A tribute to Virginia (Ginny) Ward Paulsen (1918-August 9, 1982)


Contributed by Rorry Zahourek

Ginny Paulsen was not a nurse by profession but by heart and dedication. She served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Nurses Association from 1961-1980. In that role she inspired many to become activists on numerous fronts (clinical and political). At that time in Colorado the nurse practitioner was born and clinical specialists programs were producing new and motivated practitioners. She supported a group of nurses at Denver General Hospital to organize and demand a job description and commensurate salary for Clinical Nurse Specialists. In the 1970’s Ginny supported a group of nurses to go into private practice by providing moral support, business advice and legal consultation. Later she helped the group writing a book that described the process of setting up one of the first primary nurse clinics in the country.

She was a realistic idealist. She believed in the goodness of humanity and that we as nurses and humans could forge new roles, advance the profession, health care and change the system as a whole.

She always had good advice regarding negotiating systems and was always available for consultation when we met obstacles. She was a fierce and intelligent nurse advocate who mentored many in expanding their scope of practice and securing the legislation needed to support those advances.  She developed and hired one of the first nurse lobbyist at the State capitol in the country. (See picture of Ginny with with the first nurse lobbyist, Sue Sawyer).

Ginny also started a major international educational conference (Chautauqua) to promote discussion of issues and foster activism. This conference continues today. She birthed the idea of having risk taking workshops. These fostered activism for expanding nurses’ roles, practice and changing systems. The result of one of those workshops was the formation of Nurses for Political Action Colorado. This group provided forums for candidates to present their views and discuss issues related to overall health care and nursing.

Her premature death was and is a loss. I’m sure she would be supporting this nurse activist group and would be pleased to see how many members it has that are committed to making changes for nursing and for all to have adequate health care.

Ginny on the left with Sue Sawyer (right)

Cathy Crowe (1952 – )


#3 “Inspiration for Activism”

  • Canadian nursing activist
  • Appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada (1998) for her tireless work in advocating for adequate and affordable housing and in its absence, advocacy for safe and sufficient shelters for homeless people
  • Co-founded (1998) with other social justice advocates, the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC), which equated homeless, a social disaster, with natural disasters
  • Co-founder of Nurses for Social Responsibility and co-editor of its magazine “Towards Justice in Health”
  • Wrote 2 books and participated in numerous documentary films about homelessness
  • Put forward a number of resolutions to professional nursing organizations, urging them to take action on a variety of social injustices witnessed by nurses who care for homeless and disenfranchised people
  • Speaks truth to power – policy makers, newsmakers

Visit Cathy’s website more information

Jo Ann Ashley 1939-1980


# 2 “Inspiration for Activism”

  • Leading voice in nursing for 2nd wave feminism
  • Author of landmark book “Hospitals, Paternalism and the Role of the

    Jo Ann Ashley

    Nurse” uncovering the history of gender and class bias in healthcare

  • Advocate for nurses to claim the right to control our own practice, to demand safe working conditions, to practice to the full extent of our education, and to fight for economic justice.

More information:

Jo Ann Ashley papers, 1942-1980. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2018, from http://dla.library.upenn.edu/cocoon/dla/ead/ead.html?fq=donor_facet%3A%22Ashley%2C%20Jewell%22&id=EAD_upenn_bates_MC115&

Kagan, P. N. (2006). Jo Ann Ashley 30 years later: legacy for practice. Nursing Science Quarterly, 19(4), 317–327. https://doi.org/10.1177/0894318406293121

Wolf, K. (Ed.). (1997). Jo Ann Ashley: Selected Readings. Jones & Bartlett Learning. Retrieved from https://market.android.com/details?id=book-242diP_sDdkC

View Video

On September 2, 1976, WNED public television in Buffalo, New York, produced a segment as part of their “Woman” Series titled “New Image for Nurses: Part 1“. This episode featured a conversation with Jo Ann Ashley, Ph. D., June Rothberg, Ph.D.,  and Jean Spero, Ph.D.Dr. Ashley was an Associate Professor of Nursing at Northern Illinois University. She was also on the board of trustees of NCAP (Nurses Coalition for Action in Politics) at the time of the interview. Dr. Rothberg was Dean of the School of Nursing at Adelphi University. She was a co-founder of NCAP and the immediate past president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Dr. Spero was Dean of the School of Nursing at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She was Chair of the Board of Review of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Programs of the National League for Nursing.

The video portrays Jo Ann’s fiesty and courageous personality!  She was fearless in speaking the truth. The archive video is available here. 

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883)


# 1 “Inspiration for Activism”

  • Born into slavery as Isabella Baumfree, known by her self-given name ofSoujourner Truth - 1.jpg Sojourner Truth.
  • Abolitionist and women’s rights activist.
  • Best known for her “Ain’t *I a woman” speech, demanding equal human rights for women as well as for black people.
  • Strove to improve cleanliness and quality of care at Freedman’s Relief Association in Washington, D.C.
  • Advocated for formal nursing education, even though she herself never had that opportunity.

 

For more information click here and here                        Sojourner Truth                     

Despair is not an option!


As the efforts to roll back the U.S. Affordable Care Act has progressed, what has emerged even further is the resistance from “we the people” – resistance that has, in no uncertain terms, changed the conversation. So even though we hear, every day, another jaw-dropping bit of news that threatens democracy world-wide, it is vitally important that we shift our gaze and energy to continuing whatever actions we can do to sustain our public voices. As Bernie Sanders stated in a recent interview with The Guardian

“This is what they [the people] should do,” he says, pumping out the Bern. “They should take a deep reflection about the history of this country, understand that absolutely these are very difficult and frightening times. But also understand that in moments of crisis, what has happened, time and time again, is that people have stood up and fought back. So despair is absolutely not an option.””  (source)

Our “Declaration of Solidarity and Resistance” continues to draw supporters – not only from nurses but from many others who join us in declaring the values that motivate our actions – actions that are not only important as acts of resistance to the current political trends to damage health and well-being, but actions to affirmatively promote and protect health and well-being for those we serve.  Our Declaration informs our deep reflection – reflection on the historical stand that nurses have taken for decades, and reflection on the political courage to step forward to act – to resist, and to build a future based on these values!

We welcome your stories, photos, videos – anything that you can share that shows what you are doing!  If you are sending a postcard to the White House on March 15th, send us a photo of your card!  If you are attending a rally, send us a photo or a video!  Write about your reflections, and ways that you are shifting away from despair!  We want to hear from YOU!