Barbara Damron, PhD, RN, senior advisor to the dean and professor at The University of New Mexico College of Nursing, has been named the Ridenour/Mason New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium (NMNEC) Fellow.
The New Mexico Nursing Education Consortium is a partnership of nursing education programs at all levels, across New Mexico that aims to increase the number of nurses prepared with bachelor’s and graduate degrees, improve the quality of nursing education and increase access to these programs in rural communities. It enables nursing students to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree from UNM by attending courses at community colleges or branch campuses across the state.
The Ridenour/Mason Fellow works with the consortium to advance nursing academic progression by supporting a sustainable, efficient, statewide collaborative nursing curriculum that meets student needs and addresses New Mexico’s nursing shortage.
The fellowship was established in 2019 by retired College of Nursing Dean Nancy Ridenour, PhD, APRN, and her late husband, Ed Mason, to further the goals and sustainability of the consortium, ensure students can earn BSN degrees close to home and ensure patients across New Mexico can receive care from well-prepared nurses.
Damron and Ridenour both held fellowships with the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, D.C., as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellows.
“I am honored beyond words to receive this fellowship,” Damron said. “I have known Dr. Ridenour since before she came to UNM. I also knew her wonderful husband, Ed Mason. I want to bring honor to them both, while simultaneously serving the College of Nursing, advancing scholarship and demonstrating to the world the impact that nurses can make at local, state, national and international levels.”
Damron plans to evaluate and strengthen NMNEC within UNM and throughout the state. The fellowship will also allow her to write a book about the history of higher education in New Mexico, including a complete history of NMNEC, which was the first statewide common post-secondary curriculum. She hopes this book will serve as a resource for information often requested by legislators, community leaders, faculty, staff and students and serve as a handbook to navigate higher education policy in the state.
Damron has dedicated her career to advancing nursing and education in New Mexico, serving as an advanced practice nurse, educator, health care executive, consultant and cancer scientist.
She also has served as the New Mexico Higher Education Department cabinet secretary, overseeing New Mexico’s 28 institutions of higher education, four tribal colleges and more than 190 private and proprietary post-secondary schools. Damron also worked alongside UNM president Garnett Stokes and the University’s executive leadership team as UNM’s chief Government Relations officer.
Judy Liesveld, PhD, PPCNP-BC, associate dean of education and innovation, served as the inaugural Ridenour/Mason Fellow. She is retiring from the University of New Mexico to take on a new role as dean of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville School of Nursing in July 2022.