Our Distinguished Alumni

The University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing's distinguished alumni hold a special place in the school's history. Each has, in some way, shaped nursing. Their successes represent "points of pride" for their alma mater. Visit their stories to get to know these alumni and to understand their impact on nursing education, the nursing profession, health care policy, and health care in general.


Joy Calkin, PhD

For most of her nursing career, alumna Joy Calkin, PhD, has focused on removing obstacles that get in the way of improving patient health. She’s applied this systemic approach to all her nursing roles—from nurse to CEO of an international health care services organization. 



Connie Curran

Proud alumna and CEO Connie Curran, EdD, RN, FAAN, believes in the unlimited potential of nurses. Curran sees nurses as key to successful executive decision making because they represent the voice of the health care consumer.


Joanne Disch

Joanne Disch, PhD, RN, FAAN, UW–Madison School of Nursing alumna and past NAO Distinguished Achievement Award recipient, has been a dominant player in health policy decision making for most of her career, with proven success. Without the presence of the ‘nursing lens,’ at the health care policy table, she says, decisions made “are going to be suboptimal.”


 Add up the achievements of Barbara Moilien Gruendemann, PhD, RN, FAAN, as nurse leader and lifelong learner, and it becomes quite clear that this NAO Distinguished Achievement Award recipient has shaped practice in surgical patient care as well as reached beyond the bedside with innovations in nursing education. 

Diane Kjervik

The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) is a powerful counterpart for scientists turning discovery into health. Its stature today stems, in part, from School of Nursing alumna Diane Kjervik, JD, RN, FAAN, whose dogged voice on Capitol Hill changed policy. Shortly after the establishment of the NCNR, Kjervik was appointed to its first national advisory council, a distinct honor for her and her profession.


Alumnus Terry Lennie, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA

Alumnus Terry Lennie, PhD, RN, FAHA, FAAN, returned to the UW–Madison School of Nursing in September of 2014 to receive the NAO's Distinguished Achievement Award. As a well-established researcher in cardiovascular health, Lennie co-directs the University of Kentucky (UK) School of Nursing’s RICH (Research and Intervention in Cardiopulmonary Health) Heart Program, which examines cardiovascular health, including prevention, treatment, and the role of depression in cardiovascular disease among patients and caregivers.


Her alma mater has long understood that Professor Emerita Karen Pridham, PhD, RN, FAAN, possessed the “it factor” in research and teaching. The School of Nursing’s alumni organization awarded her its most distinguished honor. In spring of 2013, the Midwest Nursing Research Society (MNRS) followed suit by recognizing Pridham for a lifetime of distinguished achievements. Simply put, Pridham’s contributions have shaped the world of maternal-infant health care.

Click here to see a complete list of NAO award recipients.