2018 Chapter Award Winners

AMTA-IL held their annual Awards Ceremony during the Annual Spring Conference and Member Meeting in Oak Brook. On Saturday, April 7th. Congratulations to all who were nominated, and thank you to all of our members who participated in the nomination process.


There were several nominees to choose from in each category and the decision of who receives the award is never easy.  Thank you to the volunteers who served on the statewide Awards Committee and donated their time to read through all the nomination letters that were received.


The following individuals were selected by a committee of their peers as the 2018 AMTA-IL Chapter award recipients:


Outstanding Student of The Year- Jill Rodriguez

Jill attends the Soma Institute and will graduate in November 2018.  She was nominated by fellow Soma classmate, Laura Kula.


Educator of The Year – Nitza Cancel

Nitza is an alumni of Soma and has been teaching Massage Therapy there for seven years. She was nominated by two of her students, Kadija Jones and Falak Mirza in addition to receiving high praises from fellow instructor, Mike Hovi.


Pioneer Award – Meredith Nathan

Meredith was recognized for her trailblazing work at Pulling Down the Moon, a center for Holistic Care for Fertility, Pregnancy and Family Health in the Chicago and Baltimore/DC areas.  She developed and trademarked a cutting edge Fertility Enhancement Massage (FEM) protocol. This protocol was purchased by Shady Grove Fertility in Maryland, the largest Reproductive Endocrinology Center in the Us. Meredith created a rigorous FEM Apprentice Program for Massage Therapists, which was initially offered to train only those who work for PDtM. However, in 2018, PDtM decided to make FEM education available to all licensed massage therapists, launching their first class as a webinar. Her protocol was has been awarded 35 CEUs by NCBTMB. For more information about Meredith and her work visit the PDtM website www.pullingdownthemoon.com.


Distinguished Service-Vicki Gothard

Vicki is one of our very own chapter volunteers. She has been practicing massage therapy for 20 years and has been a chapter volunteer for 10 years, serving in various capacities. She currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Finance Administrator. Vicki  has worked with the chapter during some difficult times, when difficult decisions had to made. She continued to dedicate her time to chapter business, often sacrificing time away from her personal business, “The Body Connection Massage Therapy” and her family; giving much of herself and never asking anything in return. In her own words, Vicki said, “AMTA is like my family”


Meritorious Award – Cassandra Stratton

Cassandra has been a licensed massage therapist for over 17 years. When she’s not busy  juggling her massage therapy career and working at as Director of Employment for Mario Tricoci Hair Salons and Day Spas, she is volunteering her time to AMTA-IL.

Cassandra began volunteering for the chapter just over a year ago, and in that short time has become the chapter’s Government Relations Chair. She’s deeply involved and dedicated to the current legislative issues concerning all massage therapists in Illinois, both AMTA members and non-members alike; especially HB4340.  Cassandra also represents AMTA-IL conducting school visits and speaking to massage therapy students and by hosting social meetups where other MT’s engage in networking with one another. As a result, the Illinois chapter has gained 30 new members in less than a year due to contact with her. Cassandra will go on to receive national recognition and share the stage with all the other chapter Meritorious Award winners at the 2018 AMTA National Convention in Washington, DC this summer.


Congratulations to all!



For a list of prior award winners, visit the Chapter Awards and Recognition Page