Minority Fellowship Program Celebrates Seven Nursing Trailblazers

Another highlight of the 2004 convention was a special reception commemorating the 30th anniversary of the ANA’s Minority Fellowship Program (MFP), established in the 1970s to increase the number of doctorally prepared minority nurse researchers and clinicians working in the field of mental health and psychiatric nursing. Originally known as the Ethnic Minority Fellowship Program, MFP funding and support has helped more than 266 Fellows earn their doctorates since the program’s inception.

To celebrate the MFP’s rich history, the reception honored the exceptional achievements of seven minority nursing leaders who can truly be called trailblazers. In addition to their landmark contributions to the nursing profession in general, each of these distinguished nurses of color also played a key leadership role in the MFP during its formative years and beyond. Listed alphabetically, they are:

  • Elizabeth Allen, PhD, RN, who has made substantial contributions to the field of psychiatric nursing and attained such leadership positions as state director of nursing in the Republic of Vietnam and coordinator of continuing education at the ANA. In that capacity, she helped to develop the foundation for the MFP and articulate its goals to potential stakeholders.
  • ANA Hall of Fame inductee M. Elizabeth Carnegie, DPA, RN, FAAN, a pioneering scholar, researcher, educator and advocate for the educational advancement of black nurses. The author of more than 72 scientific publications and the award-winning book The Path We Tread, she served as chair of the MFP National Advisory Committee.
  • Internationally known educator and consultant Hector Hugo Gonzalez, PhD, RN, FAAN, the first Mexican-American nurse to earn a PhD and the first male president of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. He devoted his time and expertise to the MFP by actively recruiting minority nurses into doctoral programs focusing on mental health.
  • Ruth Gordon, PhD, RN, FAAN, the first full-time director of the MFP, who energetically rose to the challenge of developing and implementing this new doctoral study fellowship program designed to prepare minority nurses for leadership roles in research, education, practice, administration and public policy. She has been indispensable in shaping the MFP into one of the nation’s most successful models for educating minority nurses to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.
  • Mary Starke Harper, PhD, RN, FAAN, DSc, LLD, the MFP’s first project officer. She was also a major force in implementing the National Fellowship Program, which has enabled more than 8,000 minority scholars to obtain advanced degrees. During her long career with the federal government, she initiated the National Institutes of Health’s National Research and Development Mental Health Centers for minority populations and advised four U.S. presidents on mental health issues.
  • Martha Compton Primeaux, MSN, RN, FAAN, one of the founding members of the National Alaska Native American Indian Nurses Association and recipient of many awards for her history of advocating for nursing education and improved health services for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Her advocacy on the need for more doctorally prepared minority mental health nurses helped nurture the MFP in its early years.
  • Public health nurse, educator and international leader Gloria Smith, PhD, RN, FAAN, whose career has been devoted to eliminating minority health disparities and advocating for better health services for the poor and underserved. She has served as director of public health for the state of Michigan, vice president for programs at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and as a member of the MFP National Advisory Committee.

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