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Advisory Board

Dr. Mary H. Palmer

Dr. Palmer, PhD, RNC, FAAN, earned her BSN and MS from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and her PhD from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the UNC School of Nursing Helen W. and Thomas L. Umphlet Distinguished Professor in Aging, and was appointed interim co-director of the UNC Institute on Aging in July 2009.

Dr. Jan Busby-Whitehead

Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, received her medical degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in 1977. She was the first fellow in Geriatric Medicine at the VAMC/University of Florida (1980-1982) and was a Medical Staff Fellow at the NIA (1985-1987). Dr. Busby-Whitehead is currently a Professor of Medicine, Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine and Director of the School of Medicine Center for Aging and Health. She is also Director of the HRSA-funded Geriatric Education Center and the Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine and Training.

Dr. Sonda Oppewal

Sonda Oppewal, PhD, MSN, RN, earned her doctorate in Nursing in 1991 and her MSN in Community Health Nursing in 1988, both from the University of Virginia. Dr. Oppewal is a Clinical Associate Professor and the Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing.

Dr. Thomas R. Konrad

Thomas R. Konrad, PhD, has served as Program Director of the Primary Care and the Health Professions Research Program at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research. Dr. Konrad is currently a senior research scientist at the North Carolina Institute on Aging at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he maintains an active research portfolio focusing on health workforce topics. He is also Research Professor in the Schools of Public Health, Medicine, and Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Konrad holds a MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Polly Godwin Welsh

Polly Godwin Welsh, RN, has been a nurse for 33 years and is certified as a Gerontological Nurse. Currently, Ms. Welsh serves as Executive Vice President of the North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association. Other current appointments include the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Foundation for Nursing Excellence, the North Carolina Physicians Advisory Group, and the Editorial Board of the North Carolina Medical Journal. In 2007, Ms. Welsh became Co-Director of FutureCare of North Carolina, a non-profit foundation dedicated to the enhancement of residential life in skilled nursing facilities. She currently directs a clinical skills enhancement grant using human simulation technology.

Andrea Novak

Andrea Novak, PhD, RN-BC, FAEN, is the Administrator for Nursing and Interdisciplinary Continuing Education at the Southern Regional AHEC in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Dr. Novak serves as Adjunct Faculty at both the University of North Carolina and Duke Schools of Nursing. She is board certified in Nursing Professional Development and is a Fellow in the Academy of Emergency Nursing. Dr. Novak is the 2010 Chair of the Emergency Nurses Foundation and the 2010-2012 Chair for the NC Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Nurse Council.

Dr. Rumay Alexander

G. Rumay Alexander, EdD, RN, is a clinical professor in the School of Nursing and its Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. She currently holds positions on the Board of Governors of the National League for Nursing, the National Student Nurses’ Association Foundation Board, and the HHS Office of Minority Health National Partnership for Action’s Minority Health Region IV Equity Board. Dr. Alexander was chosen in 2010 to receive the American Organization of Nurses Executives’ diversity leadership award (Prism). Additionally, she has served on the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Workforce Commission, the Board of The American Organization of Nurse Executives, The National Quality Forum’s Nursing Care Performance Measures Steering Committee, and the AHA’s Leadership Circle of Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.

Norma Hawthorne

Norma Hawthorne, MS, has served the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as its Director of Advancement and Executive Director of the School of Nursing Foundation, Inc. since 2001. As the major gift officer, she is responsible for building the school’s endowments and trust funds, leading its $15 million capital campaign, encouraging support and annual giving from alumni and friends, and developing private corporation and foundation underwriting to support programs and research. Ms. Hawthorne received her BA in History from California State University at Northridge and her MS in Administration from University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business.

Dr. Deborah Erickson

Deborah Erickson, PhD, MS, BSN, RN, developed a passion for working with the elderly in 1995 when she was the Nurse Manager for an Independent and Assisted Living Community in Stamford, Connecticut.  Dr. Erickson has an extensive background in Geriatrics and Healthcare Administration and is currently the Program Manager for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Hospital’s Center for Transplant Care.

Carol F. Durham

Carol Fowler Durham, EdD, RN, ANEF, is Clinical Professor and Director of Clinical Education & Resource Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, School of Nursing. Dr. Durham has been involved in nursing education and curriculum development for over 28 years, and is an expert in the development and integration of simulation based learning within nursing education programs. Dr. Durham has received the Nurse Educator of the Year from the North Carolina Nurses Association, the Educator Award for collaborative work on implementing Safe Patient Handling and Movement (SPHM) in nursing curriculum, the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda Partnering Award, and the Bayada Award for Technological Innovation in Nursing Education. In September 2009 she was inducted as a Fellow into the National League of Nursing’s Academy of Nursing Education.

Dr. Gail Mazzocco

Gail Mazzocco, EdD, MSN, RN, is Clinical Associate Professor and Statewide Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program Nursing Liaison. Dr. Mazzocco became involved in the AHEC program in Maryland and has worked with statewide nursing workforce issues in both Maryland and North Carolina since 1980. She is now involved in utilizing University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing activities to support the NC AHEC mission, and in state and national attempts to ensure an adequate nursing workforce and to develop effective nurse residency programs. Dr. Mazzocco earned her diploma in Nursing at the Massachusetts General Hospital School of Nursing, her baccalaureate and master’s degrees in Nursing at the University of Maryland Baltimore, and her doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Diana McDuffee

Diana McDuffee is North Carolina AHEC Library and Information Services Network Director at the Health Sciences Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. McDuffee has served as Chair of the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association.

Dr. Beth Barba

Dr. Beth Barba is a Professor in the Community Practice Department at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Nursing. She holds a Master of Arts in Nursing Science and a Doctorate in Research and Theory Development in Nursing from New York University, and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Barba has taught gerontology for more than 20 years. She is Project Director for a Health Resources and Services Administration grant project, Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project, which has provided geriatric education to more than 11,000 nurses and allied health professionals. Her research agenda is focused on the effects of education on practice and on older people with dementia.