By Sun Health President and CEO, Ron Guziak
On Oct. 10, we celebrated the work anniversaries of dozens of employees and recognized six individuals and one team for going “above and beyond” in their jobs. It was a pleasure seeing these employees receive much-deserved recognition.

Speaking for all of Sun Health’s senior leadership team, we are deeply grateful for all that employees do for residents, their family members, clients, donors, business partners and coworkers. We appreciate their hard work, positive attitudes and dedication to giving their very best at work. It’s the fundamental reason for our success as an organization.

This year, a record number of 64 employees were nominated by a coworker for one of six special awards, and more than 100 employees were recognized for almost 600 years of combined service.

I’m honored to share the names of this year’s awardees, beginning with the special awards’ recipients followed by the service milestone awardees. We are so fortunate to have these employees on the Sun Health team.


The 2017 nominees, finalists and award recipients come from different communities and departments and represent a wide variety of job positions and career lengths. While all Sun Health employees contribute to our overall success, these individuals were recognized by their peers and supervisors for excelling in areas vital to our mission. These areas include innovation, education/personal growth, initiative, emerging leadership, customer service and outstanding teamwork.

Here are this year’s nominees, finalists and recipients in each of the six categories.


The nominees for the award were: Marc Billings, Katherine McDonnell, and Mary Anne Poggenburg

The finalists were: Mary Anne Poggenburg and Katherine McDonnell.

The Recipient is Katherine McDonnell, Fitness Coordinator and Certified Health Coach, Grandview Terrace

Innovation Award recipient Katherine McDonnell (standing) with Nancy Pauuwe, a resident at Grandview Terrace.

Katherine developed an innovative program to reverse the effects of sarcopenia in Grandview Terrace residents. Sarcopenia is a condition most commonly found in older adults.   Characterized by loss of muscle mass and strength, it can negatively impact balance, gait and the ability to perform tasks of daily living. The International Council on Active Aging selected Katherine’s program to be presented at its 2017 conference. Katherine and Rhonda Zonoozi, exercise physiologist at Sun Health Center for Health & Wellbeing co-presented a talk entitled: Turn Back the Clock: Reducing Sarcopenia in Older Adults.”

The research grew out of Katherine’s curiosity about whether sarcopenia could be reversed. She implemented a study in 2016 with 14 residents who volunteered to take part.

After measuring their body composition, the volunteers were instructed to gradually increase the intensity of their workouts over an eight-week period. The residents had access to group fitness classes and the on-campus gym. At the end of those two months, Katherine retested the body composition of her volunteers.

“Much to my surprise, I found, at the end, that it was actually possible for someone in their 80s, in as little as two months, to put on muscle weight,” Katherine says. “It was shocking to me. You figure by the time you get into your 80s, what you’ve got is pretty much what you’ve got to work with. And that’s just not true.”


Jyldyz Medina Temirkan is the recipient of the 2017 Education/Personal Growth Award.

The nominees were: Linda Lessard, Leslie Longacre, Katherine McDonnell and Jyldyz Medina-Temirkan

The three finalists for the award were: Linda Lessard, Katherine McDonnell and Jyldyz Medina-Temirkan.

The recipient is Jyldyz Medina Temirkan, a nurse at La Loma Village Health and Rehabilitation Center

Jyldyz, who goes by Jill, moved to the United States nine years ago from her home in the Kyrgyz Republic, a country in Central Asia. She immersed herself in life in Arizona, honing her English language skills and going to school to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. She was hired as a CNA at La Loma five years ago. From there, Jill studied to become an LPN, then a registered nurse and she recently completed her bachelor’s in nursing from Grand Canyon University. Jill’s supervisor has witnessed Jill’s rapid growth and observed how education has not only improved her skills as a nurse, but also made her a more poised and confident person. Residents at La Loma and Grandview Terrace – where she occasionally works – frequently sing Jill’s praises for her compassion and professionalism.


Antonio Soriano-Trujillo is the recipient of the 2017 Initiative Award.

The nominees were: Tammy Bailey, Avegail Ebid; Scott Felciano, Debbie Frankel; Tracy Garrett; Nicole Holtsclaw; Laura Kloskowski; Mary Loud; Katherine McDonnell; Antonio Soriano-Trujillo; April Styles; Marietta Thorpe; Tina Chaffins Vigueria

The finalists for the award were: Debbie Frankel; Antonio Soriano-Trujillo; April Styles; and Katherine McDonnell

The recipient if Antonio Soriano-Trujillo, an HVAC Tech at La Loma Village.

Using his national curiosity, Antonio continually looks for ways to make life better for residents and employees at La Loma Village. He conducted extensive research on energy management and led a team of employees who developed a plan for implementing a new energy management system now in use at La Loma Village. Antonio is known for tackling problems and working on them until he comes up with workable solutions. He enjoys interacting with residents and they enjoy his company. He recently took the initiative to lead a wooden-airplane building activity for the residents.


The Nominees for this award were: Rachel Collyer; Adam Dekaria, Debbie Frankel, Windy Hadley, Linda Lessard and Jessica Virgil

The finalists for the award were: Rachel Collyer, Windy Hadley and Linda Lessard

Linda Lessard, recipient of the 2017 Emerging Leader Award.

The recipient is Linda Lessard, Director of IT Business Systems for Sun Health Senior Living

Linda started at Grandview Terrace in 2013 as the Health and Rehab marketing manager, but quickly moved into an IT project coordinator role. She took on and successfully launched Sun Health’s implementation of an electronic medical record system. Starting in 2016, while pursuing her master’s degree in Health Informatics, Linda worked closely with Sun Health Senior Living’s IT consultants to help build a more secure and smoother functioning network. Coworkers describe Linda as the ultimate team player who credits those around her for positive results. Linda’s communication to her staff, whether for small routine matters or something more significant, helps them feel comfortable in knowing what is coming next and what steps they need to take. During a recent computer outage, Linda led the charge to restore service, instituting routine check-ins and updates that were helpful.

Linda is a commissioner for the LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) team, a group that is leading the charge to expedite the development, evaluation, and adoption of emerging technologies to improve the aging experience.


The nominees for this award were: Amy Heusted, Barbara Day, Benjamin Soriano, Blanca Licano, Bonnie Olsen, Cartreal Mixon, Cathy Buyno, Christine Spiwak, Claudia De Jesus, Curtis Anderson, Diane Herr, Doina Mozolik, Helen Bone, Jeanette Oblea, Jenny Bradley, Luis Falero, Maria Gonzalez, Moayed Hanna, Nicole Holtsclaw, Patricia Corona, Tom Guevara, Tina Chaffins Vigueria, Tracy Garrett, Vickie Brown

The finalists for the award were: Benjamin Soriano, Blanca Licano, Doina Mozolik; Maria Gonzalez; and Tom Guevara

There were two recipients: Blanca Licano, a housekeeper at The Colonnade and Maria Gonzalez, a cafe attendant at Grandview Terrace

Blanca Licano, a 2017 Customer Service Award recipient.

Blanca Licano is known for doing a “fantastic job.” Residents use words such as, “prompt, pleasant, warm and helpful,” to describe Blanca. One resident said, “It’s a joy to be around Blanca. I’m amazed at how efficiently she can make things sparkling clean.” She notifies maintenance whenever she discovers something that needs to be fixed in a resident’s home.

Blanca keeps an eye out for residents, often anticipating their needs. For example, Blanca watered plants for a resident who was on vacation and whose automatic watering system broke. She’s also been overheard singing along with a resident who was feeling lonely.

On another occasion, Blanca came to the aid of a resident who had fallen and she stayed with them until paramedics arrived.


Maria Gonzalez is a recipient of the 2017 Customer Service Award.

Maria Gonzales is a café attendant at Grandview Terrace. She makes a concerted effort to get to know residents, employees and regular guests and their food preferences, so she can anticipate their orders and make their experience feel more personal.

Maria is also known for bringing order to chaos during busy times in the café. She calmly and efficiently processes customer orders, treating everyone as a “special guest.”

Nominated by her peers for Grandview Terrace’s employee recognition program, Maria was lauded as the cornerstone of service in the café.


Nominees were the IT Team, Accounting Team, Grandview Terrace and Center for Health & Wellbeing Resident Wellness Team, La Loma Village Life Enrichment Team, Care Transitions Team and the Systemwide Wellness Champions Team.

(L-R) Kari Curry, Ione Murray, Marisa Richmond and Windy Hadley are the recipients of the 2017 Outstanding Team/Collaboration Award

The Finalists were: IT; La Loma Village Life Enrichment and Wellness Champions.

The award went to the La Loma Village Life Enrichment team: Ione Murray, Marisa Richmond, Windy Hadley and Kari Curry

The team worked collaboratively to develop the Julia Sweeney College of Fine Arts, part of La Loma University, a lifelong-learning program managed by residents and staff.  The Life Enrichment Team developed intellectually artistic programming to further bring arts to the campus and fully utilize the talents of the team including art and music

In addition to their own research, they gathered feedback from residents to develop programs that would meet resident needs and interests. The feedback helped the team develop a program that is fully accessible, even to those with no artistic ability. Named after former resident Julia Sweeney, the program seeks to bring out the “artist in everyone.”



25-year service awardee Maria Ramos.

25 Years – Maria Ramos

20 Years – Anita Freitas, Sharon Grambow, Elizabeth Rivera

15 Years – Bernice Guiza, Tammy Soares

10 Years – Angela Behrens, Jill Carral, Kari Davis Curry, Bienvenida Fonseca, Shawnnitta Garcia, Darlene Geith, Maria Gonzalez, Gurdish Pal Kaur, Harpreet Lehil, Jaquelina Lopez, Maria Marquez, Sandra Marquez, Bertha Matlock, Maria Morales, Nicole Moya, Mary Reichert, Diane Shepard, Benjamin Soriano, Nicole Valdez, Monica Valenzuela, Jessica Virgil, Priscilla Von Wilczur, Terry Wallace, Roberto Zavala

5 Years – Hilda Abarca, Shukura Adenola, Darcy Andelin, Rogel Bacani, Julie Bressler, Joseph Brewer, Nohemi Cisneros, Juanita Cuellar, Susan Davis, Carolyn Finwall, Luisa Galve, Roma Gebru, Pamela Kohnen, Leslie Longacre, Jose Marquez, Katherine McDonnell, Zackary Morris, Doina Mozolik, Andre Oakley, David Price, Kathi Ransier, Kenneth Reinstein, Veronica Resendes, Debra Richards, Lourdes Valencia, Rhonda Zonoozi

2 Years – Dominic Augustin, Jennifer Alexander, Erica Arcos, Marissa Bennett, Lesley Bernal, Vanessa Borrayo, Nora Camarena, Samantha Carter, Anthony Cox, Barbara Day, Shaliza Dookie, Sigfredo Luis Falero, Debbie Frankel, Teresa Franklin, Desiree Fuentes, Kuhlwinder Gahlla, Christopher Gallindo, Hector Garcia, Maria Garcia, Jeannie Grates, Henry Haug, Hilda Hernandez Zarate, Krystal Jones, Elzbieta Kedzior, Ryan Keizer, Lorna Klotz, Francisca Komuhangi, Rene Kridler, Sanra Krier, Danielle Kuskowski, Cherri Lee, Blanca Licano, Christine Lockmon, Robins Magaki, Paige McReynolds, Carlos Mendez, Carlandus Mixon, Philip Morin, Raymond Mullenix, Chalise Pina, Isaiah Rios, Roger Robinson-Garcia, Maria Sanchez, Elizabeth Savocchia, Traci Scoggins, David Turner, Karen Usmiller, Paul Vanderveen, Joyce Wilt

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