Cary will serve a two-year term as the highest elected official of the association, representing 810 member schools of nursing at public and private universities nationwide.
“I am committed to providing the leadership needed to position AACN and our member schools of nursing as the driving force for innovation and excellence in nursing education,” Cary said in a press release. “I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the board of directors and all stakeholders to advance programs and policies that will lead to systematic improvements in health and health care as well as higher education for academic nursing.”
In 2013, Cary was appointed dean of the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies. During her tenure, the school has received a significant number of program and research grants. In February, the Collaborative to Advance Health Services at the school was sub-awarded $8 million in federal funding to support primary-care providers in the prevention and treatment of opioid-use disorders. Each year Cary has been at UMKC, the school’s online graduate nursing programs have achieved a Top 25 spot from U.S. News & World Report.
Her national leadership roles include an appointment to the National Advisory Council for Nursing Education and Practice, convened by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to advise the secretary and Congress on issues related to the nursing workforce. Her commitment to leading change in the nursing and public health arenas has extended to serving as president of the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators, president of the Primary Care Policy Fellows Alumni Association, president of the Jesuit Conference of Nursing Programs and chair of the Quad Council for Public Health Nursing. At the state and local levels, Cary was a founding member of the Missouri Center for Nursing and currently serves on the board of directors for Truman Medical Centers, the Visiting Nurse Association of Kansas City and the Bluford Healthcare Leadership Institute.
An alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellows program, Cary also served as president of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows Alumni Group. She holds the distinction of being a Health Resources and Service Administration Primary Care Fellow, a Fellow of the National Academies of Practice (FNAP), and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN).
The author of more than 80 publications, Cary’s scholarship has focused on health policy, credentialing, public health, leadership, curriculum and interprofessional education. As a former Scholar in Residence with the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she researched the value of certification in nursing and its impact on healthcare delivery. Her study and subsequent publications have stimulated others in the certification industry in nursing and in public health to further validate the importance of certification as a valued credential nationally and internationally.
Cary has been a leading advocate for American Association of Colleges of Nursing and its mission to ensure excellence in nursing education. At the association, she has served on the board of directors since 2012 and has been instrumental in advancing many of the association’s priority projects.
“By considering the needs and strengths of its member schools, I am confident that AACN will lead the future of academic nursing and be a strong partner in emergent practice and interprofessional initiatives,” Cary said.