Carol Polifroni (1950 – )

Inspiration for Activism Part II –

  • My activism began in college as I was part of the anti-war protests of the late 60’s and early 1970s. 

  • In between the time I was hired for my first nursing position and the time I began employment, we became part of a collective bargaining unit. From this, I learned the value of collective action around a common cause.

  • As was common among baccalaureate graduates in the 70s, I was promoted to management within a year. In that role, I learned what advocacy meant, how to resolve conflict, and how to exercise the power of the nursing voice.

  • In 1985, I became President of the Connecticut Nurses Association and was faced with a public health nightmare…we had no advanced practice statute and the Attorney General was going to stop nurse practitioners from prescribing vaccinations, contraception, and doing childhood physicals. The work began to establish the needed definitions and create the laws to permit the role of the advanced practice nurse. The final language was a compromise, but it was a start.

  • For the past 40 years, my activism has been in response to a need whether it be establishing an accelerated program for non-nurse college graduates, a PhD program for advancement of the discipline and its knowledge, funding for education, or teaching administrators to be business wise and nurse conscious.

More information here

Jessica Dillard-Wright, MA, MSN, CNM, RN (1982 – )

Inspiration for Activism Part II –

  • Unapologetic intersectional feminist

    Jessica Dillard-Wright presenting a poster at Graduate Research Day

  • Nurse Activism Think Tank participant
  • Contributor, Radical Nurses Blog
  • Co-author with Vanessa Shields-Hass of the “Manifesto for Nurses Working Together” published on October 22, 2018
  • Organizer, Southern Radical Nurses Collective (see more on, forthcoming)
  • Aspiring nurse philosopher
  • Social and reproductive justice advocate (see more information here)
  • Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health faculty adviser (see more information here)
  • Emancipatory nurse educator
  • Co-organizer of a pop-up nursing think tank in 2019 – follow

    @radicalnursesAUG and @radicalnursesNOLA

Nursing is a radical act, at every turn, in every way. The profession of nursing has unparalleled potential to impact the future of healthcare and our world, which is the motivation for my activism. The right to health is the foundation for a more just and equitable society and work toward this cause begins, for me, with nursing. Nursing is inherently political and we – as nurses, educators, citizens – cannot afford to err on the side of neutrality. This informs my approach to nursing, to nurse education, nurse scholarship, and to nurse activism. In collaboration with other nurse activists (including Vanessa Shields-Haas and Jane Hopkins Walsh), I am hoping to organize and host a pop-up nurse activism think tank in summer 2019. More details to follow.

Activism in action: protest mom and Atticus take the Women’s March

Vanessa Shields-Haas (1981 – ) – @radicalnursesNOLA

Inspiration for Activism Part II –

  • Participant in 2018 Nurse Activism Think Tank 
  • Author of blog,
  • Contributor to the Lavender Health LGBTQ nursing blog,
  • Social justice activist and promoter of change from within university and hospital systems by drawing on the expertise and power of healthcare workers seeking a healthier, safer, and more empowered working and learning environment.
  • Advocate for LGBTQ cultural competency, harm reduction, and inclusion of abortion care education for nurses.
  • HIV/AIDs Certified RN, reproductive rights protector, and medically accurate sexual education provider.

Vanessa’s Story: “I wish for Street Nurses, utilizing the full scope of their practice, to serve people who are not sustainably housed in New Orleans. Street Nurses would provide much needed rapid HIV/STD/HepC testing, wound care, medication management, harm reduction education, and preventative healthcare incorporating the use of handheld, laboratory diagnostics. The Street Nurses would work with a team of social workers for Medicaid enrollment, access to safe housing or low-barrier shelters, and a route to mental health care or substance use treatment, if applicable and desired. Street Nurses would have a relationship with the community including: the police force, EMTs, and city hospital to better serve those needing immediate, hospital admission.”

Cathy Graham (1952 – )

Inspiration for Activism Part II –

  • Political involvement in local municipal elections (Toronto area); 
  • Activism in provincial issues- safe injection sites, basic income initiative, sex-ed. curriculum;
  • Mentoring faculty teaching political action course at Trent University
  • Continuing work with “Dying with Dignity” and patients’ rights related to Medical Assistance in Dying
  • Public speaking with nursing students about the experience of being on the other side of the gurney

More information:

Use evidence to save lives from opioid poisoning
Hands off Ontario’s sexual-education curriculum
Dying with Dignity in Canada: Protect Yourself: Your Rights As A Patient
Vulnerability, uncertainty and hope intertwined

On the other side of the gurney, Cathy Graham has no idea what to expect during chemotherapy treatment