Afaf Ibrahim Meleis (1942- )

Inspiration for activism!

  • Inspired to become a nurse at the age of 15 by her mother – a prominent nurse and educator in Egypt who established graduate programs for nurses in the Middle East.
  • Strong voice advocating for women and women’s rights world-wide.

    Afaf Meleis

  • Author of transition theory, which has been used as a basis for research world-wide, and as a basis approaches to care to assure health and well-being in health and illness experiences (examples: immigration transition, the transition of caregivers, transition to motherhood, menopausal transition).
  • Mentor to a long list of students and colleagues for over 40 years, providing support, encouragement and substantive guidance to nurses worldwide.
  • Created research teams consisting of nurses throughout the world which offer support and development of international nursing research.
  • Continues to provide consultation worldwide, focusing on the crucial roles of nurses and women as leaders in the development of comprehensive healthcare and quality nursing education programs.

More information:

Wilma Scott Heide (1921-1985)

Inspiration for activism! 

  • Nurse who filed a complaint against the Pittsburgh Press for posting of classified ads

    Wilma Scott Heide, 1985

    by gender, claiming this practice discriminated against women, which resulted in a city ordinance banning the practice; the ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme court in 1973.

  • Staged a protest in the US Senate in 1970, resulting in finally bringing out of committee the US Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the constitution.
  • Third President of the National Organization for Women (1971-1974); insisted on recognition and inclusion of lesbians in the organization.
  • Worked closely with the leadership of the American Nurses Association to advance nurses economic and general welfare; led in the ANA decision, in 1971, to support the Equal Rights Amendment (reversing their staunch public opposition).
  • Wrote one of the first articles on feminism published in the nursing literature: Heide, W. S. (1973). Nursing and women’s liberation–a parallel. The American Journal of Nursing, 73(5), 824–827.
  • Crossed the country in an “ERAmobile” in the summer of 1976, portraying the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
  • Wrote the Introduction to Jo Ann Ashley’s landmark book “Hospitals, Paternalism and the Role of the Nurse,” stating that: “It is not that nurses have done so little in spite of institutional oppression, what surely much be recognized is that nurses have done a great deal . . . . Feminist nurses invite and welcome other health care practitioners to create the kind of world where the power of love exceeds the love of power.”
  • Well known for her creative use of language and quips:
    • “I do not refer to myself as a housewife for the reason that I did not marry a house”
    • “The only jobs for which no man is qualified are human incubators and wet nurse. Likewise, the only job for which no woman is or can be qualified is a sperm donor”
    • “The hand that rocks the cradle should also rock the boat.”
    • “Semi-versities: Intellectual Rape” – referring to the utter lack of women’s perspectives in education and the gendering of knowledge.

More Information:



Grayce Sills (1926 – 2016)

Inspiration for Activism! 

  • Tireless advocate for nursing as a discipline, and the value of  nurse-patient relationships.
  • Nurtured networking and connections between nurses with different points of view, and between nurses and people from other disciplines.
  • Beloved mentor to nurses over 3 generations.
  • Used “Graycisms” to raise awareness – for example she urged ending the use of the phrase “doctor’s orders” and replace it with “physician prescriptions” alongside “nurse prescriptions” to guide coordinated and comprehensive care.
  • Co-founder of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (with Karen Babich, Judith Maurin, and Shirley Smoyak).
  • Founding Editor of Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (JAPNA) along with Nikki Polis.

More information here


Monica McLemore (1969- )

Inspiration for Activism! 

  • Only nurse invited to participate in President Obama’s Frontiers of Science meeting to discuss research in community engagement.
  • Only nurse researcher mentioned in SCOTUS OpEd from American

    Monica McLemore

    Academy of Nursing.

  • Only nurse whose research was cited in NPR/ProPublica award winning reporting for Lost Mothers.
  • Face of Billboard campaign to combat misinformation of so-called medication abortion reversal – which contributed to the California Board of Registered Nursing to change their language about continuing education units. Covered widely in the press – for example:
  • One of a few nurse researchers whose research was cited in recent National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine report on Abortion Quality and Safety (Pg. 92).  Read more

Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 9.17.10 AM


Jeanne Mance (1606-1673)

Inspiration for Activism! 

  • Credited as being first lay nurse in North America and the co-founder of Montreal itself.
  • Born in France, practiced nursing during 30-years war (1618-1638).
  • Came to Canada as a lay person with missionary aspirations. Upon arrival in 1642, she used her home as a hospital to treat sick people.
  • 3 years later, with financial support she had obtained in France, she founded the Hotel Dieu hospital in a settlement that became Montreal on a site where today stands a modern Hotel Dieu hospital with statue of Jeanne Mance in front of it.
  • Served as hospital administrator for 17 years. During that time, she made 2 more arduous journeys across the Atlantic (at a time when it took 3 months to cross one way), to secure further French funding and staff to care for the patients.

More information here and here