President's Message October 2020

Have you ever looked at the list of past-presidents on the AAHN website?  The list includes legends of the association, many of whom served as pioneers in establishing nursing history as a respected scholarly pursuit.  Names that come to mind include Teresa E. Christy, the first president, Barbara Brodie, Eleanor (Memo) Crowder, and Eleanor Herrmann.  I have personally served under the leadership of Brigid Lusk, Jean Whelan, Mary Gibson and Arlene Keeling, and each has interpreted the role in light of their passion and interpretation of the original goals of the founders.  With respect to the legacy of all of the women who have served as president, I am both honored and humbled to begin my tenure as President of AAHN for 2020-2022 and thank the members for this opportunity.

I would like to thank Arlene Keeling for leading the organization these past two years during challenging times that no one could have predicted.  I would also like to thank the Riggs Corporation for their role in helping the organization operate in the midst of uncertainty and change. Their contribution to the health of our association is immeasurable.  Brian, Jennifer, Lisa, and Stacey are a great team and I look forward to working with them during my term of office.   

Having served in many capacities as a member of AAHN, recently as a member of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion, I am perhaps most excited about the ideas that Chair, Andre Rosario, and members, Jessica Dillard-Wright and Valerie Sauda are proposing that will strengthen our association going forward.  Some of these ideas include conducting a diversity survey, creating a program meant to inform interested under-represented AAHN members about open board positions and assisting with bias training for the board, an idea that was approved in our 2019 strategic plan.  Their work is a continuation of an idea that was proposed by Arlene Keeling in 2018, when Kylie Smith was asked to chair the launch of the Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion along with board members Amanda Mahoney, Shannon Perry, and Dominique Tobbell.  In the words of Dr. Keeling, “we are charged as members who value the use of a social framework for our historical analyses, to examine our own biases –about race, class, and gender – within the historical context in which we ourselves live and work.“ I believe we can and must do better in this regard. In order to achieve our goals related to diversity and inclusion, we need to recruit more volunteers for the committee.  If you are interested in becoming involved in this initiative, please reach out to Andre, Jessica or Valerie to find out how you can help.  

We will continue to work on events and activities that bring value to our members.  The Talking History 2.0 series will begin in January and promises to be an exciting opportunity to experience  the scholarly work of our members throughout the spring.  Please look for additional information on the website regarding registration.  We will continue to closely monitor the COVID pandemic and consider the safety of all as we decide whether to have our fall conference on Zoom or in person, however, plans for our 2022 conference are well underway in Lexington, Kentucky with the keynote by John Kirschgessner.

Our new treasurer, Mary Gibson, brings a wealth of experience as past-president to the board and to the association.  She will continue, with the assistance of Stephanie Woods, to monitor our financial situation and work with Brian Riggs and the board to develop new initiatives so we have a more secure future. 

Unfortunately, our conference this year was cancelled in Chester, England due to COVID, which was a massive disappointment.  Many thanks to Donna Curry and Claire Chatterton for their work on this event.  In addition to missing the opportunity to reconnect in a wonderful venue, we also missed our opportunity to raise needed funds for the organization through registration fees and for scholarship awards from the auction.  As a result, a fund-raising campaign was initiated by Arlene Keeling to replace funds that were not raised and it is my pleasure to report that our members responded generously to the “virtual conference campaign” by donating a total to date of $11,655.00.   On behalf of all at the association, please accept this heartfelt "thank you" to all who donated!

Our membership drive will begin soon, and we need everyone to renew and recruit at least one new member.  I find the interest in nursing history is there, but too many people are not aware that there is a home for them in AAHN.  Please reach out to your friends and colleagues who want to learn more about nursing and health history.  Unlike some organizations, members need not be nurses or have special qualifications to join.  It’s for all who have a love of history, especially related to nursing and health care. 

I am looking forward to working with each and every one of you and am honored to serve as president.   Please don’t hesitate to contact board members or me with your thoughts.  If you think we’re going in the wrong direction, reach out.  If you think of a great new idea for member involvement or for how to increase membership, let us know.  We can get your ideas to the best person who can help decide the next steps.  And finally, thank you for being a member of AAHN and for caring about this wonderful association.


Melissa M. Sherrod, PhD, APRN, AGCNS-BC
[email protected]