On October 2, 2004, at the 112th Annual Business Meeting of The Johns Hopkins Nurses Alumni Association, Deborah Baker, MSN, RN, ACNP, was voted in as president. She succeeds outgoing president Sue Klein Wright, RN, ’62. Baker is already well-known among alumni, as she has served as vice president of the Alumni Association since 2000. In addition, she served on the association’s board of directors in 1999 and currently serves on the Membership committee and the Homecoming committee.
Baker is, in all ways, a Hopkins Nurse. She received her baccalaureate degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in 1992. She continued at Hopkins to earn her MSN in 1997 and a Business of Nursing certificate in 2001. She works as an acute care adult nurse practitioner in the department of surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and is a clinical instructor of acute/critical care nurse practitioner students at the School of Nursing.
As president, Baker plans to tackle many challenges. Among them—and perhaps the most pressing—is getting more recent graduates into the alumni association. “We have very loyal alums from earlier classes,” she explains, “but it is more difficult to keep connected with recent grads.” She plans to promote the values of belonging to the association—not just the historic and emotional benefits but the dynamic part, too. “We have to show recent grads how being a part of the association impacts them, the working nurses.”
Several measures are already under way to entice recent graduates to join the Alumni Association. The association sponsors networking luncheons and dinners with the dean and tries to tailor other activities that are more relevant to what today’s nurses are doing.
Baker also wants to see the association more connected with what the School of Nursing students are doing, and stresses the power of networking. She cites as a prime example the Center for Nursing Advocacy, started by a group of Hopkins nursing students in April 2001 and led by executive director Sandy Summers, MSN ’02. The center works to increase public understanding of nursing and to advocate for accuracy in the media’s portrayal of the nursing profession. It recently led a campaign to protest a shoe manufacturer’s portrayal of a pop star as a “naughty nurse.” Through the networking of alums, students, nurses, and other nursing supporters, more than 3,000 letters were written to the manufacturer. It got the message. Within two weeks, the ad was pulled. “That kind of networking is very powerful,” says Baker.
Baker’s plans include the community as well. “It would be nice as alumni to do more in the community, to be more present in East Baltimore, and to make an impact.” With this vision, she has her sights set on the older alumni. “Our retired alums participate in events at Johns Hopkins, like galas and dinners,” she says, “but I would love to see them get back into nursing and get back into the community.”
Complete minutes of the business meeting and full details of Homecoming 2004 will appear in the Vigilando section of a special issue of the Johns Hopkins Nursing magazine, due out in February 2005.