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Awards will open in February 2024 and remain open through June 14, 2024. Please submit an award nomination form.

The Lillian Wald Service Award honors agencies, individuals, organizations, or media for depicting exemplary public health nursing, especially through legislative, professional, or public advocacy.

The Ruth B. Freeman Award honors an individual who has had a distinguished career in public health administration, education, policy, practice, or research.

The Public Health Nurse Creative Achievement Award recognizes an agency's, individual's, organization's, or media's exceptional and creative contribution to public health nursing administration, education, practice, or research.

The Feleta Wilson Award honors the legacy of Dr. Feleta L. Wilson, a dedicated member of APHA PHN and a steadfast champion of public health. This award recognizes a mid-career RN or APN, who is an enthusiastic and effective leader in nursing. The award winner exhibits dedication in meeting community needs and benefiting underserved populations.

The Emerging Investigator Award, awarded by the Research Committee, honors an early-career (NIH definition) PHN Section member's work since completing a doctoral education.

Awards Committee Chair: Ruth Grubesic

2023 Award Recipients


2023: Margaret G. Arnstein Award for outstanding contributions to public health nursing was presented to Rita Munley Gallagher PhD, RN, FFNMRCSI

Dr. Munley Gallagher has had a distinguished career as a public health nurse, a nurse educator and leader, and a Senior Policy Fellow in the National Center for Nursing Quality, representing ANA at National Quality Forum and Healthcare Quality Alliance. As a Senior Policy Fellow at the American Nurses Association from 1993 to 2010, her portfolio included, among other foci, the Nursing Quality Initiative that predated the seminal IOM report. She has also worked tirelessly for the American Public Health Association as a 40-year section member and has served in a variety of roles including:

  • PHN Section as Chair,
  • Co-Chair,
  • Local Arrangements co-chair,
  • Development Committee member, 
  • She has also represented us well as a member of the APHA Governing Council since 2003,
  • Treasurer,
  • Section Centennial Committee Chair

Dr. Gallagher remains an inspiration to all members of the PHN Section for what public health nurses can accomplish when we focus on the health of the population.

The 2023 Public Health Nurse Creative Achievement Award was presented to The North Carolina Credentialed Public Health Nurse Program (NCCPHN), NC DHHS Office of the Chief Public Health Nurse

The groundbreaking NCCPHN Program is the gold standard in public health nurse credentialing. The programs’ initial course uses an innovative approach, grounded in ANA’s Public Health Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice and its Eight Roles and Functions, to help concepts “come to life.” Once the nurse earns the CPHN credential, the NCCPHN continuing education curriculum, Leading At All Levels, supports sustained professional growth. 


The 2023 Lillian Wald Service Award was presented to Rebecca O. Shasanmi Ellis, PhD(c), MPH, MS, RN

Rebecca Shasanmi Ellis has led interventions in under-resourced communities, provided clinical care, and lectured in the US and globally. She has served within PHN Section leadership since 2017. Rebecca has developed policy within APHA, the World Health Organization - Nigeria during Ebola, presented oral statements before the Senate HELP Committee regarding health professions workforce diversity and loan forgiveness, and is contributing author to the "Black Reproductive Justice Policy Agenda". She continues to be a champion for how the public health nursing perspective - at the intersection of health service delivery and community transformation - allows public health nurses aligned with communities, to develop ways to bring health systems into alignment with community expressed needs. Ellis exemplifies the values and work of Lilian Wald through her service, research, and scholarship.


The 2023 Ruth B. Freeman Award was presented to Jennifer Collins, PhD, RN, CNE

Dr. Collins’s program of research has consistently focused on addressing inequity and social justice. She has worked with adolescents who have experienced abuse and neglect, for adolescents in urban and rural settings, and most recently is working on addressing transportation mobility for youth who have been in foster care or are experiencing poverty or homelessness. Her ability to establish and foster community partnerships, an integral skill for community-based researchers, is one of her strengths. She is sensitive to the dynamic needs of stakeholders in multiple communities, from urban and rural populations to government agencies to organizations in the nonprofit sector. Dr. Collins is dedicated to using systems thinking to address inequities upstream. Her scholarship has progressively and consistently contributed to building the science upon which nursing practice stands.


The 2023 Feleta Wilson Award was presented to Kia Skrine Jeffers, PhD, RN, PHN

Dr. Kia Skrine Jeffers is an Assistant Professor in the UCLA School of Nursing and Associate Director for the Arts in the UCLA Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health. She aims to mitigate the impact of structural and social inequity on the mental and physical health of Black women as they age with community-partnered interventions that are arts-based or arts-informed.


The 2023 Emerging Researcher Award was presented to Jessica LeClair, PhD, MPH, RN, Postdoctoral Trainee and Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. LeClair is a Postdoctoral Trainee and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin– Madison School of Nursing, with affiliated appointments at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the School of Medicine and Public Health. She has extensive experience in governmental public health and leadership with planetary health and climate initiatives. Her research advances climate justice and health equity through Nurse-Community Partnerships. 

Public Health Nursing Section Award Winners, 1972-Present