WELCOME TO THE NEWLY ELECTED MEMBERS OF YOUR BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
THE VOTES ARE IN! Effective October 1st, 2019, these newly and reelected Commissioners will join the Board of Commissioners who govern your ACEN:
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. 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. 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
By Appointment to the Nominating Committee
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
Each Commissioner will serve a three-year term from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2022. The exception is Shari Gholson, who will serve from October 1, 2019 through September 30, 2021. The two-year term has the same expectations as the three-year; it is meant as a one-time occurrence to expand the number of nurse educators on the board to a total of 11. The 17 Board of Commissioner represent the following roles: 11 nursing education representatives, 3 nursing service representatives, and 3 public representatives. This diversification ensures the ACEN Board of Commissioners are able to give balanced representation from across identified constituencies insofar as possible.
The Board of Commissioners is a governing board and has the authority of a governing board, which is (1) ensuring the financial resources of the ACEN such as setting the fee schedule, budget, and reviewing the audit; (2) setting policy such as the policies found in the Accreditation Manual and the Standards and Criteria; and (3) most importantly, having the sole authority to determine the accreditation status of nursing programs. Members of the Board of Commissioners also serve as Chairpersons at Evaluation Review Panels, guiding the panelists through discussions and asking for status recommendations. We are very excited to congratulate our new and returning members of the Board of Commissioners!