On October 1, 2022, the National Scleroderma Foundation announced their 2022 National and Chapter Volunteer Awards at their annual Leadership Day. Each year the Foundation recognizes volunteers for their outstanding work in support of its mission to advance medical research, promote disease awareness, and provide support and education to people with scleroderma. This year, the Foundation received 80 nominations, and reviewers cast 250 votes for 13 awards. The Volunteer Awards Recognition Event was hosted by David Leader DMD, MPH, Director of Tufts University School of Dental DMD/MPH Dual Degree Program, and former recipient of the Doctor of the Year Award. “It is my honor to celebrate these exceptional volunteers, their inspirational stories and contributions,” shared Dr. Dave Leader. The 2022 award recipients include:
- The Outstanding Educational Program is awarded to an individual, group, or chapter that has maximized available resources within the community to provide patients with an excellent education experience. This year, the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Support Group was awarded for their national efforts to support all races that may face equality issues with scleroderma.
- The Outstanding Patient Support Award is awarded to an individual that has continuously supported, educated, and uplifted their community. This was awarded to Monica Ramirez, for her steadfast commitment to supporting our Spanish speaking community through a Bilingual support group and international conference.
- The Outstanding Chapter Awareness Award is awarded to a Chapter that consistently keeps awareness and advocacy as integral parts of chapter operations. This was awarded to the Ohio Chapter, as the Ohio Chapter advisory committee, volunteers and executive director have ensured they utilize all media outlets to spread awareness to those they serve.
- The Support Group Volunteer of the Year is awarded to a support group leader who leads by example and encourages others to engage in their community. This year, Michael Bessert was awarded for founding the Men’s 20% Support Group and for being committed and dedicated to ensuring that men have their own place to gather and discuss scleroderma.
- The Individual Fundraiser of the Year is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to fundraising in their chapter and who shows consistent excellence through their actions and leadership. This year, April Lehmann was awarded for raising over $25,000 over the past three years despite a national pandemic.
- The Advocate of the Year is awarded to an individual who personifies what it means to “speak up for scleroderma” and is active in awareness and advocacy to better the scleroderma community on a national level. This was awarded to Evamarie Cole, for her commitment to advocacy and leadership this past year to have NYC landmarks light up in teal.
- The Messenger of Hope Award is awarded to an individual whose words and/or actions offer continued hope and inspiration to our community. This year, Jessica Massengale was awarded for her transparency of the disease as a young adult navigating scleroderma through social media and for her work as a support group leader who offers strong words of encouragement and care.
- The Doctor of the Year is awarded to the physician whose dedication has improved the lives of thousands of people living with scleroderma, as well as demonstrate exceptional skills in clinical practice and patient education while maintaining the mission, vision, and values of the Foundation. This year, Dr. Elizabeth Volkmann was award Doctor of the Year for being internationally recognized as an expert and leader in pulmonary and gastrointestinal complications of systemic sclerosis (SSc), as demonstrated by her national and international speaking invitations and participation and leadership in national and international research projects.
- The Chapter of the Year is awarded to overall excellence in advancing the mission of the Foundation in the areas of support, education, and research by a chapter. This year, the Rocky Mountain Chapter was awarded for being a beacon of strength and hope for those living in Colorado during the pandemic.
- The Chapter Volunteer of the Year is awarded to an individual who leads by example and encourages others to engage in their local and regional community. This year, Jane Ladas was awarded for serving as the Board President for years, while also filling in many staffing gaps in her role, particularly during Covid when there were changes and there was only Jane left to do the work.
- The Philanthropist of the Year is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to fundraising and shows consistent excellence through their actions and leadership. This year, Greg Lurvey was awarded for establishing the Debra Lurvey Memorial Research Grant a transformation endowed gift to honor his late wife, Debra.
- The National Volunteer of the Year award is awarded to an individual who leads by example and encourages others to engage in their community. This was awarded to Mariann Boyanowski for her support of the Ohio Chapter since 2001 and being a beacon of light through her volunteerism whether managing the 24 hour a day Scleroderma HotLine, leading the Stepping Out to Cure Scleroderma Boardman walk, being a support group leader in Brecksville, OH, securing proclamations, holding leadership positions for the chapter, or any other area the chapter may need help in.
- The Lifetime Achievement Award is the Foundation’s highest honor and is awarded to individuals who have given extraordinary service to the organization. This year, Cos and Ronni Mallozzi were awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for their 30 years of service and dedication to the Foundation. Both Cos and Ronni have served in various leadership roles on behalf of the Foundation over the years, with Cos most recently serving as Chair of the Board of Directors. Ronni started the Foundation’s first “scleroderma chat” on AOL in the 1990s and has been a beacon of hope for those living with scleroderma in New York and Florida, and across the country.
Click here to see the image gallery of Leadership Day!