"If chicken soup and a flower show up on your doorstep when you’re sick, you’re probably friends with Erica Katz. Born in Indiana, she made stops as a U.S. Marine and nurse practitioner in New York in the aftermath of 9/11 before returning to her midwestern roots when she and her husband took jobs at Edward Hospital.
As an ER nurse, she treats the whole community, but the “patients” who benefit most from Erica’s patience are those who live in her neighborhood. When life happens, usually in the form of a sprain or break, fall or fever, Erica can be found pedaling her bike to someone’s house, medical bag in tow. Once the cut is bandaged or the fever treated, Erica provides the most effective medicine in the form of a calming smile and a warm hug.
Her service to her community set aside, what makes Erica truly special is what she does at home. Raising a child with autism can be overwhelming; for Erica it became a call to advocacy that she has fostered through community storytelling efforts. Raising a daughter who loves to read led to the formation of a neighborhood book club for her daughter and friends, building foundations for lifelong learning. The phrase “the door is always open” is literal (so we won’t mention where she lives). And whether we walk in to get bandaged or embraced, counseled or comforted, we all leave knowing one thing: our community is better because Erica is in it."
Nominated by Kathleen Cameron, Anne Squire, Helen Lai Kee, Kelly Ward