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Dr. Daihnia Dunkley Nicole -27

Daihnia Dunkley, PhD, RN

Yale School of Nursing (Orange, Conn.)

Dr. Dunkley — originally from Jamaica — has resided in New York since the early 1990s. In the span of her 20+ year nursing career, which began as a licensed practical nurse and subsequently as a registered nurse after earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Hampton University, Dr. Dunkley worked extensively in the arena of obstetrical health. Early in her career, Dr. Dunkley became aware of the inequities within the healthcare system and their impact on patients and practitioners, especially people of color. After spending her formative years in nursing, learning to understand these complex problems and making the transition from the bedside to leadership roles and academia, she shifted her focus toward serving as a change agent by advocating for systematic improvement in matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the nursing profession, and eradicating racial health disparities.

Dr. Dunkley earned her Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Phoenix. She is currently serving as a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate Entry Pre-Specialty in Nursing (GEPN) and Master of Science in Nursing programs at Yale School of Nursing. Her dissertation research focused on the experiences of Black female executive nurse leaders and created the inspiration for founding The League of Extraordinary Black Nurses, a nonprofit organization aimed at supporting current and future Black nurses through the guiding principles of leadership, mentorship, and scholarship.

Additionally, through her company, Daihniaʼs Joy, Dr. Dunkley serves as a consultant, applying strategy to passion in her efforts to diversify nursing representation, empower minority nurse leaders, and improve Black birthing outcomes. She actively provides nursing career-development services through coaching and various other methods, such as her signature curriculum, “The Seacole Effect,” and creates educational materials for expectant families, including “Conversations with Dr. D,” a video podcast series, and Living for Two, a pregnancy and childbirth self-advocacy e-book.

Dr. Dunkley is a well-respected and sought-after speaker and published scholar whose work and reputation have attracted invitations to international and domestic events, including the University of Oxford Womenʼs Leadership Symposium in London and an appearance on the BET network documentary, “High Risk.” In 2022, Dr. Dunkley was celebrated by her beloved alma mater, Hampton University, as an inductee of the Top 40 Under 40 Alumni Society.

David Everheart

David Everhart, RN, MSN, CEN

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Nursing Program (Hudson, N.C.)

David Everhart, RN, MSN, CEN, was graduated from the University of South Alabama with his Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 1998, later working in ER/trauma. In 2000, he completed his Board Certification in Emergency Nursing, later graduating in 2008 from the University of Colorado with his master’s degree in nursing focused on nursing informatics. Serving as an active duty U.S. Navy Nurse Corps Officer from 1998 to 2011, he retired as a Lieutenant Commander with 26 years of combined enlisted and commissioned service. During that time, he was deployed to Iraq in 2003 with Fleet Hospital Three, the first Expeditionary Medical Facility (EMF) in a combat theater.

After his military retirement, he served in positions at Atrium Health in the emergency department, critical care, and hospital leadership. That experience led him to join the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Nursing Program Faculty (Hudson, N.C.) as the LPN-RN Lead Instructor in 2021.

Everhart said that being honored as a Nurse’s Touch Award honoree is meaningful to him because it stems from his faculty mentors. “Leveraging ATI in every aspect of the student journey was a goal I set for myself when I joined the faculty. Using ATI as our primary resource has allowed us to get outside the traditional teaching box,” he added. “Implementing the changes to the program and having the changes intersect with the Next Generation NCLEX has been an awesome project to be a part of.”

Everhart said that, as faculty of a very student-centric program, ATI has been the center of his program’s success. “Being afforded the opportunity to attend the Summit will absolutely further enhance my ability to develop and deliver the student-centric learning that the next generation of nurses demand.”

Dr. Sandra Gilpin

Sandra Gilpin, PhD, RN, CNE, CDP, FNGNA

Purdue University (West Lafayette, Ind.)

Dr. Gilpin has been a nurse for 42 years. Driven by her passion for older adults, much of her bedside experience is in long-term care. Over the years, Dr. Gilpin wore many hats in LTC, ranging from floor nurse to administrator and corporate educator. Her desire to teach focused on increasing the knowledge of LPNs and CNAs working in the long-term care environment.

Dr. Gilpin has taught in CNA, LPN, and BSN programs. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Head for Undergraduate Programs at Purdue University’s main campus in West Lafayette, Ind. Her desire to work with older adults also led to her strong involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association across three states and as a Community Educator for the Alzheimer’s Association.


Dr. Gilpin has worked for the State of Texas as a Medicare/Medicaid surveyor and was a long-term care ombudsman. She remains committed to the improvement of care for our most vulnerable clients. Dr. Gilpin was inducted as a fellow in the National Gerontological Nursing Association in 2016 and currently holds certifications as a Certified Nurse Educator and Certified Dementia Practitioner.

Dr. Gilpin said that receiving the Nurse’s Touch Award was an incredibly humbling experience. “It validates the dedication, passion, and commitment I've invested in shaping the next generation of nurses. This recognition not only celebrates my individual achievements but also acknowledges the collective effort of mentors, colleagues, and students who have inspired me along the way.”

Dr. Gilpin added that receiving the award serves as a testament to her unwavering pursuit of excellence in preparing future healthcare professionals to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and communities.

“As I reflect on this honor, I also look forward to retiring in May and embarking on the next chapter of my life. While bidding farewell to this fulfilling career is bittersweet,” she said, “I am filled with excitement for the new adventures and opportunities that await me."

Zenger-Photo 2024

Brenda D. Zenger, MSNeD, RN

Concordia St. Paul (Portland)

Prof. Zenger’s education began at Salt Lake Community College (Salt Lake City, Utah), where she earned her LPN. Later, she earned her associate degree at Portland Community College, her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Linfield College (Portland), and her Master’s Degree in Nursing Education at the University of Phoenix.

Her education led to a varied career that included positions in long-term care/skilled nursing, medical/ surgical/GI specialties at Oregon Health and Sciences University (Portland), and adult medical/surgical hematology/oncology at BMT-Oregon Health and Sciences University (Portland).

Prof. Zenger’s career in academia began as a Clinical Instructor focused on skilled nursing care and medical/surgical. Today, she serves as the Affiliate Faculty Lab Lead in Health Promotion & Assessment and Pharmacology at Concordia St. Paul, Global ABSN Track (Portland). Prof. Zenger said she is deeply honored to receive the Nurse’s Touch Award. “It feels so intrinsically rewarding to be recognized for something I derive so much joy from,” she explained.

“I am incredibly humbled to receive an award for simply performing my job — a job I love! It is a privilege to be present when a student experiences that ‘Ah ha!’ moment within themselves as they develop their confidence and competence as a student nurse.

“In our transition to competency-based education, I plan to continue expanding creative avenues enabling students to critically think beyond,” she added. “I hope to learn and bring many new and innovative ideas to our curriculum committee from attendance at the ATI Summit.”

2023 Winners

Gary Brack, Northern Career Institute

Dawn M. DePriest, Washington State University

Belinda Terrell Fuller, Gadsden State Community College

Paula Kustenbauder, Pennsylvania State

2021 Winners

Sharon Ortega, Ambria College of Nursing

Valerie Vanderhoff, Penn State Fayette, Eberly Campus

Wendy Williams-Gilbert, Washington State University

Lacey Wallace, Middle Georgia State University

2019 Winners

Teri B. Ashton, Three Rivers Community College

Anna Montejano, Point Loma Nazarene University

Lynda Poly-Droulard, Oakland University

Danielle Quintana, University of Houston College of Nursing

2016 Winners

Patti McFadden, Louisiana Tech University

Diana Patterson, Yuba College

Tara A. Benko, Mount Aloysius College

Naomi Jones, Ivy Tech Community College

2013 Winners

Cathy Snelson, Kent State University

Mary Murphy, Fairfield University

Debra Allen, Chester Career College

Ann Marie Kopeikin, Santa Barbara City College

2018 Winners

Ashley Graves, Mount Carmel College of Nursing

Maryann Hogan, University of Massachusetts

Anita Stephen, University of Florida

Colleen Nevins, California State University

2015 Winners

Danielle Brownlee, Jones County Junior College

Patty Beamer, Wichita State University

Alene Homan, Clearfield County Career And Technology Center

Anne Stark, Santa Barbara City College

2012 Winners

Rebecca Harrell, Northwestern State University – Cenla Campus

Nancy Moore, South Tech Academy

Kathryn Rexrode, Salve Regina University

Kathleen Rogers, Ursuline College

Margaret Sherer, Portland Community College

2017 Winners

Katherine Carter, Louisiana State University

Kristie Davis, Trinity Washington University

Lori Hill, Mount Carmel College Of Nursing

Peter Miskin, De Anza Community College

2014 Winners

Dr. Terri Liberto, La Roche College

Stephen Campbell, Rasmussen College School of Nursing

Julie Baldwin, Missouri Western State University

Raelene Brooks, Mt. San Jacinto College

Nominations will open in fall 2024