BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS ELECTIONS
The 2019 ACEN Board of Commissioners election will begin on April 1, 2019. Votes may be cast until May 31, 2019, and newly elected commissioners will take office October 1, 2019.
The following Board of Commissioners positions are open:
- Two (2) nurse educators for a three-year term representing associate nursing programs
- One (1) nurse educator for a two-year term representing associate nursing programs
- One (1) nurse educator for a three-year term representing baccalaureate nursing programs
- One (1) nurse educator for a three-year term representing diploma nursing programs
- One (1) nurse clinician/practitioner for a three-year term representing nursing service
- One (1) member of the public for a three-year term
Nurse Educator Representative – Associate
Dr. Betty Damask-Bembenek, EdD, MN, RN has 35 years of nursing experience in a variety of nursing healthcare settings and 20 years of experience as a nurse administrator and educator at several universities and community colleges in the western region of the U.S. Nursing has provided me with a diversity of many great experiences and nursing education is one of the most rewarding of all. The diversity of these experiences has enhanced my skill sets to create quality in nursing educational programs through structural empowerment and an inclusive environment for all stakeholders in a variety of settings.
Dr. Bembenek has been Director of Nursing Education at Colorado Mountain College since 2009, and serves as the Dean for the School of Nursing, Health Science and Public Safety. At Metro State University, she was part of the faculty for the BSN program. Dr. Bembenek served as nurse administrator and faculty member at Weber State University and Division Chair of Nursing and Health Sciences at Salt Lake Community College. Areas of teaching and clinical practice have included nursing administration, education, emergency and trauma services, medical/surgical, obstetrics, critical care and rural nursing.
Dr. Bembenek has actively participated as a program evaluator and evaluation review panel member for the Associate Degree Programs and the combined AD & BSN panels for the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) for several years. Serving on the Board of Commissioners for associate degree programs would be an honor and privilege to support continuous improvement for nursing education.
- Doctoral of Education: Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, Northcentral University, Prescott, Arizona
- Master of Nursing: Management, University of Phoenix, College of Nursing, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Marian College, Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin
- Associate of Science in Nursing, North Central Technical College, Wausau, Wisconsin
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 will value the opportunity to do the same with the ACEN organization.
Dr. Rhonda Reader, DNS, RN, CNE, NEA-BC serves in a dual role for Crouse Health in Syracuse, NY, as the Dean of the Pomeroy College of Nursing @ Crouse Hospital and Vice President for Clinical Services and Quality. Pomeroy College of Nursing offers an associate degree through a traditional weekday option, an 18-month evening/ weekend option, and a dual AD/BS Degree in Three with Le Moyne College.
Dr. Reader joined Crouse in 2014, having served in a variety of clinical, faculty and leadership roles in the Central New York region, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Le Moyne College. A graduate of St. Joseph’s School of Nursing, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from SUNY College of Technology, Utica, NY; a Master of Science in Nursing from Syracuse University; and a Doctorate in Nursing Education and Leadership from The Sage Colleges in Albany. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, and has earned certification as a nurse educator (CNE) and nurse executive (NEA-BC).
Since 2013, Dr. Reader has been a peer evaluator and team chair since 2016. She has also participated as a member of ERP for several years.
She is a member of the New York State Board for Nursing, serving in disciplinary hearings to ensure public safety and integrity of the nursing profession. She previously served as a board member for the NYS Council of Associate Degree Nursing and as an advisory board member for the American Nurses Association (ANA) Code of Ethics revision panel. Dr. Reader’s research interest focuses on ethics, nursing students, and transition to practice. She has presented her research on nursing students’ experiences of moral distress at local, regional and national conferences and published in Teaching and Learning in Nursing, the journal of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing.
Dr. Scott Thigpen, DNP, RN, MSN, CCRN is a Professor of Nursing at South Georgia State College (SGSC) in Douglas, GA. He has led the LPN-RN Bridge program, the ASN program and developed and implemented the RN-BSN program. Dr. Thigpen has served on the SGSC Academic Leadership Team and lead accreditation activities including three successful accreditation site visits for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) for the level change from a two-year to four-year college, campus consolidation, and the decennial accreditation as a new institution. He has led SACSCOC substantive changes for the BS in Nursing and the BS in Long-term Healthcare Management.
Dr. Thigpen holds an ASN from South Georgia State College, a BSN and MSN in Adult Health from Valdosta State University and the Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA. He is a Certified Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) and a proud member of the American Association of Critical Care Nursing (AACN) where he has served as a speaker at the National Teaching Institute (NTI) for over ten years. He also served as an Endocrine content expert for the AACN Essentials of Critical Care Nursing Orientation Online (ECCO 3.0) which has been utilized by over 1100 nursing facilities in the United States and Canada to orient nurses to progressive care and critical care units. Dr. Thigpen has presented extensively on a variety of nursing and leadership topics throughout the Unites States and internationally in Australia, Canada and Mexico.
In the field of nursing regulation, Dr. Thigpen has served on the Georgia Board of Nursing (2003-2010), as Vice President, Nursing Education Representative, Legal/Discipline Cognizant, and Site Visitor. He represented Georgia as a delegate to the National Council of State Board of Nursing and has been an NCLEX-RN item reviewer.
At the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), Dr. Thigpen has attended Nurse Administrator Workshops, Self-Study Forums and Site Visitor Training. He was a member of the ACEN 2017 Standards and Criteria Revision Team and has enjoyed serving the profession as a site visitor and an evaluation review panel member. In his spare time, he enjoys working on the family farm and leading praise and worship at his church.
Dr. Shellye Vardaman, PhD, RN-BC, NEA-BC, CNE has served ACEN since 2012 as Program Evaluator, Team Chair, and member of the Evaluation Review Panel. Additionally, Dr. Vardaman previously served on the Board of Commissioners.
Dr. Vardaman continues clinical practice as a staff nurse with board certification as a medical-surgical nurse. She has 18 years of teaching and administrative experience in nursing academia at Troy University in Troy, Alabama achieving the rank of full Professor. She has experience teaching students in associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and clinical doctorate programs. Dr. Vardaman holds Nurse Executive, Advanced board certification and is a Certified Nurse Educator.
Dr. Vardaman earned a baccalaureate degree in nursing from The University of Alabama, a master’s degree in nursing from Troy State University, and a PhD in nursing from the University of Texas at Tyler. Her research background includes international nursing students, nursing education, and nurse retention.
Dr. Vardaman is a member of several nursing organizations, including the American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing, the Alabama League for Nursing, the Alabama State Nurses Association, and the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing. Dr. Vardaman was elected to the International Governance Committee for Sigma Theta Tau serving from 2013-2017. She is also the immediate past-president for Troy University’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.
Dr. Vivian Yates, Ph.D., RN has served as the Dean of Nursing at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio since 2013. She is responsible for the management of a multi-campus nursing program that includes practical and associate degree nursing programs with traditional, LPN to RN, and accelerated tracks. Over 800 students are enrolled in the programs with 42 full-time faculty.
With over 35 years in the nursing profession, Dr. Yates has a background in clinical nursing, academia, nursing administration, and nursing program accreditation. Her clinical background is medical-surgical and psychiatric nursing, serving in both clinical and managerial positions in hospital settings. She has over 25 years of teaching and administrative experience in nursing education; teaching in baccalaureate, associate degree, and practical nursing programs. Her research background includes examining the various facets of cultural diversity in nursing and health care.
Dr. Yates has extensive experience in the area of nursing education accreditation. She served as the Associate Director for Program Accreditation Support for the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) in Atlanta, Georgia from 2009 – 2011. She began serving as a site visitor in 1997, and served on several Evaluation Review Panels from 2000 – 2009. She has served as a consultant for nursing programs across the country and has presented at national forums on nursing program accreditation.
Dr. Yates is a member of several national and state nursing organizations including the American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing, the Ohio Council of Associate Degree Nursing Education Administrators, and the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing. She has served as vice-president and president of her local chapter of the Ohio Nurses Association. She is a member of several nursing advisory boards in northeast Ohio, and serves on the Board of Directors at University Hospitals in Cleveland.
Dr. Yates earned an associate’s degree in nursing at Lorain County Community College, a bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Akron, a master’s degree in nursing at Kent State University, and a PhD in education at the University of Akron.
Nurse Educator Representative – Baccalaureate
Dr. Gina Crawford, DNP, APRN, CNP, FNP-CNE began her full-time teaching career in 2012, at Oklahoma City University. She is an Associate Professor of Nursing, has served as Chair of the Advanced Practice Programs since 2016 and the Director of the family nurse practitioner track since 2015. She has oversight of the Doctor of Nursing Practice program that includes two nurse practitioner tracks.
Dr. Crawford earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice at Oklahoma City University. She earned her master’s in science, family nurse practitioner degree and her bachelors of science in nursing degree from the University of Oklahoma. Her associate degree in nursing was from El Reno Junior College. As a nurse educator, she has taught courses in the baccalaureate and the doctor of nursing practice programs. She has multiple academic interests including curriculum development, quality improvement through the accreditation process, and service learning in nurse practitioner education. She has served as the chair of Kramer School of Nursing’s curriculum committee since 2016 and has held the CNE certification since 2015.
Dr. Crawford has 30 years of nursing experience with 14 years as a family nurse practitioner. Her career includes working as a staff nurse in the hospital and as a home health manager. She worked as a family nurse practitioner for seven years in a rural family practice clinic. She has a passion for rural health care and improving access to care for underserved populations. To maintain currency in clinical practice, she volunteers at a charitable clinic in the Oklahoma City area.
Dr. Crawford has been a site visitor for ACEN since 2016 and has served as a team chair. She is an appointed member of the Oklahoma Board of Nursing’s Advanced Practice Advisory Committee. Additionally, she is a member of the Oklahoma City University Strategic Planning Committee, Academic Programs and Standards Committee, and the Budget Committee.
Dr. Kathleen Zajic, EdD, MSN, RN is Professor of Nursing at the College of Saint Mary (CSM) in Omaha, Nebraska. In her 28 years at CSM, Dr. Zajic has served in many administrative and appointed roles including Professor of Nursing, Director of Undergraduate Nursing, Chair of Health Professions, and the Associate Dean of Health Professions. Her career path and roles have been diverse but Dr. Zajic has a passion for nursing education and finds her true home in the classroom and clinical settings. In addition, Dr. Zajic has assumed a variety of appointed and elected roles within the nursing program, division, and college-wide committees; including being elected by her peers to serve as Chair; Faculty Assembly Council.
Dr. Zajic earned her EdD (with an emphasis in Health Professions) from the College of Saint Mary, her MSN (with an emphasis in Community Health Nursing and Nursing Leadership and Management) from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, and her BSN from Creighton University. Dr. Zajic has expertise in curriculum design, program evaluation, leadership, and community health nursing. Dr. Zajic has also served as a consultant within and outside of nursing on curriculum development, design, implementation, program assessment, and an array of public health initiatives.
Dr. Zajic has served as an ACEN site visitor since 2013, ERP chair since 2018, and was a member of the ACEN Standards and Criteria for Transition to Practice Task Force from 2016-2018. Dr. Zajic was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2016, serving as the Chair of the Substantive Change committee since 2017. Dr. Zajic is a member of several professional organizations including Sigma Theta Tau International, Gamma Pi Chapter, the National League of Nursing, and the National Association of Local Boards of Health. Dr. Zajic provides extensive community service, serving as past chair for the Pottawattamie County Board of Health, Saint Albert School system Wellness Initiative Committee, and the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Nurse-Family Advisory Board. When Dr. Zajic is not in the classroom or clinical area she can be found providing health care services to the underserved and vulnerable populations in the Omaha metropolitan area.
Nurse Educator Representative – Diploma
Dr. Linda Kmetz, RN, BSN, MN, PhD is currently the Executive Director of the UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) Schools of Nursing: Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, St. Margaret School of Nursing, UPMC Jameson School of Nursing and UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing. Leading six Directors, approximately 120 FTE faculty and staff and over 600 full and part-time students at four locations, she has maintained first-time NCLEX pass rates consistently above state and national benchmarks. Dr. Kmetz created an innovative program to increase the number of BSN graduates through two collaborative initiatives with their affiliates: Chatham University and Westminster College. This novel approach is a 1+2+1 model whereby students begin their academic journey enrolling as freshmen in the 4 year liberal arts school and complete their sophomore and junior years at a UPMC Shadyside or UPMC Jameson School of Nursing, earning a diploma in nursing. After successful completion of NCLEX, the student then completes the respective college or university’s RN to BSN program during their senior year, thus achieving a BSN in four years. Dr. Kmetz is accountable for a $12 million dollar annual budget and she has successfully obtained over $1.2 million dollars in external funding for endowed scholarships, simulation lab equipment and faculty development programming. One of her most significant accomplishments was leading the UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing in achieving designation and re-designation as an National League for Nursing Center of Excellence in Nursing Education for “Creating Environments that Enhance Student Learning and Professional Development”, 2012-2016. Since 2008, she has had the unique pleasure of serving as an International QSEN consultant in Palermo, Sicily and Iizuka, Japan.
Prior to her 26 year career in pre-licensure nursing education at UPMC, Dr. Kmetz was an Assistant Professor of Nursing at The Pennsylvania State University. As a regional faculty member, she designed credit bearing Independent Learning Courses which were precursors to today’s on-line asynchronous learning. Dr. Kmetz also developed a diversity focused elective “Nursing Assessment and Intervention Strategies for Culturally Diverse Clients” and assisted with the development of the Associate Degree in Nursing Program.
Serving on the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing since 2013, Dr. Kmetz has served as Board Chair, Co-Chair and Chair of the RN/PN Education and Practice Committee. Through her work with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, she is currently serving as a member of the Model Act, Rules and Standards Committee. Dr. Kmetz has been involved in the National League for Nursing, currently Chairing the Constituent Leagues and serving as a Center of Excellence Advisor. Her professional and non-profit Board memberships include Sigma (Eta and Chi Zeta Chapters), Oncology Nursing Society, Secretary of the Urban Academy of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School and Treasurer of OneHealth Institute (a national non-profit dedicated to providing financial assistance to women with breast cancer).
Dr. Debbie Rahn, EdD, MSN, RN Director of the Reading Hospital School of Health Sciences (RHSHS), is a current member of the ACEN Board of Commissioners and is seeking reelection for a second term of service. While serving on the ACEN Board of Commissioners for the past few years, Dr. Rahn has served on the finance and substantive change committees, as well as serving as an ERP chair and a site visitor. In Dr. Rahn’s current position as Director of the School of Health Sciences, she is responsible for the leadership of multiple diploma and certificate programs including nursing (RN), medical imaging (MI), surgical technology (ST), clinical pastoral education (CPE), Medical Laboratory Science, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, phlebotomy, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced EMT, and paramedic programs. Dr. Rahn is a graduate of RHSHS (Nursing Program), Penn State University (BSN), Villanova University (MSN in Nursing Education), and Drexel University (doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Management with a focus in Higher Education). Dr. Rahn has provided leadership at the school to create dual admission programs for the Nursing, MI, and ST Programs whereby students are dually admitted to a local four year university, receive both a diploma from RHSHS and an associate degree from the university at the time of graduation, and then have the opportunity to seamlessly transition into the university’s BSN (nursing) or Bachelors of Health Sciences (MI, ST) programs. The role as Director of a School of Health Sciences requires that Dr. Rahn work with a variety of program accreditation agencies.
Dr. Rahn has held multiple roles in professional and academic settings including staff nurse, Assistant Head Nurse of an inpatient psychiatric setting, Nurse Manager of an inpatient oncology unit, nursing program faculty, curriculum coordinator, director of a nursing program, and her current role as Director of the School of Health Sciences. She was awarded two grants to increase the use of simulation pedagogy in nursing education. Dr. Rahn has held a variety of leadership roles especially in the areas of ethics, nursing education, and nursing research. Debbie Rahn is a founding member of the Berks Regional Nursing Research Alliance, a grassroots organization representing multiple academic and practice partners, and designed to engage nurses in research and evidence base practice in a geographic area void of a major academic research institution. Dr. Rahn has a long-standing interest in bio-ethics, and currently serves as the vice-chair of the Reading Health System Ethics Committee. One of Dr. Rahn’s research interests is in the role of nursing teamwork related to patient outcomes including nurse-sensitive patient outcomes. She has presented at a variety of local, regional and national conferences, and her research on Transformational Teamwork has been published in the Journal of Nursing Care Quality (JNCQ).
Dr. Rahn is a member of multiple professional organizations and has served the profession on state and national committees including Pennsylvania Coalition for the Advancement of Nursing Education (PCANE), Pennsylvania Academic Progression in Nursing (PAPIN), National Education Progression in Nursing Collaborative (NEPIN), Hospital Association of Pennsylvania task force on healthcare workforce, and was the former co-chair for the Pennsylvania Southeast II Regional Action Coalition, addressing recommendations related to nursing education from the Institute of Medicine’s The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, (IOM, 2011).
Nurse Clinician Representative
Linda McDaniel, DNP, MSN, CNM, RN, RNFA is a Certified Nurse Midwife practicing in West Georgia and Course Faculty at Frontier Nursing University. She earned her DNP and MSN degrees from Frontier Nursing University. She started her career as a surgical technician and continued her career to become an advanced practice provider. Dr. McDaniel is currently practicing in a large midwife-physician practice. She worked as a solo midwife in a small practice in West Georgia for six years. She has worked with women in rural and city environments from different walks of life. She has been instrumental in developing a smoking cessation protocol at her former employer and plays an integral part in her current practice setting in keeping staff and providers aware of updated practice guidelines.
She enjoys passing on knowledge to others and exploring ways to improve processes that enhance the patient care experience. She is currently fulfilling one of her long-standing desires to teach at the university level so she can pass this knowledge on to others to be competent nurses, advanced practice providers, and educators. Dr. McDaniel serves on several committees at Frontier Nursing University including the scholarship committee, student emergency fund committee, diversity and inclusion committee, and tobacco-free committee. She is on the American College of Nurse-Midwifery publications and peer-review committees. Also, she is an external article reviewer for the American Midwifery Certification Board. She embraces every opportunity to empower others to fulfill their educational and career goals.
Her primary clinical and academic interests are tobacco cessation, human trafficking, and breast cancer complications. Dr. McDaniel is a co-author on a tobacco-free article. Also, she is co-author on a breast cancer survivor article and recently submitted an article on the second victim phenomenon. She was a contributor author for a United States Postal stamp for midwives.
She is an avid reader. She never leaves home without her iPad with a book readily available to access. She is currently researching human/sex trafficking to write a book on this widespread global problem. She is a Shared Hoped International Ambassador where she is working to bring awareness about human/sex trafficking and justice for victims. She works with a local domestic minor sex trafficking rehabilitation shelter during their rehabilitation phase. She serves on the board of a location foundation that focuses on promoting awareness of nursing and midwifery care.
Dr. Lisa A. Young DNP, APN, FNP-BC received her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Iowa. Dr. Young received her Bachelors of Nursing, Master’s in Nursing and nurse practitioner training with a focus on community health nursing from Saint Xavier University.
Dr. Young is a board certified family nurse practitioner with over twenty years of experience. Dr. Young is currently the Director of the Wellness/Health Center and an Associate Professor in Nursing at Chicago State University. Her early graduate nursing research on nurse practitioners in nurse managed centers as a cost effective alternative to emergency departments led her to Chicago State University. During her tenure, she conceptualized, implemented, and developed the nurse managed center which serves the campus community. She has clinical oversight and operations of the health center and the Office of Student Health Insurance to ensure students have access to preventative and affordable health care. She has continued to maintain her clinical practice working in the Wellness/Health Center and within the retail industry continuing to serve those without access to affordable health care. Dr. Young served as Interim, Chairperson for the bachelor’s and masters of nursing program and as Interim Assistant Dean for the College of Health Sciences at Chicago State University. Dr. Young’s research interests include nurse managed centers, using assessment to address targeted violence, HIV prevention, health disparities among ethnic minorities. She has an active interest in health policy and nursing political advocacy.
Dr. Young is a member of several professional organizations which includes Sigma Theta Tau International, American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Nurses Association, ANA-Illinois, American College Health Association, American Public Health Association, and the Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nurses. She has contributed professionally as a peer evaluator for the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) as one of the initial clinician peer evaluators with over nineteen years of accreditation experience. Dr. Young has served as a national delegate for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on a USAID South African Area initiative and educational presentations and US delegate in China.
Dr. Young received her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Iowa, her Bachelors and Master’s in Nursing and nurse practitioner training from Saint Xavier University.
Public Member Representative
Susan Zlotlow, Ph.D. retired after more than 18 years as the Director of the Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation and an Associate Executive Director of the Education Directorate at the American Psychology Association. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Rochester and her M.A. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Connecticut. She also received an honorary doctoral degree from Palo Alto University. Dr. Zlotlow’s publication and presentation history includes articles on child development and socialization, teaching, and accreditation in psychology.
Dr. Zlotlow taught at Wheaton College (Massachusetts) and has taught undergraduate and graduate classes at the University of Maryland at College Park. She served as a consultant to the public-school system in Albuquerque, New Mexico as well as engaged in clinical practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico and inner-city Baltimore. Prior to working in accreditation, Dr. Zlotlow served as the Assistant Dean in the Graduate School at the University of Maryland, College Park working on internal and external grant funding, including the institutional IRB, research review committees, as well as committees focused on campus resources for graduate students and faculty.
In her more than 18 years in accreditation, Dr. Zlotlow served as the Chair of the External Recognition Issues Committee of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors, a group of programmatic and specialized accreditors that met with members of the Department of Education and Congress on issues related to accreditation. She also represented that group as a negotiator in the 2007 negotiated rulemaking hearings on accreditation issues in the US Higher Education Act. She also served for two terms as a member of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) committee of Specialized/National Accreditation. Dr. Zlotlow served on the Sullivan Commission that reviewed how accreditation standards in health professions impact diversity of those professions. She has received awards for her service from the American Psychological Association, several training councils in psychology, as well as from the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors.