Board of Directors


Dr. Phyllis Whitehead is a clinical ethicist and clinical nurse specialist with the Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital (CRMH) Palliative Care Service and Associate Professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. She initiated the Palliative Medicine and Moral Distress Consult Services at CRMH. She is certified in pain management and as an advanced practice hospice and palliative care nurse. Dr. Whitehead has done numerous presentations on pain and symptom management, opioid induced sedation, moral distress, and patients’ end of life preferences locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. Her research interests include moral distress and improving communication with seriously ill patients and has been funded for numerous grants for her research. She was a Board of Director member of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialist and is now President-Elect of the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists and President of the Virginia Foundation of Nurses. She was a member of the ANA Moral Resilience Advisory Committee. She is a founding member and Board of Director member of the Virginia Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. She was selected for Governor Ralph Northam’s Policy Council on Opioid and Substance Abuse this year. In 2020 she was elected as a Distinguished Practitioner Fellow in the National Academy of Practice in Nursing. She is a graduate of Radford University where she earned her BSN and MSN and earned her doctorate degree at Virginia Tech.

Past President

Jan Powers, PhD, RN is the Director for Nursing Research and Professional Practice at Parkview Health System. This role includes accountability for advancing nursing professional practice and research development for 10 hospital system. Dr. Powers is also an adjunct professor at Indiana University School of Nursing.

Jan has been a nurse for 35 years in various roles related to Critical Care and Trauma primarily focused on implementation of research and evidence-based practices to improve patient outcome. She has conducted many research studies related to nursing practice with a primary focus on improving patient outcomes through the advancement of nursing practice. Primary focus areas for research and practice are related to pulmonary, trauma, pressure injuries and nutrition. Dr. Powers is passionate about inspiring nurses to own their practice with an emphasis on the implementation of evidence-based practices. She has published over 70 journal articles and book chapters and has given numerous presentations nationally and internationally on a variety of critical care and nursing topics. Dr. Powers is on the Editorial Board for Intensive and Critical Care Nursing and is a Manuscript Reviewer for several journals.

Jan has received many awards for excellence in nursing practice, including the 2010 Norma Shoemaker award for Excellence in Critical Care Nursing from the Society of Critical Care Medicine. She was inducted as a Fellow of Critical Care Medicine in the American College of Critical Care Medicine in 2007. Dr. Powers received her BSN, MSN and PhD from Indiana University School of Nursing in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Mitzi Saunders

Mitzi Saunders, PhD, APRN, CNS-C

Dr. Saunders became a Certified Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) in 1994. She practiced as a credentialed and privileged CNS provider for a vulnerable patient population at a level 1 trauma center in Detroit, MI. She additionally functioned as a clinical preceptor for both CNS and nurse practitioner students. In 2000, she took an academic leadership position at the University of Detroit Mercy (DM) and completed her PhD in Nursing in 2006 from Wayne State University. Her research foci are threefold: improving health outcomes in family caregivers of patients with heart failure or dementia, improving the delivery of online health education, and increasing the visibility of the CNS role to achieve full scope of practice for all CNSs. Dr. Saunders has Directed the Adult-Gerontology CNS on-line program at DM since 2007 which boasts a 100% national certification pass rate. Her students are her top priority at DM and working with them to achieve their professional goals as a CNS the primary focus. Overall, Dr. Saunders, a tenured Professor, actively leads in efforts that support advanced practice nursing at the local, state, and national levels. She functioned as Secretary for the Michigan CNS Association and participated in successes for MI CNSs to include title protection and prescriptive authority. She is a proud member and Board of Director for the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS). She partnered with other CNSs on the NACNS Chronic Care Task Force and chaired the Nominating Committee for NACNS. Her most recent appointment is Leading the NACNS Essentials Task Force to achieve alignment of the graduate level competencies (Essentials, 2021) with the NACNS competencies of practice (2019) and demonstrate the uniqueness of the CNS specialty.

Linda Thurby-Hay DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, BC-ADM, CDCES

Linda Thurby-Hay DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, BC-ADM, CDCES

Linda Thurby Hay is a Clinical Nurse Specialist with a subspecialty in the care of those living with diabetes and endocrine disorders. Dr. Thurby-Hay is passionate about positioning the CNS to achieve specialty population health across the care continuum. She has practiced in both inpatient and ambulatory settings and in a provider as well as nursing practice & system change agent role. Her life’s work has been focused in strategizing system-level change that promotes individual personal health. Currently, her clinical work entails promoting the competence of CNSs in facilitating state-of-the-art inpatient and transitional diabetes care, and RN/RD teams in delivering diabetes education and support in ambulatory practices. Additionally, Dr. Thurby-Hay has worked tirelessly in Virginia to advance the CNS role legislatively while President of the Virginia Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists for several years. Although Virginia CNSs enjoy title protection, APRN status, and the option to prescribe therapy, there remain challenges in attaining full practice authority and practicing solely under the purview of nursing. Dr. Thurby-Hay is dedicated to pursuing efforts that advance the CNS role in promoting a healthy citizenry.


Board Member

Rick Bassett is an Adult Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist for St. Luke’s Health System (SLHS). He obtained his MSN from Idaho State University in 2009 and is certified as a Critical Care Nurse (CCRN) through the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), board certified as an Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, licensed as an Advance Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) in Idaho and was recently inducted into the NACNS CNSI Fellowship.

Rick has led cohorts of Critical Care teams across the nation in practice and quality improvement programs with respect to ICU Delirium Recognition and Management, ICU Palliative Care/End of Life and Early ICU Mobility. He trained in clinical ethics at the University of Washington, is a Clinical Ethics Consultant for SLHS and member of the SLHS Ethics Committee for 30 years. 

Rick currently serves as the NACNS Board Liaison for the NACNS Legislative and Regulatory Committee and the Finance Committee. He is Chair of the SLHS Institutional Review Board, an NACNS Northwest Affiliate Board member, an Idaho Health Continuum of Care Alliance (IHCCA) Board member, Chair the IHCCA Legislative and Policy Committee, Idaho representative on the National POLST Plenary Council and Chair the National POLST Technology Committee working with industry, State and National leaders to improve POLST processes. Mr. Bassett lectures nationally and has published on topics related to ethics, palliative care and critical care.

Susan Dresser, PhD, MSN, APRN-CNS, FCNS

Susan Dresser, PhD, MSN, APRN-CNS, FCNS
Board Member

Susan Dresser became a certified Adult Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) after graduating from Duke University in 1989. At the bedside as an RN and as an APRN-CNS her clinical career has been dedicated to the care of acute and critically ill patients with cardiovascular disorders. In 2000 Susan became one of the first CNSs in the state of Oklahoma to obtain prescriptive authority, hospital credentialing as an APRN, a Medicare health care provider unique identification number (now known as the National Provider Identifier Number or NPI), and began directly billing for APRN services provided. She has been actively involved in legislative efforts to advance the practice of APRNs at the state level since 1989, working collaboratively to achieve CNS title protection (1990) and to achieve full practice authority. She is a past President and Secretary of the Oklahoma Affiliate of NACNS, a past Board member and Secretary for NACNS (2005-2010), and 2 term member and past Chair of the NACNS Legislative-Regulatory Committee. She is also a co-editor of the Clinical Nurse Specialist Toolkit: A Guide for the New CNS. Susan’s career transitioned to an academic role in 2014 when she accepted a faculty position in the Adult-Gerontology CNS (AGCNS) program at the Fran and Earl Ziegler College of Nursing at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. In 2017 she was promoted to Director of the AGCNS program and under her leadership the program has demonstrated success in relevance (program goals accomplished annually), efficiency (managed within budget limitations), effectiveness (achieved all program objectives and 100% certification pass rates), impact (100% of graduates have filled open CNS positions within 6 months of graduation, and sustainability (the program continues to attract qualified applicants). Dr. Dresser completed a PhD in nursing research in 2019 from the University of Kansas. Her dissertation explored factors that influence registered nurses’ ability to notice, interpret, and respond to acutely deteriorating hospitalized patients using a clinical judgment conceptual model.

Jennifer Manning, DNS, ACNS-BC, CNE

Jennifer Manning, DNS, ACNS-BC, CNE
Board Member

Dr. Manning is a Board-Certified Adult Health Clinical Nurse Specialist. She completed her Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral Degrees at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing (LSUHSC SON). Dr. Manning began her nursing career as a critical care registered nurse and currently serves as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Nursing Programs at LSUHSC SON. Her teaching responsibilities include educating in both the DNP and Ph.D. programs at LSUHSC SON. Dr. Manning serves as the nurse researcher at East Jefferson General Hospital. She is a board member for both the National Association for Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) and the Louisiana State Board of Nursing (LSBN).

Cheryl L. Pullium, DNP APRN ACNS-BC

Cheryl (Cherrie) L. Pullium, DNP APRN ACNS-BC, FCNS
Board Member


Board Member

Traci B. Smith, DNP, APRN, ACCNS-AG, CCRN is a clinical nurse specialist with Wellstar Health System in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Smith currently supports the cardiac and critical care service lines across 9 hospitals. Her responsibilities focus on quality improvement and patient outcomes involving HAIs, HAPIs, cardiac care throughout the in-hospital continuum, and standardization of the patient deterioration/cardiac arrest process. She has served as the primary investigator for several research projects and has presented at local and national conferences.

Dr. Smith joined NACNS in 2017 as a CNS student, and following her graduation from the University of South Alabama in 2017, was elected to the NACNS Nominating Committee (2018-2019) and served as co-chair. In 2019, Traci earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of South Alabama following successful completion of her project, The Effects of a Fast Track Extubation Protocol on Postoperative Cardiac Patient. Traci also is an active member of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), and Georgia CNS affiliate, serving as social media/website manager, and treasurer.

Traci is married to Jesse Smith, whom she met at Georgia College and State University while completing their BSN degrees. They are proud parents to Bailey (born in 2015) and Jack (born in 2020).

Jerithea(Jeri) Tidwell, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, PCNS-BC, FCNSI

Jerithea (Jeri) Tidwell, PhD, RN, PNP-BC, PCNS-BC, FCNSI
Board Member

Jeri Tidwell is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Neonatal Intensive Care at Children’s Health in Dallas, Texas. For over two decades, Dr. Tidwell has worked to master her craft in the field of pediatric nursing, education and leadership. With several years as a frontline provider, educator, mentor and researcher to her credit, she continues to strive to inspire and grow nurses in practice at the bedside. Dr. Tidwell currently serves as nurse mentor, scientist and entrepreneur. She was instrumental in re-instituting the inpatient CNS role at her organization by partnering a with local university to facilitate growth of the role. Notably, Dr. Tidwell was named as one of the DFW Great 100 Nurses in 2013, selected as Children’s Health Dallas Employee of the year in 2019 and inducted as a Fellow into CNSI institute in 2020.

Jeri has been an active member of NACNS for over 12 years serving as conference moderator, abstract reviewer, Practice Committee Chair, co- chair for the Website and List-Serv Committee and recently elected as member of the Board of Directors. She participated in the FALS Crosswalk work group and co -authored the NACNS CNS Cost Analysis Toolkit. Dr. Tidwell served as a past content expert and exam reviewer for ANCC Pediatric CNS and Practitioner exams. Jeri is known for her flair to energetically collaborate with healthcare leadership and multidisciplinary teams to transform and improve patient outcomes, nursing engagement, professional development, and patient/family satisfaction.

Janet S. Fulton, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, FAAN
CNS Journal Editor, Ex-officio Member