Cathy Ivory, Phd, RNC-OB

“I remember, as a little girl, wanting to be a nurse.  But life happened and I took another career path, working in hotel sales and catering.  It was having my own kids that reminded me nursing is what I wanted to do,” said AWHONN Past President, Cathy Ivory, PhD, RNC-OB.  An assistant professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tennessee, Cathy has more than 20 years of experience in nursing practice, research and education.

“There was no question when I finished nursing school that I would join my professional organization.  My BSN program really stressed joining, so I became a member in 1997.  AWHONN is absolutely my professional home.  In addition to the excellent educational programs, there really is nothing better for networking,” Cathy said. “I was invited by a colleague who had been active in the Georgia Section, so when I finished my BSN and started my nursing career, I became involved in the Atlanta chapter. I had the opportunity to serve as a chapter leader for four years, and then as section secretary/treasurer for the Georgia Section,” she said.

Cathy worked as a clinical specialist, research coordinator, in staff and charge nursing positions in labor and delivery and high-risk antepartum, and as a childbirth educator in private practice.  She then served as Corporate Director of Women’s Services for a multi-hospital system in northeast Tennessee, where she had operational responsibility for six family birth centers, including the region’s perinatal center .  Cathy is certified in both inpatient obstetrics through NCC and as an informatics nurse through the ANCC. She went on to receive an MSN in Nursing Administration and Healthcare Informatics from Georgia College & State University, and her PhD in nursing science from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

Her involvement with AWHONN grew along with her nursing career.  “My family and I moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Nashville, Tennessee, where I served as Section Chair.” Cathy has also served on two AWHONN advisory panels, the 2006 Nursing Informatics Advisory Panel and, “In 2008, I worked on the AWHONN Patient and Nurse Safety Advisory Panel.  One of the recommendations from that panel was to revise AWHONN’s staffing guidelines.  Based on the recommendation of the Patient and Nurse Safety advisory panel, the staffing guidelines were revised and released at the 2010 AWHONN convention, where I served as Program Committee Chair,” said Cathy.  In 2011, I began a two year term on the Board of Directors became President-elect in 2013. During my presidential year in 2014,  Lynn Erdman’s was serving her first yearas AWHONN’s Chief Executive Officer, so the Board of Directors and I were focused on helping her have a good start,” she added.  Cathy’s husband, Reg, is a retired non-profit association executive.  Cathy and Reg have a son and a daughter, both of whom are married.

In 2012, Cathy presented a webinar discussing steps to improve patient safety for women receiving oxytocin during labor, supporting AWHONN’s Staffing Guidelines. “Coming to nursing as a second career helped me appreciate the need to recognize that healthcare is a business and that nurses have an important role in that business.  It’s given me a different perspective,” she said.

As Immediate Past President, Cathy now chairs the association’s Nominating Committee and also serves on the Development Committee.  Her vision for AWHONN’s future includes continuing to grow support for AWHONN’s charitable giving program, Every Woman, Every Baby; building membership and collaborations with other organizations, corporate partners, physicians and midwives; and furthering research.  “We are creating clinical expertise and we are well known to the profession, but we can’t disseminate the science unless we’re generating the science. So, we must focus on research.  It’s important for our work and if we’re successful with our philanthropy, we can award larger research grants,” said Cathy.  “I give through Every Woman, Every Baby because I am committed to the mission of our organization. We all support organizations for which we feel a passion and a commitment.  That’s what I feel toward AWHONN.  AWHONN will always be where my heart is,” she said.

“Every nurse is a leader. AWHONN leaders before me helped me achieve my own leadership aspirations. If you want to contribute to our profession in any way, there is always an opportunity available through AWHONN,” Cathy said. “So to new nurses, I say, ‘Join! You’re making an investment in something rewarding.’  With the strength of our numbers, joining AWHONN is an investment well worth making.  It’s not just what you can hold in your hand. You are engaged in your profession and that is important for all of us.”