AWHONN Past President, Mimi Pomerleau

“There’s nothing better than taking care of mothers and babies,” says AWHONN Past President, Mimi Pomerleau. “Serving our patients and making a difference in their lives feels good.  Getting involved with AWHONN can make our jobs better.  AWHONN is the go-to place for nurses.”

Mimi began her distinguished career in 1984 after graduating from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with her bachelor’s degree in nursing.  “I was able to get into a clinical maternity setting right away.  I worked in a community hospital and rotated through all perinatal areas.  Within six months, I went to labor and delivery and it was a wonderful experience,” she said. “I worked for a manager who took on new graduates in to the specialty.  She gave the didactic portion that is needed for new graduates and assigned a preceptor, which provided a great orientation to the specialty.  There are many residency programs now but she did it before it was in vogue,” she added.

Married in 1985, Mimi and her husband, Ron, an engineer, soon moved to Connecticut where she worked in another new mother and baby program.   “I kept looking for better ways to do things.  I knew there were better ways to care for our patients. That’s when I discovered AWHONN,” she said.  “I liked what AWHONN was about. AWHONN asked important questions like ‘What are the best practices for nursing and how can we, as a group, advocate for that? What can we hope to accomplish?’  It just made sense and that’s when I joined.”

Mimi and Ron later returned to Massachusetts, wanting to live closer to family.  “I was pregnant with my second child and still had my daughter in a stroller.  Like a lot of people at that stage in life, I stepped back from AWHONN,” she said.   “After my son was born, I remembered I had promised myself that if I was going to join, I was going to get involved.”  Reading an invitation to volunteer for AWHONN in the Massachusetts Section newsletter, she did just that.  Mimi served on the Section’s Education Committee and then as Secretary/Treasurer, Legislative Chair, on the Coordinating Team and then as Section Chair.

Her work with AWHONN took her to the national organization where she served on the 2002 Convention Host Committee and then on the National Finance Committee.  “Finance is not typically studied in nursing school.  While on the Finance Committee, I felt I was able to help nurses learn to budget, and to link their activities to the budget,” said Mimi.

 “I never dreamed of being president of AWHONN,” she said.  “I was invited to run for a seat on the Board of Directors but after losing the first two elections, I thought it was not meant to be.  When I was nominated again, I thought maybe the third time’s the charm.  It was! I was overwhelmed and awed by the people in AWHONN’s leadership.”  As AWHONN president, Mimi led the search for the association’s new CEO and served on the development committee and the finance committee, among other critical initiatives.

Throughout, Mimi advanced her career, earning a Master of Science in Nursing, a post Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education, a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Quality and Safety.  She held positions as a staff nurse, charge nurse, home care nurse, perinatal services manager and as a clinical educator.  She is currently a clinical assistant professor with the MGH Institute for Health Professions.  Mimi has also published and reviewed scholarly articles and volunteered to provide professional development for nurses in Iraq, Ethiopia and Haiti.  In 2013, she was awarded the Rita P. Kelleher Award for Leadership.  “I teach and I still work as a staff nurse.  I served two terms on the AWHONN Board of Directors, but I’m not ready to be done.  I’m serving on an expert panel now,” said Mimi, whose daughter is working toward a career as a women’s health practitioner and whose son is studying to be a physical therapist.

 “Every nurse should be a member of AWHONN and be a part of promoting best practices, research and education.  Teachers need to be role models for their students so that they can see involvement and feel that sense of belonging.  Every staff nurse needs to recognize that membership is as an investment in themselves and the organization,” stated Mimi.  “Nurses must be committed to continuous learning, to seek the best evidence and the best education, to strive to provide the best care and feel that we have a calling.  A professional organization like AWHONN is integral to that.  AWHONN offered me the resources I needed, has given me so much and has been so good to me.  That’s why I’m committed to supporting AWHONN.  I’ve always contributed to AWHONN with my membership, and I plan to continue.”

“I love AWHONN,” said Mimi.  “It’s a great organization and I’m so happy with its new direction and the energy of our new CEO, Lynn Erdman.  We’re going to see AWHONN continue to grow.”