Over a 40 year-career, Barbara Thoman Curtis, RN has been active in virtu­ally every aspect of organized nursing and has been a tireless advocate for involve­ment by nurses in the local, state and national legisla­tive and polit­ical systems. Her career is a history of firsts.”

Barbara began her commit­ment to nursing organi­za­tions by serving as Presi­dent of the Missouri State Student Nurses Associ­a­tion while still a student at the Indepen­dence Sanitarium and Hospital (now Grace­land Univer­sity) in Indepen­dence, Missouri.

After gradu­a­tion, she moved to Washington state, settling near Spokane, where she taught at two diploma nursing programs, was active in local and state politics, and the Inland Empire Nurses Associ­a­tion and WSNA. Barbara worked as a staff nurse in the emergency room at St. Lukes Hospital in Spokane and was asked to run for Presi­dent to fill out the ticket” – she wasn’t expected to win, but always the quintes­sen­tial campaigner, Barbara worked the room like a pro and was elected Presi­dent of the WSNA in 1970 – the youngest person and the first staff nurse to be elected as presi­dent of WSNA.

In 1972, Barbara was instru­mental in devel­oping the first polit­ical action committee for nurses in Washington State – PUNCH – Polit­i­cally United Nurses for Consumer Health, now known as the WSNA-PAC. Based on that experi­ence, in 1973 she was invited to spear­head the estab­lish­ment of ANA’s first PAC. In 1974, N‑CAP (Nurses Coali­tion for Action in Politics), now the ANA-PAC, was born – and Barbara was elected as its first elected chair. In the ensuing years, ANA-PAC has grown to be one of the top ten Heath Care PACs in the country and Barbara’s message about the value of polit­ical involve­ment has been heard by nurses nationwide.

Committed to activism on the state as well as the national level, Barbara has also helped more than twenty state nurses associ­a­tions develop their own state PACs. She has also served as a lobbyist for several SNAs and has served as a consul­tant and volun­teer in numerous state and local polit­ical races.

In 1976, Barbara moved to Illinois and, once again, became immedi­ately active in her commu­nity and the state nurses associ­a­tion. An early pioneer for Nurse Lobby Days, she and four colleagues met that year with the chief lobbyist in Illinois and the first lobby day for nurses was born. This initial effort was so successful that it was repeated the following year and was the begin­ning of lobby days throughout the country. While in Illinois, Barbara also became active in commu­nity affairs and polit­ical campaigns. In 1980, she received the first Julia Chihak Award” (pronounced Chi-hack) from INA for her legisla­tive and polit­ical activ­i­ties in the state of Illinois.

In 1988, Barbara returned to Missouri and once again became active in the state nurses associ­a­tion and her local commu­nity. She served on Congressman Allan Wheat’s Advisory Committee on Health Care, was elected a precinct committee person, a repre­sen­ta­tive to the state party conven­tion, and was chosen as an alter­nate delegate to the National Democ­ratic conven­tion. Always an advocate for access to care, in 1993 she and her daughter took part in the ANA and Families USA sponsored Ambulance Drive for Health Care Reform” by driving an old ambulance in a caravan from North Carolina to Washington DC on the last leg of a series of rallies for health care reform held across the country.

In 1994,she was chosen by ANA as one of two individ­uals to spend three months in Washington, DC as a liaison with the White House on health care legis­la­tion. She was also the chief coordi­nator and member of the White House advance team for a health care rally attended by both Presi­dent and Mrs Clinton and Vice Presi­dent and Mrs. Gore. As a result of that and other activ­i­ties, Barbara was later invited several times to events at the White House, the highlight of which was a State dinner honoring the presi­dent of Greece – her mother’s birthplace.

In addition to her involve­ment in state nurses associ­a­tions in Washington, Illinois, Missouri, and now Maryland and the District of Columbia, Barbara has been active in ANA more than forty years. Barbara was first elected a delegate to the ANA conven­tion in 1968, and despite recur­ring health problems, has not missed an ANA House of Delegates meeting since. Over the years, she has served in numerous national positions, including a four-year term as a member of the ANA Board of Direc­tors and two terms as ANA Secre­tary. In 1996, she was elected as member and chair of the ANA Nominating Committee. She is currently serving her second term as chair of the ANA Committee on By-laws.

A sought-after speaker and teacher, Barbara has presented to dozens of state and district nurses associ­a­tions and univer­si­ties throughout the country and has testi­fied before several state legis­la­tures on health care issues. She has given testi­mony to the Democ­ratic Platform Committee and has testi­fied on a number of occasions before Congress. In addition, she has served as leader of People to People tours to Europe and Japan. In both cases, her group engaged in dialogue with student and profes­sional nurses in the host countries about health care issues in common.

Because of her tireless efforts on behalf of her commu­nity, nursing and health­care, Barbara has received numerous honors and awards. In 1974, she was awarded the ANA Honorary Recog­ni­tion Award by WSNA. In 1984, the American Nurses Founda­tion awarded the first Barbara Curtis Schol­ar­ship in her honor. In 1992, the ANA estab­lished the Barbara Thoman Curtis Award, which is given by ANA every two years to a nurse who has made signif­i­cant contri­bu­tions to nursing practice and health policy through polit­ical and legisla­tive activity. In 1994, Barbara was named the first recip­ient of that award.

Since 1995, Barbara has lived in Maryland where she remains active. She is involved in local issues related to acces­si­bility for the handi­capped and last year, Barbara was ordained as a Priest in the Commu­nity of Christ Church. She is now spending her leisure” time as a grand­mother to her four grand­chil­dren, three of whom live in Switzerland.