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Alumni Spotlight

goochPatricia "Pidge" Gooch, MSN, RN, CENP

MSN, 2008

Since graduating from FAU, Pidge Gooch moved to El Paso, TX in 2009 as the Administrative Director of Critical Care and Emergency Services at Tenet's Providence Memorial Hospital, where she served on the governor's Emergency and Trauma task force for two years. She was promoted to Chief Nursing Officer at Doctors Hospital of Manteca in 2011, and then was appointed Chief Nurse Executive of the Central Valley of Kaiser Permanente in 2014. She was promoted to Executive Director of Kaiser’s Northern California Regional Patient Care Services Operations in 2016.



rutherfordMarcella Marie Rutherford

PhD, 2007 and MSN 2004 

In 2011, Marcie Rutherford became the founding Dean at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Nursing.  Her research and scholarship focuses on health policy and economics related to the value of nursing to the health care delivery system.  She strives to expand the understanding of nursing’s unique role in driving not only patient care but also the business of healthcare, and how nursing decision-making and documentation impacts health care. Currently, she is working on a national project related to academic-service partnerships, focusing on preparing nursing students to identify co-occurring behavioral health issues in patients receiving care in acute or primary care settings.  She is a Robert Woods Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow Alumna, graduating in September of 2016.  



koszalinskiRebecca S. Koszalinski

PhD, 2014 and MSN, 2007

Rebecca Koszalinski, a 2014 graduate from the PhD program was appointed as an Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Under the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Ruth Tappen, she developed innovative tablet-based technology called Speak for Myself®, that gives patients who cannot speak the ability to communicate. Since her graduation she has had many successes including receiving a scholarship award from the Tennessee Nurses Association, being named as Quest Scholar of the Week; and receiving a patent and copyright for Speak for Myself® (with Dr. Ruth Tappen).  She is conducting interdisciplinary research at the University of Tennessee Medical Center with engineers, speech language pathologists, Advanced Care Planning and communications/information systems experts. This work is facilitated by an internal grant to update her Speak for Myself ®application. She is also working with engineering faculty on predictive modeling for sepsis in the emergency department through a second internal grant.  



riggsDarline B. Riggs

MSN, 2009

Darline B. Riggs is the Commissioner for the city of Miramar, becoming the city’s and Broward County’s first Haitian-American elected commissioner. Her leadership skills were honed throughout her nursing career.  She began as a health care technician in the pediatric emergency room, then completed her associate degree in nursing at Broward College. After completing her BSN and MSN at Florida Atlantic University, she focused on nursing education and quality management.  Darline continues to serve her community as a nurse and Commissioner of the beautiful City of Miramar.



mattisAndrea Wright-Mattis
MSN, 2014 and BSN, 2005

After receiving her BSN from FAU, Andrea Wright-Mattis had entrepreneurial dreams to become a business owner. She completed her MSN degree from FAU focused on nursing administration and financial leadership. With experience in health care and management, Andrea opened Hibiscus Palace Assisted Living Facility in 2015 and Hibiscus Palace II in 2016. Both facilities are helping to revolutionize the way we care for the elderly, by providing intimate and individualized care that can only be provided at home - in a Palace - to five or six residents at a time.


grummeValarie S. Grumme
PhD, 2016

Valarie’s experience in both academia and practice provided her with opportunities to increase nursing knowledge and enhance patient care. She received the College of Nursing’s Doctoral Scholar award for 2016.  Her research interests include understanding the transplant journey from multiple perspectives, nursing presence, and nurturing empowerment and self-efficacy in nurse leaders. In the past year, she published four peer-reviewed articles. Valarie presented her research at international and local conferences. She serves as an adjunct faculty member at FAU’s College of Nursing. She is currently the Clinical Manager for the medical intensive care unit and cardiovascular care unit at Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Florida.


fleckLaureen M. Fleck

PhD, 2011; DNS, 2007 and MS, 2000

Laureen Fleck, family nurse practitioner, owns and manages Family Medicine of Boca Raton, a family practice located in the city. While working full-time in this practice, Laureen provides primary healthcare services to more than 4,000 patients. She been a Certified Diabetes Educator for more than 25 years, and her specialty is metabolic syndrome, diabetes, insulin resistance syndrome, and obesity. Laureen is the Chair of the Political Action Committee for the Florida Nurse Practitioner Network, Board Member of the International Orem Society, and member of the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. She has published her work in diabetes and self-care in peer-reviewed journals. Laureen is Associate Graduate faculty in the graduate nurse practitioner concentrations at FAU. She believes in giving back to the community and her Alma Mater, and serves as a clinical preceptor for the College of Nursing.



rizzoMarie Tamara Adonis-Rizzo

MSN, 2004

Marie is currently practicing as a pulmonary nurse practitioner at Medical Staffing of the Palm Beaches. Over the past 12 years, she has worked in many areas - community health, education, acute care, long term care and rehab.  In 2010, she founded a continuing education company, “Premier Health ED.” Soon after graduation, Marie practiced with her with mentor, Dr Kathleen Jett at the FAU Wellness Center in Delray Beach. That experience sparked her passion in community health. In 2005, she and her colleagues received a grant, “The Haitian Elders Project.” That same year, she presented and published her thesis “The Haitian Health Beliefs of Haitian Elders related to Influenza”.  Marie is currently the Healthcare Coordinator for the Health Ministry at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church. She organizes and conducts fitness classes, educational programs on chronic diseases, immunizations, and an annual health fair. She enjoys the missionary trips she frequently takes to Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and hopes to continue her journey to educate and promote healthy living and aging in the community, specifically with the underserved.  


Dani Noell, '91, '06

Growing up in Boca Raton, Dani Noell watched the FAU campus expand from a group of small barrack buildings into an internationally recognized system of colleges and campuses. She has also witnessed the expansion of the FAU nursing program from offices in the hall of the social science building, to its award winning Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing building. Initially graduating from the Palm Beach Community College AS nursing program in 1976, Dani completed her Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Course at All Children's Hospital in St Petersburg Florida in 1990 and her BSN at Florida Atlantic University in 1991. She later returned to FAU, graduating with her masters in nursing in 2006. She choose the Individualized Track, allowing her to focus on maternal- child systems of care. Dani states that the high points of her FAU graduate studies included two trips to Thailand with Dr. Marilyn Parker and Dr. Locsin. Studying global transitions in health care included opportunities to meet with FAU's Thai nursing students. “Seeing the FAU caring philosophy embraced in an international setting was truly an amazing experience."

Dani has been involved at the local, state and national level as a training consultant for maternal-child mortality review processes. In 2013 she was requested to travel to the Republic of Palau in Micronesia to help with training to establish a community based morbidity and mortality review as part of a public health quality care assurance initiative.

Dani also works as a nurse at the Boca Raton Regional Hospital's Toppel Family Place Newborn Intensive Care Unit. She enjoys meeting FAU’s nursing students in the clinical setting. She is grateful for the caring based philosophy she received from her FAU nursing studies and is proud to see the theory of caring continue on in new nursing generations.

Dani has been actively involved with the FAU Nursing Alumni Board since its inception in as Co Chair of Programs. She enjoys interacting with fellow alumni and envisions building the Nursing Alumni Society membership through activities with incoming and graduating nursing students.