The ACEN is governed by a 17-member Board of Commissioners (BOC). The Commissioners are elected by the representatives of ACEN-accredited nursing programs. The legal basis for the foundation and structure of the Commission is outlined in the Bylaws and the Articles of Incorporation. The ACEN is incorporated under the laws of the state of New York.
Dr. Nancy Phoenix Bittner, PhD, CNS, RN has held multiple roles in academic nursing settings in associate to doctoral level education for over 30 years. Her progressive leadership roles have led her to the current position as Vice President and Professor at Lawrence Memorial/Regis College. Dr. Bittner has been involved in accreditation with ACEN for over 20 years. She has filled the role of program evaluator, Evaluation Review Panel member, Appeals Panel member and has been a Commissioner. She has been on accreditation evaluation teams for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MA DHE) and the New England Commission for Higher Education (NECHE). As a curriculum and evaluation expert, she has consulted for a wide range of nursing programs nationally and internationally.
Dr. Bittner has participated in several state and regional nursing committees and workgroups including as co-leader for the MA Action Coalition. She is active in a number of professional organizations at the state and national level. Dr. Bittner has held practice-based roles including roles in professional development, as a critical care CNS and nurse research scientist. She continues to pursue research in nursing education and practice. Her area of research is focused on critical thinking and processing, especially in students and newly licensed nurses, as well as issues related to the nursing faculty shortage. She has published several articles and conducted numerous presentations related to her research at the state, regional, national, and international levels. In addition, she has a long history of global initiatives in both South America and Africa which have also been published.
Dr. Joy Cole, PhD, RN is a nurse educator who promotes the ongoing development of the nursing profession and the educational process. Dr. Cole knows that an effective, efficient healthcare system must be championed by educated professionals who are unwavering patient advocates, dedicated knowledge builders, and responsible resource stewards. She embraces the challenge to transform healthcare and works collaboratively with other professionals in clinical, educational, and research venues to accomplish this goal.
As a registered nurse, Dr. Cole’s experience spans decades and includes direct patient care, education of both undergraduate and graduate-level nursing professionals, and service to community members to promote wellness and compassionate inclusion. Dr. Cole holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Nursing Education from the University of Northern Colorado.
Diane Evans-Prior, DNP, MSN, RN is a long-time New Mexico resident. She has worked as a bedside nurse in hospital, long-term care, orthopedics, home health, and intermediate care settings. Passionate about sustainability in nursing, she has been a nursing instructor at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) since 2001, moving into the director role in 2012 where she currently serves as the Dean. During her tenure, she has helped the program nearly double in capacity, accepting 96 students three times annually. In addition to the program growth, she has made the program more accessible, affordable, and ethnically diverse for the student population it serves.
Committed to rural and urban nursing education needs, Dr. Evans-Prior helped to develop and implement the New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC) curriculum, which is fully shared and implemented amongst 12 publicly funded colleges and universities across the state. This consortium has provided the opportunity for the prelicensure BSN to be offered at eight community college locations through a unique partnership with the state’s three universities. This groundbreaking model also allows for seamless transfer between NMNEC schools.
Dr. Evans-Prior earned her doctorate of nursing practice from the University of New Mexico in 2016, focusing her studies on the need for transition-to-practice programs in both hospital and non-hospital settings. Because of her doctoral work, she contributed to the development of the ACEN Transition-to-Practice Accreditation Standards that are in place today. She currently serves on the NMNEC Leadership Council, the executive team of the New Mexico Center for Nursing Excellence, and the New Mexico Action Coalition; she also volunteers as a peer evaluator, team chair, and Evaluation Review Panel member for the ACEN. She presents regularly at both national and local conferences, and she has authored many publications. In her off-hours, Dr. Evans-Prior enjoys spending time with her husband of more than 30 years and her two children.
Emily Fink hasbeen in nursing education for 22 years. She is the Director of NursingEducation Programs at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in North Carolina. Dr.Fink has worked with the ACEN – Accreditation Commission for Education inNursing – as a site visitor and team chair since 2019.
Dr.Fink believes that quality nursing education is necessary to graduate studentswho can provide safe and effective patient care and who can emulate clinicaljudgment skills in the clinical setting.
Emily Fink enjoysspending time with her husband antiquing. She also has a 19-year-old son, Benjamin,who is a freshman at UNCC majoring in history.
Dr. Shari Gholson, DNP, RN, CNE has 33 years of nursing experience, including 20 years in nursing education. She is a professor of nursing at West Kentucky Community and Technical College and is serving as Dean of the Nursing Division and program coordinator of the Associate Degree Nursing Program since 2006.
Shari earned her Doctorate in Nurse Practice from Northern Kentucky University, Master’s Degree in Nursing from Vanderbilt University (clinical nurse specialist) and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Murray State University. She also holds the Certified Nurse Educators credential. She has served the college in a number of leadership roles including faculty representative to the WKCTC Board of Directors, chair of the Kentucky Community and Technical College Nursing Curriculum Committee, and has presented at local, state, national, and international conferences/workshops.
Dr. Gholson has served as an ACEN site visitor since 2013, a team chair since 2015, and an Evaluation Review Panel member since 2016. She is a member of several professional associations including Sigma Theta Tau International, American Nurses Association, National League for Nursing, Kentucky Deans and Directors, Kentucky Council of Associate Degree Nursing, and Kentucky Nurses Action Coalition.
Shari considers it an honor walk beside nursing faculty of WKCTC as they chose to teach those that will follow them into the nursing profession and values the opportunity to do the same with the ACEN organization.
Dr. Linda Godley, PhD currently serves as Professor of Nursing, Director of the Center for Accreditation, Assessment, Compliance, and Evaluation Management, and Interim Director of Graduate Nursing Programs at Alcorn State University. She is also an active member of the Planning, Management and Evaluation Committee, Graduate Council, a member of the ASU and the School of Nursing Promotion, Rank, Tenure, and Leave Promotion Committees, the School of Nursing Administrative Council, and the School of Nursing Faculty Organization.
Dr. Godley has 46 years of experience as a nurse educator in institutions of higher learning. She was a member of the founding faculty in Alcorn’s Department of Associate Degree Nursing in 1977. After leaving Alcorn in 1990, she served as Assistant Professor of Nursing at Louisiana State University at Alexandria for two years and Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for three years. Returning to Alcorn in 1995, Dr. Godley served as Assistant Professor and Chair in the Department of Associate Degree Nursing for 10 years. She also served as Chair in the Graduate Nursing Program for three years and as Dean of the School of Nursing for five years.
Dr. Godley has been an Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Peer Evaluator since 2008. She serves in the roles of Team Chair and Team Member. Dr. Godley is also a member of the ACEN Evaluation Review Panel and has served on the Appeals Panel.
Dr. Godley earned a Bachelor’s Degree at University of Louisiana at Monroe (formerly known as Northeast Louisiana University) and a Master’s Degree at Northwestern State University of Louisiana. She earned a Doctorate of Philosophy Degree in Nursing from Southern University and A & M College.
Dr. Mary Grady, DNP, RN, CNE, CHSE has 40 years of experience in the nursing profession. She began her journey in 1982 as a Licensed Practical Nurse and became a Registered Nurse in 1989 after obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She furthered her education by obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing, and a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.
Dr. Grady’s journey in the nursing profession has taken her down numerous paths. She has been a nurse at the bedside in the specialty of pediatrics, medical surgical nursing, rehabilitation, and public health. In the area of academia, she has taught nursing students entering LPN and RN associate degree programs in the role of an Adjunct Clinical and Lab Instructor, full-time Nursing Lab Coordinator, full-time faculty (lecture, lab, and clinical duties), and managed simulation lab coordination for a total of 20 years. Since 2020, Dr. Grady has served as the Nursing Programs Administrator at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) located in the city of Elyria, Ohio. She oversees the practical nursing and associate degree nursing programs that serve over 400 students at this community college located 25 miles west of Cleveland.
Dr. Grady believes strongly that nursing education is the gateway to nursing practice. Believing so strongly in that statement has led her to publish and present scholarly work over the years on topics related to nursing education and how to engage with students.
Dr. Grady’s background includes leadership in professional nursing organizations such as the Ohio League for Nursing. She currently serves as an Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) Peer Evaluator and has participated on the ACEN Evaluation Review Panel numerous times.
When Dr. Grady is not busy doing nursing related activities, you can find her baking cookies. One year her family had to have an intervention with her since the amounts of cookies being baked in a week were more than they or the neighbors could consume.
Dr. Amy Hall, PhD, RN, CNE is a Professor of Nursing and the Dean of the School of Nursing at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She currently leads faculty, students, and staff in the BSN, RN to BSN, MSN-FNP, and DNP Nurse Anesthesia programs.
Dr. Hall earned her BSN and PhD in nursing from Saint Louis University and her MS in nursing from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Dr. Hall has expertise in curriculum design, program evaluation, and nursing leadership. She has developed and taught study abroad courses in a variety of countries including England, China, Portugal, and the Dominican Republic. Dr. Hall also consults with other nursing programs in designing and implementing curricular change and designing effective program assessment and evaluation plans.
Dr. Hall has been an ACEN site visitor since Fall 2008 and became a team chair in Fall 2011. She served as an Evaluation Review Panel Member (ERP) from January 2012-July 2015 and was a member of the Board of Commissioners from 2015-2021. During her term on the Board of Commissioners, Dr. Hall chaired the 2017 ACEN Standards and Criteria Revision Subcommittee for baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral nursing education programs. She participated on the 2023 ACEN Standards and Criteria Review Steering Committee, with a special focus on Curriculum and Outcomes. She also serves as a visitor for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Additionally, Dr. Hall is a member of several professional associations including Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, the National League for Nursing, the American Nurses Association, the Louisiana State Nurses Association, and the Baton Rouge District Nurses Association. Dr. Hall is also the secretary for the Louisiana Council of Administrators of Nursing Education (LACANE). A certified disaster nurse, Dr. Hall has provided professional presentations nationally on a variety of topics such as evidence-based teaching and learning strategies, designing and evaluating a concept-based curriculum, and leading faculty through change. When she is not spreading her passion for nursing and nursing education with others, Dr. Hall co-authors Fundamentals of Nursing, and enjoys cooking, baking, pacing races, and running marathons.
Dr. Monica Kidder, DNP, MEDSURG-BC, NPD-BC, CNE has 26 years of nursing experience, including 13 years in nursing education. She is the Curriculum Coordinator at Covenant School of Nursing and is responsible for the oversight of the RN program and LVN-RN Track. She also serves as director of the Certified Patient Care Technician course for those beginning their journey to becoming a nurse. Prior to her role as Curriculum Coordinator, Dr. Kidder served as the Student Retention Coordinator, and fundamentals and pathophysiology instructor.
Dr. Kidder earned her DNP with an emphasis in educational leadership from American Sentinel University in 2016, her MSN with an emphasis in leadership and healthcare organizational management from Regis University in 2005, and her BSN and BGS (Liberal Arts) from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1996 and 1995, respectively.
Acknowledging the importance of student retention, Dr. Kidder spends much of her time researching the connections between student and institutional support and resources to predict and promote student retention. Once admitted into nursing school, she, like many, recognizes the importance of graduation and the successful achievement on the NCLEX. Passionate about helping students think critically, she is both a scholar and faculty educator for the Next Generation NCLEX.
Dr. Kidder has served as an ACEN peer evaluator since 2017. She loves the opportunity to review other programs through the collaborative and supportive process. During her free time, she can be found in an RV with her family or standing on the banks of a lake, casting in a line hoping for that next big catch.
Dr. Donna Mitchell, PhD, RN is the former Dean of the College of Professional and Technical Studies at the University of Rio Grande, a position she held since 2011. She retired in September 2022 and began employment at Ohio University as an adjunct professor. Prior to her dean appointment, she served as the director of the University of Rio Grande Holzer School of Nursing for ten years. She has also served in many other administrative roles such as elected Chair of the Faculty Association and Chair of the School of Nursing.
Dr. Mitchell holds a BSN and MSN, with an emphasis on education and administration, from The Ohio State University, and a PhD in nursing with a focus on research from the University of Cincinnati. She is a clinical specialist in medical surgical nursing which is currently on inactive status. Dr. Mitchell has served as a consultant in nursing curriculum design.
With over 41 years of experience in nursing education, Dr. Mitchell has taught in associate degree, baccalaureate and master’s degree programs for a number of different universities both full and part time and she still enjoys teaching on a part time basis. She is past president of the Ohio Council of Deans and Directors of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Nursing Programs (OCDD) and a former member of Ohio Council of A.D.N. Education Administrators (OCADNEA). She is an active member of Sigma Theta Tau International.
Dr. Mitchell has proudly served ACEN as a peer evaluator, team chair for initial, continuing, focused, and multiple program site visits as well as a member of the Evaluation Review Panel for several years. She also was a member of the ACEN 2017 Standards and Criteria Revision Team.
Dr. Cheryl Osler, EdD, MS-CNS, LMHC, MSL, RN, CNE has 32 years of nursing experience, including 19 years in nursing education. She is a nursing professor at Spokane Community College and is serving as the Associate Dean of Nursing since 2015. She is currently working on developing an RN to BSN program option for the college.
Dr. Osler earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California, a Master’s Degree in Community Mental Health Nursing from the University of Hawaii (clinical nurse specialist), a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University, a Master of Studies in Law from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Seattle Pacific University. She also holds the Certified Nurse Educators credential and worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in private practice for ten years.
Dr. Osler has served as an ACEN peer evaluator since 2013 in the capacity of a team member, team chair, and Evaluation Review Panel member, and is an external consultant for nursing schools preparing for an ACEN site visit. She is serving on several boards, including MultiCare Human Subjects Institutional Review Board, Girls Scouts of Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho Board of Directors, Inland Empire Nurses Association Board, the Clinical Placement Northwest Board of Directors as Vice President, Greater Inland Northwest American Red Cross Board of Directors, and serves as a certified Disaster Mental Health Counselor, and youth disaster preparedness educator for the American Red Cross.
Dr. Osler is certified in healthcare compliance and business law. She is passionate about compliance and owns Healthcare Compliance Northwest, a health care compliance and legal nursing consulting company.