Press release

Washington State Nurses Association appoints David Keepnews as new Executive Director

The Washington State Nurses Association Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of David Keepnews, PhD, JD, RN, FAAN as Executive Director. He will join the WSNA staff and begin orientation on September 15, 2021.

Dr. Keepnews is currently a professor of nursing at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he directs the health policy track in the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. He has a background in nursing, public health, law and health policy, and has devoted the past three decades of his professional career to advancing the nursing profession. In addition to teaching and leadership roles in academia, Dr. Keepnews worked as director of policy for ANA and as director of policy development for a multidisciplinary urban health think-tank in New York City.

Dr. Keepnews has also held volunteer leadership positions in several organizations including ANA, affiliated state nurses associations, and the American Academy of Nursing, where he served as board member and executive committee member for six years. For 10 years he was the editor of Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice, a nursing journal focused on nursing and health policy. He is deeply committed to labor advocacy and has been an active union member in several roles as a professional staff member and faculty member.

Through the course of his career, Dr. Keepnews has also worked as a staff nurse in psychiatric emergency and community mental health settings; as a staff attorney for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; and as a faculty member and academic administrator.

Dr. Keepnews was a member of WSNA and its Legislative and Health Policy Council while he taught at the University of Washington in 2002-2004. He also has worked with WSNA on several projects including serving as a consultant on staffing legislation and giving presentations on staffing and outcomes to WSNA members and to the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. He developed and presented WSNA’s white paper on Mapping the Economic Value of Nursing and also served as a consultant on WSNA’s opposition to adopting the Multistate Nursing Licensure Compact as written.

Dr. Keepnews said of his appointment: “The comprehensive approach to serving as a labor and professional organization is a key to WSNA’s strength. In fact, WSNA’s effectiveness as a union amplifies its role in advancing practice and advocating for all nurses in Washington State. I am committed to WSNA’s union advocacy and attracted by WSNA’s continued commitment to advanced practice issues and to health justice—ensuring that nurses’ voices are heard and valued in initiatives to expand access and eliminate inequities.”

WSNA President Lynnette Vehrs said: “The Board of Directors is looking forward to working with David Keepnews as our next Executive Director. David has real leadership skills in problem solving and a vision of the future for WSNA. He has a strong appreciation for our labor work and legislative successes. We are confident he will be an exceptional leader for the association.”

“We would also like to thank Sally Watkins, who is retiring as executive director, for her leadership and commitment to WSNA over the past four years. WSNA is stronger for the work she has done.”

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