Lois Capps Policy Luminary Award

In 2009, AACN created the Policy Luminary Award to recognize an outstanding nursing leader for his or her public policy achievements. To be eligible for the award, the candidate’s work must have made a significant impact in transforming policy to improve the health of the nation. In March of 2016, the Board of Directors, at the recommendation of the Government Affairs Committee, approved to change the name of the AACN Policy Luminary Award to the AACN Lois Capps Policy Luminary Award in recognition of Representative Capps’ monumental leadership to advance health care and the nursing profession at the federal level. AACN’s Health Policy Advisory Council selects a slate of candidates for the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) for their consideration and vote. The Board of Directors must approval the final candidate.

The award is presented annually at the AACN's Academic Nursing Leadership Conference.

Selected awardees must be a registered nurse who meets at least two of the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated policy leadership at the national level
    E.g., Served as a leader of a federal agency or member of Congress
  • Recognized for academic leadership in nursing and/or healthcare policy
    E.g., Held an endowed chair in health policy or academic fellowship on Capitol Hill
  • Contributed to the field of scholarly research in nursing and/or healthcare policy
    E.g., Published peer-reviewed materials on healthcare or nursing policy
  • Advanced public policy initiatives at the national level
    E.g., Served as a CEO/ED of a national nursing/healthcare organization, a high level staffer on Capitol Hill, or a staff member in a think tank
  • Elevated the image of nursing in the national or state policy arena
    E.g., Served on Boards, Committees, or Commissions that directly or indirectly impacted nursing (such as NIH Council of Public Representatives)
  • Translated nursing research into national legislation or public policy
    E.g., Research has led to the development of federal legislation or policy initiatives
  • Demonstrated expertise in regulatory issues impacting nursing or nursing education
    E.g., Served in an active role at federal agencies or nursing organizations to help shape federal regulations
  • Promoted state initiatives that paved the way for national policy achievements
    E.g. Helped draft state legislation that was adopted at the federal level or shaped other public policy

  • Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, RN
  • Susan Orsega, MSN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN
  • Peter Buerhaus, PhD, RN, FAAN, Montana State University College of Nursing
  • Sally Cohen, PhD, RN, FAAN, New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing
  • Julie Sochalski, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Academic Programs, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
  • Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, Senior Vice President and Director, AARP Public Policy and Chief Strategist, Center to Champion Nursing in America
  • RADM Sylvia Trent-Adams, PhD, RN, FAAN, Acting Surgeon General of the Department of Health and Human Services
  • Patricia Grady, PhD, RN, FAAN, Director of the National Institute of Nursing Research
  • The Honorable Lois Capps, RN (D-CA), Co-Chair and Founder of the House Nursing Caucus
  • Marilyn Tavenner, MHA, RN, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
  • Ada Sue Hinshaw, PhD, RN, FAAN, the first director of the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health
  • Ellen-Marie Whelan, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, Senior Advisor at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations
  • Mary Naylor, PhD, RN, FAAN, the Marian S. Ware Professor of Gerontology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
  • Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, FAAN, Acting Deputy Administrator of the Department of Health and Human Services


For more information, contact AACN Director of Policy Brenda Baker at bbaker@aacnnursing.org.

2023 Award Winner

Dr. Susan B. Hasmiller

Professor of Nursing, Florida State University College of Nursing; Adjunct Faculty, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Founder and Principal, Sulu Coaching and Consulting

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson - 2022 Lois Capps Policy Luminary Award Winner