Celebrating Nursing Diversity

2022_BHM.pngWomen's History Month

The Academy spotlighted the following individuals during Women's History Month, centered on Providing Healing, Promoting Hope, in March 2022:

Historic Women Healers

Susie King Taylor (1848-1912)
Known for being the first Black nurse during the American Civil War, Taylor was also the first Black woman to self-publish her memoirs.

Susie Walking Bear Yellowtail (1903-1981)
Yellowtail broke barriers for Indigenous women and fought for culturally competent healthcare. She became the first Native American in the U.S. to earn a nursing degree.

Ina May Gaskin (1940-)
An American midwife described as "the mother of authentic midwifery" for founding The Farm Midwifery Center, one of the first out-of-hospital birthing centers in the United States.


Ruth B. Merkatz, PhD, RN, FAAN
Ruth Merkatz is the Senior Clinical Advisor for the Population Council’s Reproductive Health program. She served as the first Director of the Office of Women’s Health at the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), where she led efforts to include women in all phases of clinical trials. Notably, at the FDA, Dr. Merkatz was directly involved in the approval of the first female condom and ensured all contraceptives provided labeling information for protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Versie Johnson-MallardPhD, APRN-BC, FAAN, FAANP

Dr. Johnson-Mallard’s innovative research focuses on women’s health, reproductive health promotion, STI prevention, HPV screening and prevention, and behavior change in response to culturally appropriate nursing interventions. She developed and disseminated a novel series of 3-D education sessions using Second Life®, which demonstrated how a virtual environment can be used as an innovative and effective educational intervention. She also developed the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP) program at Florida A&M University, the first WHNP program at an HBCU.

Alexis Dunn AmorePhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN

Dr. Dunn Amore is committed to advancing the health of those most vulnerable. Her research and service are focused on dismantling perinatal health disparities as well as developing initiatives to address the root causes of maternal mortality. She works in collaboration with Georgia community organizations to address disparities in health outcomes for Black women and build social support in the community. Dr. Dunn Amore is a tenure track Assistant Professor at the Emory University School of Nursing and a Certified Nurse Midwife at the Atlanta Birth Center.

Pandora HardtmanDNP, RN, CNM, FACNM, FAAN

Dr. Hardtman has decades of midwifery experience working in diverse healthcare settings. Specializing in maternal/child health services in low-resourced and conflict settings, she is dedicated to improving women’s health outcomes during pregnancy and providing a safe space for women to receive care throughout their lives. Her work also focuses on improving access for midwives to practice to the fullest extent of their training and education. Dr. Hardtman currently serves as the Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer of Jhpiego.

2022_BHM.pngBlack History Month

The Academy spotlighted the following individuals during Black History Month, centered on Black Health and Wellness, in February 2022:

Rhetaugh Dumas, PhD, MA, BSN, FAAN
Dr. Rhetaugh Dumas was a founding member of the American Academy of Nursing and was named a Living Legend in 2002. Dr. Dumas was the first woman and nurse to serve as Deputy Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. She was only the second African-American and was the first Black woman to be named and to hold the position of Dean at the University of Michigan when appointed in 1981.

Mary Eliza Mahoney
Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first Black licensed nurse in the United States after becoming one of four nurses to complete the New England Hospital for Women and Children graduate program in 1879. She helped found the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908 and opened their first national convention.

Vernice Ferguson, BSN, MA, FAAN
Vernice Ferguson served as Academy President from 1981-1983 and was named a Living Legend in 1998. She was nationally and internationally known for her leadership role in fostering excellence in nursing care and education. She served as a nurse executive within the United States Department of Veteran Affairs, leading the nation’s largest staff of nurses, as well as the nursing department head at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.

Colonel Lawrence Washington
Colonel Lawrence Washington was the first commissioned male Army Nurse Corps officer; the first black male Army Nurse Corps officer to receive the rank of colonel; and the first black male nurse to receive certification for residency education at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. Lawrence has received numerous awards, including the US Legion of Merit.

Captain James Lavelle Dickens, DNP, FAAN, FAANP

Captain James Lavelle Dickens serves as the Survey Operations Group Long Term Care Manager for five states for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dallas. Through a social determinants of health lens, he has led multiple government initiatives to provide high-quality care in complex situations, including the Afghanistan Health Initiative to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.

Felesia Bowen, PhD, DNP, APRN, FAAN
Dr. Felesia Bowen began her career as a US Army Nurse and is a veteran of the first Gulf War, having served in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. She is a renowned nurse scientist and leader, specializing in the study of childhood asthma and trauma in urban communities. Dr. Bowen currently serves as Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Guardia Banister, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Dr. Gaurdia Banister is known for her research and work to establish innovative models of interprofessional education, transition to practice considerations for culturally-diverse nursing students, and the impact of mentoring on career success and progression. Dr. Banister currently serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Patient Care at Massachusetts General Hospital and on the Institute for Nursing Leadership’s National Advisory Council.

Gina S. Brown, PhD, MSA, RN, FAAN
Dr. Gina S. Brown serves as the Dean for the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences at Howard University, a prominent HBCU. In her role as Dean, she has improved the NCLEX pass rates. In her 25 years of nursing, she has helped prepare over 1,000 underrepresented clinicians for entry into the workforce, helping to diversify the profession as a whole.

Dorothy L. Powell, EdD, RN, FAAN

Dr. Dorothy Powell has been a force in the nursing profession. Beyond her academic roles, Dr. Powell’s dedication to service is evidenced through her leadership to develop a convalescent unit for homeless individuals in a large shelter in Washington, DC. She was also responsible for the development of a unique career training program, Nursing Careers for Homeless People, which has won national recognition.