Sally Joy Leadership Award

In 2012, the Diabetes Partners in Action Coalition (DPAC), along with the American Diabetes Association (ADA), recognized DPAC member Sally Joy for her advocacy and passion promoting diabetes and kidney disease programs to improve the lives of people living with diabetes. In honor of Sally's leadership efforts, DPAC and ADA annually recognize a deserving individual with the Sally Joy Leadership Award.
2023 recipient Sarah Chapel, on the right, with Lauren Neely, MDHHS Diabetes Unit manager

2023 - Sarah Chapel

Congratulations to our 2023 Sally Joy Leadership Award recipient, Sarah Chapel (RDN,CDCES), Henry Ford Health – Diabetes Education Center. Sarah has been a leader in her position and has worked with stakeholders to improve health care systems, coordinated efforts among health providers to reduce barriers to care for people with diabetes and offered solutions to reach people in the community to provide diabetes support. She is truly making an impact on people with diabetes in the state of Michigan.

2022 - Jennifer Nicodemus

MDHHS consultants Tamah Gustafson (far left) and Adrienne Davenport (far right).  Jennifer Nicodemus (middle left) and Kelli DeLong (middle right), Muskegon YMCA, who nominated Jennifer for the award Congratulations to our 2022 Sally Joy Leadership Award recipient, Jennifer Nicodemus, State Alliance of Michigan YMCAs. Jen has dedicated much of her career to finding innovative ways to connect YMCAs and work together to effectively combat the rise of diabetes in the state of MI.

Leading Michigan YMCAs, Jen has formed a hub and spoke model to not only connect Ys across the state but work towards insurance coverage to reduce the financial barrier of joining a diabetes prevention program. Without Jen's leadership, none of that would have been possible. This work is tough, and Jen has seen it through every step of the way.

2020 - Robin B. Nwankwo

Ms. Nwankwo was nominated for her passion, dedication, and advocacy. Her spirit shines in her work with those who have diabetes, those who love them, those who are at risk and the health professionals who take care of them! Colleagues who have had the honor of working closely with Robin have seen her listen, hear, interact and gently lead across the diabetes community.

She is effective in working with health professionals because she represents academic, practical and personal diabetes experience. She is effective in working within diabetes organizations because they know her passion that translates into hard work. She is effective in working with people at risk or who have diabetes because they see she is nonjudgmental, understanding and truly cares about them.

2018 - Amy Ohmer

Amy Ohmer accepting the 2018 Sally Joy Leadership Award with (from left) Gary Dougherty, American Diabetes Association; Paul Dake, MD, DPAC Co-Chair; Olivia Ohmer; Amy Ohmer; Reece Ohmer; Nicole Matti, American Diabetes Association; Richard Wimberley, Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Amy Ohmer has been a leader and advocate within the diabetes community for several years. Inspired by the resilience of her daughters fighting the disease she has been an essential part of our diabetes community in Michigan.

Most recently, Ms. Ohmer has been marching on Washington to fight on behalf of people living with diabetes on topics such as insulin affordability. She also goes above and beyond to attain an audience with local state representatives to continue to push an agenda for people living with Diabetes.

For several years, she has been leading and collaborating with community groups at the University of Michigan. Even going as far as educating others on the proper use of glucagon in emergencies. Putting her daughters through ADA Camp Midicha, Amy is a big part of the Midicha community and continues to be a great resource for friends and other families looking for advice and sharing her work to inspire others.

2017 – Susanna Robinson

Susanna Robinson accepting the 2017 Sally Joy Leadership Award with (from left) Gary Dougherty, American Diabetes Association; Susanna Robinson; Paul Dake, MD, DPAC Co-Chair; and Sally Joy Susanna Robinson epitomizes both leadership and excellence through her involvement and passion about diabetes in Michigan. Susanna has been a committed and active DPAC member over the ten years I have known her.

She served as a DPAC workgroup co-chair, has been a long-time Board member, continually offers fresh ideas, moves projects forward, educates consumers to professionals alike in DPAC with an uncanny ability to speak to each person’s own need to understand. Susanna is thoughtful, kind, and unwavering in her determination to make life better for all people with or at risk for any type of diabetes. And yet, she is a team player even in an organization such as DPAC, never drawing attention to herself. But when she is not in the room, people are looking for her!

Susanna connects others in the world of diabetes with each other in her attempts to keep the work around diabetes energized and scaling upward: health department staff to local pharmacists, diabetes educators to physicians, DPAC members to their local resources…Susanna “sees” the opportunities. Susanna has presented nationally, at the state level, and as a Certified Diabetes Educator she “educates” other professionals every day. The consummate professional, she even achieved her PharmD. as an already busy working mother. Honoring Susanna Robinson’s commitment to DPAC and diabetes education feels long overdue.

2016 – Mark Walsh

Mark Walsh accepting the 2016 Sally Joy Leadership Award with (from left) Gary Dougherty, American Diabetes Association; Sally Joy; Mark Walsh; and Paul Dake, MD, DPAC Co-Chair "Mark has been a volunteer with the American Diabetes Association for over 10 years. He has type 1 diabetes and works in the diabetes world. He volunteers all year round on our Community Leadership Board and Camp Midicha Committee. Mark helps year round in the planning with Camp Midicha and our diabetes family retreat. He comes and stays at camp for almost 3 weeks straight, giving up his time with family and friends in the summer. He has sleepless nights caring for children with diabetes at our camp.

Mark makes sure that everyone is safe and having a good time. Mark goes above and beyond all the time. Mark puts in way more time than one would ever expect a volunteer to do It is because of people like Mark that make Camp Midicha run so safe and smoothly. He is a kind person and we couldn’t do it without him."

2015 – David Law

David Law accepting the 2015 Sally Joy Leadership Award with (from left) Gary Dougherty, American Diabetes Association; Robin Nwankwo; David Law; and Paul Dake, MD, DPAC Co-Chair As executive Director of Joy-Southfield Community Development Corporation, Dave lives out in his leadership the importance of advocating for the needs of his community and uses the social determinants of health as his mantra to focus on addressing root causes of problems, looking to meet the multiple needs of people versus the silo focus of touching incompletely one aspect. His patients and community members thrive and draw others to build the community and to participate in the vision for improved health and life for all.

Dave is a founding member of the Michigan Minority Health Coalition, an organization that aggressively advocates for racial and economic health equity. When not on the job, Dave loves spending time with his awesome wife Marion and their blended family.

2014 – Susan Deming

Susan Deming accepting the 2014 Sally Joy Leadership Award with (from left) Gary Dougherty, American Diabetes Association; Sally Joy; Suan Deming; and Paul Dake, MD, DPAC Co-Chair Susan has demonstrated remarkable leadership and collaboration in connecting her own experience and expertise in oral health to the world of diabetes prevention and management. Susan has been an advocate for oral health screening and care for people with diabetes or elevated glucose levels. As an active member of the DPAC Training and Education Workgroup, Susan has developed diabetes and oral health factsheets and organized diabetes and oral health webinars for statewide organizations.

She is always making connections with people with whom she might collaborate and is continually championing the cause of better oral health leading to better diabetes management. Her nominator says that "she does all of this with a never-ending smile."

2013 – Dr. Jill Vollbrecht

Dr. Vollbrecht is a Staff Endocrinologist at Munson Medical Center and Co-Medical Director of the Northern Michigan Diabetes Initiative. Dr. Vollbrecht is a true asset to our community and to people with diabetes. She is passionate about assisting her patients with diabetes and is always eager and willing to educate other health professionals about diabetes. Dr. Vollbrecht maintains a very busy endocrinology practice, serves as Co-Medical Director of the 12-county Northern Michigan Diabetes Initiative and participates in many diabetes educational outreach opportunities related to diabetes for both patients and health care professionals across northern Michigan.

Over the past few years, Dr. Vollbrecht has spearheaded a program that takes her into primary care provider offices where she sees four different patient types with diabetes alongside their primary care provider. This program has shown statistically significant reductions in median LDL and microalbuminuria levels in patients with previously-uncontrolled diabetes even nine months after the site visit.

2012 – Sally Joy

Sally Joy Sally Joy was the Public Policy staff person at the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan (NKFM) for nearly 19 years. She was inspirational to both staff and volunteers. Her advocacy efforts in Michigan, on behalf of people with kidney disease and those at risk, have been praised extensively by MDHHS officials and state legislators.

Sally had a tremendous ability to communicate with public officials in a way that makes them take action. Through the years the diabetes and kidney line had been cut, but with Sally's advocacy efforts, even when other programs have been significantly cut, the diabetes/kidney line has remained intact. Sally Joy is truly inspirational. She was hard-working, devoted and dedicated to the NKFM and the people it serves.

Always present, always thinking, always committed to the project at hand. She constantly strived to better herself and the NKFM. Sally Joy was an individual that “makes things happen” and she definitely "made lives better" in Michigan.