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AHIMA Presents 2021 AHIMA Triumph Awards

The awards honor members with outstanding accomplishments in health information

CHICAGO – August 31, 2021 – The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) will recognize recipients of the 2021 AHIMA Triumph Awards at the AHIMA21 Virtual Conference. The AHIMA Triumph Awards are national awards designed to recognize individuals who have made a difference in the health information profession. The AHIMA Triumph Awards are sponsored by 3M. 

“It’s always fascinating to learn about the winners of the AHIMA Triumph Awards, as they contribute significantly to our profession, no matter where they are in their careers,” said AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “I congratulate the recipients and nominees and thank them for their service to the profession.”

Distinguished Member Award

Melinda A. Wilkins, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA, was named Distinguished Member, AHIMA’s highest honor. Dr. Wilkins is currently the program director at Arkansas Tech University’s graduate program in health informatics and its undergraduate program in health information management. A former member of the AHIMA Board of Directors, she has dedicated more than three decades to educating health information professionals, and her contributions to textbooks are used today in health information curriculums across the country.

 Educator Award

AHIMA will present the 2021 Educator Triumph Award to Judy Monestime, DBA, MBA, RHIA, CHDA, CPHI, CDIP, CPC-I, CPC, an instructor in the department of management programs at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Monestime is active in the industry, as she presents at conferences, authors publications, and has been published in peer-reviewed journals. She is recognized throughout the industry for her passion for health information education.

Innovation Award

The Innovation Award honors those individuals, groups, or organizations focused on moving health information into the future of the healthcare and wellness industry. AHIMA will present this award to Varadraj “Raj” Prabhu Gurupur, PhD, an associate professor in the department of health management and informatics at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Gurupur is an expert at designing algorithms and methodologies that aid in the design and implementation of decision support systems with a focus on healthcare. His work aims to lead to the development of solutions that can improve data incompleteness in patient records.

Leadership Award

Ann Nowlin, RHIT, will receive the 2021 AHIMA Leadership Triumph Award. Nowlin is the president of AMN, LLC, and serves as the central office coordinator for six component state health information management associations. Her commitment to the profession and AHIMA’s mission is strong, and she plays a key role in ensuring a positive experience for members, whether it’s online or in person.

Mentor Award

Shannon H. Houser, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA, will receive the 2021 Mentor Award. Dr. Houser is a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and as an educator, she has displayed exemplary mentorship by guiding health information professionals, fellow educators, and students toward new opportunities, particularly in health information research.  

Rising Star Award

Phillip Duong, MS, RHIA, CCA, is this year’s Rising Star Award recipient. Duong works at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando and holds leadership roles in three health information associations. Advocacy and public policy are passions for Duong, and he has volunteered at the Florida Health Information Management Association’s Hill Day events in 2018 and 2019. He prioritizes using social media to engage with peers about health information.

Student Award

AHIMA is proud to present the 2021 AHIMA Student Triumph Award to Joan Rodríguez González, who earned a master’s degree in health information management while working full time and volunteering at the University of Puerto Rico and with the Puerto Rico Health Information Management Association. During the pandemic, he volunteered to help manage COVID-19 immunization records at the university’s Medical Sciences Campus.


AHIMA is a global nonprofit association of health information (HI) professionals. AHIMA represents professionals who work with health data for more than one billion patient visits each year. AHIMA’s mission of empowering people to impact health drives our members and credentialed HI professionals to ensure that health information is accurate, complete, and available to patients and providers. Our leaders work at the intersection of healthcare, technology, and business, and are found in data integrity and information privacy job functions worldwide.

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