2024 School of Nursing Alumni Awards

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 University at Buffalo School of Nursing alumni awards.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Peter Gustave Johnson.

Peter Gustave Johnson, CNM, PhD, FACNM, FAAN, is the 2024 recipient of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award. Johnson completed his Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1981, as well as his PhD in Educational Psychology from UB in 1999.

Johnson has served for more than 15 years as the chief nursing and midwifery officer of Jhpiego, a non-governmental organization (NGO) affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. Jhpiego is the only nurse-led NGO in operation. Johnson has traveled to more than 20 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Southern and Southeast Asia, where he led initiatives to strengthen education, infrastructure and services related to nursing and midwifery.

Johnson champions making health care more accessible to underserved populations globally, in which he pinpoints expanding the scope of practice for nurses as critical for providing equitable health care worldwide. His distinguished and versatile career as a nurse leader includes working as a faculty member and researcher at Johns Hopkins University. In 2021, he won the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ Lifetime Visionary Award for his work with Jhpiego collaborating with the International Confederation of Midwives, World Health Organization, United Nations Population Fund, and UNICEF to enhance the visibility and practice regulations of midwifery worldwide.

Patricia H. Garman Award for Excellence and Service in Nursing

Linda Scharf.

Linda Scharf, DNS, RN, is the 2024 recipient of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing Patricia H. Garman Award for Excellence and Service in Nursing. Scharf earned her Doctor of Nursing Science in 1993, as well as her MS and BS in Nursing degrees from UB, where she focused her studies on rehabilitation nursing and nursing administrative leadership.

Her exceptional record of service to the profession includes serving as the Lead Nurse Planner for the Professional Nurses Association of WNY since 2016. She has also been a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and ANA-NY for over five years.

Her robust career includes administrative nursing positions at Millard Filmore Hospitals and Kaleida Health systems in Western New York. She previously served as the CEO and Clinical VP at the Visiting Nursing Association of WNY, Surveyor for The Joint Commission Primary Nurse Planner for Fazzi Associates in Northampton, MA, and Coordinator of the VNA Immunization Campaign. She also served as the volunteer Executive Director for the Professional Nurses Association of WNY. Her community service includes membership for over a decade on the Board of Directors for the WNY Organ Transplant Organization. Her versatile nursing leadership history also includes a stint as the Vice President, Nursing of the Millard Fillmore Health System in Buffalo and Williamsville. Scharf regularly participates in School of Nursing and university-wide events and has contributed generous philanthropic support for decades, including establishing the unrestricted endowed Dr. Linda Scharf Fund for Nursing.

Outstanding Recent Graduate Award

Salah Al-Zaiti.

Salah Al-Zaiti, PHD, RN, ANP-BC, FAHA, is the 2024 recipient of University at Buffalo School of Nursing’s Outstanding Recent Graduate Award. Al-Zaiti earned his PhD in Nursing in 2013 and his MS in Nursing in 2010.

Al-Zaiti received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Award from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board in 2023. He is conducting research related to cardiovascular disease, biomedical informatics and machine learning abroad in Jordan during the 2023-2024 academic year. 

Al-Zaiti is an associate professor and vice chair of research in the School of Nursing at the University of Pittsburgh. He recently published a study developing a machine-learning model using electrocardiogram readings to improve diagnoses of heart attacks. He currently leads two trials related to the usage of artificial intelligence in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Additionally, he has garnered close to $8 million in funding through the National Institutes of Health (National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) and published nearly 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He was also instrumental in developing the 2020 AHA guidelines regarding the prevention and mitigation of risks pertaining to exercise-related adverse cardiac events.

Distinguished Preceptor Award

Isabel Molina, PMHNP-BC, is the 2024 recipient of the University at Buffalo School of Nursing’s Distinguished Preceptor Award. Molina graduated from UB with her Master of Science in psychiatric mental health nursing in 2000 and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1991. She also received the Dr. Coletta A. Klug Fund Award and the S. Mouchly Small Award from UB in recognition of her superior knowledge and skill in psychiatric/mental health nursing and understanding of and sensitivity to the special needs of clients and their families.

Molina has worked for over 20 years as a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner with diverse patient populations at several locations, including Williamsville Wellness Center, Horizon Health Services, BestSelf Behavioral Health and Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Molina also speaks fluent Spanish and provides exceptional care for her Spanish-speaking patients.

Molina has prioritized precepting for psychiatric/mental health nursing students at UB for nearly two decades. Her nominators laud her proficiency in psychiatric assessment, diagnosis, and medication management, making her an outstanding resource for students. Students say Molina is an insightful mentor who is adept at demonstrating clinical skills and providing thoughtful rationale for clinical decisions. These students have greatly benefitted from her expertise and outstanding acumen as a nurse educator.

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