N.J. Nurses Association honors late Lt. Gov. Oliver for legislative leadership

The New Jersey State Nurses Association recently honored the late Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver in appreciation of her life’s work as a dedicated public servant, leader, mentor and advocate, as well as 19 nurses for outstanding professional career accomplishments at its annual Divas and Dons Gala at the Pines Manor in Edison.

Through its annual Divas and Dons celebration, the NJSNA’s Institute for Nursing calls attention to the outstanding achievements of accomplished New Jersey health care advocates and nurses. Proceeds from the April 11 event, which had 440 attendees, will fund scholarships for nursing students and nurses advancing their education.

The IFN also provides quality continuing education programs and grants for nurses involved in research.

As acting governor, Oliver signed multiple bills into law, including those that established a Caregiver Task Force to identify ways to support people taking care of loved ones who are elderly or disabled. A trailblazer in every sense of the word, in 2010, Oliver became the first African American woman in state history to serve as Assembly speaker and just the second in the nation’s history to lead a state legislative house.

“We gave the late Lt. Gov. Shelia Oliver an honorary award to recognize her for all of her years in the Assembly and as speaker, where she helped get many of our bills through,” Judy Schmidt, CEO of NJSNA, said. “We also recognized 19 other nurses at the event.”

Additional Divas and Dons honorees:

  • Lynda Arnold, director, Family Health Services, University Hospital;
  • Rocel Besa, magnet program director, Hackensack Meridian Health, Jersey Shore University Medical Center;
  • Akia Blandon, associate professor and dean of diversity, equity & inclusion, Helene Fuld College of Nursing;
  • Carline Eliezer, controlled substance coordinator/integrity compliance specialist, VA NJ Healthcare System;
  • Linda Flynn, dean and professor, Rutgers School of Nursing;
  • Jonathan Gapilango, administrative director, oncology performance, measures & accreditation, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital;
  • Linda Gural, legal nurse consultant;
  • Maureen Harding, senior vice president, patient care services, RWJBarnabas Health;
  • Atiya Jaha-Rashidi, chief equity officer and vice president, community relations, RWJBarnabas Health Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of N.J.;
  • Trish O’Keefe, senior vice president and chief nurse executive, Atlantic Health System, president, Morristown Medical Center;
  • Susan Politsky, director of professional development and nursing research, Virtua Health;
  • Katherine Soss Prihoda, clinical associate professor, Rutgers School of Nursing – Camden;
  • Rosita Rodriguez, associate professor, Montclair State University School of Nursing;
  • Michael Rupp, nurse manager, Riverview Medical Center;
  • Yolanda Scipio-Jackson, clinical care coordinator, Veterans Administration New Jersey Healthcare System;
  • Lt. Col. Debbie Skeete-Bernard, patient aligned care coordinator, Veterans Administration New Jersey Healthcare System;
  • Hilda Ventimiglia, director, Holy Name Community Health, Holy Name Medical Center;
  • Mary Wachter, executive director, state & local government affairs, Genentech;
  • Munira Wells, associate professor, Seton Hall University College of Nursing.