2018 AVAA Award Nominees

Honors of the Association Nominees:

This award recognizes extraordinary contributions to the VA. It recognizes a sustained effort of rare quality.


Kirk Lightfoot, M.S.
Kirk Lightfoot provided exemplary leadership and customer service for our profession, the VA and most importantly, the Veterans we serve on a daily basis throughout his 39 year career. Kirk has shown outstanding leadership on the many national committees on which he’s served.  Whether it was a National VA DALC contract committee or a local hospital committee, Kirk always demonstrated exceptional teamwork, had great ideas, and showed great initiative in working toward a common goal that would ultimately help our profession provide better quality of care for the Veterans we serve. He was a loyal member of the Education Sub-Committee for three years and rarely, if ever, missed a meeting .In addition, Kirk is an outstanding clinician and has mentored a large number of students over his 39 year career.  Even after his retirement in 2016 and until today, our Veterans continue to comment on Kirk’s exemplary customer service skills, positive and outgoing personality, and clinical expertise that he demonstrated to our Veterans over the years.  


Kim Whorton, Director of the DLC
Kimberly A. Whorton was selected as the Director for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Office of Acquisition and Logistics, Denver Acquisition and Logistics Center (DALC) in September 2008.  DALC managed the acquisition, procurement, distribution, and financial management in support of national level program offices for Audiology and Speech Pathology Service, Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, Blind Rehabilitation Service, Office of Telehealth Services, and multiple other Government agencies (OGAs). Ms. Whorton was the driving force in the initial development of VA’s Remote Order/Entry System (ROES).  ROES was developed at the DALC to provide VA medical facility staff and other government agencies with the ability to electronically order products and services from the Center. For audiologists especially, the partnership between the DALC/DLC and the Program office has been instrumental in creating a productive, efficient environment for obtaining the necessary prosthetics items for Veterans with hearing loss.


Customer Service Award Nominees:

This award is given in recognition to AVAA members or other members of the VA community for special contributions to Veterans. This award can recognize one outstanding contribution or contributions over time.


Anna Black, Au.D.
Dr. Black has demonstrated exemplary customer service and incredible efficiency with her work managing the Pacific Islands Community Care/Choice hearing aid orders over the past several months. She developed a system to quickly get the Pacific Island patient into our CPRS as well as getting an electronic folder shared between Honolulu and San Francisco to view scanned Community Care/Choice hearing aid requests. She was able eliminate the backlog in under a month and she has maintained the steady flow of orders ever since. Over these last several months she has worked with eleven different providers located on the Hawaiian Islands and Guam and completed new orders for over 1,030 veterans to date.  Her enthusiastic commitment to high quality care and customer service for all veterans is highly admirable and valued well beyond the San Francisco VAHCS. Dr. Black’s customer service is truly above and beyond.


Terry Haskins, Hearing Aid Coordinator DLC (2005 – 2017)
Terry Haskins started with the DALC in 2005 in the lab before becoming a customer service agent. During his tenure the DALC developed the Hearing Aid Coordinator position which Terry encumbered until he resigned in late 2017.

Terry is well-known to most if not all VA audiologists who utilize ROES or the hearing aid contracts as part of their duties. He has been the face of customer service for the DALC, for the last several years. Terry brought a great depth of knowledge regarding hearing aids, wireless devices and hearing aid programming to this position. He could speak in detail regarding the technology, not just on the administrative ordering side of the issue. Terry felt that investing in training helped to serve the audiologists by making them more efficient in ROES ordering which led to better productivity in the clinic.   Terry also has been the communicator for the Field when it comes to the hearing aid and wireless contracts. He diligently sent out notifications regarding modifications to the contracts, bi-annual technology refresh information, and important information regarding changes in procedures that audiologists needed.  Terry provided exemplary customer service to all stakeholders with a soft spoken voice, kind words, and never-ending patience.



First Lt. Frank B. Walkup Distinguished Service Award Nominees:

This award proudly honors Tennessee native and UT Knoxville graduate 1LT Frank B. Walkup IV, a US Army Ranger, 25th Infantry Division, A CO, 2-35 INF, who was killed in action in Rashaad, Iraq on June 16, 2007. 1LT Walkup was the son of Mitzi A. Walkup who serves our veterans as the Cochlear Implant Coordinator on the Alvin C. York Campus of the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System and her late husband Frank B. Walkup III. This award is presented to AVAA members in recognition of special contributions made to AVAA or to VA Audiology through VA-related activities. It can recognize one outstanding contribution or contributions over time.


Paula Myers, Ph.D.
Dr. Myers serves as the Audiology Section Chief and Cochlear Implant Specialist  for one of the largest departments in the VA. .  In her 30 years of service to the VA she has made many contributions that include numerous research, publications, presentations and participation in educational and program development committees.   She has also represented the VA in the IDA Institute in Denmark and later presented the PTM program to them.  She then helped IDA develop Tinnitus educational material.  Dr. Meyers also invented the Tinnitus Thermometer that IDA uses in their website.  She volunteered for a long VA Black Belt Training to support and represent the Audiology service in a hospital wide agenda to improve services to veterans. The following is from the James A Haley VA’s Director announcement to the Chiefs of Services and to the hospital staff:   “the director is very proud of the Audiology service provision of same day service, walk in clinic, black belt project and huddle board for identification of needs and problem resolution.” In an era where Audiology services in the VA seem to be threatened by privatization, Dr. Myers is the proactive professional that takes on a challenge to improve conditions for veterans and her colleagues. 


Chad Gladden, Ph.D.
Dr.  Chad Gladden was hired in VACO as the Audiology Telehealth Coordinator in 2012. Under his leadership the national teleaudiology program has grown from just over 5000 encounters in 2012 to over 35,000 encounters in 2017. Dr. Gladden’s creativity on how to incorporate teleaudiology into a regular audiology clinic has helped local sites embrace the vision and engage in providing care through this modality. The Veteran, ultimately, is who benefits from the significant growth in teleaudiology as this has allowed many Veterans to receive comprehensive audiology care closer to home.   Dr. Gladden was directly responsible for spearheading the initial AACE proof-of-concept (PoC) in 2012 at the Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (TVHS) and 5 outlying CBOCs and is an integral member of the VA HearAssist team, bringing it from PoC in 2012 that only allowed a data transmission for the hearing aid adjustment to a controlled pilot at Cleveland, OH; N. Chicago, IL and Miami, FL VAMCs that allows for video and data transmission.  Regarding VHA specific projects, Dr. Gladden consulted with the Office of Connected Care’s Quality, Implementation and Development Team to update the Clinical Specialist Supplement to include remote audiometry, tinnitus management, hearing loss management, and store-and-forward processes.  Dr. Gladden actively supports the CVT National Training Center Master Preceptor Training Program by assisting with the recruitment of Master Preceptors in each VISN to serve as local/regional POCs for Teleaudiology programs.


Research or Education Award:

Given in recognition to persons who have made special contributions to VA Audiology in education or research, or who have brought recognition to VA Audiology through these venues.


Lisa Guillory, Au.D.
Lisa Guillory, Au.D. has practiced audiology in Columbia MO for nearly 40 years, joining the staff at the Truman VA in 1987.  Dr. Guillory has taught Audiology and Aural Rehabilitation at Truman State University, is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology with the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Missouri providing professional education to ENT residents lecturing and teaching at the University of Missouri Medical School Otology Conference as well as individually training each new ENT resident as they rotate through the Truman VA. At the same time she sees VA patients and supervises audiology trainees, and provides educational courses at conferences such as Missouri Speech Language Hearing Association and JDVAC. Not only does she help individuals at the University level, Dr. Guillory continues to work hard for VA audiologists by providing a curriculum at JDVAC for basic APD, APD email group and APD workgroup.  In her spare time she works with the DoD/VA working group on developing at “state of practice” document for APD.  Dr. Guillory has also co-authored a consensus document on CAPD soon to be published by the Hearing Review along with Debbie Moncrieff, Gail Chermak, Maria Abramson, and Donna Geffner. While she continues to help others strive to be their best, Dr. Guillory continues to be a lifelong learner, excellent clinician and individual.


Innovation/System Re-design Group or Individual Award:

This award is given in recognition to an individual or group that contributes an innovation or system redesign effort for the improvement of Audiology services to Veterans.


Joshua Paulsen, Au.D.
Dr. Joshua Paulsen was hired in January 2017 as the VA Centralized Audiology Team (VACAT) supervisor. At that point, VACAT was a vision on paper, a written proposal of what should be done to facilitate the utilization of Community Care for VA audiology. Dr. Paulsen took a 3 page written document and operationalized it into a well-functioning, efficient method to partner with the community audiologists.

He built a database to track every action for each Veteran they assist. He created excellent working relationships with the Business Office and the third party administrators (Healthnet and TriWest) to obtain access to their portals so every order coming in could be checked to make sure an authorization was in place. He developed working relationships with the Office of Community Care to finalize the Community Care toolkit. He is the liaison to obtain the new order forms every 6 months to make them available to community providers. He is also the liaison for any site that has an issue with Choice that needs to be forwarded to the Business Office.

To date, Dr. Paulsen and his team facilitate the ordering of hearing aids and repairs for 7 facilities that compromise just over 50% of the Community Care workload.  Dr. Paulsen is innovative and forward thinking in the way he manages our partnerships with community providers. These new methods and relationships that Dr. Paulsen has developed will be critical when VACAT takes over the administration of audiology care provided in the community for all of VA by the end of FY18.


VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Audiology Department
In 2011 the Pittsburgh VA Audiology department was one of the first to implement an open-access clinic for Veterans to help decrease wait times, improve patient access, and provide services to Veterans that required immediate attention. The Pittsburgh VA now runs two hybrid open access clinics.  The first, and original open access clinic, is designed for patient’s requiring immediate services for hearing aid repairs and problems. The second open access clinic is working in conjunction with the VA Pittsburgh ENT clinic.  The VA Audiology and ENT clinics have designated times where patients can be seen on the same day in an open access style clinic to receive comprehensive audiology services.  The reason why the Pittsburgh VA deserves recognition for the creation, implementation, management, and redesign of these open access clinics is due to their work obtaining outcome data from these clinics.  The patient driven data has allowed the Pittsburgh VA to identify how to best modify these clinics to meet the changing needs of patients, audiologists, and the ENT staff.  Patients who utilize the open access clinics are often very satisfied with the services they receive and are likely to return for services in those clinics if needed; even if the repair attempt during that visit was unsuccessful.  Also of great importance was data that found patients who were fit in an open access style clinic tended to have more visits for adjustments and problems compared to those who were scheduled for traditional hearing aid fitting appointments. With more clinics becoming fully open access and the pressure for increasing open access services, these evidence based models show that a successful, hybrid style open access can meet patient needs while not sacrificing care and maintaining high levels of patient satisfaction.


Jerrica Rieger, Au.D.
Jerrica Rieger, Au.D. CCC-A, joined the Minneapolis VA in 2013 after completing her fourth year at the Cleveland Clinic.  She has an undeniable passion for working with cochlear implants, a service that was not offered to the Minneapolis veterans.  The nearest VA implant center was over 300 miles away until Dr. Rieger brought this service to the MPLS VAHCS.  She understood the value and the need to create a program after identifying more than 250 Minneapolis veterans with severe to profound hearing loss and wanted to improve their quality of life.  After much hard work, she finally received national approval to start the cochlear implant program with an anticipated 10 surgeries in the first year.  She assembled a large multi-disciplinary team and has traveled around VISN 23 educating patients and practitioners. A year later, MPLS VAHCS has successfully implanted 25 veterans and had over 40 transfer care to the MPLSVA.  Dr. Rieger has dedicated hundreds of hours outside her scheduled tour to get this program up and running.  As a result, many veterans now have improved communication and access to services while receiving top notch care.  Her  dedication and passion to the Audiology department has been inspiring to everyone around her and we are very fortunate to have her on our team as the new Cochlear Implant Program Director!