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Distinguished Alumni Past Recipients

Guardia Banister, PhD, RN
Dr. Guardia Banister received an MSN and PhD in Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing from The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. She embarked on her nursing career in the early 1980’s serving as a Psychiatric Staff Nurse at the University of Colorado Health Science Center. Dr. Banister has served in pivotal nursing administration roles at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C. including Director of Nursing, Vice President and Senior VP for Patient Care Services/Chief Nursing Officer.  Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Institute for Patient Care at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, MA. Her responsibilities include the oversight of a collaborative of centers and programs that drive innovations in patient care, education and research. She has been instrumental in obtaining nearly $15 million for research and grant support for Providence Hospital. 

Jean McSweeney, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN
Dr. Jean McSweeney has dedicated her life to nursing education and research, beginning her career as a Critical Care Nurse where she broadened her knowledge base and honed her nursing skills. She sought further education and obtained her PhD from The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing in 1990. Currently, Dr. McSweeney is a Professor and the Associate Dean for Research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. For the past 18 years Dr. McSweeney has taught nursing courses including, but not limited to Cardiovascular Nursing, Adult Health, and Qualitative Data Analysis Theory and Practicum. While she has completed research in many areas of nursing, her primary focus has been related to women and heart disease. Her work has been published in numerous professional journals and abstracts, lay publications, and television networks and she has obtained millions of dollars in grants to further her cardiovascular research. She has fulfilled countless hours of community, national and state service speaking to various organizations and completing interviews for TV, radio and popular magazines including Family Circle, Redbook and Ladies Home Journal about women’s symptoms of heart disease.

Kathy Richards, PhD, RN, FAAN
Dr. Kathy Culpepper Richards received a BSN from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 1976, a MS from the University of Arizona in 1985, and a PhD in nursing from the University of Texas at Austin in 1993. She is the Ralston House Term Professor, Director of the John A. Hartford Foundation Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, and Director of the Center for Integrative Science in Aging at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and Director of the Polisher Research Institute at the Abramson Center for Jewish Life. Her program of research on sleep and cognition in older adults has improved the quality of life of vulnerable older adults. Dr. Richards has received over 12 million dollars in funding as principal investigator for her research and she is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Nursing and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. 

Mary Lou Sole, PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN, FCCM
Dr. Mary Lou Sole graduated from Ohio University in 1977 with her BSN, and received her MSN from The Ohio State University in 1979, and her PhD in Adult Health in 1987 from The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. She has had experience as a staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist, research scientist, and educator and currently works as a professor at The University of Central Florida College of Nursing in Orlando. Dr. Sole has written five editions of a critical care textbook and related instructor/student resources, and 17 chapters in textbooks. She was inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 1997 and has held various leadership positions in the American Association of Critical Care Nurses.

Hsiu-Hung Wang, PhD, RN, MS, FAAN
Dr. Hsiu-Hung Wang has been instrumental in community health nursing issues in Taiwan. A graduate of both the BSN and MSN program at Kaohsiung Medical College in the early 1980’s, she began her nursing career as an instructor and professor at this college. In 1998, she earned her PhD from The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing. In 2004 Dr. Wang was appointed the Deputy Minister in the Taiwanese Department of Health and held that position for approximately 4 years. Currently, she is the Dean of Kaohsiung Medical University College of Nursing in Taiwan.

Mary T. Champagne, RN, BSN, MSN, PhD, FAAN
Dr. Mary T. Champagne’s professional career has covered vast territory, spanning positions from staff nurse to Dean of the Duke University School of Nursing.  As a BSN, Dr. Champagne volunteered to serve in the Peace Corps and traveled to Afghanistan where she taught, co-directed, and later directed the Lashkar Gah School of Nursing. Following her return to the US, Dr. Champagne earned her MSN and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. She has taught at the College of Nursing at The University of Nebraska, and then at the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she became the Chair of the Department of Adult and Geriatric Health. From 1991-2004, she served as Dean of the Duke University School of Nursing, where she led the institution of programs to improve health care in rural North Carolina through the education of family nurse practitioners for medically underserved areas, where she brought back the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program and worked with faculty to establish a PhD in Nursing Program. Dr. Champagne currently serves as a Professor in the Duke School of Nursing and Medicine and holds the Laurel Chadwick Professorship and is a Senior Fellow of the Duke University Medical Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development.

J. Taylor Harden PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN
Dr. J. Taylor Harden is an expert on aging, and holds the position of Chief of the Office of Special Populations and the Assistant to the Director, National Institute on Aging (NIA), National Institutes of Health, DHHS. In this capacity, Dr. Harden has responsibility for activities supporting women, minority populations and disabled individuals including providing the Director of NIA, and senior staff members with advice and guidance on enhancing the participation of special populations in health research initiatives and providing guidance on NIA goals for research and training programs for special populations. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s in nursing from The University of Maryland at Baltimore. Dr. Harden was awarded her Doctor of Philosophy in psychiatric-mental health nursing from The University of Texas at Austin. She has a wide history of work experience including being a nurse in surgical intensive care unit and orthopedics, U.S. Air Force flight nurse, instructor, lecturer, professor, health scientist administrator, and graduate faculty. Her experience in major administrative and policy domains was broadened substantially by her appointment as the Acting Deputy Director, NIA, from January 1, 2008, through October 10, 2008.

Keela Herr, PhD, RN, FAAN, AGSF
Dr. Keela Ann Herr is Professor and Chair of Adult and Gerontology in the College of Nursing at the University of Iowa and Academic Associate, Department of Nursing Services and Patient Care, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. Dr. Herr received her MSN degree in medical-surgical nursing with emphasis in gerontology and education in 1977, and her PhD in nursing from The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing in 1986. Motivated by a loved one’s painful end-of-life experience with pancreatic cancer, Dr. Herr desired to make changes to education and practices in elder care. She was employed at Northeast Missouri State University from 1977 until 1987, when she joined the faculty at the College of Nursing in Iowa City. She is currently Research Director for the Iowa John A. Hartford Foundation Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence, and Co-Director of the Regional Training Core of the Gerontological Nursing Interventions Research Center.

State Representative Donna Howard
The Honorable Donna Howard is a native of Austin who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a master’s in health education, both from The University of Texas. She worked as a critical care nurse at Brackenridge and Seton hospitals and as the first hospital-based Patient Education Coordinator in Austin history. A recognized expert on public education, Howard was elected to the Eanes ISD board in West Austin, where she served from 1996 to 1999 and was certified as a Master School Trustee by the Texas Association of School Boards. She co-founded the parent organization Advocates for Eanes Schools and helped form the Texas Education Crisis Coalition, a grassroots group of parents, business owners, and community leaders working together to tackle the public school finance issue. Howard serves on the House Higher Education Committee, House Administration Committee, and is vice-chair of the House Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee. She also co-founded the Air Quality Caucus, a bipartisan group of more than three dozen lawmakers working on clean energy issues. For her work at the State Capitol on health care, environmental protection, and historic preservation, Howard has been honored by community organizations, from the Austin Business Journal and the Texas Hospital Association to the Sierra Club and the Heritage Society of Austin.

Susan Cooley King, PhD, RN, CPNP
Susan Cooley King is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and the Vice President for Clinical Services for RediClinic, one of the nation’s largest providers of retail-based convenient health care services. After having been a faculty member in the Department of Pediatrics at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston for over 30 years, Dr. King retired in 2007. She holds academic degrees including a BSN from The University of Texas at Austin and a MPH from The University of Texas at Houston. She received her PNP from University of California, San Francisco and completed her PhD in Nursing at Texas Woman’s University. Dr. King’s first nursing job, at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti, prepared her for a career working with needy families. In Houston, Dr. King helped create a model health care system that pair’s health related programs in order to increase access to healthcare for indigent Hispanic children. In 1995, Susan King received the first grant that brought Reach Out and Read a national pediatric literacy program, to Texas. Under her direction, the Texas ROR program has raised over $5,000,000 in grant funding and has grown to include over 175 programs, reaching over 250,000 children annually. Dr. King played an instrumental role in Houston’s relief efforts during Hurricane Katrina. She is involved in numerous community organizations including St. Luke’s Episcopal Health Charities, Harris County Hospital District Foundation, Lord of the Streets, and Bo’s Place: Center for Grieving Children.