Darlene Curley, RN, the newest executive director of New York Citys Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, is a health policy leader and nursing advocate whose career has covered a lot of ground. Also the head of a health policy consulting practice, Curley demonstrated her commitment to those in need early in her career.
In my late 20s, I started a home care agency in five rural Maine counties to provide long-term care services to the elderly and children with chronic illnesses because there were no services available, she said.
Her patient advocacy has steered her in the direction of enacting positive change whenever possible.
I like to fix problems, so the highlights of my career have been when I could build partnerships to find solutions to healthcare problems, she said.
In addition to opening an agency in rural Maine, other highlights include serving in the Maine state legislature for two terms and running for Congress. She was appointed to Maines Long-term Care Oversight Committee, which oversees programs and policies of the states Department of Human Services as they pertain to the long-term care of adults with disabilities and the elderly.
Her background as a healthcare consultant provided the opportunity to serve on the Health Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures, where she worked with legislators on a national level to lower healthcare costs and prescription drug prices and to improve access to high-quality healthcare. Nurses are on the frontlines of healthcare and are excellent advocates for improving the healthcare system, she said. I encourage nurses to seek local, state and national offices.
A more recent highlight was being chosen to head the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, a philanthropic organization geared toward cultivating and developing outstanding nursing faculty, advancing scholarships for nursing and encouraging innovative nursing practice. Founded in 2006 by the Barbara and Donald Jonas Family Fund, the center collaborates with other organizations to improve
practice and education.
Private philanthropic dollars can have a positive impact on the healthcare system and patient care, Curley said. Just one example at the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence is a commitment to fund 1,000 doctoral students in all 50 states to address the shortage of nursing faculty. If we dont have faculty, we wont have the nursing workforce we need in the future.
Tracey Boyd is a regional reporter.
EDITORS NOTE: In recognition of the 25th anniversary of Nurse.com (Nursing Spectrum), the magazine will celebrate 25 key members of the New York/New Jersey nursing community in 2013.