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Nurse leaders began a vision for the WCN on an important date in history, Sept 11, 2001.

WCN Staff

Executive Director - Barbara L. Nichols, DNSc(hon), MS, RN, FAAN

Judi Hansen Barbara L. Nichols, DNSc (hon), MS, RN, FAAN, was appointed Executive Director by the WCN Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2017. Nichols succeeds Judith Hansen, MS, BSN, RN, who retired from the position December 31, 2016.

Nichols brings vast experience in executive leadership to this important role. Her career spans four decades in leadership and policy-making positions in professional associations, academic institutions, and governmental agencies at state and national levels. As the former Chief Executive Officer of the Commission for Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) International, she has expertise in credential evaluation, scope of practice standards and licensure of nurses and health professionals globally. Dr. Nichols has been a consultant on nursing workforce and diversity issues to the US Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Office of Minority Health.

Nichols’ extensive skills in the development of partnerships and creation of strategic collaborations will be a significant asset to WCN. Nichols holds a Baccalaureate in Nursing from Case Western University, a Master’s from the UW-Madison, and five honorary doctoral degrees for leadership contributions to the delivery of healthcare in urban and rural settings.

On prospects for the future, Nichols commented, “I am honored and privileged to accept this significant position and work with such an excellent Board of Directors. Teamwork is crucial in responding to the challenges the nursing profession faces. I believe in challenging times, anything is possible when you are focused on quality and safety in healthcare."

Critical to Nichol’s role will be the continued work of WCN as the state leader in nursing workforce development, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, and key health and education organizations. WCN President Pat Keller remarked, “WCN is fortunate to have Barbara’s energy and passion for nursing, as well as her strong executive skills and political acumen to assume the leadership of the Center’s vital work.  Her track record as a collaborator and visionary will be extremely beneficial as WCN moves into its next decade.”

Contact Dr. Nichols at

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