Who's Who Honorees :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

"Who's Who" Honorees

The "Who's Who" candidates were chosen based upon personal and professional achievements, and continued contribution to the community.

All honorees are represented in the publication with a biography and photograph. Several employees of Nationwide Children's Hospital were selected to appear in multiple editions of “Who’s Who in Black Columbus" and "Who's Who in Latino Columbus," a publication that serves to highlight the positive achievements of African-Americans and Latinos in the Columbus leadership community.

2012 Who’s Who in Black Columbus Honorees

Photo of Karen S. DaysKaren S. Days
President, The Center for Family Safety and Healing
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Karen S. Days is the president of The Center for Family Safety and Healing (CFSH), which takes an integrated team approach to breaking the cycle of family violence and child abuse.  Karen previously served as the president of the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence (CCAFV) since its founding in 1999 and was interim president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, which was merged with CCAFV to create the new CFSH.

Karen previously spent 10 years working in the criminal justice field. Currently, she serves as a board member of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, the Columbus Police Foundation, the Learning Circle Education Services, and on the Advisory Board of the State Victims Assistance Act. She has received the “Women of Achievement Award” from the YWCA and the “Karama Community Leadership Award” from the Columbus Urban League.

Karen earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology/Criminal Justice from The Ohio State University and an MBA from Ohio Dominican University.  A native of Columbus, she grew up in the Linden area and currently resides in Clinton Estates.

Photo of Natasha N. Davis, JD/MBANatasha N. Davis, JD/MBA
Associate Counsel
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Natasha Davis has been associate counsel at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Legal Services Department since 2007.  Her practice areas include health law, real estate, corporate transactions, and patient care issues.  She also serves as a legal representative to Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families collaborative. At Nationwide Children’s, Natasha co-chairs the affinity group for black employees, Connect With Us, where she works to provide an outlet for black employees for networking, professional development and service to the Columbus community.

Natasha is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Wright Choice, Pre-Professional Law Program. She regularly hosts undergraduate students who are interested in attending law school. As a member of the Board of the John Mercer Langston Bar Association, Natasha chairs the Mentoring Committee.  Natasha regularly mentors young prospective lawyers who want to learn about health law and/or being in-house counsel to a large entity.

Natasha received her Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Richmond.  She received her law degree from the University of Cincinnati, College of Law.

Photo of Olivia Thomas, MDOlivia Thomas, MD
Clinical Professor, Department of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University
Chief, Section of Ambulatory Pediatrics
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Dr. Olivia Thomas is the chief of the section of Ambulatory Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University.  Dr. Thomas oversees Nationwide Children’s Primary Care Network, which offers comprehensive health care for over 75,000 patients.  She is also director of the Reach Out and Read program.

Dr. Thomas has given many years of service as a committee or board member of both national health organizations and community agencies. She currently serves on the Center for Family Safety and Healing Board, the Ohio Commission on Minority Health Board, the Access Health Columbus Board, the Charitable Pharmacy of Central Ohio Board and the Columbus Medical Association Foundation Board.  She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and Top Ladies of Distinction.

Dr. Thomas received her Bachelor of Science degree from Kentucky State University and her Doctor of Medicine degree from Creighton University Medical School.  She and her husband Bob are the parents of two daughters, Alicia and Erin, and have three grandchildren – MarZhawn, Malek and Olivia.

Photo of Robert A. Johnson, Ph.D.Robert A. Johnson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, The Ohio State University
Principal Investigator, Center For Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Dr. Robert A. Johnson has been involved in basic science research for 25 years holding positions from laboratory technician to his current position as principal investigator in the Center for Childhood Cancer at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and assistant professor in the Pediatric Department of The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

Dr. Johnson received his Bachelor of Arts, Biology degree from The Johns Hopkins University and his Masters of Science, Biology degree from New York University. Also, he received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Weill Graduate School of Medical Science of Cornell University.

From 2006 through 2010, Dr. Johnson trained as a postdoctoral fellow at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.  The focus of his research revolved around identifying the genetic and molecular causes of ependymoma, a devastating pediatric brain tumor with only a 60 percent cure rate.

Dr. Johnson is continuing his ependymoma research as a principal investigator at Nationwide Children’s.

Photo of Tonya Lawson-HowardTonya Lawson-Howard
Director, Physician and Referral Source Marketing
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Tonya Lawson-Howard is the director of physician and referral source marketing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the 4th largest pediatric hospital and research center in America.  In her role, she is responsible for the strategic development of marketing and communication activities targeting physicians, clinicians and other patient referral sources.  She provides leadership to a team of marketers responsible for the execution of marketing plans for clinical service lines.

Tonya has been employed with Nationwide Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years, developing her skills in marketing, business development and health information management.  She has a Bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Franklin University.

Tonya is a longstanding member at Rehoboth Temple Church and currently serves on its Finance Board. She is also a former Project Mentor volunteer.  She lives in Bexley, Ohio with her husband Marvin and their two children, Lauren and Austin.

Photo of Wendy Anderson-Willis, MDWendy Anderson-Willis, MD
Pediatrician
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

“Helping kids and their families get well is exciting to me,” explains Dr. Wendy Anderson-Willis, a board certified pediatrician at Nationwide Children's Hospital and a Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.

From an early age, Dr. Wendy, as her patients call her, embraced the challenges she faced in life with a sense of adventure and determination and she encourages her patients and their families to do the same. Inspired by Mrs. Mae Welch, her seventh grade science teacher at Champion Middle School, who told her that she could be a scientist, Dr. Wendy visualized a life for herself far outside of the poverty and instability of her family experienced during her childhood.

An alumnus of Howard University, Dr. Wendy is passionate about improving the lives of the teens she works with at Nationwide Children's Teen Clinics across the city. Dr. Wendy chose to work at Nationwide Children’s because she wanted to provide first rate care for every child, regardless of their family’s ability to pay for services. “At Nationwide Children’s, every child receives the absolute best care available. I’m proud to be a part of providing that care.”

For some of the patients she treats, the only consistent adult in their life is their doctor. “My job is to inspire them. These kids are facing the same kinds of issues that I dealt with as a teen. I encourage them to reach the other side of their dreams." Dr. Wendy also provides outreach services at Columbus City Schools in underserved areas on Nationwide Children’s Hospital Mobile Care Unit.

Dr. Wendy’s commitment to the community is evident in her role as an inspiring speaker.  She captivates her audience-taking them on a breath holding journey of self discovery.  “We step over roadblocks that separate us from our best health-together.”  In her weekly Walk With a Doc sessions, she volunteers her time to walk with community residents, helping connect the need for nature in wellness to our current high tech, busy lives. “It’s inspiring to watch these individuals take control of their health and walk away from obesity, hypertension and other illnesses,” says Dr. Wendy.

A champion for children and families, Dr. Wendy believes “every child has the right to play outside.” She advocates the benefits of providing children with safe time to play outside and often writes prescriptions for outdoor play. Dr. Wendy has been recognized for her efforts by The Leave No Child Inside Central Ohio Collaborative.

Dr. Wendy is regularly featured on Good Day Columbus speaking about pediatrics and is currently working on a book about her childhood to encourage teens.

Dr. Wendy is married to Rev. Jerome Willis and they live in Columbus with their daughter Katherine.

Nilsa Ramirez, MD

(From Who's Who in Latino Columbus 2011)

Nilsa RamirezDiscovering a purpose in life is an ambition that many people aim for, but many struggle to find. For Nilsa Ramirez, MD, medical director of the Biopathology Center at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, finding her life’s intent came rather easily. “Growing up, there were very strong lessons in my house that the main thing in life is to give back and to assist others less fortunate,” says Ramirez. “So with that influence, I gravitated toward medicine.”    

And it’s clear that medicine has captured Ramirez’s heart. In addition to her role at The Biopathology Center, she also serves as the hospital’s director of Surgical Pathology. In 2009, Ramirez became the co-investigator and lead pathologist for The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Biospecimen Core Resource at Nationwide Children's Hospital. TCGA is an effort by the National Cancer Institute and the National Human Genome Research Institute that aims to develop a complete catalog of the genomic changes in more than 20 types of cancer from tumor and normal tissue samples.

As one of the leaders of the Biospecimen Core Resource, Ramirez ensures the samples submitted to TCGA meet quality standards, and she also assembles expert pathologists to review them. Though she is one of several researchers from across the country participating in the project, its mission is especially touching for Ramirez, who has lost family and friends to the disease.

“There is always that quest that you have as a scientist that motivates you to go into medicine, but I also do it for my children,” says Ramirez. “I know that eventually my daughter and step-daughter may face this disease personally or through family or friends. My goal, through my work, is to make this a lot easier for them.”

Ramirez’s determination to make a lasting contribution to medicine is simply her idea of finishing what she has started. One of the most rewarding aspects of her work has been the chance to give back through mentoring. Her coworkers appreciate her motherly attitude and upbeat sense of humor, qualities that Ramirez attributes to her cultural background. Furthermore, she has always felt the responsibility to make her work purposeful, a value she learned from her mother during her childhood in Lajas, Puerto Rico.

Ramirez grew up as an only child in the small, coastal town, spending most of her time with schoolmates and friends. When she attended the University of Puerto Rico to study biology and medicine, she was grateful for the diversity among her classmates. “It made it more rewarding that you were learning from and assisting people from your environment, and yet, diversity still had a presence,” says Ramirez. “It gave me a better understanding and appreciation for all kinds of people.”

Ramirez moved to Detroit after medical school, and appreciated beginning her career in a setting as diverse as the one she left behind in Puerto Rico. After completing her residency in pathology at Wayne State University and a fellowship in gynecological pathology at Hutzel Hospital, Ramirez worked at the Detroit Medical Center for eight years, followed by two years in private practice. In 2001, she joined the Department of Pathology at The Ohio State University where she still serves as an associate professor of clinical pathology. In 2006, she took on her first of many roles at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“I have the best job in the world,” says Ramirez. “You have to love what you do. It allows you to go home, be happy and have the desire to come back to work day after day.”

Jamie Phillips

(Also honored in Who’s Who in Black Columbus 2012)

(From Who's Who in Black Columbus 2010)

Jamie PhillipsPlaying doctor with your friends during your early years is something we are all familiar with. Fantasizing about growing up to be doctors and nurses was a normal part of childhood. But Jamie Phillips' dreams were a little bit different; she wanted to help less fortunate families. She was interested in business and finance, and she wanted to do positive things within the health care industry.

Phillips is vice president of operations at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She is responsible for two main areas within the organization: The Heart Center and supply chain operations. As an exceptional leader and health care manager, she enjoys a career that fulfills her childhood dream. “During a high-school summer career session at Ohio University, there was a professor describing the field of health care administration. Based upon the description of the degree and career opportunities, I believed this profession aligned perfectly with my personal and professional aspirations,” says Phillips. “I do not provide the direct clinical care, but I do have the ability to facilitate and make change happen in improving healthcare for others.”

Nationwide Children's Hospital is a top-ranked pediatric hospital and research institute offering outstanding clinical programs for children and adult patients with congenital disease. Their preeminent, high quality heart care and heart surgery programs are recognized throughout the world. One of Phillips’ next goals at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is to be a part of a movement that will bring these services into geographical regions that lack the ability to invest in highly specialized clinical physicians and clinical providers.

One of Phillips’ most rewarding experiences is being able to mentor young and upcoming leaders at Nationwide Children's Hospital. “I have a passion for growing young talented minorities seeking education and success in health care administration. Today, health care populations are more diverse, so I truly believe the hospital staff, including management and boards, needs to represent the communities they serve. I have made it a mission to take these individuals under my wings to help with coaching and mentoring on how to become an influential administrator, and thrive in corporate America,” Phillips explains. “At Nationwide Children’s, I’ve continued to mentor young minorities within our organization. One of the things most rewarding is to see when these individuals move on to higher positions. I want to be remembered as an inspirational leader, mentor and coach to others, since I have been blessed by others that have helped me become the leader I am today.”

Phillips received a Bachelor of Science degree form Ohio University and master of Health Administration degree form The Ohio State University. She recently completed her credentialing to become a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

She completed the United Way Project diversity Leadership Program in 2007, and was the 2002 recipient of the YMCA Black Achiever Award in Cincinnati, Ohio. Phillips completed the Greater Cincinnati Urban League Leadership Development Program in 2001, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

This Bronx, New York, native is a proud wife and mother of two, and is a devoted soccer, basketball, track, and football mom. She is a Big Brother Big Sister School-based mentor and enjoys working out at least three days a week.

Jose Balderrama

 

(From Who's Who in Latino Columbus 2009)

Jose BalderramaJose Balderrama, vice president of human relations for Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is helping to evolve the culture and the staff of Nationwide Children’s Hospital into a world-class institution. Jose knows it isn’t easy to go beyond the familiar, but the combination of deep roots and soaring aspirations guarantees success.

Born in northern Mexico, Jose grew up learning the importance of family and the strong roots they create for you. At age 15, he moved in with his grandparents to take advantage of a better school system and a notable college where he earned a degree in industrial relations. He then headed north and sought a master’s degree in human resources at The University of Texas at Arlington. After earning a degree, he went back to Mexico and began his career in human resources as a quality and productivity coordinator for a copper mining company in Sonora, Mexico.

Jose’s strong family ties gave him the courage to take advantage of his ambitions, whether it was attending a new school or moving to a new country, as was the case a few years into his career. In 2000 he moved to the United States once again as he was named the company’s director of compensation and benefits for U.S. operations. Shortly after that, he was promoted to the vice president of the Human Resources Department. It was in this position that he was approached by Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation,” says Jose, “and an inspiring place to work.” He believes that you can’t have a top class organization if each of the pieces of the organization is not at the same level of excellence. His goal is to make the Human Resources Department one of the best, so that the hospital as a whole continues to be one of the best.

Getting great results from his department isn’t a problem for Jose, especially with his unique approach to leadership. “Leadership is about the followers, not the leader, because you are only a leader if your followers want you to be a leader,” explains Jose. By spending the time to get his department and the hospital’s administration behind him, he is giving great ambition and direction to a department that touches every employee from recruitment through retirement.

One of the main messages human resources sends to all hospital employees is the importance of a work and life balance – a balance that Jose has perfected through the years. He makes the most of his time at the office by following one of the hospital’s principles, “Be Here Now.” However, once he gets home to his wife and son, his motto changes to “Aqui Estoy.” His language changes back to Spanish and he works to be a successful father and husband by spending time with extended family in Mexico and teaching his son about their culture. 

Angela Mingo

(Also honored in Who’s Who in Black Columbus 2012)

(From Who's Who in Black Columbus 2009)

Angela MingoAngela M. Mingo, director of community relations at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, is helping to implement an unprecedented vision of the board to improve the lives of all children in the community, not just the hospital’s patients. As a woman who knows the value of extending her own boundaries, she is thinking globally and acting locally.

Studying abroad in high school put Angela on a global path that ended back in Ohio. After returning from Brazil, she pursued bachelor’s degrees in Portuguese and international relations, and then a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from The Ohio State University. “Having studied in Brazil and Portugal, and experiencing different cultures, I learned that all great cities are based on good infrastructure and community,” Angela says. “It was the social aspects of urban planning, understanding what folks value and treasure, that I was able to relate to as a minority who grew up in the city.”

After marrying attorney Clarence E. Mingo, Angela’s feet were firmly planted in Columbus, where she worked for the State of Ohio and the City of Columbus. It wasn’t until she Spent time as the director of community affairs for the Columbus City Council that she began working with Nationwide Children's Hospital.

“From the outside looking in, I saw the hospital as an organization committed to communicating with and serving this community,” Angela explains. “That was of great interest to me because of the benefit both businesses and the community receive when they agree to maintain an open dialog and discuss areas and items of mutual interest.”

Angela’s involvement with the hospital became a full-time affair in 2007, when she was appointed director of community relations for Nationwide Children's Hospital. She is focused on ensuring that the hospital is an engaged partner with its surrounding neighborhood, sharing the benefits and responsibilities that come with being one of the city’s largest employers.

With support from the hospital’s board of directors and chief executive officer, Angela is helping to lead an innovative new community partnership called Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families (HNHF). The hospital is investing several million dollars into growing partnerships with the city and local not-for-profits aimed at neighborhood revitalization in the area surrounding Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Affordable housing has been an early focus and HNHF has already sold its first renovated home, with the goal of selling 50 to 60 more homes during the next five to seven years. Additionally, health and wellness efforts are a natural fit for the pediatric institution. For example, the epidemic of childhood obesity has become a rallying call for HNHF and other efforts to unite around providing improved nutrition and physical fitness opportunities for local children and their families.

“I feel so fortunate to be in a position to work daily with our neighbors to seek input to shape and mold an initiative that will bring the incredible resources already available to our patients to all the children in our community,” Angela shares.

Okey and Ihuoma Eneli

(Dr. Ihuoma Eneli also honored in Who’s Who in Black Columbus 2012)

(From Who's Who in Black Columbus 2008)

Okey EneliIhuoma Eneli Okey and Ihuoma Eneli of Nationwide Children’s Hospital have dedicated their lives’ work to building strong community foundations. Yet, this couple does so using two very different approaches. To Okey, this effort takes a very physical and tactical approach in his role as vice president of engineering services. Meanwhile, Ihuoma, ambulatory pediatrician and associate director for clinical programs at the Nationwide Children’s Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition, battles the growing pediatric obesity epidemic challenging the health and well-being of Columbus’ children.

The Enelis are originally from Nigeria. Okey moved to the United Sates after receiving an undergraduate degree from the University of Nigeria, and settled in Michigan, where he achieved master’s degrees in environmental and civil engineering, business administration and economics. Shortly thereafter, Ihuoma joined him in Michigan and completed a residency in pediatrics, a master’s degree in epidemiology and led a two-year community-research project with obesity as her area of focus.

New to Columbus in 2006, both Enelis are current leaders at the forefront of their respective fields. Okey manages the daily engineering functions critical to running a health care operation. He also oversees construction of Nationwide Children's 12-story replacement hospital, slated for completion in 2012, and related facility upgrades. Ihuoma focuses on combating pediatric obesity, which Nationwide Children's recently identified as the No. 1 public health threat for children in Franklin County.

Ihuoma has been closely monitoring the trend in pediatric obesity since 1998 and knows her message is incredibly important for the African-American community to hear. “We’re aware that obesity rates are higher in the African-American community and not just for the kids, but adults too,” shares Ihuoma. “We have the resilience ourselves, families and community to tackle this problem.”

Okey’s focus is on ensuring that excellent medical care is supported by world-class facilities. That is a goal at Nationwide Children's Hospital. “In health care, there’s a lot of emphasis on utilities. For instance, power must be available 24 hours, seven days a week, so backup generators are routinely tested. From pressurized rooms to light balance, no small detail is overlooked. Great care is taken to make sure the environment in which kids or patients receive their care is not compromised at all,” says Okey.

Throughout their careers, the Enelis have kept one mantra close to heart – hard work and a positive attitude. Thankfully for the children and families of Central Ohio, they are continuing to achieve success here in Columbus.

Nationwide Children's Hospital
700 Children's Drive Columbus, Ohio 43205 614.722.2000