2023 School of Nursing Awards

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2023 University at Buffalo School of Nursing awards.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Audrey Koertvelyessy.

Audrey Koertvelyessy, MS ’66, BS ’62, is the 2023 recipient of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award.

Koertvelyessy, who grew up on the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca Nation of New York as a member of the Heron Clan, was exposed to nursing profession at a young age. She was fascinated by her three aunts who were registered nurses, two in the Army, one in the Navy.

After graduating from high school at age 16, she followed in her aunts’ footsteps and interviewed for the Massachusetts General Hospital nursing program. The school recommended she wait and apply again in a year, but she instead forged ahead and enrolled in the Buffalo General Hospital nursing program, graduating in 1959.

Koertvelyessy began her career as a staff nurse and head nurse at Buffalo General Hospital. She then moved on to the Buffalo Veteran’s hospital while earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at UB in 1962 and 1966, respectively. Subsequently, she served as a staff nurse, research nurse, and clinical specialist at Roswell Park Memorial Institute.

When Ohio University launched a nursing program in the mid-70s, Koertvelyessy was invited to join the faculty, where she received tenure and rose to through the ranks as program director.

Koertvelyessy’s career next took her to Washington, DC, as the director and chief of nursing in the Indian Health Service—part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services—with its 52 hospitals and 500 clinics. She was also detailed to the Department of Defense to start the graduate school of nursing at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

Her role with the Indian Health Service came with an appointment to the rank of captain — equivalent to the rank of colonel in the Army — in the Commission Corps of the United States Public Health Service. That made Koertvelyessy one of the highest-ranking American Indian women officers in uniformed federal service. She is also the recipient of two prestigious honors: the Outstanding Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Patricia H. Garman Award for Excellence and Service in Nursing

Kimberly Ennis, DNP, APRN-BC, is the 2023 recipient of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing Patricia H. Garman Award for Excellence and Service in Nursing.

Ennis, an experienced clinician and leader, is the Senior Director of Nursing at Mount Sinai Queens. In this role, she oversees all medical surgical nursing operations, including Mount Sinai Queens Nurse Management teams. Ennis also acts as Magnet liaison, refining nursing’s shared governance and growing and maintaining a team of Advanced Practice Nurses. 

Prior to this role, Ennis served as the Associate Director of Nursing at Mount Sinai Heart. She was responsible for the clinical operations and strategic oversight of the various impatient and outpatient areas. Ennis joined Mount Sinai Hospital in 2008 as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) on the cardiac NP Attending Directed Service (ADS) and was actively involved in various Hospital initiatives.

In 2016, she became manager of the Cardiac Care Unit and led the successful opening and was responsible for the daily operations of a new 20 bed state-of-the-art cardiac Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and Cardiac Step-Down Unit. Under Kimberley’s leadership, the ICU received the prestigious national Gold Beacon award for excellence from American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Additional recognitions under her leadership include the highest number of new CCRN certifications, highest and most improved unit in Hand Hygiene Award, and recognition for patient experience highest and most improved in nurse communication and nurse checks-on-you.

Ennis an active member of several professional organizations, including the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Symposium Planning Council, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, National Black Nurses Association, American Association of Critical Care Nurses and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society. She is also an executive planning committee member for the Harlem Healthy Heart Series, a community-based program serving the East Harlem community by addressing lifestyle interventions through motivation, education and screening to promote optimal cardiovascular health management.

Despite the distance (and her incredibly full schedule), Ennis gives both her time and financial support to UB School of Nursing. In 2020, the School piloted a mentorship program as a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Committee initiative that aims to pair students of color with professional nurses of color in the community. Given her educational and professional experience with mentorship programs for nurses of color, Ennis has provided invaluable advisement and advice in this arena.

Ennis also made a generous $5,000 gift in 2021 to create the Kimberley Ennis Fund for Minority Student Nurses, which will be used to provide financial support to underrepresented minority students studying nursing at UB.

Ennis earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from the University at Buffalo and a DNP from Yale University.

Outstanding Recent Graduate Award

Junxin Li, PhD ’14, RN, FAAN, is the first recipient of University at Buffalo School of Nursing’s Outstanding Recent Graduate Award.

Li is currently an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Her research focus is exploring modifiable factors that contribute to cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease. Her work also involves developing and testing behavioral interventions that target these modifiable factors in older adults who are at risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Li is a highly productive nurse scientist and a researcher who has impressive track record of securing funding for multiple research projects. Thus far, she has successfully secured $1.7 million through five National Institute of Health (NIH) grants as the principal investigator. Her work has resulted in the publication of 45 peer-reviewed articles, both in press and already published. Her work has been highlighted in top-tier gerontological journals, including the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

In terms of professional service, Li has been actively engaged with several professional organizations. She held a position on the Publicity and Newsletter Committee of the Nu-beta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, then went on to become the Research Committee Chair of the same chapter. Li is also on the Membership Committee of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Health Sciences Section, and she is an abstract reviewer for more than 15 peer-reviewed journals and an Early Career Reviewer for the NIH.

As an educator, Li is praised for her excellence in teaching across undergraduate and doctoral programs, challenging her students to excel in their academic pursuits. She has served as a mentor for numerous students' research projects and as a teaching advisor for junior faculty. In 2022, Li was awarded the Linda Davies Versic Faculty Award from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing for her exceptional teaching and mentorship skills.

Li is the recipient of several other awards, including the Okura Mental Health Fellow Award from Asian American Pacific Islander Nurse Association, the Ruth Gale Elder Award for Excellence in Nursing Research from the University at Buffalo, and the Person-In-Training Award from the Gerontological Society of America. In 2020, Li was selected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) in recognition of her efforts and impact on nursing education and practice, and her contributions to improving the health and well-being of older adults.

Li earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Beihua University (Jilin, China), a master’s degree in nursing from Jilin University (Changchun, China) and a PhD from the University at Buffalo. She was also a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Distinguished Preceptor Award

Vicki Murphy, MS, PMHNP-BC, is the 2023 recipient of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing’s Distinguished Preceptor Award.

Murphy is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who is currently a provider at WNY Psychotherapy Services. She has over 40 years of experience working with a variety of mental health diagnoses. Murphy works with children and adolescents under the age of 18, and she is a model example of holistic care while communicating and working in partnership with behavioral health counselors, educators and pediatricians to better care for children with behavioral and psychiatric disorders.

Murphy has dedicated many years as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner preceptor for UB psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner students. Murphy is an excellent communicator and is receptive, encouraging, and supportive to our students. UB nursing faculty value Murphy for her continued endurance to precept our students during a challenging and complex time in health care, specifically psychiatric care. She is always eager to precept, despite challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, provider shortages and transitions to virtual/telehealth care. She has been a reliable, dedicated and highly skilled member of our DNP preceptor team and her patience, expertise and enthusiasm are invaluable to our school and students.

Murphy received a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in nursing from the University at Buffalo. 

Published May 5, 2023

Media Contact Information

Sarah Goldthrite
Director of Marketing, Communications & Alumni Engagement
School of Nursing
105 Beck Hall (South Campus)
Email: sgoldthr@buffalo.edu
Tel: 716-829-3209