Alumni Among Recipients of Fourth Annual McConnell Awards

A group of people standing in a row holding awards.
Left to right: Julie Ann Freischlag, MD; Christine Ahn, MD ’14; Megan Alexander, MD; Melinda McConnell; John McConnell, MD; Jessica Palakshappa, MD; Michael Evans, MD ’10; Lynn Anthony, MD, House Staff ’01 and LouAnn Woodward, MD.

Wake Forest University School of Medicine alumni Michael Evans, MD ’10, and Christine Ahn, MD ’14, were among this year’s recipients of the fourth annual John and Melinda McConnell Lectureship and Clinical Excellence Awards.

Evans, an ophthalmologist, was honored with the Network Physician Award. He was chosen in voting by network physician peers across the School of Medicine and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist.

Ahn, a specialist in dermatology and pathology, was one of two faculty members recognized with the Emerging Faculty Leader Award. She shared the honor with Jessica Palakshappa, MD, a specialist in pulmonary, critical care, allergy and immunologic diseases.

Chairs nominated individuals they consider to be rising leaders, allowing current leaders to acknowledge those who are taking initiative and making an impact by stepping into formal and informal roles. Nominees were reviewed by a committee of internal leadership, who made the final selection.

There were six nominees each in the faculty and network physician categories, and seven advanced practice professional and emerging faculty leader nominees each.

Other recipients included Megan Alexander, MD, general internal medicine, who received the Faculty Physician Award, and Jennifer Wood, PA-C, neurology, who received the Advanced Practice Professional Award.

“These amazing physicians and advanced practice professionals inspire us every day with their clinical acumen, compassion, professionalism and overall excellence,” said Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), DFSVS, MAMSE, CEO and chief academic officer of Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, chief academic officer and executive vice president of Advocate Health, and executive vice president for health affairs at Wake Forest University.

The awards program is made possible through an endowed fund created by Melinda and John D. McConnell, MD, who is CEO emeritus. That funding also supports a lectureship featuring a keynote speaker. This year, LouAnn Woodward, MD, vice chancellor for health affairs at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and dean of the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, delivered the keynote address.

To support faculty and contribute to the John and Melinda McConnell Lectureship and Clinical Excellence Awards Fund, contact The Office of Philanthropy and Alumni Relations at 800-899-7128 or