ACEN Board of Commissioners

2022 – 2023 ACEN Board of Commissioners
— Effective October 1, 2022 —


Nancy Phoenix Bittner, PhD, CNS, RN
Term: 2022-2025
Vice President for Education/Professor of Nursing
Lawrence Memorial/Regis College
Medford, MA

BIOGRAPHY: Nancy Phoenix Bittner

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.

Joy Cole, PhD, RN, SFHEA
Term: 2021-2024
Associate Professor of Nursing
Utah Valley University
Orem, Utah


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.

Claudia Estrada-Hickman, MSN, CNE
Term: 2022-2025
Nursing Faculty
Pueblo Community College
Pueblo, Colorado

BIOGRAPHY: Claudia Estrada-Hickman

Ms. Claudia Estrada-Hickman, MSN, CNE has been a registered nurse since 1985, holding various nursing and management positions within acute care organizations. She began teaching at New Mexico State University (NMSU) Carlsbad in the associate degree program in 1999, earning the rank of Full Professor. Ms. Estrada-Hickman was the Nursing Program Director of the practical and associate degree programs at NMSU Carlsbad from 2013-2019. During her tenure at NMSU Carlsbad, Estrada-Hickman received the Donald C. Roush award for outstanding teaching on two occasions, 2006 and 2012. She served as the Director of Nursing Education at Emily Griffith Technical College in Denver, Colorado from July 2019 to January 2021. In January 2021, Estrada-Hickman joined Pueblo Community College in Pueblo, Colorado as a full-time nursing faculty member in the associate degree program.

Ms. Estrada-Hickman received her ADN from NMSU Carlsbad in 1985, her BSN from the University of New Mexico in 1997 and her MSN from the University of Phoenix in 2002. She has been credentialed as a certified nurse educator by the National League of Nursing since 2010.

Additionally, Ms. Estrada-Hickman was an active member of the Nursing Education Advisory Committee (NEAC) of the New Mexico Board of Nursing (NMBON) from 2014-2019, serving as vice chair and chair. During her membership on NEAC, Ms. Estrada-Hickman participated in nursing program site visits with NMBON staff and other committee members. The committee also recommended changes to the nurse practice act regarding attempts at the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN examinations. She has served as an item writer for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing for the NCLEX-RN and NCLEX-PN examinations on multiple occasions.

Ms. Estrada-Hickman has been an active volunteer with the ACEN since 2013, serving as a peer evaluator and team chair, completing more than ten site visits. She has participated in numerous evaluation review panels and has mostly recently served on the 2023 Standards and Criteria Committee.

Diane Evans-Prior, DNP, RN
Chair, ACEN
Term: 2020-2023
Dean, Nursing and Patient Support
Central New Mexico Community College
Albuquerque, New Mexico

BIOGRAPHY: Diane Evans-Prior

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.

Shari Gholson, DNP, RN, CNE
Vice Chair, ACEN
Term: 2021-2024
Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Division
West Kentucky Community & Technical College
Paducah, Kentucky

BIOGRAPHY: Shari Gholson

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.

Amy Hall, PhD, RN, CNE
Term: 2022-2025
Professor and Dean, School of Nursing
Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana


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.

Term: 2022-2025
Curriculum Coordinator, Covenant School of Nursing
Covenant Medical Center
Lubbock, Texas

BIOGRAPHY: Monica Kidder
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.

Donna Mitchell, PhD, RN
Term: 2023-2024
Dean (Retired), College of Professional and Technical Studies
University of Rio Grande
Rio Grande, Ohio

BIOGRAPHY: Donna Mitchell

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.

Term: 2021-2024
Associate Dean of Nursing
Spokane Community College
Spokane, Washington

BIOGRAPHY: Cheryl Osler

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.

Cheryl Shaffer, PhD, RN, PNP, ANP
Term: 2020-2023
Associate Dean, School of Nursing
Suffolk County Community College
Sayville, New York

BIOGRAPHY: Cheryl Shaffer

Cheryl Shaffer, PhD, RN, PNP, ANP is the College Associate Dean for the School of Nursing at Suffolk County Community College in Long Island, New York. Dr. Shaffer has served as the nurse administrator for the associate, mobility, and practical nursing programs at her institution for the past six years, and she has been a member of the faculty for 17 years. She leads the faculty in the nursing programs offered on three campus locations.

Dr. Shaffer has served the ACEN since 2014 as a peer evaluator and as a team chair for focused, multiple program, and coordinated site visits; she has also served as an Evaluation Review Panel member. Additionally, she continues to serve as a peer evaluator for the New York State Education Department Office of Professions for associate and practical degree nursing programs.

Dr. Shaffer has experience in curriculum redesign, strategic planning, and expansion in program enrollment greater than 50%. She currently serves as co-chair for the State University of New York (SUNY) transfer path in nursing revision representing the lower division/associate degree transfer pathway. She spearheaded two joint-admission agreements (“2+2”) with local universities for associate degree students to be dually enrolled into an RN-to-BS completion program.

Dr. Shaffer has published in peer-reviewed journals, served as a PhD dissertation committee member, and is a frequent conference speaker. She is managing a grant from the New York State Department of Health that funds tuition, fees, and equipment for healthcare workers’ retraining to become a licensed practical nurse.

Prior to her professional career in nursing education, Dr. Shaffer worked as a nurse practitioner in a family practice.

Dr. Shaffer holds a PhD in nursing research from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, a master’s of science degree from Syracuse University, and a bachelor’s of science degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.



Carolyn Jo McCormies, MS, RN, APRN, FNP-BC
Term: 2020-2023
Family Nurse Practitioner – Family Practice
Primary Care Clinic
San Carlos Apache Healthcare Corporation
Peridot, Arizona

BIOGRAPHY: Carolyn Jo McCormies

Carolyn McCormies, MS, RN, APRN, FNP-BC has been a registered nurse for 30 years and a board-certified family nurse practitioner since 2004. She has a love for rural healthcare, and she also practices as an advanced practice provider caring for patients of all ages. She has practiced in most areas of nursing, and she has had the privilege of traveling to Honduras on medical missions and caring for the people of that culture.

McCormies has participated in writing NCLEX© test questions several times and was on the standard setting panel for the 2019 NCLEX© RN examination.

McCormies serves on the Arizona State Board of Nursing. She has served on the Education Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the board for the past nine years. McCormies also currently serves as a District Board member of Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center. She graduated with an associate’s degree from Mesa Community College, then received her baccalaureate and master’s in nursing as well as her family nurse practitioner certification from Arizona State University. Her greatest accomplishment is being a wife, mother, and grandmother.

McCormies’s professional memberships include the Arizona Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, the National League for Nursing, the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, and Sigma Theta Tau. She was name “Outstanding Nurse Champion” in Arizona by the Arizona Nurses Association in 2017.

McCormies has contributed to the ACEN as a peer evaluator. She has also served as a site visitor for the National League for Nursing Center of Excellence (NLN).

Demica Williams, DNP, RN, CNE
Term: 2021-2024
Director of Allied Health and Nursing
Piedmont of Augusta
Augusta, Georgia

BIOGRAPHY: Demica Williams

Dr. Demica Williams has dedicated over 20 years to the Nursing profession. She received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and her Masters of Science in Nursing with a concentration in Adult Acute Clinical Nurse Specialist from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, GA. She completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in Nursing Administration with an additional Nurse Educator track at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Williams has over 15 years of experience as a nursing professor in associate, practical, and baccalaureate programs. She also has several years of experience as a Department Chair of Nursing for ACEN accredited nursing programs. She has served as a peer evaluator for the ACEN since 2015 and has participated in evaluation review panels for the ACEN. Dr. Williams has experience with grant writing; specifically, to assist nurse educators with professional development and certification. In 2016 she received a grant for faculty to attend a CNE review course which resulted in over 90% of her full-time faculty becoming certified nurse educators. Dr. Williams also became a certified nurse educator due to this endeavor and has contributed as a published author to CNE exam preparation review materials.

Dr. Williams transitioned from academia back to the nursing practice environment in 2017. Currently, she is the Director of Allied Health and Nursing at Piedmont Augusta Hospital in Augusta, GA, which holds a Magnet Hospital designation. During her tenure with the hospital, she has been able to participate in the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Practice Transition Accreditation Program (PTAP) as a facilitator for new graduate nurses. She spearheaded opening and educating a Discharge Center to assist with patient flow in 2019. She went on to publish an article in Nursing Matters, the hospital newsletter about the logistics of the new center. She also has collaborated with nursing administration to develop programs that focus on the retention of new graduate nurses and nursing support staff.

Currently she leads the partnership that exists between the health care system and the area’s largest technical school; Augusta Technical College, in an effort to increase the number and quality of nurses and allied health professionals in the community.

She has maintained a professional relationship with the ACEN as a peer evaluator representing nursing practice. She continues to work as an Adjunct Professor for Augusta University. Her professional memberships include the Association of critical care nurses (AACN), the Georgia Nurses Association (GNA), the South Carolina Nurses (SCNA) and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Dr. Jessica Estes

Jessica L. Estes DNP, APRN-NP
Term: 2023-2025
Chief Operating Officer
Cumberland Hall Hospital
Hopkinsville, Kentucky


Barry D. Goldstein, PhD
Treasurer, ACEN
Term: 2022-2025
Roswell, Georgia

BIOGRAPHY: Barry D. Goldstein
Dr. Barry D. Goldstein, PhD has almost 40 years of experiences as a research scientist, educator, administrator, and accreditor in higher education before retiring a second time in 2018 and becoming an independent accreditation consultant for colleges and universities in the South. Dr. Goldstein received his BA in Biology from Adelphi University in 1975 and his PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in 1979 (now Rutgers University). After serving as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine, he joined the faculty at the Medical College of Georgia in 1981. Dr. Goldstein rose to the rank of tenured Professor. In 1991 he became Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Medical College of Georgia and served as Chief Academic Officer until he retired in August of 2010. At the time of his retirement in 2010, he was Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and had held that title since 2008. He currently holds the title of Provost and Professor emeritus at the Medical College of Georgia (now known as Augusta University). In 2010, Dr. Goldstein became a Vice President at the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). During his tenure at SACSCOC, Dr. Goldstein was responsible for shepherding numerous institutions through reaffirmation as well as other accreditation activities. He also facilitated training experiences for committee chairs, CEOs, academic administrators, and others as it relates to accreditation. Dr. Goldstein retired as Vice President in 2018 and started an accreditation consulting service for colleges and universities in the South. Later in 2018, Dr. Goldstein was asked to serve as interim provost at Columbia Southern University. He was appointed Provost in 2019 and continues to consult with several institutions in the South.

Robert Sintich, EdD
Term: 2021-2024
Hancock, New York

BIOGRAPHY: Robert Sintich

Dr. Sintich has more than 40 years of higher education administrative experience holding various administrative positions at several community colleges including Union, Morris and Warren. More recently, at Warren County Community College, Dr. Sintich served as Dean of Students, Assistant Dean of Curriculum, Dean of Academic Affairs, Chief Academic Officer and Provost. Following his years of college administration, he became Chairman of the Departments of English, Math, History, Psychology, Science and Sociology while teaching as a full-time Professor of History and Social Science.

At Warren County Community College, Dr. Sintich initiated and helped develop several programs to enhance enrollment goals such as nursing, automotive, food and beverage and a unique offering for veterans known as V.I.P.E.R (Veterans In Pursuit of Educational Readiness). The Viper program recognizes the skill and training that veterans receive in their MOS (military occupational specialty) and other military preparedness and translates these learning experiences into the form of equivalent college credit.

Dr. Robert A. Sintich, EdD, MS has more than 40 years of experience working with nursing students and administrators. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Scranton, as well as a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. His doctoral degree was awarded by Rutgers University upon completion of his doctoral thesis which centered on the study of the community college system in the State of New Jersey. He has participated and directed staff in the participation and presentation of many accreditation reports submitted for Diploma and Associate Degree nursing programs. As Provost at Warren County Community College, Washington, New Jersey, he spearheaded launching the nursing program that continues to date, which was the first new nursing associate degree program put forward in New Jersey in 20 years.

Dr. Sintich recognizes that time is a precious commodity. He cannot imagine any other profession that he feels more privileged to serve as a Public Member then that of the ACEN Board of Commissioners.