A historic moment in Illinois, member leaders of Illinois minority nurses associations participating in open dialog about growing the diversity of the nursing workforce, strengthening our associations & opportunities for partnership (see attached picture).  A special thank you to Barbara Nichols, MS, RN, FAAN, RWFJ/Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA) Diversity Consultant for energizing the meeting with her keynote: Diversity and the Global Nursing Workforce.

The Illinois Center for Nursing (ICN), Co-chair of the Illinois Healthcare Action Coalition (IHAC), in partnership with the Illinois Hispanic Nurses Association (IHNA), convened a meeting with multiple purposes.  The afternoon began with a warm welcome from Jay Stewart, Director Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), followed by a welcome from Maureen Shekleton, PhD, RN, DPNAP, FAAN, ICN Vice-Chair and Illinois Nurses Foundation (INF) President; INF is the fiscal agent for the IHAC RWJF SIP Grant.

The meeting began with Nurse Nichols’ presentation highlighting the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation(RWJF) National Diversity vision.  Susana Gonzalez, MHA, MSN, RN, CNML, IHNA President and Carmenza Millan, AARP-Illinois Associate State Director, Advocacy and Outreach, presented on their successful spring 2014 partnership which created an ACA education outreach program, successfully reaching approximately 300 community members in 2 months time.  The final presentation was Kathy Waligora, MSW, Manager Health Reform Initiatives, EverThrive Illinois – offering to present at community meetings resource information about ACA enrollment – the sign-up sheet was filled with requests for participation before the end of the day.  Pam Robbins, ANA-Illinois chaired the day’s activities. Kathy Benjamin, MSN, RN, NE-BC, MacNeal Hospital Chief Nursing Officer spent time with us at the beginning of the day.

The day wrapped up with a round-table discussion facilitated by Linda B. Roberts, MSN, RN, ICN Manager, about the uniqueness of each participating organization, options for information sharing, opportunities for partnership, collaboration, and leadership development, strengthening our associations and growing the diversity of nursing and health care workforce.

Member leaders present for all or part of the day were from the following Illinois minority nurses associations:

  • Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses
  • Chicago Chapter National Black Nurses Association
  • Philippine Nurses Association of Illinois
  • Illinois Polish Nurses Association
  • Chicago Bilingual Nurses Consortium

Additional organizations present: University of Illinois College of Nursing Alumni Association, Jonas Scholar Rush University College of Nursing, ANA-Illinois, Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nurses, IDFPR Board of Nursing, City Colleges of Chicago, Instituto Del Progreso Latino, Chicago Area Health Education Center, Illinois Nurses Foundation and the Illinois Center for Nursing.

As CCNA Diversity Consultant Barbara Nichols encouraged at the end of the day to the collective group: we must continue our “relationship” – build on the energy of the day – what sage advice.

Thank you to Kathy Benjamin, CNO MacNeal Hospital for providing such a welcoming place to meet; thank you to Susana Gonzalez for hostessing and presenting; thank you to panelists Carmenza Millan/AARP-Illinois, Kathy Waligora/EverThrive Illinois; thank you to Pam Robbins, ANA-IL for chairing the event and for taking pictures; thank you to ICN & IHNA for coordinating this historic event.

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