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




Rorry Zahourek, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC (ret) AHN-BC, FAAN (1943 – )

Inspiration for Activism Part II –

  • Activist since Nursing School at Skidmore College. In 1965 I led the movement to not to say the Nightingale pledge because it indicated subservience to physicians . A group of us wrote our own “Agnes Gelinas Pledge.”
  • Active in the Colorado Nurses Association.  Co-founded “Nurses for Political Action” in the 1970’s. We advocated for advanced practice nurses having adequate job descriptions and equal pay to other professional with similar responsibilities and education. We had a case of sex discrimination that went all the way to the supreme court. Sadly, it lost.
  • Instrumental in establishing programs and educating care providers in New York City and later Western Mass for a comprehensive way of treating dual diagnosed patients (substance abuse and mental illness) and for the treatment of impaired nurses.
  • Led development of a research committee and the integration of research into the American Holistic Nurses Association; I also continue to push for more political health care advocacy by this group .
  • Actively developing a theory, through grounded theory research, “Intentionality:  The Matrix  of Healing” for nursing with an emphasis on unitary and caring science.
  • Currently working with a group on insuring Medicare for All and single payer health care in Western Mass and pushing for comprehensive low cost health care nationwide.

Paula Kagan – @paulakagan

Inspiration for Activism Part II –

  • Keynote address at AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses)  convention, Tampa, June 26, 2018 “Creating Change: Towards Social Justice and Emancipatory Nursing” 
  • Lead Editor – Philosophies and Practices of Emancipatory Nursing: Social Justice as Praxis (2014)
  • Editorial – “Innovation: Only Radical Change Will DoAdvances in Nursing Science  Vol 36 No 4,  2013
  • Author, Historical voices of resistance: Crossing boundaries to praxis through documentary filmmaking for the public. 2009, Advances in Nursing Science, 32, 19–32.
  • Member ACLU, Emily’s LIst, SPLC – I support these organization because each is oriented toward progressive, anti-racist, and social justice work. I give money, sign petitions as needed, and make calls to 202-225-2131 Congress.
  • National Disaster Deployment Red Cross – Recently deployed to Houston after Hurricane Harvey and as part of a jump team of health professionals helped open 4 shelters in 8 days. The most vulnerable in society were our clients and how they are treated and fare in environmental crisis does not reflect well on the US government. We did the best we could to care for folks with limited resources and witnessed plenty of racism and the stark contrast between haves and have-nots post disaster. The nurses from around the country though, were dedicated and excellent!
  • Radical Nurse Educator – I am inspired by bel hooks’ Teaching to Transgress so I teach graduate courses in theory, ethics, policy, philosophy of science, and research – all from intersectional, critical feminist, and postcolonial perspectives. I revised all my syllabi to reflect the value of progressive social reform, innovation, and social justice. I also developed and taught Women’s Health, Health at the Margins, and Lesbian Health Matters, all courses that reflect social justice tenets. I highlight the importance of understanding politics, institutional and governmental infrastructure, and systematic racism in the US as part of nursing practice. I encourage deep self reflection to understand the oppressor within each of us and social activism to transform and heal the world.  As an affiliated faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies, I was Interim Chair of that Department in 2014 – 2015.

Protesting the war in Viet Nam – 1967 – Detroit, MI. While in high school very active in the Detroit Committee to End the War. A few later, the war unrelenting, I was arrested twice in one day in Ypsilanti, MI for protesting the same war.