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Risk Takers and Groundbreakers Win the C&E Awards

The winners of the Communication & Education (C&E) Awards include groundbreakers and risk takers in the fields of education and communication. Winning projects have ranged from digital interactive storytelling to an organ and tissue donation awareness campaign featuring a NASCAR driver.

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2018 Winners

Outstanding Professional Education Award

Program Title

Guide To Medical Examiner and Coroner Cases for the Donation Community


Kim A. Collins, M.D.

Sharing Hope South Carolina

Jonathan Boyd, CTBS


Louis Jares, CTBS

MTF Biologics

Korinna Kellerstrass, CTBS

Lions VisionGift

Samantha Wetzler, M.D.

LifeNet Health

Melanie Berry, CTBS

United Tissue Resources

Michael Becker, CTBS

United Tissue Resources

About the Guide

As has been published in medical and scientific literature, the majority of potential donors of both organs and tissues is from medicolegal cases. Although many medical examiners and coroners support donation, too much is at stake when evaluating a medicolegal case. Unfortunately, too often the medical examiner/coroner do not have a positive relationship with the donation community and refuse donation on these cases. To overcome this "disconnect", education and communication are necessary on both sides.

The authors developed a training and guidance document to address these issues, educate the donation community, and improve communications between the two groups. Information and education are powerful; however, if they cannot be communicated, then the knowledge is lost. The authors’ goal is that this document will work to solve many of the aforementioned problems and increase the number of organ and tissue donors that fall under medical examiner/coroner jurisdictions.

Outstanding Public Education Award

Project Title

Leaving a CodeR Legacy


Tonnie Boston

BloodCenter of Wisconsin/Wisconsin Tissue Bank

Gretchen Budde, CTBS

BloodCenter of Wisconsin/Wisconsin Tissue Bank

About the Program

BloodCenter of Wisconsin (BCW), Wisconsin Donor Network/ Wisconsin Tissue Bank, is helping diverse communities in Milwaukee become active advocates of donation and transplantation with its newly-launched program, CodeR (Churches for Organ Donation Education and Registration). Wisconsin is a very generous state in support of organ and tissue donation with only 5 of 72 counties falling below the fifty percent mark of residents registered as donors. Milwaukee County, however, has struggled over the past several years with only 44.5 percent of its drivers and ID holders identified as registered donors. With only a quarter percent (respectively) of the city's African Americans and Hispanics as registered donors, both communities present a major opportunity to increase the overall registration rate. CodeR was designed to elevate a casual conversation about donation in Milwaukee’s African American and Hispanic communities by serving as a formal way to track the quantity and type of tissue information that was infused into the community.

Groundbreaker Award

Project Title

Bridge2Life App


Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates & Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks' Trust For Life

About the App

Americans register as a donor while obtaining a driver's license or ID. In today's environment of Uber, Lyft and urban living, we see fewer 16-19 year olds obtaining a license. Using grant funding, Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates & Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks' Trust For Life met the challenge to educate this important demographic and offer them the option of registering and learning about organ donation in a different way. Using what is known about this audience, a "paperless binder" cell phone app was developed for quick facts and registry options. The app was utilized by implementing it in Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates & Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks' Trust For Life annual High School Challenge.

2017 Winners

Outstanding Professional Communication Award and The Groundbreaker Award

Program Title

Kentucky Circuit Clerks' Trust for Life Regional Trainings


Julie Bergin, RN, BSN, MHA


Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates


Shelley Snyder

Executive Director

Kentucky Circuit Clerks' Trust for Life/KODA

About the Program

Over 96% of all donor registry sign-ups occur when individuals obtain their driver's license. The front line deputy clerks at the Kentucky DMVs usually asked the question about registering as a donor, but never fully understood their impact on the mission of saving and enhancing lives. The Trust for Life (TFL) and KODA set out to reinforce the role these state workers play in our mission and to positively impact the registry rates in their individual counties. There were 3 goals for the program:

  1. To increase the donor designation rate in Kentucky
  2. To ensure staff is asking the registry questions to every person, every time and
  3. To ensure deputy clerks are aware of the integral role they play in saving lives.

Over 1500 deputy clerks have attended the day long training. Clerks learned the importance of asking every person, every time and how their role impacts the success of this mission and the lives of those on the waiting list. Over 80% of clerks now confidently say that they utilize the techniques and information they learned on a daily basis, asking members of their communities to help them save lives rather than just join the donor registry. Statewide registry rates have increased from approximately 41% to almost 54% since the trainings started.

Outstanding Public Communication Award

Project Title

Inspiring Intergenerational Conversations and Overcoming Taboos: Developing Strategic Community Education Partnerships in San Francisco County from Concept to Execution


Kristina Ruiz-Healy, M.A

Community Development Liaison

Donor Network West

About the Project

A partnership between the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD), The City and County of San Francisco and Donor Network West emerged due to our need to educate high school students in larger numbers and encourage DPH clinic staff to have conversations about organ and tissue donation with patients within San Francisco County's diverse set of social, economic and cultural circumstances. To do this, we engaged partners who had clinics and schools in zip codes with low donor designation rates.

This community education project touches lives through public and professional education, but above all it changes lives by inspiring conversations of those in San Francisco streets - from a pedestrian who sees our bus awareness campaign in English, Spanish or Chinese, to the patient at the clinic in Chinatown or the Mission District. The student at any public high school in San Francisco who receives a presentation from a health teacher or visits the campus wellness center will be encouraged to raise the topic at home with parents and grandparents. Day by day, the culture of organ and tissue donation will grow through conversations amid this beautiful diverse county.

2016 Winners

Virgen de Guadalupe Cards

The Groundbreaker Award


Kristina Ruiz-Healy, M.A. Political Science; B.A. Communications

Community Development Liaison

Donor Network West


The challenge to find creative, affordable and culturally relevant ways of reaching Mexican born immigrants living throughout widespread geographic locations in Northern California and Nevada and corresponding to a diverse set of social, economic and cultural circumstances that have a direct connection to their willingness to become donors, inspired the development of the Virgen de Guadalupe cards and papel picado banners. Both innovations bring the message of tissue donation to the community bilingually, by use of traditional Mexican folk art and culturally relevant emblems.

Used as an emblem, the vibrant wallet sized Virgen de Guadalupe card was created with multiple community education purposes. First, to attract, connect, and to provide a gateway for a conversation with the community. Second, as a beautiful and culturally relevant take-a-away, the back of the card prompts the holder to have conversations about tissue donation with family and friends.

Emergency Professionals Connection

Outstanding Professional Education


Samuel R. Ritter, BS, CTBS

Lead Tissue Recovery Coordinator

Donor Network of Arizona


Rhiannon Knueven, BS, CTBS

Tissue Recovery Manager

Donor Network of Arizona


Alexa Haynes, BS

Graphic Designer

Donor Network of Arizona


Anne Ackroyd, BA

Public Relations Coordinator

Donor Network of Arizona


The Emergency Professionals Connection (EPC) is a biannual newsletter published by Donor Network of Arizona (DNA). The target audience is local emergency professionals, including firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). The goal of the newsletter is to strengthen the relationship between DNA and Arizona’s first responders, recognize Arizona’s emergency professionals for their contributions to donation, strengthen personal connections to donation and provide relevant donation education. Each issue addresses the following topics:

  • Personal stories of donation and transplantation that have touched the emergency professional community. The stories are typically of local first responders or their family members who have been donors or recipients. Personal stories showcase the heroism and selflessness of donors, as well as the incredible impact of this gift on recipients and their families.
  • A range of stories that include organ, eye and tissue donation, and feature both donor and recipient perspectives.
  • Educational articles to inform first responders of relevant issues that connect them to their role in the donation process. For example, one issue highlights the importance of intubation and fluid documentation in ensuring the potential for donation.
  • Donation data that demonstrates the direct correlation between local emergency services and lives saved by donation
  • Educational infographics and donation statistics.


The project has yielded the following results:

  • Because DNA staff members personally deliver many of the newsletters to fire stations and emergency services, they have strengthened professional relationships with first responders around the state.
  • After reading donation stories that touch the emergency professional community, local first responders have expressed a deeper connection to donation.
  • Since receiving the first issue of the newsletter, three fire stations have reached out to DNA's Tissue Department to request presentations on donation. The EPC newsletter has opened the door for increased communication and education.

Have a Little Heart

Outstanding Public Education


Zach M. Hausauer

Community Development Liaison, Northern Nevada & Northern California

Donor Network West


Working closely with Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve, a kidney recipient and small business owner, we developed an innovative community campaign whereby tissue and organ donation education reached patrons visiting their favorite local businesses in northern Nevada. Through grassroots communication and relationship building, we enlisted nearly 50 business owners. These owners pledged to offer discounts at their stores to registered donors at the point of sale (for a minimum of two months) when patrons presented their donor designation (i.e., in the State of Nevada, a little read heart on your driver’s license). Owners chose the discount they wanted to offer registered donors with some opting for 10% and others as high as 25%.

By signing on as a Have a Little Heart participating business, owners were asked to display table tents, point of sale brochure holders with donation education pamphlets for the public’s taking, and window clings to help the public identify each store’s participation. Each piece of collateral, and there were hundreds of pieces, provided helpful tissue education resources by directing patrons to our Donor Network West website. What’s more, a call to action was included on each piece of collateral such that non-registered donors could register without having to visit the DMV; rather, they could use their smart phones and sign up online (for instance, while waiting for their food order).

Have a Little Heart is the first tissue and organ education program of its kind in the nation. In its first iteration, nearly 50 businesses – serving thousands of people a month – joined on. To make this possible, we had to build and foster a key relationship with City of Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. We also needed to find a way to channel her advocacy into action, and we needed to capitalize on her status as a successful small business owner with ties to the business community.