biotechnology Information) Medical Genetics Working Group, which is providing input on the establishment of the Genetic Testing Registry. Wendy has served on the Board of Directors of the Genetic Alliance and on committees of the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) and American Society of Human Genetics. In 2011,, she was appointed to the ABGC Practice Based Competencies Review Task Force. She has also served on committees addressing genetics policy issues in the state of Michigan.

Throughout her career, Wendy has worked in almost every facet of NSGC and served on several committees including Chair of the Professional Issues Committee (1991-1993), Co-Chair of the 1995 Annual Education Conference, Chair of the Nominating Committee (2000-2001), Secretary of the Jane Engelberg Memorial Fellowship Advisory Group, member of the Access and Service Delivery Committee, to name a few, in addition to her term as President.  In recognition of her leadership and contributions, she received NSGC's Regional Leadership Award in 1996 and Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2009. Her dedication to this society shows other members what “Lifetime Achievement” really means.   One of her nominators put it best, “If Wendy hasn't done it, it ain't worth doin'.”  This description doesn't do her justice but it would take a lifetime just to summarize all of her accomplishments, which is exactly why she is so deserving of this award. 

Outstanding Volunteer Award: Amy Strum

The National Society of Genetic Counselors would not exist without the volunteer efforts of our members.  The success of our organization depends on the dedication of all NSGC members and their commitment to the growth and development of the genetic counseling profession. Each year we are honored to choose two individuals whose volunteer efforts are above and beyond anyones expectations.    Besides her many duties with her day job, our awardee has volunteered at the national level on multiple committees and projects since the time of her graduation.   Her colleagues described her as energetic, inspiring, and completely committed to each project.  She has committed many tasks that have been integral to the NSGC strategic plan and the growth of the organization.  I am pleased to announce the winner of the NSGC Outstanding Volunteer for 2011- Amy Strum.

Amy Strum received her bachelors degree in Biology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology from Baldwin-Wallace College in Ohio.  She received a Masters degree from Ohio State University in Molecular Pathology and her second Masters degree in Human Genetics from the University of Michigan in 2001.  She started her genetic counseling career working at the Children's Hospital in Columbus Ohio working primarily in the pediatric setting.  Since 2004, she has worked at Ohio State University providing genetic counseling services for adult genetics patients, with a focus on cardiovascular, cancer and other adult onset genetic conditions.  Amy wears multiple hats in her position, as the project leader of the OSUMC Center for Personalized Health Care, the Co-Director, of the OSUMC Center for Personalized Heath Care Virtual Genomics Clinic.  She is also currently involved in several research projects as the co-investigator or research coordinator including a new translational pharmacogenomics Project.

Paralling her career accomplishments, Amy has dedicated her time and talents to NSGC.   She has been an active member of NSGC since her graduation.  She has served as the co-founder and co-chair of the Cardiovascular Genetics Special Interest Group as well as co-chairing the National Annual Education Conference Short Course in Los Angeles in 2008 on Cardiovascular Genetics.   She is currently the Founding Member and Founding Co-Chair of the Personalized Medicine Special Interest Group.  She has been active on committees for the National Annual Education Conference and regional conferences. She is currently the Chair of the NSGC Communications Committee and was instrumental in leading the development of the new NSGC Website and branding campaign and the NSGC Discussion Forums.   In her spare time she is an as hoc reviewer for 5 journals as well as presenting on a local and national level. 

Outstanding Volunteer Award: Shanna Gustafson

After graduating from the Pittsburgh genetic counseling program in 2006, Shanna began her career in genetic counseling at the Cleveland Clinic Health system. She primarily provided comprehensive cancer genetic counseling for high-risk families and was a study coordinator for several cancer genetic research studies. She also supervised genetic counseling graduate students at the Case Western Reserve University program. Shanna currently works at the William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan and continues to provide clinical care as well as clinical supervision to the genetic counseling students at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan. In her relatively new role, she is helping to lead a project for increased incorporation of family health history use in a primary care setting targeting the underinsured and underserved populations of Detroit.

Paralleling her career accomplishments has been her dedication to her profession and the NSGC. She was a contributing co-author to a project that received the NSGC familial cancer SIG grant award for the “Evaluation of efficiency and reimbursement for genetic counseling services in traditional and novel service delivery models” in 2009. She was the guiding force, behind the development of the 2009 NSGC Educational Module "The 3 C's to Maximize your Service Delivery Model: Coding, Credentialing and Compliance!"  This was a tremendous endeavor.  Shortly after the launch of that first module, Shanna began leading the development of a 2nd online educational module, "Take Control of the Revenue You Generate: How to Become a Credentialed or Preferred Provider," which was launched in 2011. Shanna served as the vice-chair of the NSGC Access and Service Delivery Committee in 2011 and will serve as the Chair in 2012. Within the Access and Service Delivery Committee, Shanna also serves as chair of the coding sub-committee.

Shanna has also been an active member of the public health SIG since 2006 and led the development of the NSGC public health SIG student grant award program from 2008 to 2010. This program has provided funding for genetic counseling students thesis projects with a focus on public health since 2008. 

In 2011, Shanna was an invited representative of NSGC to the World Research Group Medical Policy and Molecular Diagnostics/ Genetic Testing Forum where she contributed to a presentation- "Quantifying and Evaluating the Benefits and Value of Genetic Counseling to Health Plans and Third Party Payers."  

Her colleagues have great things to say about Shanna, one of them wrote to us saying “I have yet to hear Shanna say "no" to any requests for additional contributions to NSGC.  Importantly, she delivers on what she agrees to get done!”

Strategic Leader Award: Cathy Wicklund

Cathy Wicklund has been involved in many areas of importance to the genetic counseling community, where she has consistently demonstrated an eye for new opportunities for our profession.  She was director of the University of Texas program and is currently the director of the Northwestern University program, where she makes an effort to expose students to multiple industries that could benefit from the contribution of genetic counselors.

Cathy has been involved in many areas of NSGC, including the board of directors as secretary and president; the executive, finance, and nominating committees; as well as multiple committees related to the AEC.  The list of national societies for which she has been a representative or committee member is extensive: the Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Translating Genomic-Based Research for Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development's Collaborative Research Meeting, the National Human Genome Research Institute's Physician Assistants and Genomic Medicine Meeting, the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Genomics National Conference on Genomics, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Genomics and Primary Care Workshop.

One of her nominators described Cathy as having “a clear vision of where we are going and well thought out and applicable, tangible plans [for] how to get there. She is not afraid to take risks, which is an important characteristic of a true strategic leader.”  We could not agree more and are honored to present her with the Strategic Leader Award. 

New Leader Award: Katie Dunn 

Since graduating from the University of Utah in 2008, Katie quickly met success as a genetic counselor and a member of NSGC. She began her career as a perinatal genetic counselor in the Department of Fetal Medicine at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, UT. By 2009, she was appointed faculty of the University of Utah's Genetic Counseling Training Program. She was actively participating in lectures and seminars for the Utah program, teaching various classes and supervising students. She led the development of a collaborative program for students who want to shadow as they are exploring the field. In 2010, she was hired as a genetic counseling consultant to Lineagen, Inc. where she assists in developing information for patients and other employees, as well as offers input when genetics-related issues arise. In March of this year, she began a new role as an adult genetic counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs National Genomic Medicine Service. As a member of NSGC, she co-chaired the Student/New Member SIG from 2009 to 2010. During this time, she led the creation of several task forces within the SIG including an outreach task force, which presented information about genetic counseling to college and high school students, a website task force, aimed at making the prospective student section of the NSGC webpage more applicable, and an EBS task force which developed an AEC breakout session discussing study methods and tips from recent exam takers.

She is currently a member of the Education and Membership committees. With the education committee she co-chaired the online course working group, this year focusing on genomics and she was recently asked to be a part of the 2012 AEC planning subcommittee. As a member of the Membership committee, she volunteered to take on the daunting task of coordinating the Student/New Member Orientation session for this year's AEC. To summarize, as one of her nominators wrote, “Katie brings creative ideas, knowledge, a can-do attitude, a willingness and an ability to gently educate everyone. Katie is a powerful representative of our profession.” 

New Leader Award: Kate Wilson

After receiving her BS in Zoology at North Carolina State University, Kate Wilson continued her education at University of South Carolina where she received her MS in Genetic Counseling.  Following graduation, Kate accepted a position in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School, where she is a genetic counselor and faculty member in the Genetic Counseling Graduate Program.  As such, she provides clinical supervision of the UT Genetic Counseling Program students as well as facilitating the prenatal rotation, lecturing, and serving on Thesis committees.  She is primarily a prenatal genetic counselor, but identified a need for cancer genetic counseling in her geographic area and created her own cancer clinics to fill this need.  In addition, she created a support group for patients who terminated a pregnancy due to a prenatal diagnosis.
Kate has been very involved in the Texas Society of Genetic Counselors.  She has served on the Needs Assessment Committee, followed by a two year term as vice president and now on the legislative affairs committee.   She has assisted licensure efforts, co-written a policy manual for TSGC, and overseen the development of a new website. In addition she worked closely with the president to create a strategic plan for the organization and action items for the committees.

Kate has been actively involved in NSGC since her first year as a genetic counseling student.  Over the past two years as the Prenatal SIG Co-chair, I have had the pleasure of working with Kate, first as chair of the Research and Publications Committee Chair and now as my SIG Co-Chair.  During her tenure as Research and Publications Committee Chair, Kate established protocols for applying for SIG sponsorship of projects and submitting SIG approved practice guidelines.  Kate is the primary author on a practice guideline for NSGC entitled “Practice Guidelines for Prenatal Screening and Diagnostic Testing Options for Chromosome Aneuploidy: Recommendations of the National Society of Genetic Counselors”, which is currently under review.    This year Kate is coordinating an EBS entitled “New Technologies in Pre-Implantation Genetic Screening with In Vitro Fertilization” at this conference.

Kate is also a member of the Cancer SIG and served on the Educational Breakout Session Committee for the 2008 AEC.  
During her short years as a genetic counselor, Kate's passion has allowed her to make lasting contributions to her patients, her students, and to us - her colleagues.  I am honored to present Kate with her New Leader Award and am looking forward to watching her continued success in NSGC in the future.

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