2017 Jonas Policy Scholars

2017 - 2019 Academy Jonas Policy Scholars


Ragnhildur (Raga) I. Bjarnadottir, PhD, MPH, RN

Informatics & Technology Expert Panel

Dr. Bjarnadottir is currently a Postdoctoral Associate at the University of Florida, College of Nursing. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Iceland in 2008. After working as a community health and school nurse, she completed her Masters’ of Public Health at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in 2013. Dr. Bjarnadottir completed her PhD in Nursing at Columbia University School of Nursing in 2016. Between August 2016 and August 2017, she received post-doctoral training through a joint fellowship from the University of Florida College of Nursing and Informatics Institute. Dr. Bjarnadottir’s research focuses on leveraging health informatics and data science to improve health care quality for underserved populations. Her previous research included an examination of home care nurses’ assessment and documentation of patients’ sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as EHR implementation and nurses’ experiences with documentation systems in the long-term care setting. Dr. Bjarnadottir’s research interests include text mining and nurse-generated data, patient safety, care quality and nursing informatics. In her current research she uses text-mining methods to identify factors associated with risk of hospital-acquired conditions in acute care nurses’ progress notes, and utilize the findings to support nursing practice through electronic clinical decision support. Her ongoing study is focused on reducing patient falls in the hospital setting, but Dr. Bjarnadottir aims to expand her research to include other healthcare-acquired conditions, including pressure ulcers and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

Shannon Halloway, PhD, RN

Women's Health Expert Panel

Shannon Halloway is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Rush University College of Nursing.  Her research aims to reduce cognitive decline and dementia through health behaviors, specifically physical activity. She received her B.S. in Nursing from Pacific Lutheran University, and earned her doctorate in Nursing Science at Rush University.  Her research is informed by her diverse clinical experiences focused on the care of older adults across the healthcare spectrum, spanning critical care and community settings, as well as her community-based research experiences working with midlife and older women. Dr. Halloway’s research has been supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship), the Midwest Nursing Research Society, local philanthropic grants, and currently, Sigma Theta Tau International. As a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar, she collaborated with the Illinois Healthcare Action Coalition to examine diversity in the Illinois nursing workforce. Dr. Halloway has 12 publications in professional journals with a focus on lifestyle physical activity interventions. She also is a co-author on a book chapter on physical activity interventions for women for the Annual Review of Nursing Research. Her work has resulted in several national awards, including the Western Journal of Nursing Research Best Student Paper, and most recently, the American Heart Association Cardiovascular Stroke Nursing Best Abstract for her secondary analysis of lifestyle physical activity and gray matter. Dr. Halloway is developing and testing a multi-component intervention that targets physical activity and cognitive stimulation to improve brain health for diverse older women with cardiovascular disease. As a Jonas Policy Scholar, she will continue her focus on health issues pertinent to the growing older women population.

Kirstin Manges, MSN, RN

Building Health Care System Excellence Expert Panel

Kirstin Manges is a PhD Candidate at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She earned her  BA  in Nursing and Biology from Luther College, and her Master’s in Nursing from the University of Iowa. Ms. Manges’ scholarship is in health systems research with a specialization in organizational psychology, care transitions, and patient safety. She has five peer-reviewed manuscripts that focus on the areas of identifying modifiable organizational factors that impact healthcare system performance, as well as articulating the role of nurses on patient safety. Her dissertation work examines how nurses work with physicians and case managers as an inpatient discharge team to prepare high-risk older adult patients for post-hospital self-care management. She was awarded the Buckwalter Midwestern Nursing Research Society Grant and Doctoral Scholar Award from the Versant Center for the Advancement of Nursing Research to fund her dissertation research.  As a doctoral student she was selected as one of five nurses nationally for the 2014-2016 National Veterans Affairs Quality Scholar Program cohort. Her previous policy experience includes work as an intern for the United States Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee.  Ms. Manges has served in leadership positions at the University of Iowa including President of Students for Interprofessional Education Organization, Vice President of Sigma Theta Tau Gamma Chapter, and Institute for HealthCare Open School Chapter Leader. She also has worked as a bedside nurse in variety of clinical settings (i.e., pediatric oncology/bone marrow transplant, adult neurology, adult cardiovascular intensive care, and adult medical surgical units) and received a Daisy Award for Excellent Nursing. Ms. Manges hopes her work with the Building Health Care Systems Excellence Expert Panel will provide her with the knowledge and skills to continue to advocate for nurses as critical influencers of policy, health systems research, and practice.

Sarah Oerther,  MSN, MEd., RN

Psychiatric, Mental Health & Substance Abuse Expert Panel

Sarah Oerther is a nursing instructor enrolled as a PhD student at the School of Nursing, Saint Louis University. Her dissertation research will be on health promoting mothering practices of immigrant Muslim women. Sarah earned her BSN from the University of Cincinnati (2004) and two Master’s degrees (in nursing and in education) from Xavier University. She graduated summa cum laude and was awarded the Magis Award for her accomplishments as a nursing instructor at Xavier University. Internationally, Sarah was the nurse-in-charge of the design, implementation, and assessment of a comprehensive nutrition program for three villages in rural Tanzania, and also has hospital nursing experience in Mumbai, India. In 2015, Sarah received the Edith Anderson Leadership Education Grant from Sigma Theta Tau. Before enrolling at Saint Louis University, Sarah was a Senior Specialist for Poison Control at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. She is trained in drug abuse prevention and is a nationally certified Specialist in Poison Information (CSPI). On a national level, she was elected to the Specialist in Poison Information (SPI) Committee for the American Association of Poison Control Centers and was elected to serve as secretary for the Emerging Scholars Network, Midwest Nursing Research Society (2017-2019). Sarah is an active author who has published multiple peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. In recognition of her leadership elevating the practice and visibility of nursing, she received the Dorine Seaquist Outstanding Woman of the Year award from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Next Generation Leadership Award from the Greater Cincinnati Area Chamber of Commerce (2010) for leadership as an exceptional member of the healthcare profession under 40 years of age. In 2017, she was named a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health. During her time as a Jonas Policy Fellow, Sarah will work with the Psychiatric/Mental Health/Substance Abuse Expert Panel and hopes her work will support healthcare policy for improved health promotion among vulnerable populations. 


Felicia "Liz" Stokes, JD, MA, RN

LGBTQ Health Expert Panel

Liz Stokes JD, MA, RN, is a Senior Policy Advisor for the American Nurses Association Center for Ethics
and Human Rights. She completed her BSN at the University of Virginia and worked several years as a
critical care nurse. Liz received her Juris Doctor from the University of Richmond and worked as a
Consultant for the D.C. Board of Nursing interpreting and conferring professional ethics provisions in
nursing. She recently completed her Masters in Bioethics from Loyola University Chicago. Her leadership
is also demonstrated through various charitable roles in the health and legal communities. She is a member
of The American Association of Nurse Attorneys and serves on the board of the American Society for
Bioethics and Humanities Affinity Group for Nursing. Liz also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal
of Bioethical Inquiry and is an active volunteer with the District of Columbia Bar Association. Liz is
currently an American Academy of Nursing Jonas Health Policy Scholar.

Jasmine Travers, PhD, AGNP-C, RN, CCRN

Environmental & Public Health Expert Panel

Jasmine Travers is a postdoctoral fellow in the NewCourtland Center for Transitions and Health at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and was also selected as a Dean’s distinguished postdoctoral fellow for academic diversity at Penn. Her predoctoral work examined infection control and racial/ethnic disparities in influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations among nursing home residents and was awarded the pre-dissertation student research award from the Gerontological Society of America. Her clinical experience as an Adult Gerontological Nurse Practitioner has further provided her an appreciation of the complex health and social needs of vulnerable older adults requiring long-term services and supports. During her current fellowship, she is examining barriers to accessing and utilizing long-term services and supports for racial/ethnic minority older adults as well as how best to optimize health outcomes for these groups across long-term care settings. Her long-term goal is to become a nurse scientist who will lead a multidisciplinary team of scholars in advancing and implementing knowledge designed to reduce health disparities experienced by vulnerable older adult populations. During her time as a Jonas Policy Fellow, Dr. Travers will be working with the Environmental and Public Health Expert panel. On this panel, Dr. Travers plans to bridge her research interests and the mission of the panel to identify how the environment affects the care and health outcomes of older adults and how the study and practice of public health can improve this population’s care and outcomes. Dr. Travers received her PhD in Nursing from Columbia University where she served as a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar for two years.

Deborah A. Gross, DNSc, RN, FAAN

Jonas Policy Scholar Senior Advisor

Deborah Gross is Senior Advisor for the American Academy of Nursing Jonas Health Policy Scholars Program. She is also the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Endowed Professor in Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing and holds joint appointments in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine, and the Department of Mental Health in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Gross is best known for her work in promoting positive parent-child relationships and preventing behavior problems in preschool children from low-income neighborhoods. Previously, as the Associate Dean for Research and a department chair at Rush University College of Nursing, Dr. Gross and colleagues developed the Chicago Parent Program, an innovative parenting program that improves parenting behavior and reduces child behavior problems. The program has been used in a agencies serving low-income families across the country and is listed on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices. Dr. Gross was a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow, and among her many recognitions are the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research President's Award for outstanding research, induction in the Sigma Theta Tau International Researcher Hall of Fame, and the American Academy of Nursing Edge Runner award honoring developers of model programs offering solutions to health care challenges. Dr. Gross was recently appointed as an Ambassador of the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research. She has served on numerous review panels for the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine, published more than 100 articles, book chapters, and abstracts, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Research in Nursing & Health and Nursing Outlook.