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AACN Announces 2024 Election Results for its Board of Directors and Nominating Committee
[February 12, 2024]

AACN Announces 2024 Election Results for its Board of Directors and Nominating Committee


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce the results of its 2024 election to fill seats on the AACN Board of Directors and Nominating Committee. With votes cast by half of all member deans from the nation's nursing schools with baccalaureate and higher degree programs, those selected to serve as AACN's top leaders include Board members Julie Sanford (Chair-elect) from The University of Alabama; Victoria Niederhauser (Secretary) from the University of Tennessee Knoxville; Stephen Cavanagh from the University of California-Davis; Rhoberta Haley from Pacific Lutheran University; Kimberly Hunter from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; and Rita Trofino from Saint Francis University. New members of AACN's Nominating Committee include Julie Anne Hoff from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Tony Umadhay from Barry University.

"Navigating through the many challenges facing health care and higher education requires collaboration, ingenuity, and leadership," said AACN Board Chair Cynthia McCurren, PhD, RN, FAAN. "AACN applauds its newly elected leaders for their commitment to providing the thoughtful guidance and inspiration needed to meet these challenges and drive transformation in academic nursing."

Those elected to the AACN Board of Directors and Nominating Committee will begin their terms of service following the business meeting at AACN's Deans Annual Meeting on Monday, March 25, 2024. New and re-elected Board members include:

Julie Sanford, DNS, RN, ANEF, FAAN, dean and professor at The University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing, was elected to serve a two-year term as Chair-Elect (she will serve as Board Chair from 2024-2026). Dr. Sanford formerly served as dean and professor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center School of Nursing and as director of the school of nursing at James Madison University in Virginia. Her distinguished career in nursing education has included leadership and teaching roles at the University of South Alabama, University of Southern Mississippi, and Spring Hill College. She has secured more than $13 million in federal and foundation funding to increase access to nursing education for diverse and disadvantaged populations living in rural, underserved areas of Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia. In 2018, she presented testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to advocate for Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development funding. For AACN, she has served on the Board of Directors as secretary and member at-large; on the Nominating and Government Affairs Committees; as chair of the Baccalaureate Education Conference Planning Committee; as a State Grassroots Liaison; as a CCNE team leader; as a member of the CCNE Report Review Committee; and as a mentor in the New Dean Mentoring program. She is a graduate of the AACN-Wharton Executive Leadership Program.

Victoria Niederhauser, DrPH, RN, PPCNP-BC, FAAN, dean and professor at the University of Tennessee Knoxville College of Nursing, was elected to serve a two-year term as Board Secretary. Prior to assuming her current position in 2011, she held various leadership roles at the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Nursing & Dental Hygiene and held academic appointments at George Mason University and George Washington University. Dr. Niederhauser has published the book Core Review for Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioners and has authored over 60 articles and book chapters on child health and educational issues. She has received funding for nursing research and training grants totaling over $16 million. Dr. Niederhauser is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner, a Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellow, and a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. Active in AACN, she has served on the Board of Directors; the Program, Audit, and Nominating Committee; as a new dean mentor; and leader of the US News & World Report rankings advisory group.



Stephen Cavanagh, PhD, PhD, MPA, RN, FACHE, FAAN, dean and professor of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California-Davis, was re-elected to serve a two-year term on the Board of Directors. He previously served as dean and professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing and in a variety of leadership roles at Wayne State University in Detroit, including CEO and board chair for the school's Nursing Practice Corporation, associate dean, and assistant dean. Earlier in his career he worked as professor and department head for several schools in England, including the Birmingham and Solihull College of Nursing and Midwifery, Nene College, University of Wolverhampton, and North East Surrey College of Technology. Dr. Cavanagh has contributed to AACN as a member of the Finance and Nominating Committees. In the practice arena, he serves on the Executive Leadership Committee, Healthy Aging Clinic, for the UC-Davis Health System.

Rhoberta Haley, PhD, RN, dean of the School of Nursing at Pacific Lutheran University, was re-elected to serve a two-year term on the Board of Directors. She joined AACN's Board last year to complete an unexpired term. With nearly 20 years of experience as a nurse educator, she has taught at all levels of nursing and served in leadership roles as director, dean, chief academic officer, and campus president. She has served as a state representative to The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Dr. Haley was a member of the Finance Committee and the Doctoral Conference Planning Subcommittee. She also served as the Board liaison for the Small/Liberal Arts Colleges Like Schools Discussion. As an academic nursing leader, administrator, and consultant, Dr. Haley has focused on the development and revision of nursing programs that address social disparities of health, developed innovative strategies to provide robust student learning support, and supported minority-serving institutions to launch nursing programs. Her clinical interest focuses on providing palliative care benefits and services for patients and families who are managing chronic illness while also experiencing houselessness.


Kimberly Hunter, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, Interim Chief Executive Officer and Associate Vice President for the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, was elected to serve a two-year term as a Practice Representative on the Board of Directors. Dr. Hunter has held a variety of leadership positions in nursing and healthcare administration at two of the nation's premier healthcare systems: Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic. Through this work, she has focused on operational excellence, leading teams pursuing ANCC Magnet recognition at three hospitals, and Beacon designation. Dr. Hunter has served as full-time faculty in the BSN program at the University of Tennessee for six years and lectured in various DNP classes on healthcare systems leadership topics at the University of Iowa. Her clinical practice focused on pediatrics, and she has taught in the classroom, skills lab, and clinical settings. Dr. Hunter's leadership on behalf of the profession includes service on the Philips Nursing Leadership Community Advisory Board, the American Hospital Association's Academic Medical Center Strategic Leadership Group, and the Iowa Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness Advisory Board.

Rita Trofino, DNP, MNEd, RN, Nursing Department Chair and professor with the School of Health Sciences and Education at Saint Francis University, was elected to serve a two-year term on the Board of Directors. With over 35 years of experience as a nurse educator, Dr. Trofino also has served the larger healthcare community through her work with the Pennsylvania Higher Education Nursing Schools Association (PHENSA), Cambria Regional Chamber, and the American Heart Association. She was honored with PHENSA's Distinguished Colleague Award in 2021. With previous service on the AACN Board, her volunteer work with the association includes service as chair and member of the Nominating Committee; member of the Membership Committee; and member of the Organizational Leadership Network Steering Committee. She has been a mentor in the New Dean Mentor Program and currently serves as a site visitor for the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Continuing members of the AACN Board of Directors include Chair-Elect Jean Giddens from Virginia Commonwealth University (who will serve as Chair from March 2024-March 2026); Treasurer Judith Karshmer from Arizona State University; Practice Representative Julie Swann from Emory Saint Joseph Hospital; and Members-at-Large Deborah Jones from University of Texas Medical Branch; Robin Newhouse from Indiana University; Demetrius Porche from Louisiana State University Health Science Center; and Lin Zhan from the University of California, Los Angeles. AACN President and Chief Executive Officer Deborah Trautman serves as an ex-officio member of the AACN Board.

The newly elected members to AACN's Nominating Committee include:

Julie Anne Hoff, PhD, MPH, RN, CENP, is the dean and professor at the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Previous leadership roles in academia include dean at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi and department chair at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and Elmhurst University. Her pioneering work studying the prevalence and predictive value of coronary artery calcium (CAC) helped change the cardiovascular risk-stratification paradigm, and today, CAC is used as a coronary atherosclerosis prognostic indicator and guides treatment decisions. She has served as the interim Chief Nurse Executive for OU Health; Chair of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Nursing Articulation Working Group; Treasurer of the Texas Association of Deans and Directors of Professional Nursing Programs; and as peer-reviewer for the Southern Nursing Research Society and the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science. For AACN, see has served on the Faculty Development Conference Subcommittee, as a State Grassroots Liaison, and as conference program peer-reviewer.

Tony Umadhay, PhD, CRNA, FAANA, is dean and professor at the Barry University School of Nursing. He possesses more than 30 years of progressive clinical and academic nursing expertise and holds the rank of professor in Anesthesiology at Barry. He has taught and administered health programs across disciplines and at various academic levels. A committed nurse leader, Dr. Umadhay has served on the Board of Directors and as President of the Florida Association of Nurse Anesthesiology; as a representative to the Florida Coalition of Advanced Practice Nurses; on the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee of the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology; as a member of the National Certification Exam Committee for the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists; and as Treasurer of the Florida Association of Colleges of Nursing. He has been recognized by the University of Santo Tomas Nursing Association International with an Excellence in Nursing Education Award.

Continuing Nominating Committee members include Mary Anne Krogh from South Dakota State University, Robyn Nelson from CNI College, and Diane Shea from Emmanuel College. AACN Board Chair Cynthia McCurren from the University of Michigan-Flint will join the Nominating Committee when her term as Chair ends in late March 2024.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the voice for academic nursing representing more than 865 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide. AACN works to establish quality standards for nursing education; assists schools in implementing those standards; influences the nursing profession to improve health care; and promotes public support for professional nursing education, research, and practice. Learn more at aacnnursing.org.


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