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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing 865 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



Dr. Geraldine Polly Bednash to Retire as CEO of AACN

Published October 28, 2013

Dr. Geraldine Polly Bednash to Retire as CEO of the
American Association of Colleges of Nursing

WASHINGTON, DC, October 28, 2013 – Today, Geraldine Polly Bednash, PhD, RN, FAAN, announced her plans to retire as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) effective June 15, 2014. As one of the nation’s most respected advocates for higher education in nursing and interprofessional engagement, Dr. Bednash has worked tirelessly during her 28 year tenure to promote standards in nursing education programs with the overarching goal of improving health care. 

“Nursing education in this nation has been forever changed thanks to the visionary work and enduring legacy of Dr. Polly Bednash,” said AACN President Jane Kirschling. “Dr. Bednash has worked, and oftentimes fought, to ensure that nurses have a seat at the table in the national dialogue about the future of healthcare and nursing’s connection to ensuring quality care. As AACN’s CEO, she has worked strategically to rally support for a more highly educated nursing workforce and has been a true champion for advancing the association’s mission and serving the greater good.”  

During her tenure with the association—first as Director of Government Affairs (1986-1989) and then as CEO (1989-present)—Dr. Bednash is credited with establishing AACN as the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education.  Membership in the organization has grown under her leadership from 411 member schools in 1989 to 742 schools today. Over the years, AACN has transformed into a premiere organization that serves all members of the academic nursing enterprise, including deans, faculty, administrative staff, and students.

Dr. Bednash has been the driving force behind expanding AACN’s reach and influence in all healthcare and higher education circles as well as on Capitol Hill and with the Administration. She has effectively mobilized support for AACN’s signature initiatives, including the creation and ongoing revision of the Essentials documents, the establishment of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the advancement of the practice doctorate, and the development of the Clinical Nurse Leader role and the Commission on Nurse Certification. In addition, she has spearheaded dozens of grant-funded initiatives, including the End-of-Life Nursing Consortium and the New Careers in Nursing Program. Under her stewardship, AACN has formed strategic alliances in support of its mission, which includes establishing close ties with the Interprofessional Education Consortium, the National Alliance for Quality Care, and the Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions. 

To celebrate Dr. Bednash’s service to AACN and the nursing profession, AACN is planning a gala celebration in her honor to coincide with the association’s Spring Annual Meeting in March 2014. More details about this special event will be forthcoming.

The AACN Board of Directors has formed a search committee, led by President Kirschling, to begin the process of identifying the next CEO of AACN.