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These are the 2022 AL DÍA Top Nurses. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
These are the 2022 AL DÍA Top Nurses. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

Meet the 2022 AL DÍA Top Nurses

On Friday, June 10, a total of 14 individuals in the nursing field will be honored as this year’s class of AL DÍA Top Nurses.

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For its fifth consecutive year, AL DÍA will present its annual AL DÍA Top Nurses event.

The annual event celebrates the multicultural men and women who have been at the frontlines, making essential contributions to their diverse patients and communities. 

With over 40 unique nominations made, the esteemed advisory board consisting of notable and impactful nursing professionals were trusted with the important task of narrowing that list down to select the honorees.  

This year, 14 individuals will be honored with the 2022 AL DÍA Top Nurses award.

The honorees were selected and divided into several categories — two for academic practice, two for advanced practice, two for community practice, two for health systems practice, two researchers/educators, a graduate student leader, an undergraduate student leader, and emerging leader and a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Meet the 2022 AL DÍA Top Nurses:

Academic Practice

Sheavone Boyd, DNP, BSN, RN

Sheavone Boyd is a registered nurse in the emergency department at Christiana Care.

Her background in patient care is very multifaceted, beginning her career as an emergency medical technician (EMT) in Springfield, Pennsylvania, while she was pursuing her undergraduate nursing degree at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing.  

After graduating, Boyd worked on bone marrow transplant and oncology units, and then in various emergency departments at different hospitals in the Philly regions. She began her studies to become a family nurse practitioner in 2017, and since graduating, has begun the process of obtaining her license. 

Boyd’s end goal is to become a dermatologist — one of the few providers of color in the field, where the need is extremely high. 

Julian L. Gallegos, PhD, MBA, FNP-BC, CNL, FAUNA

Dr. Julian L. Gallegos is a clinical associate professor at Purdue University - West Lafayette.

He is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and clinical nurse leader who has served in different nursing capacities over the past 19 years. He has experience spanning in medical-surgical nursing, labor and delivery, stroke care, diabetes management, nursing leadership, family practice, general urology and men’s health.

Dr. Gallegos is also a U.S. Air Force veteran, where he served eight years with several domestic and foreign deployments. He was honorably discharged from the Air Force in 2010 with several service ribbons and medals. 

Gallegos earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing with a minor in psychology from Purdue, a master’s at Indiana State, and his doctorate at the University of Arizona.

Advanced Practice Nurse

Melissa L. Pluguez-Moldavskiy, DNP, AGACNP-BC, FNP-BC

Melissa L. Pluguez-Moldavskiy is an advanced practice provider at ICU Cooper Hospital. 

At Cooper University, she provides socially-sensitive care to Camden’s population. 

Throughout her 21 years of practice, Pluguez-Moldavskiy has worked in a variety of clinical settings, including providing treatment to communities that lack access to medical centers in Puerto Rico. 

She also sits on the steering committee for Stop The Bleed at Cooper University Health, and leads the Hospital Medicine Procedural Program, where she teaches Ultrasound skills to benefit and advance the practice of healthcare. 

Tracy Walker, DNP, RN, CPNP- AC/PC

Tracy Walker is an advanced practice provider manager for critical care at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

During her time there, Walker has participated in the Emergency Department Flow committee, where she helped improve department flow and rounds. She also leads the APP Staffing and Scheduling strategic workgroup, and participates in the hospital-wide nursing diversity committee as a co-lead in the subgroup on recruitment and retention. 

She also serves on a committee that provides mentorship to multicultural students interested in pediatric nursing.

Walker is a graduate of Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and Rush University. 

Community Practice

Brunilda “Cookie” Sanchez, BSN, RN

Brunilda “Cookie” Sanchez is a senior nurse for Care and Help Home Health Agency.

Sanchez has been a nurse for 27 years. She began her career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN), later obtaining a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Seton Hall University. 

Throughout her career, Sanchez has served as an ambassador for the Government Affairs Office Hearts for Home Care, is a past president of Philadelphia’s chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, and is also a member of Unidos Contra COVID, a grassroots collaborative organization dedicated to bringing more COVID resources to Latino communities in and around Philadelphia.

Sanchez’s latest endeavor is a new business, Beautiful Reflections Nurse Concierge.

Sheila Caldwell, BSN, RN, CSN-NJ

Sheila Caldwell is a school nurse and a national education association ESPQ specialized instructional support personnel fellow. 

Caldwell has over 30 years of hospital experience spanning from medical surgery to critical care, and case management to community education.

She initially received her certification in New Jersey as a school nurse in 2005, and received a NJ Child Care Health Consultant certification the following year. In 2006, she joined the NJCU School Nursing listserv, and soon found a passion in communication, providing school nurses within her state with valuable information and resources.

Health System Practice

Rebecca Rivas, BSN, RN

Rebecca Rivas is a B6 clinical nurse at Jefferson Methodist Hospital.

In her role as a B6 nurse, Rivas manages the direct care of a number of different patients that come in and out of her floor on a daily basis. Through her practice, Rivas supports her patients while ensuring constant communication with the medical staff to manage patient’s symptoms.

Rivas graduated from Temple University with a bachelor's degree in nursing, and is currently pursuing her master's degree at Thomas Jefferson University to be a family nurse practitioner. 

Alicia Valentin, MSN, RNC-OB

Alicia Valentin is a registered nurse Einstein Medical Center’s Labor and Delivery Department, as well as a clinical instructor. 

She received her master's degree from Grand Canyon University. She is also a certified interpreter and NCC (National Certification Corporation) certified in inpatient obstetrics and childbirth education.

Her passion in nursing is to particularly serve the Hispanic community, in which she still sees the many barriers her parents faced when accessing healthcare when she was growing up. Particularly, Valentin uses her Spanish to help Hispanic patients feel comfortable in her care.

Research/Educator

Jessica Alicea Planas, PhD, RN, MPH, CHES

Jessica Alicia Planas is a tenured associate professor at Fairfield University's Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies, in Fairfield, Connecticut. Her career has gone in and out of academia for more than 25 years in the interest of working as a public health nurse in bilingual communities in Connecticut, focusing specifically on low-resourced communities and providing education around healthcare as a certified healthcare education specialist.

That experience forms the basis of Alicea Planas current work at the university, which focuses on chronic disease management and health promotion for vulnerable populations through a health literacy and equity lens.

Monica Harmon, MSN, MPH, RN

Monica Harmon is a clinical assistant professor and executive director of Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions Community Wellness HUB.

As a public health nurse, educator and researcher, Harmon is convinced that community factors and social issues manifest in chronic disease, and asserts health care practitioners must consider all determinants of health when addressing population health needs.  

Her work and research is based around the connection between community factors, social issues and the occurrence of chronic disease in certain communities. Finding solutions to the problems that hinder optimal care to those communities sits at the forefront of her efforts.

Harmon is a graduate of the Community College of Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson University and Drexel’s Graduate School of Public Health. 

Graduate Student Leader

Andre Rosario, BSN, RN-BC

Andre Rosario is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. 

At Penn, the second-generation Filipino nurse is studying the history of how hospitals in the U.S. have turned to the Philippines and other countries in the event of nurse shortages.

A native of New Jersey, Rosario also attended Penn for his undergraduate nursing degree.

It was his early jobs in the profession at Princeton and Penn that would influence his current doctorate studies, as he often saw the staff shortages and lack of diversity in the field.

His goal is to become a nursing professor to help inspire the next generation of diverse nurses. 

Undergrad Student Leader

David Álvarez-Sánchez, Nursing Student 

David Álvarez-Sánchez is a rising third-year nursing student at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a minor in Latin America. He is also a peer advisor at the School of Nursing.

He also spent the last year traveling to Kensington as a research assistant for Penn’s COVID Testing, Resources, and Community Engagement (TRACE) Project.

Lifetime Achievement

Wanda J. Nolasco, MSN, MBA, RN

Wanda Nolasco is the vice president of patient services and regulatory and compliance safety officer at The Behavioral Wellness Center at Girard.

A native of Puerto Rico, she joined The Behavioral Wellness Center (formerly the North Philadelphia Health System, NPHS), in 2002. Nolasco has 10 years of experience in executive level positions and 30 years in nursing, which includes critical care and performance improvement. Since joining the Center, she’s held various positions developing her leadership skills.

Nolasco earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from Pontifical Catholic University in Puerto Rico, and a master’s degree in business administration from DeVry University. 

Emerging Leader

Donna Volpe, DNP

Donna Volpe is the nurse manager of the Family Centered Maternity Unit and Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Main Line Paoli Hospital.

She’s been a registered nurse for 37 years with a concentration in maternal-child nursing. Volpe was the third graduate of the doctorate nursing program at Penn State University, and was also on its faculty for seven years.

She is an advocate of the Eat-Sleep-Console Tool, an evidence-based method of care that helps new parents care for their infant suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome. The program seeks to change the stigma around neonatal exposure and provides family-centered care.

The 14 individuals comprised the 2022 AL DÍA Top Nurses, and will each be recognized for their crucial contributions in enhancing the health of the diverse communities in which they serve.

The 2022 AL DÍA Top Nurses event will take place Friday, June 10 at the Pyramid Club, beginning at 5:3o p.m. For more information or to register for the event, click here

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