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Eighth-Annual NightinGala Celebrates Nursing

Zenobia Harris, DNP, right, received the Dr. John W. Runyan, Jr., Community Nursing Award for her work with the Arkansas Birthing Project during the 2024 NightinGala May 3. College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, said the annual event is a chance to honor the nursing profession in the community.

About 250 people celebrated nursing on May 3 at the eighth-annual NightinGala and Nurse Hero Awards. The program was presented by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing at the Great Hall and Conference Center in Germantown.

The college hosts the event each year to launch the celebration of National Nurses Week, May 6-12. WMC News Anchor Joe Birch emceed the awards program, and UT Health Science Center Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD, also attended and spoke at the event.

“We consider it a privilege to offer this event each year to honor excellent nurses in our own community and to recognize the importance of the nursing profession in all communities,” said College of Nursing Dean Wendy Likes, PhD, DNSc, APRN-BC, FAANP, FAAN.  

Event sponsors included St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Baptist Memorial Health Care, Regional One Health, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, and West Cancer Center and Research Institute.

Zenobia Harris, DNP, MPH, BSN, of Little Rock, Ark., received the Dr. John W. Runyan, Jr., Community Nursing Award for her work with the Arkansas Birthing Project. Established in 1979, the Runyan Award recognizes a registered nurse practicing in Tennessee, Mississippi, or Arkansas, who has made significant contributions to the development and promotion of community health nursing. Dr. Harris is the executive director of the Arkansas Birthing Project and a retired public health nurse in Arkansas.

“The award winners this year are a wonderful example of the breadth of nursing and its impact.”

Dean Wendy Likes

The birthing project pairs pregnant women with mentors for approximately 18 months. Dr. Harris, who earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice at UT Health Science Center, also has been the acting board president of the Birthing Project, USA, since 2022

Micah Lindsey, RN, received the Bedside Nurse Hero Award for her dedication and work in the Baptist Memorial Health Care Neuro ICU. When she accepted her award, she spoke about how she simply tries to treat her patients as she would want her family to be treated.

Amanda Taylor, DNP, ANP-BC, SANE-A, SANE-P, was recognized with the Advanced Practice Nurse Hero Award. Dr. Taylor is the director of the Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center, where she has worked since 2015. Dr. Taylor received her Doctor of Nursing Practice in Forensics from the UT Health Science Center in 2011 and is a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for pediatrics and adults. She also is committed to educating the nursing community about forensic nursing. She allows many students to precept with her and is active in community outreach.

The Executive Nurse Leader Hero Award honored Claudia Neira, DNP, FNP-BC, chief clinical officer for Lifedoc Health, which opened in 2005 as a family health care practice to serve the growing and underserved Hispanic community. She is also a founding partner of Lifedoc Research. Dr. Neira’s contributions have been vital to expanding Lifedoc’s clinical model to serve a larger population. Today, Lifedoc cares for nearly 20,000 patients, 85% of whom are on Medicaid. It is a multidisciplinary health care organization with integrated, outcome-oriented and culturally competent treatment interventions.

“The award winners this year are a wonderful example of the breadth of nursing and its impact,” Dr. Likes said. “Nurses provide compassionate care in all aspects of life – every step of the way.”

Dr. Claudia Neira, Executive Nurse Leader (center)