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Six Dynamic Nursing Professionals Receive 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards


From left: Susan Green Cooksey ’68, PhD; Ann-Margaret Dunn Navarra ’92 ’11, PhD; William Daniel Roberts ’05, PhD; and Margaret Walsh ’94, FNP, at Reunion 2018. Jeannemarie Gelin Baker ’90 (not pictured) also received an award and Anne Penland '12 (1885-1976) was honored in memoriam. 

For more than 40 years, the Alumni Associations have honored graduates who have made a significant impact in the nursing profession and exhibited excellence in their professional endeavors with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awardees have provided outstanding healthcare service, driven innovation in research and care delivery, and functioned as mentors in facilitating the growth and future development of other nurses.


The 2018 awards were presented to six alumni at Reunion on May 4. We spoke with two recipients, Ann-Margaret Dunn Navarra ’92 ’11, PhD, and William Daniel Roberts ’05, PhD, about how their education at Columbia Nursing shaped their successful career paths.


How did your education at Columbia help define your professional goals?


My education at Columbia Nursing, for both my PNP and PhD degrees, changed the course of my life and the way I approach healthcare. The training I received helped me make a difference in the lives of HIV-infected children, first as a pediatric NP in the early 1990s, and presently as a nurse scientist seeking to improve treatment adherence in HIV-infected adolescents and adults.


When I received my first degree in 1992, the role of nurse practitioner, particularly in the outpatient setting, was relatively new. Because of my education, I was well prepared with the needed tools to provide advanced nursing care for a very vulnerable population.


When I returned for my doctorate after 19 years of clinical practice, I was privileged to work with some of the nation’s leading nurse scientists with my primary mentor being Dr. Elaine Larson. Her guidance and mentorship helped me earn a research degree that went beyond theory into creating meaningful outcomes for health improvement in the HIV community. The education we receive at Columbia doesn’t just stay in the classroom; it’s taken out into the world.


As a nurse executive, I was often puzzled by the lack of data in decision making. I knew that informatics was the body of science that was missing in the executive nurse’s skill set/knowledge base. Specifically, I anticipated a shift from implementation of technology for nursing leadership towards use of the data derived from the implementation of technologies. In that regard, I was very privileged to be able to have my doctoral education influenced by Drs. Suzanne Bakken and Patricia Stone. Both faculty members’ work have shaped the application of my education in my executive role, as an administrator and bonafide data geek.


What does it mean to you to receive this alumni award from Columbia Nursing?


I am so sincerely grateful and honored to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award in Research, particularly as a first-generation college student. Being recognized by my colleagues and peers at Columbia is incredibly meaningful. I feel also that I didn’t receive this award alone; it represents many years of outstanding professional mentorship, as well as support from family and friends, without which my success as an NP and researcher would not have been possible.


For me, the recognition means that Columbia Nursing continues to recognize new, novel, and innovative approaches to the science of nursing. Data analysis and applications within the space of executive nursing leadership is not the normative path to healthcare services research. Focusing on the leadership aspects adds another dimension to healthcare services research, a body of science with strength at Columbia via Dr. Stone’s work. I am reassured by the Distinguished Alumni Award for Nursing Administration that my chosen path is validated by my peers at Columbia.


2018 Distinguished Alumni Awardees

Jeannemarie Gelin Baker ’90, PMH
Neighbors Humanitarian Award

Jeannemarie Gelin Baker ’90, PMH, director and founder of the Faith Community Nursing Ministry, St. Catherine of Siena Church, has had a deep and long-lasting commitment to community throughout her career. She was selected for the Neighbors Humanitarian Award for her sustained and dedicated service, advocacy, and creativity on behalf of vulnerable populations.

Susan Green Cooksey ’68, PhD
Award for Distinguished Career in Nursing

Susan Green Cooksey received her BS from Columbia Nursing in ’68, and went on to receive her PhD from Oregon Health Sciences University. While a nursing student, she was president of the Student Government Association. She is certified as a women’s healthcare nurse practitioner and pediatric nurse practitioner and is a recognized expert in adolescent healthcare and menopause. She was chosen for the Distinguished Career in Nursing Award for her significant contributions in practice, education, research, and community service.

Ann-Margaret Dunn Navarra ’92 ’11, PhD
Award in Nursing Research

Ann-Margaret Dunn Navarra ’92 ’11 holds an MS and PhD from Columbia University School of Nursing. She is an assistant professor, Clinical Scholar Tenure Track at the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, and a dedicated nurse practitioner and scientist. She was chosen for the Distinguished Alumni Award in Nursing Research for her dedication to generating knowledge and building science that will improve the health outcomes of youth with HIV.

Anne Penland, Class of 1912 (1885-1976)
In Memoriam for Lifetime Achievement Award

Anne Penland, Class of 1912, graduated from Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing, now known as Columbia University School of Nursing. She went on to become the first graduate of the school’s new six-month post-graduate program in nursing anesthesia. Her professional dedication and perseverance led the way for future nurse anesthetists. Penland retired in 1952 and passed away in 1976, yet her contribution to nursing transcends time.

William Daniel Roberts ’05, PhD
Distinguished Career in Administration

William D. Roberts ’05, PhD, is a former faculty member, who was among Columbia Nursing’s first informatics doctoral candidates. He built upon his prior clinical and management expertise to prepare for a new role in an era of big data and data science. As assistant vice president for nursing performance management at HCA Healthcare, he is responsible for advancing the performance of HCA’s nursing practice. The Alumni Award for Distinguished Career in Administration was given to Dr. Roberts in recognition of his expertise and contribution as a new breed of nurse executive.

Margaret Walsh ’94, FNP
Nursing Practice Award

Margaret Walsh ’94, FNP, a graduate of the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program, is an FNP at the Walton Family Health Center in the Bronx, where she has provided primary healthcare for more than 15 years. She also initiated and directs an NP fellowship program at the Institute of Family Health. She received the Nursing Practice Award for her exemplary practice of professional nursing, her significant contributions to improve the quality of healthcare at the Walton Family Health Center, and her mentorship of colleagues.

A full list of 2018 and past Distinguished Alumni Award recipients can be found here.