Black History Month: Celebrating Three African-American ANA Presidents

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from the 2/21/19 edition of the ANA Nursing Insider

Barbara L. Nichols, ANA President 1978-1982

Born and raised in Maine, Barbara Nichols, DHL, MS, RN, FAAN, was active in children’s theater and initially considered a career in acting. However, there were very limited roles for African-Americans, so Nichols decided to become a nurse.

Many hospitals and nursing schools were still segregated at the time Nichols was pursing her career in nursing. She was one of only four African-American students in her class at Massachusetts Memorial School of Nursing. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree at Case Western Reserve University, where she was one of only two African-American students in her class. Following graduation, Nichols worked at Boston Children’s Hospital and was the only African American registered nurse on staff.

In 1970, Nichols became the first African-American president of the Wisconsin Nurses Association. She then went on to become the first African-American president of ANA. After serving two terms as ANA president, she was appointed to serve as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing, becoming the first African-American woman to hold a cabinet-level position in Wisconsin state history.

Beverly Malone, ANA President 1996-2000

Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, was raised in rural Kentucky by her great grandmother, the daughter of a slave. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Cincinnati and began working as a nurse in New Jersey while continuing her education. She obtained a master’s degree in adult psychiatric nursing from Rutgers University in 1972 and became an instructor of psychiatric nursing at Wayne State University in Michigan that same year.

From the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, Malone served in several academic positions. In 1986, she was made dean of the School of Nursing at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a historically black university, and became vice chancellor in 1994.

Malone was elected to two terms as president of ANA in 1996, becoming the second African- American to hold this position. In 2000, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the post of deputy assistant for health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which, at the time, was the highest position that a nurse ever held in the U.S. government.

Ernest Grant, ANA President 2019-present

Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the first man to be elected to the office of president of ANA. A distinguished leader, Grant has more than 30 years of nursing experience and is an internationally recognized burn care and fire safety expert. He previously served as the burn outreach coordinator for the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals in Chapel Hill. In this role, Grant oversaw burn education for physicians, nurses, and other allied health care personnel and ran the center’s nationally acclaimed burn prevention program, which promotes safety and works to reduce burn-related injuries through public education and the legislative process. Grant also served as adjunct faculty for the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing, where he worked with undergraduate and graduate nursing students in the classroom and clinical settings.

Grant is frequently sought out for his expertise as a clinician and educator. In addition to being a prolific speaker, he has conducted numerous burn education courses with various branches of the U.S. military in preparation for troops’ deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2002, President George W. Bush presented Grant with a Nurse of the Year Award for his work treating burn victims from the World Trade Center site. In 2013, Grant received the B.T. Fowler Lifetime Achievement Award from the North Carolina Fire and Life Safety Education Council for making a diffe