Visionary Pioneers

These 30 esteemed alumni have made a significant impact on, and contribution to, the field of nursing based on their leadership, innovation, or entrepreneurship.

Note that the biographies below were accurate at the time the Visionary Pioneers were named.

Patricia A. Abbott - Nursing Pioneer

Patricia A. Abbott, PhD, MS '92, BSN '89, RN, FAAN, FACMI, is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Dr. Abbott is recognized internationally for her leadership in preparing scholars and practitioners in nursing informatics (NI). Dr. Abbott was one of the original authors of the American Nurses Association’s Scope & Standards of Practice for NI and the national certification exam in NI. Dr. Abbott is focused on e-Health/m-Health applications for vulnerable populations, with a primary focus on non-communicable diseases and digital education. She has dedicated more than 15 years to researching informatics, user-centered design, mobile health and electronic health, and implementation science. Dr. Abbott is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, and is the first nurse and woman to be appointed to the Board of Directors of the Open Source Electronic Healthcare Alliance.

Rachel Z. Booth - Nursing Pioneer

Rachel Z. Booth, PhD, MS '70, BSN '68, an internationally recognized educator, is dean emerita of the University of Alabama School of Nursing at Birmingham, and former director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for International Nursing. Dr. Booth started one of the nation’s first adult nurse practitioner programs at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in 1971, where she also served as associate dean for undergraduate studies and chair of the Department of Primary Care. She later was assistant vice president for health affairs at Duke University and dean of its School of Nursing. Additionally, Dr. Booth has served as president and vice president of the Southern Council of Collegiate Education for Nursing, president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and chair of the State of Alabama Association of Colleges of Nursing. She is a member of the National Academy of Nursing Practice and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Mary Catherine Bunting - Nursing Pioneer

Mary Catherine Bunting, MS '72, CRNP, RN, a Baltimore benefactor, is chair of the Mary Catherine Bunting Foundation. Following her retirement after a 34-year career at Mercy Medical Center, Ms. Bunting has been a transformational supporter of causes that align with her personal values—a deep respect for the environment, a belief in the life-changing power of education, and a commitment to quality health care, particularly for the underserved. With a $1 million donation to the University of Maryland School of Nursing, the Mary Catherine Bunting Clinical Nurse Leader Scholarship was established in 2009 to provide support for Maryland residents enrolled in the School of Nursing’s Clinical Nurse Leader master’s option. During her career, Ms. Bunting taught classes at the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, and worked in the labor and delivery department and as a nurse practitioner at Mercy Southern outreach center.

Ethel Palmer Clarke - Nursing Pioneer

Ethel Palmer Clarke, DIN 1906, an early nurse leader, served as the superintendent of the De Soto Sanitarium in Jacksonville, Fla., and later as superintendent of the University of Maryland Hospital. An early advocate for graduate nursing education, she was director of the Indiana University Training School for Nurses from 1915-1932, where she led the school to national prominence. Ms. Palmer Clarke was instrumental in the founding of Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Honor Society of Nursing, which currently has more than 135,000 active members. She is known as the “Mother” of STTI.

Darlene J. Curley - Nursing Pioneer

Darlene J. Curley, MS '82, BSN '80, RN, FAAN, is executive director of the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare. Ms. Curley has extensive health care expertise as a policy leader, entrepreneur, executive consultant, and workforce expert. She was instrumental in the transformation of the Jonas Center into a national thought leader and grant funder. Ms. Curley has forged partnerships with leading philanthropic, academic, and health care organizations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, John A. Hartford Foundation, Bob Woodruff Foundation, Hearst Publishing Foundation, and the Veterans Administration. She is currently leading an effort to support 1,000 doctoral students nationally in addressing the critical shortage of nursing faculty and the health care needs of sick and wounded veterans. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Bertha Davis


Bertha L. Davis, PhD, MS ’77, RN, ANEF, FAAN, demonstrated leadership as a champion of underserved populations throughout her distinguished nursing career; she is a retired dean and professor emerita of nursing at Hampton University in Virginia and a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. As the founding director of the first PhD in nursing program at a historically black university, her advocacy and research traversed national and international arenas where health disparities burdened traditionally underrepresented ethnic and racial groups and homeless populations. Davis led nurse leaders during two missions in Africa and subsequently created a curricular model that embraces humanitarian and cultural issues. She was director for numerous federally funded projects to assist diverse student, civilian, and military populations.

Colonel Marla De Jong - Nursing Pioneer

Colonel Marla De Jong, PhD, MS '96, RN, CCNS, FAAN, is interim associate dean for research and senior air force advisor at the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. During her 26-year Air Force career, Col. De Jong’s contributions have shaped military and civilian nursing clinical practice, the delivery of health care, nursing education and management, research, and health policy. When deployed to Iraq as program manager for the Joint Theater Trauma System, she wrote the first air transport policy, coordinated 10 clinical practice guidelines, and secured support for trauma initiatives at NATO-led hospitals, contributing to the highest combat casualty survival rate in history. Her numerous military awards include seven medals with several oak leaf clusters, Air Force Nurse of the Year, and Nurse of the Year at three military hospitals. She also received the Flame of Excellence Award from the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Dorrie K. Fontaine - nurse pioneer

Dorrie K. Fontaine, PhD, MS '77, RN, FAAN, is dean of the University of Virginia School of Nursing, Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing, and associate chief nursing officer of the University of Virginia Health System. Throughout her distinguished career, Dr. Fontaine has demonstrated a passion for critical care nursing. Her teaching has centered on issues related to critical care, including sleep promotion, pain relief, family presence at the end of life, and creating healthy work environments where all can flourish. She has investigated strategies to promote nursing education partnerships, diversity, and interprofessional education in university settings. Dr. Fontaine also began the Compassionate Care Initiative several years ago which includes interprofessional education to develop resilient practitioners. She has served as president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, and was this year’s recipient of the University of Virginia Health System’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award.

Patricia A. Grady - nurse pioneer

Patricia A. Grady, PhD, MS '68, RN, FAAN, is director of the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), National Institutes of Health, and is an internationally recognized researcher. Under her leadership, NINR has significantly increased the number of research and training grants awarded. Dr. Grady has initiated several major NINR research programs, including end-of-life, self-management of chronic illness, health disparities, and genetics. Her scientific focus has been primarily on strokes, with emphasis on arterial stenosis and cerebral ischemia. She has authored or co-authored numerous published articles and papers on hypertension, cerebrovascular permeability, and arterial stenosis. Dr. Grady was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 1999, and is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Nursing and American Stroke Association. In 2014, she was named one of the top 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C.

Pamela V. Hammond - Nurse Pioneer

Pamela V. Hammond, PhD, ScD (Hon.), MS ’78, RN, ANEF, FAAN, is interim president of Virginia State University. She was previously provost and chief academic officer of Hampton University, overseeing matters relating to educational policies, interdisciplinary curricula, and academic appointments. Dr. Hammond was instrumental in the implementation of the first PhD program in nursing at a historically black college or university at Hampton in 1999, resulting in an increase in the number of doctoral-prepared racial and ethnic minority nurses. Before serving as provost and chief academic officer, Dr. Hammond was dean of Hampton’s School of Nursing, where she helped increase student enrollment by 60 percent and assumed major responsibilities for the research, development, and grant activities that directly impacted faculty productivity. Dr. Hammond is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a Fellow of the Academy of Nursing Education, and was an inductee in the inaugural class of the Tuskegee University Nursing Hall of Fame.

Donna S. Havens - nurse pioneer

Donna S. Havens, PhD '91, RN, FAAN, is interim dean and a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing. A highlight of Dr. Havens’ career includes the development of the Decisional Involvement Scale, which is used internationally to identify actual and preferred degrees of nurse involvement in workplace policy and practice decisions. Dr. Havens has been the principal investigator on multiple studies focused on improving nursing practice and patient care. She has presented nationally and internationally on subjects such as the nursing practice environment, nurse executive leadership and turnover, professional nursing practice, staff nurse decisional involvement, communication/collaboration, and magnet hospitals. Dr. Havens is chair of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Commission. She is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, chair of the American Academy of Nursing's expert panel on Building Healthcare Excellence, and was the recipient of the American Organization of Nurse Executives Nurse Researcher Award.

Kathleen Milholland Hunter


Kathleen Milholland Hunter, PhD ’89, MS ’81, BSN ’76, FAAN, was instrumental in the development of the American Nursing Association publication Nursing Informatics: Scope and Standards of Practice and was one of the original designers of the TIGER-based Assessment of Nursing Informatics Competencies© (TANIC), an online assessment tool now used globally. In the informatics field, she advocated for adopting inclusionary language, such as “health care informatics,” that reflected nursing’s role. She was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing just prior to her death in 2018.

Ruth McCorkle - nurse pioneer

Ruth McCorkle, PhD, BSN '68, RN, FAAN, is the Florence Schorske Wald Professor of Nursing and professor of Epidemiology at the Yale School of Nursing. She is a pioneer in oncology nursing and an international leader in cancer nursing education and cancer control research. Dr. McCorkle has conducted landmark research on the psychosocial ramifications of cancer and has more than 40 years experience in testing clinical interventions with cancer patients and their families. She has secured funding to conduct seven clinical trials that have demonstrated consistent findings across the illness trajectory. Dr. McCorkle’s honors include Nurse Scientist of the Year by the Council of Nurse Researchers of the American Nurses Association and the Holland Distinguished Leadership Award from the American Psychosocial Oncology Society. She was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International Hall of Fame, and was elected to the Institute of Medicine. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Esther E. McCready - nurse pioneer

Esther E. McCready, DPS (Hon.), DIN ’53, a Maryland Civil Rights pioneer, retired nurse, and educator, helped pave the way for generations of aspiring students of African ancestry in Maryland and across the world. As a young girl, Ms. McCready dreamed of becoming a nurse. However, despite being fully qualified to attend the University of Maryland School of Nursing, she was initially denied admission. But with the help of NAACP lawyers, including Thurgood Marshall, Ms. McCready sued for admission. She won her case in the Maryland Court of Appeals in April 1950, which opened the School of Nursing and the other professional schools on the Baltimore campus and College Park. The case helped lay the groundwork for the 1954 landmark Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Once admitted, Ms. McCready faced hostile students and professors who ignored her. Undaunted, she maintained a quiet dignity and determination and graduated in 1953. Ms. McCready later earned a master’s degree in music. Her career highlights included nursing, teaching, public speaking, and music performance.

Patricia G. Morton - nurse pioneer

Patricia G. Morton, PhD '89, MS '79, RN, FAAN, is dean, professor, and the Louis H. Peery Presidential Endowed Chair at the University of Utah College of Nursing. She is a nationally-known expert in nursing education, critical care, and cardiovascular nursing. Dr. Morton was previously the associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Maryland School of Nursing where she spearheaded a project to develop clinical simulation laboratories and created strategies to integrate simulation into both undergraduate and graduate nursing education that have served as a national model. Dr. Morton has served on national committees for the past decade, including a three-year appointment on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Morton has also authored textbooks, book chapters, and journal articles; served on the editorial board of seven nursing journals; and is currently editor of the Journal of Professional Nursing.

Shirley Nathan-Pulliam - nurse pioneer

Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, MAS, BSN '80, RN, who served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 1994, was elected to her first term as senator, representing Legislative District 44 in 2015. She is the first Caribbean-born person and the first African-Caribbean registered nurse elected to the Maryland General Assembly. Sen. Nathan-Pulliam has dedicated her career to ensuring that all Marylanders have access to health care, regardless of social demographics. She is the owner of two health care companies that provide personal care services to clients in their homes and adult medical daycare services for the elderly and the disabled. Among her numerous awards and honors is the naming of the Shirley Nathan-Pulliam Health Equity Lecture Series by the University of Maryland School of Public Health Center for Health Equity and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Additionally, Sen. Nathan-Pulliam has been named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Woman by The Daily Record three times, which led to her induction into the Circle of Excellence.

Robin Newhouse


Robin Newhouse, PhD ’00, MS ’99, BSN ’87,  RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is a scientist, leader, and scholar whose research in health care delivery and evidence translation models has improved quality of care and outcomes for patients. Newhouse was appointed to the Methodology Committee of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and serves as its chair. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the immediate past chair of the AcademyHealth Board of Directors. She has been inducted into Sigma’s Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame and has received the American Nurses Credentialing Center President’s Award.

Elizabeth Schuyler Niemyer - nurse pioneer

Elizabeth Schuyler Niemyer, MS, BSN '78, a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, is chief program officer for United Healthcare, Military and Veterans. She is responsible for administrative oversight of a $21 billion TRICARE-Western Region managed care support contract covering 2.9 million beneficiaries in 21 states. During her 32-year military career, RADM Niemyer served as the 23rd director of the Navy Nurse Corps and Deputy Chief, Wounded, Ill, and Injured, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. As director of the Navy Nurse Corps, she was responsible for coordinating all major nursing policies for 6,000 active, reserve, and civilian nurses worldwide. She has given more than 20 presentations on topics such as leadership, mentorship, and health care, and has had several articles published.

Marla T. Oros - nurse pioneer

Marla T. Oros, MS, BSN '84, president of the Mosaic Group, has worked for the past 30 years to create and promote innovative programs that increase access to primary medical and behavioral health care for the most vulnerable populations. During her career in public health, academia, hospital administration, business management, and nonprofit organizational development, Ms. Oros has achieved national recognition for her work testing and advancing innovative substance abuse intervention. She developed model community and public health programs and services that have proven to be effective, sustainable, and replicable. She received the Vision Award for Health Planning from the American Public Health Association, and the Nurse Pathfinders Award and Faces of Nursing Award from the Maryland Nurses Association. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, and Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing.

Barbara J. Parker - nurse pioneer

Barbara J. Parker, PhD '86, MS '76, RN, FAAN, is a professor emerita of nursing at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. Dr. Parker has been actively involved in examining violence against women for nearly four decades. She has conducted several research studies on intimate partner violence, including studies on the relationship between abuse in pregnancy and maternal and infant complications, a clinical trial to test nursing empowerment intervention for abused women, and a qualitative study of abuse with community dwelling women with severe mental illness. She and other University of Virginia colleagues conducted ground-breaking research describing the experiences of adults who had one parent kill the other when they were children. In the 1970s, she was involved in the creation of The House of Ruth in Baltimore, Md., one of the nation’s leading intimate partner violence centers. Dr. Parker is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, and a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Carol A. Romano - nurse pioneer

Carol A. Romano, PhD '93, MS '85, BSN '77, RN, BC, NEA, FAAN, FACMI, a retired Rear Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service, is dean and professor at the Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Dr. Romano is a pioneer in nursing informatics. She helped design and implement one of the first computerized medical information systems that provided electronic medical orders and clinical documentation for physicians and nurses in ambulatory and hospital environments. She was also co-architect of the nation’s first graduate curriculum in nursing informatics at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and has served as advisor to the World Health Organization on the management of nursing manpower and health information in developing countries. She has held several leadership positions in the Office of the Surgeon General, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics.

Lisa Rowen - nurse pioneer

Lisa Rowen, DNSc, MS '86, RN, CENP, BCC, FANOL, FAAN, is senior vice president for patient care services and chief nursing officer at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). Dr. Rowen is a nationally-known transformational leader who advocates for nurses and the highest standards for nursing practice. She oversees the practice, outcomes, and professional development of 5,000 nurses, advanced practice nurses, and other health professionals. She was instrumental in developing a partnership, UMNursing, between the University of Maryland School of Nursing and UMMC. Dr. Rowen also frequently speaks on and studies leadership development and patient outcomes. She has served as a journal editor and has published numerous articles on patient safety, teamwork and communication, health-related issues, and best practice standards. Dr. Rowen is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a member of the Maryland Top 100 Women’s Circle of Excellence, and is the recipient of an award for Advancing and Leading the Profession in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia region.

Phyllis Sharps - nurse pioneer

Phyllis Sharps, PhD '88, BSN '79, RN, FAAN, is associate dean for the community and global program, and director of the Center for Global Initiatives at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON). Dr. Sharps’ work focuses on the effects of intimate partner violence on the physical and emotional health of pregnant women, infants, and young children. She works at the forefront of community and public health nursing and at the interface of mental and physical health. Dr. Sharps is director of three health and wellness centers operated by JHUSON. She provides care in a Baltimore shelter for homeless battered women and their children, and conducts ongoing community-based, participatory research. Dr. Sharps serves as an expert in maternal and child health nursing, a researcher, and a mentor. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, member of International Research Hall of Fame, Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society, and has been widely published.

Betty Lou Shubkagel - nurse pioneer

Betty Lou Shubkagel, PhD, BSN '54, professor emeritus, was among the first 10 baccalaureate graduates of the University of Maryland School of Nursing. Dr. Shubkagel was an educator and leader at the School of Nursing for more than 28 years. She served as chair of the medical-surgical graduate faculty and was a part of the team that led the School in developing an undergraduate program in medical-surgical nursing that was highly-respected nationally. Dr. Shubkagel conducted research in nursing education and nursing care of patients with cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular pharmacology. In 1965, she co-authored Pharmacology and Therapeutics, which became the standard of excellence in textbooks for undergraduate nursing pharmacology. Dr. Shubkagel was a member of the American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing, the American Heart Association, and the American Association of Critical Care Nursing.

Debra L. Spunt - nurse pioneer

Debra L. Spunt, DNP '08, MS '83, BSN '79, RN, FAAN, was an assistant professor and director of the clinical simulation laboratories at the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) until her death in 2007. A pioneer in clinical simulation nursing, Dr. Spunt helped establish UMSON’s clinical simulation labs. UMSON was twice named a Center for Excellence in Simulation Education by Laerdal Medical, due to Dr. Spunt’s expertise for integrating the use of clinical simulation into the nursing curriculum. She participated in the landmark 2003 National League for Nursing/Laerdal study, Designing and Implementing Models for the Innovative Use of Simulation to Teach Care of Ill Adults and Children: A National, Multi-Site, Multi-Method Study. She was co-founder of the International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and served as its first president, and was a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

Joan M. Stanley - nurse pioneer

Joan M. Stanley, PhD, MS '78, RN, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, is senior director of education policy for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Dr. Stanley has led the development of the AACN Essentials documents—foundational for the development of all baccalaureate, master's, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) education programs. She facilitated the development and implementation of the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education. Dr. Stanley has contributed to major position statements on a variety of nursing education issues, including the Clinical Nurse Leader, the Research-Focused Doctorate, and the move of advanced nursing practice to the DNP degree. She has also authored numerous articles and texts, including the 2011 Advanced Practice Nursing: Emphasizing Common Roles, 3rd edition. Dr. Stanley is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, Fellow of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.

Sylvia Trent-Adams


Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, MS ’99, RN, FAAN, FNAP, has had direct impact on building systems of care to improve public health for marginalized populations domestically and internationally. She served as acting U.S. surgeon general, deputy surgeon general, and chief nurse officer of the U.S. Public Health Service. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a fellow of both the American Academy of Nursing and the National Academies of Practice.

Elizabeth Scanlan Trump - nurse pioneer

Elizabeth Scanlan Trump, MS '60, the nation’s first trauma nurse, worked alongside R Adams Cowley, MD, to develop what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center’s R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center—the world’s first fully integrated trauma hospital. She served as the center’s first director. Tenacious and driven, Mrs. Scanlan Trump was a strong leader and collaborator with Dr. Cowley, who referred to her as “the force behind the vision.” She pioneered the development of trauma/critical care nursing, paving the way for generations of trauma nurses who care for critically injured patients worldwide. She believed that education was critical to success and developed a statewide program to teach trauma care to nurses. Mrs. Scanlan Trump is widely regarded as the “mother of trauma nursing” for her years of dedication to advancing the field of trauma care, particularly the role of nurses.

Margaret Chamberlain Wilmoth 

Margaret Chamberlain Wilmoth, PhD, MS ’79, MSS, BSN ’75, RN, FAAN, was the first U.S. Army nurse to command a medical brigade as a general officer and the first nurse to serve as the Army Reserve deputy surgeon general and as the deputy chair of the Army Reserve Forces Policy Committee. Her policy-changing research ensured safe deployment for at-risk soldiers, and her policy leadership expanded inclusiveness within the Department of Defense. She also served as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow and contributed to the field of psychosocial oncology.

David Vlahov - nurse pioneer

David Vlahov, PhD, MS '80, BSN '77, RN, FAAN, is dean and professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. Dr. Vlahov initiated the International Society for Urban Health and is an expert consultant to the World Health Organization’s Urban Health Center in Kobe, Japan. His experience includes interprofessional and interdisciplinary education and research. Dr. Vlahov has focused his research on epidemiology, infectious diseases, substance abuse, and mental health. He studied urban populations in Baltimore for more than 20 years and led epidemiologic studies in Harlem and the Bronx, which provided a wealth of information on how to deal with racial and ethnic health disparities. Dr. Vlahov has edited three books on urban health and published more than 640 scholarly papers. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.