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Lifetime Legacy Award

Barbara Nichols

DNSc (Hon), MS, RN, FAAN

Ms. Nichols has vast experience in executive leadership and international initiatives. Throughout her career, she has been a solid champion for the need to value diversity in all of its forms and a leading advocate for ethnic minority inclusion in all aspects of the health professions.

She is the former Chief Executive Officer of CGFNS International, whose expertise provides credential validation, scope of practice standards, and licensure of nurses and health professionals globally. Retiring in 2011, she presently serves as a Diversity Consultant to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP national implementation of the National Academy of Medicine Report: The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity.

She has been a consultant on credentials assessment and diversity to the Office of Minority Health, the US Department of Labor, the US Department of State, and the US Department of Homeland Security. She was the first African American nurse in 100 years to be elected as President of the American Nurses Association and the Wisconsin Nurses Association. She currently serves as the Executive Director for the Wisconsin Center for Nursing.


Ms. Nichols is the recipient of five honorary Doctoral degrees and numerous awards for her pioneering work and sustained contributions to the delivery of health care in urban and rural settings. Most recently, she was the 2015 recipient of the The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award for her social justice advocacy, awarded by the City of Madison, Wisconsin and is a 2022 inductee to the American Nurses Association's Hall of Fame.

She holds a Master of Science in Behavioral Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Baccalaureate in Nursing from Case Western Reserve University, and a diploma from Massachusetts Memorial Hospital School of Nursing.

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