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Meet Our Donors - Karen Peddicord
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AWHONN Former CEO, Karen Peddicord, PhD, RN

“I was working with my heroes,” said, Karen Peddicord, PhD, RN, and former AWHONN Chief Executive Officer.  “To have them as peers, and then to work together to build AWHONN, was just an amazing privilege.”


Karen retired in 2013 after serving nearly five years as AWHONN’s Chief Executive Officer.  She was the first nurse to lead the organization.   A lifetime member, Karen joined AWHONN in 1983; as a member of headquarters staff she served as Director of Research, Education and Publications, and on two occasions, as Interim Executive Director.  In addition to her work as a staff member; she served on the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing editorial board, was a speaker at the annual convention, was a consultant for the AWHONN Consulting Group and received a research poster award. She was also the recipient of AWHONN’s Caring Award in 2007 and the Nursing Organization Alliance 2014 Nursing Legacy Award. Prior to her work with AWHONN, Karen was a faculty member at the University Of Maryland School Of Nursing and an administrator with Anne Arundel Medical Center (Maryland).


During Karen’s term as CEO, AWHONN made important advances.  Many strategic partnerships between AWHONN and other national nursing and healthcare organizations were formed. Under her leadership, the organization became more widely recognized as a leader among nursing associations and as the standard-bearer for the care of women and newborns; publishing the 2010 Guidelines for Professional Registered Nurse Staffing for Perinatal Units, and launching consumer resources such as the Go the Full 40 Campaign, an educational campaign designed to help women understand the many reasons why it is important for a mom to carry her baby to term. Karen also took pride in growing membership and increasing attendance at the Annual Convention.


“The economy was in turmoil just as I became CEO in 2008,” said Karen.  “My first priority was the sustainability of AWHONN in troubled national times.  AWHONN continued to prosper. Other priorities included collaboration with external partners in nursing, medical, allied health and governmental organizations.  We published the first joint statement of patient safety and led the first collaborative study on communication in Labor and Delivery with our physician partners and other colleagues.  Establishing quality criteria for women’s health and perinatal care was also an important initiative on our agenda. This was all done with the expertise of our nursing members.”


“Staffing ratios are a big money issue for hospitals,” she continued.  “I know that AWHONN is committed to helping the understanding of them, to make recommendations and suggest adaptations.  We continue studying and testing the components of the perinatal staffing guidelines, all of which adds to our credibility,” she added.


“We also focused on late preterm infants, previously known as ‘near-term infants.’ Ten years of experience in hospital administration prior to my working for AWHONN taught me that nurses want education to fully assess and care for these babies.  The body of knowledge exploded and we developed care information around that.  We think about those babies differently now and we care for them differently,” Karen said. “A focus on the rate of induced labor brought about the Go the Full 40 program.”


Karen remembered AWHONN’s first executive director, Gail Kinkaide, who served in that capacity for 12 years, saying. “She built AWHONN, established a system of governance as AWHONN gained independence from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Gail led the groundwork for AWHONN’s current business model which set in motion our early success with corporate partners.  That paved the way for our corporate giving program.”

“We established a development committee with Past President, Martha Lavender as its first chair.   She was the perfect choice!  To find another source of support for our work, we decided to build an individual giving program. (AWHONN’s charitable giving program) Every Woman, Every Baby was launched at the 2013 convention,” she added.  Funds raised through the Every Woman, Every Baby program have funded Novice Research Awards.  Karen has been an enduring contributor to the program.


Karen, who lives in Clarksville, Maryland, now volunteers with Howard County General Hospital by collecting data to help the hospital achieve “baby friendly” designation.  She enjoys hiking, biking, sailing and travel with her husband, a retired clinical chemist. She also enjoys time with their four young grandchildren.  Karen’s son is a development consultant working on behalf of health care systems and other non-profit entities.  Her daughter is an obstetrical clinical program manager at Howard County General Hospital and a member of AWHONN.  “I couldn’t be more proud of both children but particularly proud to see my daughter be a nurse leader in providing women’s and infant’s care,” said Karen.

For the associations’s future, Karen said, “It is critical to have the work of nursing aligned with research and so we need to make an investment in research.  Our care is evidence based. Because I have a lifelong commitment to moms and infants, I was so pleased to have been invited to be the namesake of the AWHONN legacy society.” Members of the Peddicord Society have remembered AWHONN with a gift in their will or estate to support women, newborns and the nurses who care for them in years to come.


“Nurses are very generous with their time and talent and so many have given so much to make AWHONN what it is.  We would not be where we are today if not for the commitment and passion of our nurses,” said Karen.  

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