MPA Annual Awards


One of the duties and privileges of a professional association is to recognize excellence within the profession. The Montana Pharmacy Association does this each year at the winter convention by presenting professional awards of excellence. In 2021, MPA will present awards at the Virtual MPA & HSA CE Conference in April.

The Board of Directors invites you to make nominations for the 2021 awards. Nominations must be received in the MPA office by Sunday, January 31, 2021.  Award recipients will be honored at  our virtual conference in April. Click here to make your awards nomination

 We Honor Our 2020 MPA Award Recipients

Click here to view a full listing of all past award recipients.

Bowl of Hygeia
Howard Beall, RPh, PhD, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Howard has taught many courses during his tenure at UM but is best known for his expertise in pharmaceutics. He has dedicated a great deal of his life to mentoring Ph.D. advisees and future pharmacists. His students recognize his dedication to their education and the profession and have recognized him as Rho Chi Teacher of the Year on three different occasions. He has been an integral part of the School of Pharmacy and University for more than 20 years, contributing to college and campus wide committees and initiatives. He has authored many peer reviewed articles, presented at national professional conferences, and received numerous grants from NIH and other well recognized funders. Such contributions have elevated UM SOP's reputation at both the local and national levels. Ultimately, he's a good guy and a fearless leader and colleague. His contributions to pharmacy in Montana have been, and continue to be, frequent and significant.

Distinguished Young Pharmacist of the Year
Sonja Clausen, MS, PharmD, BCPS, Bozeman Health, Bozeman
, MT

Sonja obtained her Bachelor of Science Degrees in Biology and Chemistry from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, IA. She obtained her Masters of Science in Toxicology in 2013 and her Doctorate of Pharmacy in 2017, both from the University of Montana. Sonja was a PGY1 Pharmacy Resident at Bozeman Health from 2017-2018. She is passionate about ambulatory care pharmacy and is a valued member of the team at Bozeman Health Internal Medicine Clinic. Sonja recently obtained her BCPS board certification in 2019. She is the lead pharmacist for the RN-Pharmacist Hypertension Clinic, which is a novel approach to treating hypertension involving nurse-led education and counseling with pharmacist-led review and management of each case. The program aims to help thousands of patients reach appropriate hypertension goals. Sonja is also working to be a preceptor for the Ambulatory Care residency learning experience. Sonja is an outstanding coworker, will take on any task with gusto, and has an outstanding clinical knowledge base. She is professional, exciting, and versatile. Though she has only practiced pharmacy for 1 and 1/2 years post-residency, she is recognized at Bozeman Health and an expect in many areas of pharmacy. Sonja also strives to innovate and is leading the charge to bill for clinical pharmacy services at Bozeman Health. Outside of work, Sonja enjoys spending time in the mountains, snow or shine, with her husband and her two huskies. MPA activities, civic organizations, community activities, and other professional affiliations.: Sonja has been involved in MPA in a significant way - she was the resident member of the Health Systems Academy and first introduced the idea of having a resident poster session at the CE and Ski. Sonja also wishes to become a board member of MPA in the future. Sonja is active with ASHP and ACCP.

Excellence in Innovation
Kristi Monson, PharmD, BCACP, AE-C, Montana Family Pharmacies, Billings, MT

Kristi is the Manger of Hometown MTM - a disease state management program working in collaboration with the UM Skaggs School of Pharmacy to provide services to the State of MT employees. In this role Kristi has oversight of the entire program from patient care to reporting and analytics. Within this program Kristi also works closely with Outcomes, a National MTM platform. In collaborating with Outcomes, she oversees a closed network for MFP pharmacies. This program currently analyzes 27,000 participants prescription records each week to identify potential issues within a patient’s profile. Kristi also manages the Diabetes and Asthma Programs for the State of MT. Within MFP Kristi wears multiple hats. Not only is she leading Hometown MTm she is also responsible for reporting and analytics for all 83 MFP member Pharmacy’s. Kristi works with multiple technology companies to improve the functionality of the reporting and analytics processes provided to MFP member pharmacies. Because of her efforts members of MFP receive weekly reports to help them make better decisions on their Rx buying strategies. Kristi is also working with a technology company to build a patient profile to better manage the Diabetes and Asthma programs for the Hometown MTm program. Kristi is also a key member on the contract review team for MFP.

Kristi is also the Pharmacist in Charge for RimRock Foundation. RimRock Foundation is an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment facility in Billings, MT. As PIC she is responsible for medication protocols and collaborating with providers on proper medication dosing for patients.She volunteers her time and talent supporting her children's activities.It is not uncommon to come into work in the morning to find emails that Kristi has written far after her kids bedtime. She is an extremely dedicated pharmacist who is pushing our profession forward in her quiet, non-assuming way. It is with enthusiasm that we nominate Kristi for this award.

Fitzgerald Pharmacist of the Year
Cherith Smith, PharmD, Missoula Urban Indian Health Center (MUIHC) and the University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Cherith Smith has contributed to our profession over the past year, both in terms of impacting medical outcomes of Native Americans in her role as the Program Coordinator in Health and Diabetes at the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center and enhancing pharmacy education through her involvement as the Assistant Director of Experiential Programs for the School of Pharmacy. She collaborates with an inter professional team to enhance patient care programming using best practice models that support resiliency strategies and programming in urban American Indian/Alaska Native populations. Strategies implemented this year have included Mending Broken Hearts Series incorporation within diabetes self-management education and training,Trauma Resiliency Model and Community Resiliency Model training for staff engaging American Indian/Alaska Native clients with traumatic stress reactions. Cherith was instrumental in writing the successful Indian Health Service Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) grant. With this funding, MUIHC offers a wide range of diabetes care and prevention services such as personalized nutrition counseling and diet recommendations, home blood sugar testing instruction and troubleshooting problems, and insulin instruction and dose adjustments in coordination with MUIHC’s Primary Care Provider. Cherith sees patients individually at MUIHC as well as coordinates the Pathway to Walking Well and Restoring our Relationships evening classes. Twice a year, Cherith organizes two health screening events for the MUIHC patients. She reaches out to community partners such as Partnership Health Center to provide medical and dental services, Open Aid Alliance to provide HIV, Hep C and other STD screening, IPHARM to provide blood pressure, osteoporosis and lipid screening and all of the ASP Operations to provide immunizations, self-care, smoking cessation, and asthma education. These two events reach many Native Americans in our community who would not have access to these services. They are time intensive events for Cherith to put together, but she does it with a smile on her face and love in her heart. Cherith teaches cultural humility and awareness classes throughout the Pharmacy curriculum. She incorporates student participation in IPPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences) at all these MUIHC events. She brings this strength to our program that incorporates hands on participation for students working with the Native American population. As far as her position in the School, Cherith was hired 2 years ago as the Assistant Director for Experiential Programs. She is responsible for the day-to-day management of pharmacy student experiential program. To be accredited by ACPE, students in the pharmacy program must complete both IPPE (Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences) and APPE (Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences) rotations. These experiences contribute to a significant amount of the curriculum (>25%) Therefore,this position has many expectations and responsibilities including:• Site development – developing new IPPE and APPE sites in Montana with an initial focus on Indian Health Service sites• Working in conjunction with the Director of Student Services, address student issues that occur during IPPE and APPE rotations• Coordinate in the placement of students in their IPPE and APPE rotations• Provide advising to students in their fourth professional year• Assessment of the IPPE and APPE rotations. She also plans and executes the yearly clinical instructor meetings.

Pharmacy Technician of the Year
Leigh Scherer, BSLS, CPhT, SCL Health, Billings, MT

Leigh is a Certified Pharmacy Technician with 24 years of diverse pharmacy experience including hospital and retail pharmacy, clinical and non-clinical staff training, informatics and consulting. She has worked for the last ten years as a Senior Application Analyst for SCL Health supporting the pharmacy module of our Electronic Medical Record (EMR). She was an essential member of the team that implemented Smart Pump Integration with our electronic Medication Administration Record. That team was awarded the ASHP Best Practice Award in 2015 and a case study on the project was published in AJHP in July 2018. Her contribution to the project “Implementing computerized provider order entry for total parenteral nutrition in a neonatal intensive care unit.” was featured in a poster presentation at the ASHP Midyear Conference in 2016. Leigh was instrumental in the implementation of our retail pharmacy system and spent countless hours ensuring that our retail pharmacies were supported and could do their jobs. She led the IT pharmacy team in the implementation of our oncology module and was a key resource helping our pharmacies transition to the new program. In all areas of pharmacy that she is involved, she is always focused on patient safety, staff efficiency and how we could strive to make things better.

Leigh is highly active with the Montana Pharmacy Association and has served as the Pharmacy Technician Director on the board from 2016 for a 4-year term. She presented TECHnicLeigh Speaking at the 2018 HSA Spring Seminar which was so well received that she was invited back to present it again at the 2019 Winter CE and Ski. Leigh keeps herself up-to-date on technician pharmacy practice. She is certified in Epic’s Willow Inpatient and Ambulatory modules which helps her to be an excellent resource for her team and others. She has a true passion for Pharmacy and an intrinsic desire to support our pharmacists, technicians, physicians, nurses and everyone she comes into contact with across our organization. Leigh is the mother of two delightful children and does an exceptional job balancing work and family. She has a positive, can-do attitude in everything she does and is a pleasure to work with. Leigh is a true role model and a shining example of a successful Pharmacy Technician doing all that she can for the profession of Pharmacy.