2020 Star Nurses Weekly Spotlight - Chapter 1

The Washington Post in conjunction with the American Nurses Association would like to shine a light on our 2020 Star Nurses finalists. Nominated by patients and peers, and then selected from among hundreds of nominees, these women and men, working on the front lines of health care in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, represent the epitome of skill, professionalism and care. As a part of the recognition of the 2020 Star Nurses finalists we will spotlight nurses each week through the end of summer.


Alease H. Young - George Washington University Hospital

Alease_H. Young

Alease is a Washington D.C. native with 38 years of nursing under her belt. As a graduate of the University of the District of Columbia, Alease has always wanted to take care of babies. She is inspired by knowing that her parents are leaving to go home with the knowledge to take care of their infant and feel secure in being a parent. Alease is motivated by doing God's work and living by the song IF I CAN HELP SOMEBODY.

Alease really appreciates having a voice in making changes and seeing the changes come to life. Helping where she can, giving uplifting comments, giving hugs, and saying something encouraging is just a part of her personality.

Alease was surprised and honored when she received the news on being a Star Nurses finalist. She said “When I got the email I went to my manager and informed her that I thought my email account at work had been hacked because the Washington Post sent me an email saying I was a star nurse finalist. Then I was told that she had nominated me!"


Alicia Dillon - The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Hailing from Mount Rainer, Maryland Alicia has been in the nursing field for 17 years and thinks that in many ways, nursing has been more rewarding for her than for her patients!

Alicia enjoys the unique position that nursing affords her to work closely with people from many different nationalities, ethnicities, religions and socioeconomic levels. Nursing has enriched her understanding of our differences and has fostered her appreciation of the human condition. “I feel privileged and honored to stand beside people and help them through some of the most vulnerable times of their lives. It's not easy to be a patient but I like to think that good nurses make the experience better than could have been imagined.” 

Alicia is inspired by her co-workers... the amazing nurses in the NCCU at Johns Hopkins who are tireless patient advocates and sharp clinicians who always care to do the right thing, even when doing the right thing is the harder road to follow. She is proud to be in the "trenches" with her amazing nurse colleagues, whom she considers her friends. Alicia says, “Working alongside them inspires me to do whatever is in my power to keep the bar high."

Alicia is motivated knowing that she can make a positive difference in someone's day. She aims to learn from every patient experience so she can be a better version of herself moving forward.

Alicia tries to be as relatable as possible. Even when she is super busy, Alicia finds time to spend with her patients getting to know them. She shares stories about herself, so they get to know a bit about her. Alicia believes it helps for patients to know about shared experiences, so they know that they are not alone. “Taking this extra time usually means that I have to stay late charting... and my co-workers know that I'm notorious for this :)”



Amanda Milisits-Meri - Paralyzed Veterans of America


Amanda is a graduate of Carlow University and has 14 years of experience as a nurse. Amanda has always felt nursing was her calling. As a child, she was fascinated with visiting the doctor. “I immediately knew that helping others in healthcare would be my career path."

Amanda is inspired by the opportunity of helping others navigate healthcare systems to achieve optimal care and ensure they have access to equitable care. She possesses a constant desire to share the wealth of insight and experience she has acquired throughout her years in the field of nursing.

She is truly inspired by the groundbreaking evidence-based practice and innovative technologies that advance the level of care.

Amanda enjoys getting to know individuals on a personal level and adapting those interactions and plan of care around that.

“Being a Star Nurse acknowledges my contributions to the legacy of all the nurses that came before me in this noble profession.”



Amanda Walsh - Pediatric Specialists of Virginia

Amanda Walsh

Amanda wanted to be a nurse to be a part of something bigger than herself. She wanted to be part of an honorable profession and to make a difference in the lives of others.  Amanda believes a nurse touches so many lives -- even the smallest kindness can have the greatest impact.

One of Amanda’s favorite quotes sums it up nicely -- "Be the change that you wish to see in the world"

“It is such an honor to be recognized as a star nurse, and I am so incredibly grateful for the amazing team of doctors, nurses, and clinical staff that I work with that have shaped who I am as a nurse.  Their leadership, compassion, excellence in patient care, and positive community impact has been such an inspiration to me, and I go to work each day with a desire to be better than the day before and make a lasting impact on the lives of others.”


Andrea Doctor - Adventist Healthcare Fort Washington Medical Center


Andrea is from Gainesville, Florida and possesses 19 years of experience in the nursing field. She has always been motivated by helping others achieve their goals. At the age of five, her Grandmother’s sister took her hands and held them up to her heart and told Andrea she had a caring heart and hands that would help heal the sick one day. At that age, Andrea did not know what she meant. She would soon discover the profession of nursing offers a unique opportunity to help others work towards achieving a healthy state of well-being, one of the most important aspects of life.  Andrea believes the rewarding nature of the job is priceless.

Andrea is inspired by seeing her leadership motivate others to practice to the full extent of their educational skills. She believes technology and innovation in nursing are inseparably connected.

“When making decisions about technology in the patient care environment, keep the clinical perspective at the forefront and the patient at the center. Making sure a clinical expert (nurse informatics) is at the table for every discussion about technology nurses will use is a must.”

Being a star nurse has given Andrea the opportunity to show other nurses that they can be star nurses too. Andrea became a nurse because she wanted to make a difference while helping. As time went on, Andrea’s passion became helping nurses reach their full potential. Motivating nurses to do the best job they can gives her fulfillment.

"I believe that you should do the right all the time even when no one is looking because God is always looking.  I am a servant here to provide services to the patient, the visitors, my co-workers, physicians, and the senior leadership team."


Andrew Benson - The Johns Hopkins Hospital


As a graduate of John Hopkins School of Nursing and 17 years of nursing experience Andrew believes nursing is a career that requires knowledge of science, complex skills, compassion and art. It provides opportunities to work at the bedside taking care of those who need you the most, educating the future nurses of the profession, researching and studying ways to improve patient outcomes and advocating for the profession through policy and leadership.

Andrew is the son of a retired nurse and his mom influenced his career path by being an excellent nurse and demonstrating what it takes to care for others. Andrew also draws inspiration from Dean Trish Davidson, the Dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. He states, “She is an incredible leader and advocate for our profession”.

He is motivated to help in the midst of the Covid pandemic, those patients in the hospital that need our care the most. “It is satisfying to don the PPE and be a member of the healthcare team.”

Andrew has a genuine interest in his coworker’s and patient’s lives, he believes this is important. “My goal is to bring my smile and energy every day to work. The personal touch of holding a patient’s hand, listening to their concerns and being present goes a long way.” He is truly honored to be recognized as a star nurse. “I love my job and being a nurse. It also is recognition for those who have mentored, inspired and supported me along the way. I wouldn’t be where I am without their influence.”


Angelica Ferrazzi - MedStar Georgetown University Hospital


Angelica became a nurse to take care of people. To heal not only illness, but the whole person - mind, body, and spirit. She believes there is truly nothing more rewarding than making even the smallest difference in someone’s life. “Nursing is both an art and a science, and I couldn’t choose just one!”

What motivates Angelica is her relationships with patients. She forms meaningful connections that make her want to come back to work each day. Angelica acknowledges it is not always the easiest, but she encourages patients to be the best they can be during what might be some of their most difficult times. Angelica says “There’s nothing more rewarding than hearing, when can you be my nurse again? at the end of a tough day. The feeling of gratitude is indescribable, and I love helping patients reach their goals.”

Angelica is perpetually inspired by her nursing colleagues, both at the bedside and in leadership positions, to influence healthcare decisions in ways nurses never have before. “The 2020 Year of the Nurse certainly was not what we expected, but nurses continue to work diligently to advocate for this ever-growing profession. Our role in the interdisciplinary team has become instrumental and continues to evolve, and I am excited to be a part of that growth” says Angelica”

Angelica’s personality is a huge component of the holistic nursing care she provides. She strives day in and day out to employ light humor to make patients feel more comfortable under the harsh demands of illness. Angelica believes it is all about finding the right balance of empathy and optimism to help patients through the day. She often sings to patients as a distraction, or leverage music to motivate them to get on their feet. “Walking laps around the unit to the sound of Whitney Houston or Bon Jovi is always a fan favorite!”

When asked what the Star Nurse recognition meant to her Angelica said, “A Star Nurse is committed, passionate, and serves as an example of leadership in nursing.” Angelica has worked diligently over the past seven years to develop these attributes and embody the traits of other incredible nurses. She considers it a huge honor to receive this award for her work as a bedside nurse especially in the early stages of her career. “I feel truly inspired and astoundingly grateful to my patients and colleagues that helped me become the nurse I am today, and I cannot thank them enough. I am deeply humbled by this recognition.”



Angeline Bell - Montgomery County Department Health and Human Services

Angeline started working in healthcare as a medical assistant and an EMT in a variety of medical settings, and as a community health worker for Montgomery County’s Department of Health.  Her community health roles included providing home visiting assessments and teaching for the federally funded Healthy Start program, being the lead coordinator Montgomery County’s childhood lead prevention program, as well as the assistant to the nurse administrator. 

After 15 years working in healthcare, Angeline knew she had found her passion and felt she was really making a difference in her community.  “I wanted to empower myself with education so I could further my influence in providing health promotion resources and services particularly to underserved communities of color.”  As a single mom of two adolescent boys, Angeline returned to school to obtain nursing and health management degrees. She went to school full-time while continuing to work at the health department.

Angeline became a registered nurse in 2008, and since then has continued to grow her knowledge and responsibilities with County Health job as well as being a perinatal health educator at Holy Cross Hospital. She has worked at Montgomery County’s Health Department in a variety positions for a total of 24 years, and in 2017 was appointed to Oversee the Montgomery County’s Babies Born Healthy program. This program is a state-funded program designed to address the huge racial disparities in maternal and infant mortality and morbidity.

Angeline’s mother has been her role model and inspiration as a mother, a member of the community as well as a nurse. Her mom was a nurse’s aide for many years, and always did her job and lived her life with love, compassion, and empathy.

Angeline is motivated by the desire for her children, and children’s children to have a better life, which is intertwined with the black lives matter movement. She is also motivated by her team and all the amazing passion and hard work they bring to the program. Angeline wants to see the Babies Born Healthy program expand and keep going beyond the current grant because she realizes the huge impact, they have been able to make in client’s lives.  “Every family desire to have a Baby Born Healthy.”

I am inspired by focus on evidence-based nursing, and the model of the holistic whole person model of care. Particularly regarding the importance of social determinants on physical and mental health.

One personal touch Angeline possesses and believes is important is that she shows up, literally. This might mean meeting with a client on the weekend because that’s the only time she has availability, giving a little charm with a personal note to a mother who baby recently died, and trying to meet clients as well as her team where they are: by listening to them, respecting their points of view  and treating everyone as equals with something to share.

Angeline also likes to share daily positive affirmation notes with her colleagues and team.

Angeline is honored to be nominated and being recognized as a Star Nurse is one of the highlights of her career. “I am already incredibly grateful for this recognition and appreciation that my work, that is so important to me, is also valued by my coworkers and community. Thank you so much for considering me for this honor.”


Ashley Reil - MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

Ashley Reil

Ashley wanted to become a nurse to help the smallest of patients, those who do not have a voice and who need the most specialized care. She wanted to make a difference in their lives and support families through what may be the hardest journey they will ever take. Ashley wanted a profession that would challenge her every day and would provide life-long learning and she has not looked back since day 1!

Ashley says, “The Magnet environment that celebrates nursing creates an environment flush with collaboration, enhanced professional nursing practice, nursing autonomy and so much more.” This inspires Ashley to continue setting goals and reaching for them not only for herself and her patients but for the unit she works on, the nurses she works with, the hospital she works in and for the overall nursing profession. Ashley believes Providing quality patient care is such a priority especially to the most vulnerable patients and this inspires her to work so diligently and continue to do research and expand her knowledge to not only provide the best care but educate other's on new initiatives and updated evidence based practice.

Ashley draws her inspiration from her patients. She takes care of some of the smallest and sickest patients in the world. They fight against some of the hardest odds and have to overcome some of the largest hurdles. “I get to watch it all happen before my very own eyes; my patients never give up” says Ashley.  She wants to fight just as hard alongside them and their families. Ashley gets to celebrate all of the milestones and has a hard time deciding which is more exciting - discharge day or the yearly NICU reunion celebration. “Nevertheless, we may have to mourn during the sad times but providing that support during the toughest times is just as rewarding as the celebrations. Making a difference is truly a wonderful feeling no matter how big or small the difference may be.”

Ashley believes having the ability to perform studies, review research and change the way we practice each day is unbelievably rewarding. “We as nurses have the ability to change the way we treat our patients in collaboration with so many other interdisciplinary team members.” Ashley takes pride in being a Clinical Nurse Educator role in which she has had the privilege of educating new, experienced and seasoned staff regarding old, new, and updated practices, guidelines, and policies. We have the ability to be the change our patient's need for the future!

One of Ashley’s great attributes is remaining calm in the middle of the storm. She knows we have all had those days and being a calm presence on the unit and for the staff can really change the feel of the situation. Ashley has the ability to remain organized and on task during the chaos which is vitally important to patients and their safety.  She is a fierce advocate for not just her patients but for the staff and assure they know they can always come to her to discuss issues, suggestions, or to debrief following an event.

Being recognized and celebrated as a Star Nurse brings on so many overwhelming emotions for Ashley. "Nurses go to work and give the best care possible but for our profession to be recognized in such a way is truly remarkable and humbling, An absolute honor!"



Barbara Douglas - National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

Barbara Douglas

Barbara is a Howard University graduate with over 26 years of nursing experience. She has always wanted to help people and is a “Natural Nurturer” she says.

Barbara draws inspiration by seeing people be their best. She is also inspired and motivated by her older sister Nita Alvarez, other siblings and 2 daughters. She loves that nursing has become one of the most highly respected professions and how technology has been an asset to nursing.

One of Barbara’s greatest attributes is being blessed with extraordinary interpersonal skills. Her motto is “I’ve never met a stranger I didn’t know”. When asked what does being recognized as a Star Nurse mean to you, she says, “This is the most magnificent honor that I've ever received!!!”



Beth Foley - Patient First

Beth Foley

As a nursing supervisor in an urgent care setting Beth gets to watch the staff learn, grow, and be successful, and as a floor nurse she gets to provide quality medical care and patient education to patients and their families. “I love nursing because my job provides me the best of both worlds.”

Beth has a great appreciation for family and those that have paved the way. “My mom is the smartest, most articulate, most dedicated nurse I know.” She has a great support system at work and at home. “My family understands why I work long hours and are very proud of my accomplishments.” Her work family is equally amazing. Beth is astonished every day with their willingness to pitch in to make the workplace a wonderful place to be.

Beth is truly inspired by what nurses have accomplished in these unprecedented times. “I have never been prouder to be a nurse than in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic.  To see the willingness of nurses to put their lives on the line to care for patients, to sit by the bedside when family members couldn’t, to work without food and sleep, and to support and encourage each other all the while is nothing short of amazing.”

Beth works really hard to keep an open line of communication with staff and with my superiors. She likes everyone in the center know when she arrives and departs on workdays.  Beth is a straight shooter and always willing to help.

“It’s hard to put into words, really.  I feel so flattered that someone took the time to nominate me.  I am so proud to be included in a group that I respect and am so often in awe of.  It makes me realize that I am one of the fortunate ones; I have found my calling.”


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