Monday, March 12, 2018
Posted by: Mary Elkordy

The Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) announced its 2018 class of Emerging Leaders. Launched in 2007, the AWHONN Emerging Leaders Program engages outstanding nurses in a formal, year-long leadership training program. Activities include guidance from mentors, networking events, meetings with Congressional staff, multiple continuing education opportunities, and other experiential training to build confidence and leadership skills among participants.

The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible through a one-year educational grant from the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future. “We are thrilled to continue to recognize AWHONN’s Emerging Leaders Program,” said Andrea Higham, Senior Director, Global Corporate Affairs at the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future. “We believe it is vital to contribute to the development of strong leaders in the nursing profession and to support these individuals in the growth of their career.”

“On behalf of AWHONN, I would like to congratulate the 2018 class of Emerging Leaders. I’m amazed at their outstanding achievements thus far in their varied careers and look forward to seeing their future accomplishments,” said AWHONN’s Interim CEO, Suzanne Berry, MBA, CAE. “Additionally, we would like to thank Johnson & Johnson for their support of our nursing leadership.”

The AWHONN Emerging Leaders Program places special emphasis on fostering diversity — in age, race and gender — among its prospects. Participant selection is based on each applicant’s skills, experience and enthusiasm for women’s health and perinatal nursing. The 2018 Emerging Leaders are:

  • Cheryl Parker, DNP, CRNA, RNC-OB, lives in Louisville, KY and is a Nurse anesthetist working for Obstetric Anesthesia Consultants at Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital.  She has been a nurse for 23 years, working primarily in the areas of women’s health, specifically Postpartum, L&D, and NICU.  For the last 10 years her focus has been on Obstetric Anesthesia.
  • Tracy L. Buder RNC, MSN, of Oak Harbor, OH, is the Clinical Director of Labor & Delivery and Antepartum Departments of ProMedica Toledo Hospital. She is active in raising funds for the local March for Babies events and captains the ProMedica Women’s Service line team. She was honored with Nurse Leader of the month in July of 2014 and Nurse Director of the Year for ProMedica Toledo Hospital that same year
  • Kimberly N. Hughes, DNP, RNC, CNS, is an Assistant Professor of Nursing, non-tenured track since at the UT Health School of Nursing for three years.  Kimberly Hughes completed her DNP in 2017 and her capstone project was the development of a Health system wide quality improvement project to improve prenatal breastfeeding education for lower income minority women in South Texas.  Dr. Hughes has been published in AWHONN’s Journal of Nursing for Women’s Health for her work involving the use of skin-to-skin contact to improve inpatient exclusive breastfeeding rates.
  • Kellie Griggs, DNP, MSN-Ed, RNC-OB, is an Assistant Professor of Women’s Health at the University Of North Carolina Wilmington School Of Nursing, and serves part-time in the nurse education department at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  Her research expertise is focused on nursing empowerment and safety, peer support, and nurses’ perceptions of contemporary OB practices. She is NCC (National Credentialing Corporation) certified in Inpatient Obstetrics, and is a certified AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nursing) fetal monitoring instructor.
  • Marin Skariah, MSN, FNP-BC, RNC-MNN, IBCLC, is from Westchester, New York and is the Nursing Professional Development Specialist (NPDS) for Obstetrics and Labor & Delivery at NYU Langone Health at the Tisch Campus. Mrs. Skariah’s passion for Women’s health led her to collaborate with AWHONN for the Post-Birth Warning Signs (PBWS) Implementation Community. Through this partnership, she was able to successfully implement PBWS in her organization to better outcomes for decreasing maternal morbidity and mortality.
  • Megan Raleigh, BSN, RNC-OB, of Dallas, TX, is a Registered Nurse working in Labor and Delivery.  Megan is the co-leader for the DFW Metroplex chapter of AWHONN and previously served as that chapter’s secretary and treasurer for three years. In addition she is the Legislative Coordinator for AWHONN’s Texas Section.
  • Shelly Jensen, BSN, MHA, RN, NEA-BC, is from Twin Falls, Idaho and is the Senior Director of Nursing & Patient Care for Labor & Delivery, Mother Baby, NICU, Pediatrics, and Respiratory Therapy at St. Luke’s Magic Valley, where she is also a significant member of the St. Luke’s Health System Perinatal Quality & Safety Council. Shelly has over 27 years of experience.
  • Kristen Srna, MSN, RN, resides in Abilene, KS, and is the Inpatient/Obstetric Nurse Manager at Memorial Hospital. Kristen has a vested interest in obstetric care at the rural health level, with special focus on healthcare staff support and education. She is a member of the Kansas AWHONN Leadership Team and will lead the Rural Kansas Chapter in 2018.
  • Linda Cassar, DNP, RNC-OB, is from Northern Virginia and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at The George Washington University School of Nursing, where she has taught Obstetrics, Leadership, and the Capstone Course, Transition to Practice. Her professional memberships include AWHONN, where she currently serves on the Nominating Committee and is part of the 2018 Emerging Leaders Program. She is active in the Virginia section, Northern Virginia chapter.
  • Michelle Hirschkorn, MSN, RNC-OB, CNS, from Salem, OR, is the Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist at Salem Hospital in Salem, Oregon.  She has over 13 years of perinatal nursing experience and has cared for patients in both high risk urban and rural health care settings across the country.  Currently, she is the co-leader of the AWHONN Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter in Oregon.

For more information on AWHONN’s Emerging Leaders program, please visit:


Since 1969, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) has been the foremost authority promoting the health of women and newborns and strengthening the nursing profession through the delivery of superior advocacy, research, education, and other professional and clinical resources. AWHONN represents the interests of 350,000 registered nurses working in women’s health, obstetrics, and neonatal nursing across the United States. Learn more about AWHONN

About the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future
The Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future is a multi-year, $50 million national initiative designed to enhance the image of the nursing profession, recruit new nurses and nurse faculty, and help retain nurses currently in the profession. Launched in February 2002, the Campaign works in cooperation with professional nursing organizations, schools, hospitals and other healthcare groups to promote opportunities in nursing and increase awareness of the value of the nursing profession to our society and America’s healthcare community. Learn more at