Which Nursing Organizations are you currently a member of: ASPAN, NCAPAN, NCNA
Board(s) currently serving on: NCAPAN, Urban Ministries of Wake County
Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?
My journey started with my professional organization, North Carolina Association of Peri-Anesthesia Nurses (NCAPAN). I was asked to join the BOD because I was active at the local level. This was my first Board experience, which was non-threatening, because I was among peers, and so it provided a wonderful learning environment. I have served in several positions, including President, and am currently their Governmental Affairs Director. When I attended the NCNA conference a couple of years ago, there was an announcement about the ANA initiative to get Nurses on Boards. That prompted me to apply for a position on the Board of Urban Ministries of Wake County. I had volunteered at their clinic for years, so I knew a little about the organization, and I was invited to join. I am serving my 2nd year of a 3-year term.
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop as a leader?
The first year on the UM board was just learning how this board functioned and getting to know the other members. I take advantage of every opportunity to develop, like attending board meetings, committee meetings, and “retreats”. I also had a mentor, which was a great help.
What impact have you had serving on a board? Example?
I am the only board member that actively volunteers providing client services and I have had to speak up about the impact of board decisions on recruiting and retaining volunteers, particularly for the clinic (we also address food and housing needs).
What advice would you give someone going into a board leadership position for the first time?
Pay attention! Ask questions! It helps to have a mentor. Watch, listen, and learn the dynamics of the group.
What are a few resources you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader and eventually obtaining a board position?
Be active in your local nursing professional organization. Learn about other organizations that interest you. Volunteer if you can. Many non-profit boards and all governmental and municipal boards have open board meetings; ask if you can attend as a guest.
Why do you feel it is important for nurses to serve on boards?
Nurses are uniquely qualified to represent the public good; we are educated to be patient advocates. Also, the nursing profession needs to grow its profile as community leaders!
What do you think is the most significant barrier to nurses serving on boards?
It is intimidating when you are not sure what is expected of you. This is where a mentor can help. Also, many non-profit boards expect you to financially support their mission. There may, or may not, be a defined contribution, so make sure it is something that you could gladly support.
“Board service can be rewarding to nurses both personally and professionally. It not only requires them to exercise leadership; it expands those skills and advances their capabilities and knowledge. It gives nurses the chance to meet people and enhance their professional networks. And it can be inspirational and empowering.” -Sue Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC) represents national nursing and other organizations working to build healthier communities in America by increasing nurses’ presence on corporate, health-related, and other boards, panels, and commissions.