NAHN Leadership Candidates

Attention NAHN members! Learn about the candidates for open 2024-2025 NAHN national leadership positions by reading their personal statements below. All voting NAHN members will receive an email on May 31 providing them with access to a personal online ballot. Voting will take place electronically from May 31 to June 7, and elected candidates will begin their two-year terms in August 2024.

Board of Directors (President-Elect)

Carli Culjat (Zegers) - Member
Florida State University
Associate Professor

My intent to serve is rooted in my belief in the members of NAHN and the strength of our communities.  I am committed to amplifying the voices of NAHN and enhancing our collective impact. Throughout my career, I have focused on health equity through actively engaging in community-driven health equity work, implementing research, innovative programming, and providing nursing care. Embracing servant leadership methods and guided by the mission of NAHN, I envision a future where the nursing community mirrors our society’s rich diversity. I am committed to expanding these efforts. Drawing from my experience as a founding member of a chapter to serving on the national board, I am particularly passionate about increasing opportunities for students, members, and chapters within NAHN by enhancing a sustainable infrastructure, generating internal and external collaborative networking opportunities, and advocating for resources that empower our members. With a proven track record in strategic leadership, collaboration, and advocacy for NAHN, I would be honored to contribute meaningfully as President-Elect. I am dedicated to advancing our mission, elevating our impact through advocacy, driving further our community-based work, uplifting our strengths in research and evidence-based practice, and fostering a supportive environment for ALL. 

View Campaign Flyer


Grace Grau - Member
UAB School of Nursing Office of DEI
Adjunct Assistant Professor

Esteemed NAHN Members, Please accept this self-nomination for the position of President-Elect. Throughout my career, I have been deeply committed to addressing disparities and challenges faced by Hispanic nurses and the communities we serve. I am eager to leverage my leadership skills and extensive experience to advance the mission of NAHN and secure its viability moving forward. With time and experience on my hands, I seek to lead NAHN to the next level.  My nursing leadership journey has evolved over three decades. As the first Hispanic nurse to serve on a committee of the Alabama Board of Nursing, I worked tirelessly to reduce barriers, advance APRN credentialing and education, and improve access and health outcomes for Hispanics in AL. My clinician, educator, and committee work formed the foundation for the establishment of NAHN AL in 2016, allowing me to expand my impact while garnering support across silos.  I lead targeted, culturally sensitive discussions, and provided support and mentoring to nurses  and students, leading  to growth and improved experiences for all. From growing diversity in the nursing workforce, to promoting equitable access to healthcare and culturally concordant nursing practices nationally, I have been the voice for those often marginalized throughout the healthcare system.  As President-Elect, I will continue to prioritize transparency, accountability, and communication, ensuring our member’s voices are heard, respected and all are empowered to reach their full potential regardless of experience. I will continue promoting the work started as Director and Co-chair of the Policy & Advocacy Committee with intentional commitment to honoring our past while strengthening our future.  I am confident we can continue to elevate the NAHN to new heights of success and impact. Thank you for considering my candidacy. I humbly ask for your vote and trust in my ability to lead our association forward.  Sincerely, Grace Grau

View Campaign Flyer


Board of Directors (two open positions)

Carmen Bowling - Member
Parkland Health
Senior Vice President, Women & Infants Specialty Health (WISH)

My name is Carmen Bowling, and I am excited to run as a member of the NAHN National Board of Directors. I have been an active member of NAHN with the Western Pittsburgh Chapter since 2022, and now currently with the DFW chapter. I am currently seated as a co-chair for the National Bylaws committee which has provided me an opportunity to learn about the national committee and has given me an opportunity to assist in redefining the bylaws for the organization.  I would like to continue to serve NAHN as a member of the Board of Directors to continue to advocate and contribute to this organization and its mission. In my current role, I have been given the responsibility to evaluate and contribute to the recruitment and retention of Hispanic nurses and I am involved with building community relationships to increase and improve access to health for Hispanic communities.  I believe that this aligns directly with the NAHN mission and would love the opportunity to become involved to make an even bigger impact to the mission as well as to my community while giving opportunity to Hispanic nurses to become involved in this endeavor.  


Anthony Fortenberry - Member
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
Deputy Executive Director

I am currently the Deputy Executive Director for Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center in New York City and the largest community-based healthcare provider serving the LGBTQ+ community in the nation. I have been with the organization since 2011, joining as a clinical nurse manager and recently serving as the co-interim Chief Executive Officer during our leadership transition. For the past decade, I have represented Callen-Lorde in the Community Health Center Association of New York State, the National LGBTQ+ Primary Care Alliance, and the National Association of Community Health Centers, most recently serving as Chair of the LGBTQ+ Health Task Force. Additionally, I serve as a founding member of the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Advisory Counsel for Excelsior University.  I identify as a gay Hispanic man and experienced homeless as a teen. Due to my personal and professional experience, I am intimately familiar with the pressing challenges facing historically marginalized communities and the important role nurses play in advocating for improved access to healthcare services. In my current role, I actively meet with elected officials in New York City, Albany, and Washington to fight for improvements that impact both patients and the nursing workforce. I am deeply appreciative for consideration of my application to join the leadership of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. 


Rubi Hickson - Member
University of California San Francisco
Critical Care Nurse Practitioner

My name is Rubi Alva de Hickson, I am a Critical Care Nurse Practitioner practicing for the University of California Department of Critical Care Medicine/ Anesthesia since 2015.  I come from humble beginnings, born, and raised in El Centro, California to two migrant farm workers.  I was raised with the American dream in mind, which taught me the importance of a strong work ethic, having mentors, and obtaining an education in order to achieve one’s goal in life. It brings me great pride to have worked my way up the career ladder starting as a bilingual receptionist in 1990, to becoming a nurse’s aide (1992), a registered nurse (1995), a nurse practitioner (2011), and now pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (expected graduation June 2024). As someone that understands the challenges that our community faces in pursuit of their dreams, I am committed to providing support to our community. I am proud to be part of the NAHN community in its commitment to the promotion of professional excellence through nursing leadership. As a board member I will be involved in promoting and advocating the mission, values, and vision of NAHN to benefit all members and our community at large.    

View Campaign Flyer


Patrick Luna - Member
University of Colorado College of Nursing
Senior Instructor of Clinical Teaching

My name is Patrick Luna, and I would like to formally declare my intent to serve on the NAHN National Board of Directors. I currently serve as the Co-Chair of the NAHN National Membership Committee and have collaborated with NAHN members from across the country to advocate for the mission of NAHN and better serve our members.  I have worked to grow our membership through campaigns like Cinco en Mayo and Fall Back to NAHN.  Most impactful of all is the work that our committee has done to continue to support student members.  This culminated with the NAHN Student Boot Camp at our National Conference and the NAHN Student Welcome Webinar.  My professional role as a faculty member at the University of Colorado College of Nursing and as a PhD student provides prospective on the growing needs of NAHN Student Members.  My goal is to continue to ensure the future of NAHN through the bright young careers of the next generation.  We have witnessed unprecedented growth in our organization, which I interpret as a call to support our members in their work.  I will work diligently to continue to advocate for the needs of our members through the Director role. Thank you,  Patrick Luna, MSN, RN, CEN 


Nominating Committee (three open positions)

Jose Alejandro-White - Member
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Nurse Scientist

I have enjoyed my 30 years of membership in the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, including serving as President (2012-2014) and Vice President (2006-2008). I have also served locally as President of the Dallas Chapter (2008-2014), founding President of the West Florida Chapter, and board member of the Los Angeles and Chicago Chapters. For my contributions to Latino communities and service, I have been recognized with the NAHN Latino Legacy Award.  I have served as national President of the Case Management Society of America, Vice President of the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurses Associations, international Treasurer of Sigma Theta Tau International, and board member of the American Academy of Nursing, American Association of Men in Nursing, and Organization for Association Degree of Nursing. My experience on the nominating committee includes being the Nominations Chair for the American Academy of Nursing.


Susana Gonzalez - Member
ASI NE Healthcare Inc
Nurse Educator

Susana commits to everything she embraces. Her life focus is mentoring and developing the next generation of bilingual bicultural Spanish-speaking nurses and inspiring allied healthcare providers. Currently, she is a nurse educator for a Home Care Agency and adjunct faculty at Schools of Nursing in Chicago. She teaches with passion and purpose, and mentors with love for the nursing profession. Susana is a true servant leader and advocate for public policy changes with a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Susana brings experiences of national and local board service, such as the March of Dimes-Chicago, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, and the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium. She is a past president of the Illinois chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses and served three consecutive terms on the national board and committees. She is a member of the Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders and was appointed to serve on the board of the Illinois Nurses Foundation. She is a skilled advocate of legislation & policy.  She lives by the philosophy that if there is something she can do for you now, then let it be so, for we may not walk this path again! 

View Campaign Flyer


Maria Hughes - Member
Purdue University Northwest
Assistant Professor of Nursing

As a dedicated healthcare professional from Northwest Indiana, with a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, I am honored to nominate myself for a position with NAHN. With over a decade of experience in nursing and healthcare leadership, I have witnessed firsthand the disparities faced by minority and underserved populations. This has fueled my commitment to advocating for increased representation of Hispanic professionals in leadership roles. Through my leadership role as nursing faculty, I have implemented initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion within teaching strategies to promote cultural sensitivity. From mentorship to cultural competency training, I have worked tirelessly to create environments where all voices are heard and respected. My journey as a Hispanic healthcare professional informs my advocacy efforts, driving me to ensure that future generations have role models who reflect their backgrounds and experiences. I am eager to bring my skills, passion, and dedication to advance our shared mission of creating a more equitable and inclusive healthcare workforce.   

View Campaign Flyer


Lou Rios - Member
Mercy Medical Center at Trinity Health of New England
Emergency Department Staff Nurse

As a nurse for almost 25 years, my personal mission is to positively represent the nursing profession and my Hispanic community. To this end, I worked to be clinically excellent in several areas where I could use the knowledge to advocate for the most vulnerable. These areas include Emergency nursing, Case Management, Forensic nursing, and leadership. Additionally, I recently obtained my DNP in Health Systems Innovation and Leadership, to ensure I also have the education needed to be part of those important conversations. I believe it is my duty to educate and empower those who have been underrepresented. If chosen, I intend to serve to the highest level and make my family, friends, community, and profession proud.