The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has announced new board members and officers for the 2021 calendar year.

“I am pleased to welcome each of these accomplished nurses to the AWHONN Board of Directors. These members bring a wealth of experience and decades of service and leadership in the field of nursing and other key areas. They will be tremendous assets to AWHONN as we further our mission in making a difference in the lives of women and newborns,” said AWHONN President Rebecca Cypher, MSN, PNNP.

Sandy Cesario, President-Elect
Cesario is the PhD program director at Texas Woman’s University. She is a women’s health specialist with more than 44 years of clinical, research, education, and policy development experience. She has been an AWHONN member for 32 years, actively engaged as chair of the National Practice committee and serving on advisory panels, the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN) and Nursing for Women’s Health (NWH) editorial boards and leading evidenced-based practice guideline development teams.

Julie Zimmerman, Secretary-Treasurer
Zimmerman has a BSN and MSN in Women’s Health from the University of Iowa College of Nursing. For more than 40 years, she has been a staff nurse at UnityPoint – St. Luke’s Hospital Birth Care Center in Cedar Rapids, IA. Zimmerman also serves as nurse residency program facilitator. She teaches Electronic Fetal heart rate Monitoring (EFM) and AWHONN’s Perinatal Orientation and Education Program (POEP) and was previously an educational outreach coordinator.

Jeanne Alhusen, Director
Alhusen is an Associate Professor and Acting Associate Dean for Research at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. She is also a practicing family nurse practitioner and has maintained a clinical practice for more than 20 years. Alhusen received her BSN from Villanova University, MSN from Duke University, and PhD and postdoctoral fellowship from Johns Hopkins University.

Elizabeth Kester, Director
Kester is a nurse leader and passionate advocate for women’s rights and patient-centric empowered birth experiences. She is the Nursing Director of the labor and delivery unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Kester serves as the Marketing Director for March for Moms, a national advocacy organization that promotes policies ensuring every family can grow with dignity and support. She has experience delivering care in maternity services in vastly different settings, from rural critical access hospitals to large academic medical centers.

Shellie Nelson, Director
Shellie Nelson, RN, MS has faithfully given her time to AWHONN’s Women’s Services as a nurse, charge nurse, manager and director. Her clinical experience includes an outstanding academic background which includes a BBA in accounting from Prairie View A&M University, a BSN in nursing from Avila University, and a Master of Science in Health Systems Management from Texas Woman’s University.  Nelson is currently in her final stages of studies for her PhD in Nursing Science.


The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization. Our mission is to empower and support nurses caring for women, newborns, and their families through research, education, and advocacy.