Alumni Society recognizes nurses for their excellence

May 4, 2022

Nasra Giama, Barbara Peterson and Judith Pechacek

Nasra Giama, Barbara Peterson and Judith Pechacek

The School of Nursing Alumni Society named the recipients of its annual awards — Rising Star, Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian and Excellence in Innovation. The awards were presented at the All School Reunion held in April.

Rising Star Award: 
Nasra Giama, DNP ’13, BSN ’07

Nasra Giama, DNP, RN, PHN, exemplifies the Rising Star Award with her noteworthy successes in career trajectory, scholastic accomplishments and distinguished service to the School of Nursing, the nursing profession, and the larger community. Giama is an associate clinical professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and her education service is based in both the Twin Cities and Rochester, where she is involved with the Mayo clinic system. She is a Global Health Scholar and has participated as a cohort fellow in Internationalizing Teaching and Learning. Giama’s scholarship is rooted in public health nursing practice with a strong focus on health promotion, community engagement and the social determinants of health. She also serves the profession and community as assistant director of Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity for the School of Nursing. For the past nine years, Giama has served as the coordinator for the Somali Health Advisory Committee (SHAC), a community-led and driven organization that serves as the voice for African communities in southeastern Minnesota.

Distinguished Alumni Humanitarian Award: 
Barbara Peterson, MS ’98

Barbara Peterson, PhD, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, FNAP, maintains a commitment to improving mental health services, advocating for youth and families, and improving health equity and social justice. She was an active participant and exemplary contributor in the local community and university during COVID-19. Peterson wrote the position statement Mitigating the stress and mental health trauma of COVID-19 for nurses and health care providers, which was published in Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. Her research includes studies on trauma in African American children and Iraqi refugee children, and her dissertation focused on the impact of trauma on sleep, nightmares and quality of life in African American youth. She is a clinical associate professor and director of Inclusivity, Diversity and Equity at the School of Nursing. In addition, Peterson is an active volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corp. Through this service, she has provided mental health and social support services after Daunte Wright’s killing the spring of 2021 and following the Afghan evacuee resettlement since October 2021.

Excellence in Innovation Award: 
Judith Pechacek, DNP ’09, MS ’96

Judy Pechacek’s innovation is evident in her design of transformative systems change processes. Her work has led to a quality-focused leadership culture across the Veteran’s Administration (VA) health care system, which has in turn created improved outcomes for veteran’s health nationally and internationally. Since 2018, Pechacek, DNP, RN, CENP, has been the Senior Quality Scholar and Faculty for the Veterans Administration Quality Scholars Program. She uses her exceptional quality and safety expertise to develop and deliver curriculum on executive leadership, quality care, just culture and human-centered design. She mentors Interprofessional VAQS fellows at the Minneapolis VA and across all sites in the US and Canada. Pechacek is nationally recognized for her innovative leadership in the education of DNP prepared advanced practice nurses. She is co-editor of The Doctor of Nursing Practice Essentials: A New Model for Advanced Practice Nursing, now in its 4th edition. Pechacek has been the program director of the School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program since 2015. In 2021, she was appointed assistant dean of the DNP program, a program that has the largest enrollment of full-time students in the country and is ranked 7th by U.S. News & World Report.

If you know an alum who should be considered for one of these awards, contact Matthew Opitz at

Categories: Alumni News