2016 Nurses of the Year


Mary Phelan Lappe, BSN, RN, OCN, from the University of Chicago Medical Center and Allison Parise, RN, BSN, from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, have been selected as the 2016 Nurses of the Year by the Leukemia Research Foundation.

Mary is the Collaborative Nurse in the Lymphoma program at the University of Chicago Medical Center. She was nominated by Dr. Sonali Smith, who said, 

“I’ve nominated Mary in the past, but I feel very strongly that I will keep nominating her every year until she receives this most highly deserved award. To say that Mary has changed my life is an understatement. I’ve been a physician since 1994, and I have never met anyone like Mary.

She takes her role as a nurse as a deeply personal commitment to educating patients, comforting patients, caring for patients and in general improving every aspect of their experience as a cancer patient.  She does this in an understated and professional manner that allows the patient to immediately feel at ease. She helps our patients develop trust in the care team and in the university at large.”  

Mary has been a member of the Oncology Nursing Society and the Chicago Chapter of Oncology Nurses since 1998.  In addition, she is a member of the American Nurses Association.

She is the recipient of numerous professional awards including, the Daisy Award and the Outstanding Service Award from the University of Chicago, as well as the Spirit of CCONS Award and the ONS Career Development Award.


Allison has been caring for patients and families for nearly 30 years. She works on the infusion floor at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Her colleague Terry Park said in her nomination, 

“Compassionate, knowledgeable, selfless, enthusiastic, empathetic, holistic, and committed are the words which quickly come to mind when I think of what Allison represents each day at work; and the contribution she has made to the profession of nursing. A devoted mother of three, Allison is somehow, inexplicably, able to give 110% of herself to her patients and colleagues each and every day.” 

“Allison carries the lantern. She role-models professional and compassionate nurse behaviors every day. She has served this profession so proudly and she has bettered the lives of countless pediatric oncology patients and their family members.”

For the past several years, Allison has served as the pediatric-oncology infusion center’s Bereavement Committee Chairperson. She was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article entitled, ‘Nursing is a Family Business’ as her daughter Vanessa is following in her mother’s footsteps.

Allison has received the Daisy Award, the Outstanding Volunteer Award, the Exemplary Nurse Award, just to name a few. Additionally, she has volunteered for Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation in numerous capacities including the Medical Advisory Board and Hospital Liaison.