Barbara Thoman Curtis, RN
Florida Nurses Association
Barbara Thoman Curtis has been active in virtually every aspect of organized nursing for more than 50 years. She is a steadfast advocate for nurses to be involved in local, state and national political systems. Through her outstanding leadership, dedication and commitment, Ms. Curtis became the quintessential nurse activist, making sustained, lifelong contributions that motivated and educated hundreds of nurses to take an active role in health policy and political action. Her advocacy efforts, and those she influenced, have improved the lives of nurses and the citizens of our country.
Ms. Curtis served as president of the Missouri State Student Nurses Association while a student at the Independence Sanitarium and Hospital in Independence, Missouri.
After graduation, she moved to Washington State, where she taught at two diploma nursing programs and became an active member of the Washington State Nurses Association.
In 1970, Ms. Curtis was elected president of the Washington State Nurses Association. During her presidency, Ms. Curtis was instrumental in developing one of the first nursing political action committees in Washington State. The political action committee was called PUNCH, which stands for Politically United Nurses for Consumer Health.
Additionally, Ms. Curtis spearheaded ANA’s first political action committee. In 1974, the Nurses Coalition for Action in Politics (N-CAP) was established. Ms. Curtis served as its first elected chair. N-CAP is now known as ANA-PAC. Ms. Curtis was first elected an ANA delegate in 1968; over the years, she has served in a number of positions, including as a member of the ANA Board of Directors, ANA secretary and chair of the ANA Committee on Bylaws.
In 1984, the American Nurses Foundation awarded the first Barbara Curtis Scholarship in her honor. Barbara Thoman Curtis’s innovative political approaches built partnerships and led to beneficial organizational and process changes. In 1992, ANA established the Barbara Thoman Curtis Award, which is presented to a nurse who has made significant contributions to nursing practice and health policy through political and legislative activity.