March of Dimes, Synova Associates announce Excellence in NICU Leadership Award winner


Synova Associates, LLC, in partnership with the March of Dimes, announced this year’s winner of the March of Dimes Excellence in NICU Leadership Award at the annual NICU Leadership Forum last month at the TPC Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Lori Gunther, senior director of NICU Innovation and Melissa Gehl, manager of NICU Innovation at the March of Dimes, presented the award to winner Luann Jones, Neonatal Services nursing director Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The award recognizes the significant contributions of NICU leaders.

“One of her colleagues who nominated her put it best,” Gunther said. “Luann leads the great teamwork in the NICU that people love. It’s the reason they stay, and why more people want to become a part of our team.”

Criteria for the award included a demonstration of a strong leader; ability to influence staff within and beyond the NICU; and to lead with care and compassion towards patients, families, colleagues and staff.

“I know it sounds corny, but I was inspired to choose nursing as a profession because of my son Drew's primary nurse in the NICU at Arkansas Children’s Hospital,” Jones said. “That NICU nurse went well beyond providing quality care to my premature baby. That entire experience set me on the path to become the best NICU nurse I could be.”

The theme for this year’s annual NICU Leadership Forum was “Leadership: Finding Joy in the Journey.”

For the 22nd year, Synova Associates attracted close to 200 nurse leaders from around the country to participate in educational leadership conferences, presentations, round-table discussions and networking opportunities.

For more information about the NICU Nurse Leadership Forum or about Synova Associates, visit