Toni Laskey, MD

The Ray E. Helfer Society Recognizes Dr. Toni Laskey for Outstanding Teaching

Toni LaskeyNomination Letter for Toni Laskey, MD

It is my honor to nominate Dr. Toni Laskey for the Helfer Teaching Award. It is a small token of gratitude for the immense role she has played in my career and the careers of so many others.

The first time I ever saw Dr. Laskey was when she gave a lecture, and it’s literally one of the reasons I’m a CAP – I saw her and thought “I want to be like her!” She is among the best teachers I’ve ever seen speak. Her energy is unmatched. She is engaging and approachable, and she makes our difficult material somehow easier to process. Since she has moved away from my area, sometimes someone will say “oh I think I might have heard her speak” and I always think “no… if you heard a ‘Toni lecture’, you’d remember.” Her passion is unforgettable.

Inspired by her dedication to teaching in our field, she established the fellowship program at Indiana University / Riley Hospital, where I was her first fellow. She was so much more than Program Director though. She was advocate, cheerleader, mom, friend, and inspiration. Her relentless focus on why we do this work shaped the way I practice, and it has helped me avoid the burnout experienced by so many in our field.

For her fellows, Toni doesn’t just teach. She is committed to our career development. She never hesitates to loop us in or connect us with opportunities to speak or participate in research or writing projects. And this doesn’t end when we finish fellowship. More than 10 years out and now across the country, she is still reaching out when she sees opportunities that match my interests. My career would not be close to where it is without her advocacy.

Toni is also an amazing social connector. As an introvert, before meeting her I typically kept to myself at meetings. But Toni knows the value of the supportive network the CAP community and Helfer specifically have to offer. Attending my first Helfer conference I planned to take a taxi to the hotel, but she said “Oh, Mary Clyde is arriving at the same time. You should ride with her. You’ll love her!” My introverted self was a bit in shock at the idea of a lengthy car ride with a stranger…but of course she was absolutely right. (Who doesn’t love Mary Clyde?!) And throughout the meeting and after, she continued to introduce me to people who would guide and inspire my career. There is no ego in her mentorship; she wants you to learn from everyone you can.

One of my personal favorite aspects of Toni’s mentorship is that it isn’t just about large gestures. After giving a talk that I was quite nervous about at the Helfer conference several years ago, as I left the stage she texted me, “I’m so proud of you!” As many of us would agree, thoughtful words like those from a treasured mentor mean so much more than a lot of “bigger” awards. She is an advocate for her trainees in all ways, big and small, public and private. And her actions are always heartfelt.

Toni is the quintessential teacher of not just medical knowledge, but also how to be an inspiring leader, a passionate advocate, a committed lifelong learner, a supportive colleague, and an encouraging mentor. It’s still my dream to be like Toni if I ever ‘grow up.’ I’m so grateful for all she has contributed to my life, to trainees, and to our field. She is incredibly deserving of the Helfer Teaching Award.


Tara Holloran, MD, MBA
Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics