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America’s Largest Independent Kidney Patient Organization Recognizes Top Professionals


Tampa, FL - The American Association of Kidney Patients (AAKP), America’s oldest and largest independent, patient-led kidney advocacy organization, has announced recipients of its 2020 Medal of Excellence. The award is one of the Association’s highest honors for kidney healthcare professionals and designed to elevate local, national and international figures who have been at the forefront of advancements in kidney care and patient empowerment.

“As AAKP closes out its 50th Anniversary and launches the AAKP led initiative the Decade of the Kidney™ (2020-2030), we are witnessing substantial changes within the kidney community and a time where the relationship between patients and their healthcare team has never been more important. It is an honor to recognize those professionals who are committed to improving and extending the lives of all kidney patients through research, technology and quality treatments that increase patient care choice and are a better fit for their goals and ambitions to live, work and contribute to society,”  states Richard Knight, AAKP President, former in-center dialysis patient and current kidney transplant recipient.

“AAKP’s national strategy is designed to increase patient engagement and advocacy through alliances with credible experts and organizations and our 2020 Medal of Excellence recipients exceed the highest levels of professional excellence from the patient viewpoint and are superb representatives for their respective fields,” said Diana Clynes, AAKP Executive Director.  

A review committee selected this year’s honorees based on numerous nominations. The award program recognizes a variety of professionals, including: nephrologist, transplant surgeon, transplant professional, nurse, social worker, dietitian, and dialysis technician – all recognized at events hosted throughout the year in front of a community of their peers.

 The 2020 honorees are:

  • Katherine R. Tuttle, MD, FASN, FACP (Spokane, WA) - Physician Category
  • Matthew Cooper, MD (Washington, D.C.) – Transplant Surgeon Category
  • John S. Gill, MD, MS (Vancouver, British Columbia) – Transplant Professional Category
  • Tamara Kear, PhD, RN, CNN, FAAN (Doylestown, PA) – Nursing Category
  • Denise Collins, MSSW, LCSW-C, LICSW, NSW-C (Rockville, MD) – Social Work Category
  • Jennifer Moore, MS, RDN, LDN, CSR, LDN (Southaven, MS) – Dietetic Category
  • Clarica Douglas Ajayi, CHT (Baltimore, MD) – Dialysis Technician Category

AAKP is proud to recognize such deserving individuals; whose individual career achievements set an example of the best in patient-centered care. The 2020 honorees represent every sector of the renal community and demonstrate the profound impact each member of the healthcare team has on patient outcomes, quality of life, and helping those affected by chronic kidney disease achieve their aspirations.

Medal of Excellence 2020 recognition events:

  • American Society of Transplant Surgeons Winter Symposium (January 11 – Miami, FL): Honoring Dr. Matthew Cooper during the ASTS Awards Ceremony.
  • National Association of Nephrology Technicians Dialysis Tech ConneXion Annual Conference (March 4 – Las Vegas, NV): Honoring Clarica Douglas Ajayi, CHT, during the State of the NANT Address.
  • Medal of Excellence Award Dinner held in conjunction with the Renal Physicians Association’s Annual Meeting (March 20 – Baltimore, MD): Honoring Dr. Katherine Tuttle; Tamara Kear, PhD, RN, CNS, CNN; Denise Collins, MSSW, LCSW-C, LICSW, NSW-C; and Jennifer Moore, MS, RDN, LDN, CSR, LDN.
  • American Transplant Congress (June 1 – Philadelphia, PA): Honoring John S. Gill, MD, MS during the American Society of Transplantation Town Hall.

For additional information on this year’s award recipients, recognition events, to purchase tickets to the Medal of Excellence Award Dinner on March 20th, or to sponsor the 2020 Medal of Excellence program, please visit https://aakp.org/programs-and-events/medal-of-excellence/ or contact Erin Kahle, Director of Stakeholder Operations, ekahle@aakp.org or (813) 400-2393.


Founded in 1969, AAKP is the largest and oldest independent kidney patient organization in America. Governed by a patient-majority Board of Directors, AAKP conducts national education programs designed to better inform kidney patients, care-givers and policy-makers about the true impacts of kidney disease, prevention efforts and treatment methods. AAKP executes a national advocacy strategy in conjunction with allied kidney organizations designed to insert the patient voice into proposed policies, research efforts and care deliberations before the Executive Branch and the U.S. Congress.

 Follow AAKP on social media at:

 Facebook: @kidneypatient

Twitter and Instagram: @kidneypatients

Media Contact:

Deborah Pelaez, Marketing and Communications Manager, (813) 400-2394, dpealez@aakp.org