As Presented By: Judith Kari, 2016 Zawiski Award Recipient

[Austin, TX, October 19, 2017] This year, as we are celebrating the incredible leadership which we find here at NRAA, we find ourselves in the midst of hard times - horrible hurricanes, extraordinary fires, and a tumultuous political environment.  We are fortunate to be here at the 2017 NRAA Annual Conference, a place that we call home, during an iconic year, the 40th Anniversary.  We can rise above the hard times; we can recognize and celebrate Outstanding Leadership. The presentation of the Mark Zawiski Award provides us that opportunity. 

Mark Zawiski was a “hero” among both NRAA and the broader nephrology community.  Mark, through his knowledge, energy, and leadership contributed not only to the development and growth of NRAA, he also made improvements that helped individuals and the nephrology community as a whole.  For example, Mark developed strategies and instruments for cost reporting.  His work benefited NRAA, individuals, and the broader renal community.

As in every year, the Zawiski Award recipients from previous years were charged with selecting the recipient for this year, the 40th Anniversary of NRAA.  This Award reflects the spirit of Mark and of NRAA.  This year’s slate of nominees was a very impressive group of folks who all contribute their time, energy, knowledge, and creativity to improve the nephrology environment. The nominees all contribute in different and outstanding ways as leaders, directors, physicians, clinicians, and patient advocates.  All nominees have made monumental contributions to the nephrology field.  Our field is rich in outstanding leadership. 

The recipient of the 2017 Mark Zawiski Award for Outstanding Leadership is someone who inspires generous, kind, collaborative, and outstanding leadership; and someone who is devoted to assisting, mentoring, and sharing with others. This year’s award recipient is a person who is always by your side at all times. This person is an “inspiring hero” and an “endearing perfect choice.” It is my honor to present the 2017 Mark Zawiski Award for Outstanding Leadership to a truly wonderful inspiring person, Deb Cote.  It is time for all of us to celebrate Deb, her terrific leadership and the spirit of Mark Zawaski.


Here are some descriptions that folks use to describe this Award recipient:

A Queen of Collaboration;
A Magnet for small, independent providers and hospital-based clinics;
A strong patient advocate;
A Supporter of Quality Improvement and Culture of Safety Programs as tools for learning rather than as tools for blame or shame;
A great educator;
A transformative change agent;
An open and welcoming person;
A true ambassador of NRAA;
A positive spokesperson for NRAA;
A supporter of diverse leadership in NRAA


Specifically, this Award recipient works tirelessly on diverse projects and programs with diverse organizations.  A sample includes:

Developing a Culture of Safety Program within NRAA which won the AAKP Jenny Kitsen Award;
Reliably representing NRAA’s legislative programs at the  Annual NRAA Spring Day on the Hill meetings:
Educating CMS on the impact of financial and treatment-oriented regulations;
Supporting CMS’s Core Survey Process and the concept of Quality Improvement and Culture of Safety Programs as  learning tools;
Working with the Kidney Care Partners Operations Committee;
Participating in industry events and educational programs with diverse organizations, including ANNA and NKF;

Deb is someone who has brought us together in many ways and in many venues for many issues over many years, epitomizes what this Award stands for, is inclusive, collaborative, generous, kind, welcoming spirit, provides outstanding leadership with NRAA and with the nephrology community, is an advocate for rational, patient-focused and quality care, has a desire to be transformative and finds joy in celebrating success.