Quality Improvement and Education

AAP/VON Scholar Awards


AAP/VON Scholar Awards are awarded to five fellows and early career neonatologists in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neonatal Perinatal Medicine (SoNPM).

The award recognizes future leaders in newborn care who exemplify dedication to data-driven quality improvement in the care of infants and families.

Applications due April 7, 2023.



  • Recognition as an AAP/VON Scholar for the recipient and their institution.
  • Opportunity to present on QI work during a VON Grand Rounds webinar.
  • Complimentary registration and travel stipend for the AAP National Conference and Exhibition (NCE) in October 2023 in Washington, DC.
  • Opportunity to share improvement poster at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must be a member of the AAP SONPM Trainee and Early Career Neonatology (TECaN) group to qualify for this award.

Previous AAP/VON Scholars are not eligible to apply for the award.

Learn more about the 2022 AAP/VON Scholars' Improvement Work

AAP/VON scholars present their improvement work on VON Grand Rounds. View the recording in the VON Improvement Library.

2022 AAP/VON Scholars

Anjali Anders, MD

Dr. Anjali Anders is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Child Health at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. She completed her medical school and residency at University of Missouri-Columbia. Following this she completed Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine fellowship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center where she developed an interest in quality improvement, which continues in her work as a clinical neonatologist. She currently co-leads several QI initiatives within and outside of the NICU. One initiative is to decrease the incidence of chronic lung disease (CLD) among preterm infants. The initiative incorporates care of preterm infants less than 32 weeks gestational age from birth to 36 weeks corrected gestational age. Her QI team utilized high-fidelity simulation to demonstrate and record the implementation of bubble CPAP in the delivery room to educate physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists on how to efficiently perform this skill. The recorded simulation was published to allow further improvement of patient care beyond their individual institution. Dr. Anders has completed the Intermediate Improvement Science Series (I2S2) through Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She applies knowledge from this course to other quality improvement initiatives. These include a Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome QI initiative as part of the Missouri Hospital Association Perinatal QI Collaborative and implementation of the use of the Kaiser Permanente neonatal sepsis calculator with the goal of limiting inappropriate antibiotic use and the number of painful, costly, and unnecessary procedures (e.g. lab draws and central line placement). Dr. Anders serves as the NICU QI director at Women’s and Children’s Hospital and was recently elected co-chair of the Missouri Hospital Association Maternal-Child Learning Action Network (perinatal QI collaborative). Through her projects and leadership roles, she strives to increase interest in quality improvement among other healthcare professionals and aspires to build a culture focused on providing the safest and most effective care for patients.

Maria Franco-Fuenmayor, MD

Dr. Franco Fuenmayor is a neonatologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She is a proud alumna of this institution where she completed her medical school in 2016, pediatrics residency in 2019 and neonatal perinatal medicine fellowship in 2022. During her postgraduate training, Dr. Franco Fuenmayor realized her passion for quality improvement in neonatal care and sought to improve her skills through participation in the TECAN QI Summer School and the IHI Open School Basic Certificate in Quality and Safety. Throughout her training, she was actively involved in the creation and implementation of multiple QI projects in the NICU including improved surfactant administration and diagnosis with lung ultrasound, neonatal iron supplementation dosing and antibiotic stewardship. She has presented her work at various local, state, and national conferences.

Dr. Franco Fuenmayor is a firm believer in the importance and impact of innovation through multidisciplinary teamwork grounded in QI methodology. She serves as team leader for HOME SAFE, a multifaceted project that optimizes interventions from admission to safely discharge high risk infants. She is a strong advocate of family centered care and has helped weave its layers into HOME SAFE with the development of a specific portion entitled Family CARE that focuses on improving engagement and longitudinal teaching and for which she successfully secured grant funding. She is an active participant in the AAP TECAN Family Centered Care Taskforce. She enjoys collaborating with her colleagues to create a widespread culture of teamwork and family integration that improves overall neonatal care.

Chandy Ravikumar, DO

Dr. Chandy Ravikumar is a third-year fellow in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, Texas. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Ravikumar had a brief career in health information technology and worked as an electronic medical record software specialist before medical school. She obtained her medical degree from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she fell in love with the NICU during her pediatrics clerkship. She completed her Pediatric residency at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas. During training, she participated in resident quality improvement curriculum and workshops to learn QI methodology. As a senior pediatric resident, she championed an interdepartmental QI project to improve the timing of antibiotic administration in febrile neutropenic patients in the emergency room. During her neonatal-perinatal medicine fellowship, she spearheads an initiative to improve the proportion and documentation of eligible infants who receive delayed cord clamping. She is driven by how quality initiatives can eliminate variations in care and establish equity in patient populations. She is particularly interested in using her background in healthcare information technology to optimize EMR utilization in patient care, safety, and research. After completing her fellowship, she hopes to become a leader in her community on quality and patient safety in neonatal care. She is grateful to her mentors, who have taught her so much along the way. She lives in Houston with her husband and is an avid reader and watercolorist.

Richelle M. Reinhart, MD

Richelle is a 3rd year neonatology fellow at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. She completed her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech, medical school at the University of South Florida, and pediatrics residency at Rainbow Babies’ and Children’s Hospital. Richelle has been involved in quality improvement & patient safety research since medical school, ranging from work in improving multidisciplinary care in neonatal abstinence syndrome to studying the effects of virtual rounding in the COVID-19 pandemic to monitor bundle compliance and engagement. She has completed her white and yellow belts in Lean Certification and is currently enrolled in a Master’s in Healthcare Quality at the George Washington University with the hopes of pursuing a leadership position in QI after the completion of fellowship.

Priyanka Tiwari, MD

Dr. Priyanka Tiwari is an attending neonatologist at the NewYork-Presbyterian Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns. She obtained her BA in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University and her Medical Degree from New York Medical College. She completed her Pediatric Residency at NYU Langone Health and her Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship at Weill Cornell Medicine.

During Dr. Tiwari’s post-graduate training, she began to realize her passion for quality improvement.  She is a 2020 graduate of the Weill-Cornell Quality Improvement Academy, working on a project focusing on identification and management of asymptomatic hypoglycemia in high risk neonates.

As the Director of Quality Improvement in the NICU, Dr. Tiwari serves as QI advisor and leader for multiple initiatives and has created multidisciplinary collaborations within the division and across departments. Her current QI initiatives focus on: unplanned extubations, postpartum depression screening in conjunction with Psychiatry, antimicrobial stewardship in conjunction with Pediatric Infectious Disease, feeding protocol to reduce length of stay, standardization of an infant-driven feeding model and central line associated bloodstream infections. Her future career goals are to use her unit’s data in comparison to benchmarking data provided by VON for other centers similar to our unit to help identify continued local opportunities for improvement of care in her unit, to extend her QI efforts and impact through multi-center collaboratives on a regional and national level and to educate and mentor future generations of quality improvement physician-scientists.