2023 AAO-HNS/F Service and Leadership Awards
A special thank you to the membership for all the nominations received for the 2023 AAO-HNS/F service and leadership awards.
Distinguished Award for Humanitarian Service
This year’s AAO-HNSF Distinguished Award for Humanitarian Service goes to Robert J. Sinard, MD. He is a professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and was most recently the residency program director in the Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Dr. Sinard began his 20-plus-year history of humanitarian efforts with trips to Nigeria with James L. Netterville, MD, AAO-HNS/F Past President and recipient of the 2004 Distinguished Award for Humanitarian Service. More recently Dr. Sinard has taught advanced ablative and reconstructive surgery in Kijabe, Kenya. He and his team demonstrated the value of free flap mandibular reconstruction for young patients with life-limiting jaw tumors to hospital staff and administration as well as local surgeons. He not only taught the surgical team the proper techniques, but also showed the operating room staff, anesthesia team, and floor nurses how to manage these complex surgeries in low-resource settings.
Recognizing the unique needs of local and regional health systems as a major factor in the success of his program, Dr. Sinard now works to fulfill additional teaching needs of Kenyan surgeons and hospitals. He seeks to advance the efforts of local surgeons by supporting their work to build a head and neck surgery fellowship. He also serves as a constant resource for them to discuss difficult cases.
The Distinguished Award for Humanitarian Service recognizes an Academy member who is widely known for a consistent, stable character distinguished by honesty, zeal for truth, integrity, love and devotion to humanity, and a self-giving spirit. Dr. Sinard is a model humanitarian and relentlessly seeks to make a positive difference in the world.
Holt Leadership Award for Residents and Fellows-in-Training
This year’s recipient of the AAO-HNS Holt Leadership Award for Residents and Fellows-in-Training, Shannon D. Fayson, MD, completed her residency training in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan in June 2023, and is a first-year pediatric otolaryngology fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She is founder and CEO of The Black Otolaryngologist Network.
The Holt Leadership Award recognizes a member who displays honesty, integrity, fairness, advocacy, and enthusiasm in their work throughout the specialty. At Michigan, Dr. Fayson initiated sensitive discussions about diversity and inclusion, even while a junior resident. She is dedicated to increasing diversity in otolaryngology, mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds, advocating for equitable healthcare for all patients, and eliminating health disparities.
She completed her biochemistry undergraduate degree at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. In May 2018 she received her medical degree from The Ohio State University College of Medicine after completing the Medical Careers Pathway Post Baccalaureate Program (MEDPATH). As a resident at Michigan, she cochaired the Diversity Committee, founded Cultural Humility Grand Rounds, was inducted into the Gold Humanism Society, received the Charles J. Krause Resident Professionalism Award in 2021 and 2023, and participated in the Healthcare Equity and Quality Scholars Program.
In 2020, Dr. Fayson was featured live on the Today Show for International Women’s Day, where she was highlighted as a woman who is changing the field of surgery. She is also the 2023 recipient of the Women in Otolaryngology (WIO) Exemplary Senior Trainee Award.
Jerome C. Goldstein, MD Public Service Award
Willard C. Harrill, MD, is recognized with the AAO-HNSF 2023 Jerome C. Goldstein, MD Public Service Award. He has been in private practice in North Carolina since completing his otolaryngology residency at the Baylor College of Medicine in 1998. He serves as clinical faculty in the Departments of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina and was president and CEO of his group practice for 18 years. He is also cofounder of BridgepointMD.
Dr. Harrill has positioned himself as a physician expert in the field of healthcare economics, and his passion is the transition of otolaryngology as a specialty from fee-for-service to a value-based system. He is giving grand rounds at 20 otolaryngology-head and neck surgery training programs in 2023 alone, and he helped draft the Academy’s response to Congress regarding improvement suggestions for the current MIPS program.
Dr. Harrill is a leader on the Academy’s Physician Payment Policy (3P) workgroup where he contributes his knowledge about market trends and policy. He has been very active on the state level with the North Carolina Society of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and founded the Otolaryngology Health Policy Advisory Committee, which interfaces with state otolaryngologists and commercial payers. He is also active in The Triological Society.
Dr. Harrill speaks at many conferences annually to share his knowledge and help otolaryngologists better understand the future of healthcare economics.
Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD International Humanitarian Award
This year’s AAO-HNSF Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD International Humanitarian Award goes to Tashneem Harris, MBChB, FCORL(SA). Dr. Harris is a practicing otologist, head and neck surgeon, and instructor in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa. She is the director of the first on-the-continent otology fellowship sponsored by MED-EL. Between 2012 and 2021, a total of 20 registrars have successfully completed their four-year training and passed their examinations.
In addition to running the otology fellowship, Dr. Harris is engaged in an active head and neck oncology practice and teaches residents and fellows at the University of Cape Town. She works tirelessly and is a devoted physician. During her tenure as fellowship director, she will train numerous otology fellows over the next decade who will return to their respective countries in Africa to practice advanced otology.
As in many low-resource countries, the cost of cochlear implantation in South Africa must be met by patients. Furthermore, many otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons in sub-Saharan Africa have not been taught to operate on patients with ear disease safely. In 2018 Dr. Harris started the cochlear implant unit at Groote Schuur Hospital to give clinically and socioeconomically qualifying, hard of hearing or deaf patients the opportunity to attain a cochlear implant.
The AAO-HNSF Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD International Humanitarian Award honors a non-U.S. otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon who has selflessly treated people for whom access to care would have been financially or physically prohibitive. The award is in fulfillment of the AAO-HNSF’s aim to foster a global otolaryngology community and made possible through the generosity of Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD, a longtime advocate of AAO-HNSF international affairs.
Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD International Public Service Award
This year’s winner of the AAO-HNSF Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD International Public Service Award is Alfredo Q.Y. Pontejos, Jr., MD. He is currently a director of the Philippine Board of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, a council member of the Asia Pacific Thyroid Society, executive council member of the Asian Society of Head and Neck Oncology, and an advisor to the Asia Oceania Association of Otolaryngologic Societies.
With extensive training and experience, Dr. Pontejos has made significant contributions to research and training, building global connections, and establishing best practices in the field of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery. He completed his residency training at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital, the largest training hospital in the country. He continued his postgraduate training in head and neck surgery under the guidance of Professor Sir Donald Harrison at the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital, London, and at the Institute of Laryngology & Otology, University of London.
Additionally, Dr. Pontejos has received numerous accolades for his service and contributions. In 2017 he was named Most Outstanding Oncologist of the Year by the Philippine Society of Oncology. In 2014 he received the Most Outstanding Teacher Award in Oncology and the Outstanding ENT Specialist in Teaching Award by the Philippine Society of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.
The AAO-HNSF Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD International Public Service Award honors a non-U.S. otolaryngologist–head and neck surgeons whose achievements have advanced the specialty. The award is in fulfillment of the AAO-HNSF’s aim to foster a global otolaryngology community and made possible through the generosity of Nikhil J. Bhatt, MD, a longtime advocate of AAO-HNSF international affairs.