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Former ANA Enterprise CEO Dr. Loressa Cole Receives Distinguished AACN Partner Award


SILVER SPRING, MD—  In January 2023, the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) approved the creation of the Distinguished AACN Partner Award to recognize individuals who have had a significant and sustained collaborative relationship with AACN and a strong commitment to advancing academic nursing. The inaugural winners of this award include Dr. Loressa Cole, former CEO of the ANA Enterprise, and Dr. David Benton, former CEO of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Both leaders were recognized as champions of academic nursing who have worked closely with AACN on issues impacting nursing education, practice, regulation, and policy at the national level.

Dr. Cynthia McCurren, AACN Board Chair, and Dr. Deborah Trautman, AACN President and CEO, presented the awards to Dr. Cole and Dr. Benton at AACN’s Dean’s Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on March 25, 2024.

Dr. McCurren first spoke to Dr. Loressa Cole’s role as CEO of the ANA Enterprise and her collaboration while in that role with AACN and other members of the Tri-Council for Nursing on critical issues facing academic nursing and nursing practice. “She led her organization through the uncertainties and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and started ANA's Racial Reckoning Journey through its Organizational Affiliates, with AACN’s support in development and final approval.” In addition, “the ANA and AACN government affairs teams have continuously collaborated to advance meaningful policies that shape nursing education, research, and practice.”

Dr. David Benton was recognized for his work with AACN while in his role as CEO of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. While in that role, Dr. Benton worked closely with AACN on the transition to the Next Generation NCLEX, including educating faculty in AACN member schools about what this means for nursing graduates.

“David consistently engaged AACN in the development and signing of policy briefs during the pandemic to ensure our students were able to obtain needed clinical experiences. This collaborative effort helped to underscore the importance of academic-practice partnerships, which enabled our members schools to provide much needed relief to the nursing workforce during that challenging time.”

Dr. Benton worked closely with AACN, regularly seeking  expert opinions on the licensure compact and its impact on academic nursing. That Compact has now grown to 39 jurisdictions, allowing nurses greater mobility and increased access to care for patients. 

The AACN Leadership presented the award and thanked Drs. Cole and Benton for their outstanding leadership and contributions to academic nursing.


*News annoucement courtesty of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) *

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