Alumni Reunion

Reunion 2019 - Group Photo

UMSON Virtual All-Alumni Reunion 2021

Saturday, April 24, 2021
Online via WebEx

All UMSON alumni are invited to join us online for an afternoon filled with exciting presentations and discussions, and lots of UMSON spirit! Stay safe and strong!

This event has concluded.

Watch a Recording of the Event

See alumna J Taylor Harden, PhD, MS '77, BSN '72, FGSA, FAAN receive the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award

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Schedule of Events

12:30 - 1:30 p.m. 

Reunion Program

  • Welcome by Ruth Lee, DNP ’10, MS ’04, MBA, RN, NEA-BC
  • Dean Jane Kirschling’s Highlights
  • Class of 1971 Heritage Class Induction
  • Distinguished Alumni Award Presentation to J. Taylor Hayden, PhD, MS ’77, BSN ’72, RN, FGSA, FAAN
1:45 - 2:45 p.m.  

Continuing Education Program Session I 

Option A

The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Local and National Response

Karen Doyle, DNP ’20, MBA, MS ’91, BSN ’85, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Senior Vice President, Nursing and Operations, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center
Co-incident Commander for the COVID-19 Pandemic, University of Maryland Medical Center 

Helga Scharf-Bell, DNP ’16, FNP-BC, MSN, NHDP-BC
Acting Director, National Disaster Medical System, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


  • Utilizing the hospital incident command system, describe the actions taken by a local health system to address the pandemic.
  • Describe the role of the National Disaster Medical System and its role in the pandemic.
  • Discuss the moral distress experienced by frontline health care workers and interventions utilized to address. 


On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic due to the severity and spread of the COVID-19 virus. Until this time, the last pandemic was the H1N1 influenza pandemic experienced in 1918. Not being fully prepared for this novel virus, the infrastructure to manage such a pandemic was minimal at best at both a local and national level. The stress placed on the health care system was something never experienced in over a century. Local and national systems needed to react and pivot quickly to address the devastating impact of this disease. This presentation will provide in detail the herculean efforts undertaken at both a state and national level. 

Option B

Nursing and Innovation to Serve Homeless Populations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Catherine Fowler, MPH, BSN, RN
Director of Nursing, Healthcare for the Homeless


  • Identify several of the factors that put those experiencing homelessness at increased risk for COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality.
  • Identify two challenges that someone experiencing homelessness might have in obtaining COVID-related care at mainstream providers (e.g., urgent care, mass vaccination sites, etc.).
  • Describe two of the ways that Healthcare for the Homeless (HCH) reconfigured their space or services to provide screening, testing, and/or vaccination services over the past year.


When COVID-19 hit in March 2020, HCH was focused on providing walk-in and primary medical care, behavioral health, case management, and housing services, amongst others, to some of the most vulnerable people in the area.

As the realities of COVID became clear, leadership quickly moved from “Where can we refer our clients for testing?” to “We must provide testing services here.” Our attempts at referring clients to other organizations were simply not working. Likewise we realized that we had to continue to provide in-clinic services; telehealth was not going to be successful for all of our clients, and we could not just close our doors.  Screening became a priority but presented challenges: how do you screen on the front porch where people are sleeping; how do you get an accurate temperature on someone who is staying outdoors? This winter we were faced with a new challenge: vaccinating. Again it seemed easier to refer our clients to community partners as we faced space and staffing constraints as well as vaccine supply questions.  But again we quickly realized that we had to provide this service or risk many of our clients missing out on a life-saving vaccine.

Now, a little more than a year into the pandemic, we have screening, testing, and vaccination programs that have touched thousands of our clients and neighbors. With some creative thinking, flexibility, and a willingness to take ideas and adjust them many, many times, we have been able to provide these services, along with nearly all of our original services both on-site and in the field. Pivoting to provide COVID-related services has been challenging but rewarding and has maintained a key connection for our clients to care during a stressful and isolating time. 

Massive Compassion and Simple Technology: Bringing Telehealth to Homeless Shelters During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tracy Zvenyach, PhD ’18, MS ’06, RN
Co-Founder and President, Nurse Disrupted, LLC
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Georgetown University


  1. Analyze health information technology methods to deploy simple telehealth connections with limited budget and resources.
  2. Describe challenges associated with applying health technology across a volunteer nurse network.
  3. Relate the impact of public policy to nursing and the health of individuals and communities.


Imagine living in these difficult pandemic times without a home or regular health care. In March 2020, Madison, Wisconsin's homeless shelters had no access to care providers for COVID-19 outbreak prevention. With only a utility trailer and a single power outlet, Nurse Disrupted launched its first two Care Stations and virtual nurse volunteer network, creating quick and simple telehealth video connections between clinicians two hours away and homeless shelters that needed them. Nurse Disrupted's COVID-19 Virtual Volunteer program provides trained and licensed nurses that screen for COVID-19, maintain screening protocol, and educate everyone on safety precautions. The Care Station includes video connection, a one-touch user interface, hardware, software, stable internet, technical support, and project management. Since starting, the Care Stations have created over 19,000 patient connections across 200 providers. The outcomes of the program include only limited cases of COVID-19 at one shelter site and zero outbreaks at the other shelter location. The Care Station was created for resource deserts like homeless shelters: locations with no internet, IT team, budget, or few on-site health staff. Other common resource deserts include rural clinics, long term care facilities, prisons, and schools. The Care Station can go anywhere that needs a simple telehealth video connection. Oftentimes innovation can lead to policy change. As a result of the pandemic, the telehealth policy landscape has dramatically evolved. Nurse Disrupted will describe their role and approach in navigating policy changes and advocating for improved access to care at the federal and state levels.

3 - 4 p.m.  

Continuing Education Program Session II 
Choose option A or B below.

Option A

Giving Birth During the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from a Sample in the U.S.

Rachel Blankstein Breman, PhD ’18, MPH, RN
Assistant Professor, UMSON


  • Participants will learn about integrating social media and online platforms to reach study participants.
  • Participants will learn about how the first wave of COVID-19 affected pregnant and birthing people from the patient perspective.


The COVID-19 pandemic forced hospitals in the United States to adjust policy and procedure in order to provide safe care and prevent the spread of disease. At the beginning of the pandemic, media and case reports described pressure for medical         interventions, visitor restrictions, separation from newborns, and an increase in patient demand for community birth (home and birth center). The purpose of this study was to describe birth experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic centering the birthing person’s perspective. A survey was emailed to users of the Ovia Pregnancy app reaching a national sample who gave birth between March 1 and June 11, 2020. Survey topics included birth location, the Mothers on Respect index, and open-ended questions capturing patient perspectives on the pandemic’s effect on their birth experiences. Differences were assessed based on state-level COVID rate and by race. Content analysis was performed to analyze open-ended responses.

Option B 

COVID-19 Vaccine Development at an Unprecedented Pace: Perspectives from Nursing in Phase I-III Clinical Trials

Ginny Cummings, MS ’99, CRNP
Research Study Coordinator, University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development

Linda Wadsworth, BSN ’81, RN
Research Site Coordinator, University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development


After the presentation, the learner will be able to:

  • Identify the Phases of Clinical Trials.
  • Describe the usual steps taken in the process of initiating a clinical trial.
  • Identify challenges of implementing COVID-19 vaccine studies during a pandemic. 


The COVID-19 pandemic put the world in a frenzy starting in December 2019.  It soon became clear that the way back to “normal” before mask-wearing and social distancing meant widespread vaccination against the SARS—CoV-2 virus. The race was on! COVID-19 vaccine trials began at an unprecedented pace, leading to Emergency Use Authorization of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020. This presentation will highlight the usual steps undertaken in the initiation of a clinical trial and illuminate how systems came together to allow this vaccine to be approved so expeditiously without sacrificing safety. The Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine studies by Moderna and Novavax were also undertaken rapidly, and the many challenges that this study team faced in conducting these studies will be discussed.  Pediatric clinical trials are the next priority in order for children to be protected, and these developing protocols will be outlined.

4:15 - 4:25 p.m.

Alumni Through the Ages Slideshow Presentation

4:30 - 5 p.m.

Breakout Rooms for Informal Networking


2021 Distinguished Alumni Honoree: J Taylor Harden, PhD, MS '77, BSN '72, FGSA, FAAN

J Taylor Harden, PhD, MS '77, BSN '72J Taylor Harden, PhD, MS '77, BSN '72, FGSA, FAAN, was commissioned in the basement of the then-University of Maryland School of Nursing Parson’s Residence Hall. Upon graduation, she served on active duty at US Walson Army Hospital in Fort Dix, New Jersey, followed by work at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Washington, D.C. Harden subsequently returned to the University of Maryland School of Nursing for an advanced degree. She is a Vietnam-era veteran and one of the first nurses to apply for and receive a transfer of service from the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Active Reserve to the U.S. Air Force Active Reserve as a flight nurse. She served at Andrews Air Force Base (AFB), Castle AFB, Lackland AFB, Mather AFB, McGuire AFB and Sheppard AFB.    

Harden is a National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) Distinguished Educator, having taught at schools and departments of nursing across the nation. She is an internationally recognized gerontologist, research administrator, and educator. She is executive director emeritus of NHCGNE and former assistant to the director for special populations at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Bethesda, Maryland. 

Harden spent 14 years at the NIA and served as acting deputy director in 2008. While at the NIA, she conceived and/or expanded program initiatives such as the Butler-Williams Scholars Program (previously the Summer Institute on Aging Research), Grants Technical Assistance Workshop, Directors Regional Workshops, National Advisory Council on Aging Task Force on Minority Aging Research, and the first NIH Women of Color Research Network-Women in Biomedical Careers. She was an early program administrator on two seminal research projects: The Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation and the Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research. These major NIA initiatives combined Dr. Harden’s passion and commitment to women’s and minority health. 

Harden achieved national recognition for her work to advance minority health and health disparities research while supporting mentoring and career development initiatives for early career and underrepresented minority scientists in aging. She wrote the NIA MSTEM Advancing Diversity in Aging Research through the Undergraduate Science Education Funding Opportunity Announcement that remains active after more than a decade. Harden served as executive director for the multi-million-dollar John A. Hartford Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity research and career development program grant, which morphed into a non-profit association in 2016 and was affiliated with the American Academy of Nursing, Gerontological Society of America, and New York University Rory Meyers School of Nursing. The program supported almost 300 pre- and post-doctoral scholars and fellows across the nation.

Harden continues her mentoring and career development activities as part of the Betty Irene Moore Nurse Fellowship in Leadership and Innovation National Advisory Committee. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing and fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, New York Academy of Medicine, and American Academy of Nursing. "Strong Deeds, Gentle Words" is her abiding motto.

Update Your Contact Information

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Become a Class Representative

Volunteering as a class representative is a wonderful way to reconnect with your classmates! If you would like to help on the reunion planning committee, contact Cynthia Sikorski at 410-706-0674 or

Class of 1971 50th Anniversary Memory Book

The Class of 1971 Memory Book will be available to all classmates for a modest fee.

If you are a member of the UMSON Class of 1971 and would like to contribute your memories to the Class of 1971 Memory Book in connection with your 50th reunion, please complete the form below by April 1, 2021.

Fill out my online form.

Continuing Education

Nurses may receive 2 contact hours for participating in this educational activity.  Partial credit is not provided. Participants receive a CNE certificate via email from UMSON approximately two to four weeks after submitting their request, a signed attendance verification form, a completed evaluation form, plus a fee of $10.  All requests must be received within 30 days of the conference.

Accreditation Statement: The University of Maryland School of Nursing is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Conflict of Interest: It is the policy of The University of Maryland School of Nursing to require our continuing education activity (CE) faculty and planning committee members to disclose any financial relationships with companies providing program funding or manufacturers of any commercial products discussed in the program.  The planning committee and CE faculty report that they do not have financial relationships with manufacturers of any commercial products they discuss in the program.