UAB Medicine Nurse Practitioner and UAB School of Nursing alumna Lindsey Harris, DNP, CRNP, FNP-BC, is the new president of the Alabama State Nurses Association (ASNA). Harris’ induction as the first African-American president of the association represents progress in diversity and inclusion, and it provides an example of excellence in leadership and performance.
A UAB Medicine employee since 2006, Harris completed her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a concentration in family practice, and she earned a Doctor of Nursing Practice at UAB in 2016. Currently an adjunct clinical instructor in the UAB School of Nursing, Harris also serves as an inpatient glycemic control nurse practitioner on the Inpatient Glycemic Management team for UAB Medicine.
Before her election as president of the ASNA, Harris served in many capacities for the association, including chair of the Commission on Professional Issues, a member of the Environmental Committee, a delegate-at-large, and secretary. She also is a past-president of the Birmingham Black Nurses Association (BBNA) and a member of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA).
Harris says she sees this moment as an honor for her, both professionally and personally, but also as proof of the importance of engagement with medical professional organizations.
“We nurses are more than 100,000 strong in Alabama right now,” Harris says. “In all of its objectives, the main one being the promotion of excellence in nursing, the ASNA is our voice. I think of membership as similar to a ‘vote’, and we are currently learning in our political climate how important voting is. I always encourage nurses to join the association, because now, more than ever, we know that representation – whether that’s our vote, membership in an organization, or any other means – is how we make our voices heard.”
History and Opportunity
Harris says she is aware of the significance of being the first African-American ASNA president. She notes that her election to president-elect in 2018, followed by induction as president at the end of the previous president’s term this year, in some ways matches the mood of the nation, in terms of recent efforts toward diversity and inclusion. Harris also says her new role with the ASNA brings both opportunity and responsibility.
“The timing of this really strikes me, because across the country people are newly concerned with equity and opportunity for people of color,” Harris says. “I am thrilled with that development, and my personal faith teaches me that we are often placed in positions, at specific times, for a reason. So now I want to determine how to make the most of my term at this point in our profession’s history and best benefit nurses in Alabama. As president, I do know I will always urge our nurses to get involved with every organization they possibly can.”
Harris says her emphasis on professional engagement stems from her earliest experiences at UAB Medicine and with local organizations.
“After I started in 2006 at UAB, I began joining everything!” Harris says. “And it was at a conference for one of the organizations where I learned about opportunities with the ASNA. I had important mentorships through my membership in the Birmingham Black Nurses Association. Much of that was possible because UAB Medicine affords its nurses these opportunities and encourages such involvement. But apart from how the ASNA and I go about representing nurses in Alabama, our main goal is to make sure patients get the best care. Any of our nurses can already tell you that.”
UAB Medicine Chief Nursing Officer Terri Poe, DNP, RN, NE-BC, says Harris’ historic induction as the first African-American President of the ASNA is a testimonial to the vision of the ASNA and to Harris’ leadership.
“I commend the ASNA voting body for recognizing the outstanding leadership characteristics possessed by Dr. Harris,” Poe says. “The UAB Nursing family is proud of her and knows that, as the newly elected president of the ASNA, she will support the professional voice of all registered nurses in Alabama.”