CCNA Leadership and Staff
Susan C. Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, Senior Vice President, AARP Public Policy Institute and Chief Strategist, Center to Champion Nursing in America
Dr. Reinhard is a nationally recognized expert in nursing and health policy, with extensive experience in translating research and developing coalitions to promote policy change. In addition to serving as the Chief Strategist for the Center, Dr. Reinhard directs the Public Policy Institute at AARP, which is the focal point for public policy research and analysis at the federal, state and international levels.
Before coming to AARP in 2007, Dr. Reinhard served as a Professor and Co-Director of Rutgers Center for State Health Policy where she directed several national initiatives to work with states to help people with disabilities of all ages live in their homes and communities. She directed a national technical assistance center to assist 53 states and territories funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to re-design their long-term care systems. She also led a national effort to help states enroll more low-income older adults and people with disabilities in the Medicare Savings Programs. In previous work, Dr. Reinhard served three governors as Deputy Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, where she led the development of health policies and programs that gained national prominence.
She also co-founded the Institute for the Future of Aging Services in Washington, DC and served as its Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Education. Her research and policy expertise includes nursing and health care workforce development and regulation, family caregiving, consumer choice and control in health and supportive care, development of assisted living and other community-based care options, quality improvement in long-term care, state pharmaceutical policy, and medication safety. Dr. Reinhard is a former faculty member at the Rutgers College of Nursing and is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She holds a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Cincinnati, and a PhD in Sociology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Patricia A. Polansky, RN, MS, Co-Director, the Center to Champion Nursing in America
Pat Polansky is the Co-Director for the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Pat directs policy, communications and outreach strategies contributing to the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a nationwide effort to transform health care through nursing.
An expert on nursing, aging issues and long term care, Pat worked as assistant commissioner for the Division of Aging and Community Services (DACS) in the New Jersey (NJ) Department of Health and Senior Services where she oversaw programs designed to improve access to services for the state’s 1.5 million older adults that would improve their well-being, allow them to remain independent, and continue to live in their respective communities. Before joining DACS, Pat was executive director of the NJ Board of Nursing and co-founder of a health care consulting firm, and worked in executive management roles at New Jersey hospitals for over 20 years.
Pat also held nursing positions at both the staff and supervisory levels, and is still proudly a registered nurse in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. She is the recipient of the Governor’s Nursing Merit Award and the outstanding alumna designation from University of Pennsylvania’s College of Nursing, among other honors. Pat served as president of the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD) and taught as an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickenson University, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Ms. Polansky holds a master’s degree in Community Health from Rutgers University and completed doctoral work at Columbia University. Her undergraduate degrees are from the Englewood Hospital School of Nursing and the University of Pennsylvania.
Winifred V. Quinn, PhD, Co-Director, the Center to Champion Nursing in America
Dr. Quinn helps to lead a national campaign dedicated to improving health care through nursing, the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Within this role, she oversees a team to support “Action Coalitions” in each state and the District of Columbia so that they can implement the Institute of Medicine’s recommendations from its landmark 2011 report, the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Winifred assists with the Campaign for Action’s diversity work to help ensure a more diverse nursing workforce, faculty, and leadership.
Winifred also matrixes into AARP writ large to help address public policies that intersect with consumer and nursing issues. Policy issues that she works on relate to improved funding for nursing education and legal barriers that prevent all levels of registered nurses from practicing to the full extent of their education and expertise. Winifred’s federal policy work includes working on nursing education provisions within the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Winifred helped to initiate a national level coalition that successfully achieved the win of Medicare supporting graduate-level nursing education for the first time in its history. Her state-level policy work entails organizing the technical assistance to Action Coalitions and AARP state offices that are improving funding for nursing education or modernizing scope of practice laws. Within this role, she places a strong emphasis on coalition building and relationship development.
Winifred is an alumna of Union County College in Cranford, NJ and Douglass College, Rutgers University. She received her master’s degree in Counseling from Montclair State University and completed her PhD in Health Communication from Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. Winifred’s public policy education began as a family caregiver for her parents in their respective last years of life.
Andrew Bianco, BA, Project Specialist
Andrew is a project specialist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America. His responsibilities include supporting field operations for the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, communication with state-based Action Coalitions, and compiling the Campaign’s weekly newsletter. Andrew began working with the AARP Public Policy Institute in 2010, serving as project coordinator for the production of Raising Expectations: A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers and its accompanying website, www.longtermscorecard.org. The Scorecard was the first of its kind to offer a multidimensional analysis of state-level performance of LTSS systems that provide assistance to older people and adults with disabilities. Before joining AARP, Andrew worked for U.S. Representative John J. Hall (NY-19) in his Washington, D.C. office. Andrew graduated from Boston College in 2009 with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies.
Nefertari Carver, BA, Project Specialist
Mrs. Carver raises the awareness of The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action with national stakeholders through strategic communications and outreach. Her responsibilities include managing outreach initiatives for the Champion Nursing Coalition, Champion Nursing Council, Strategic Advisory Committee, and the Diversity Steering Committee. Mrs. Carver brings to the AARP Public Policy Institute several years of experience in public affairs. Prior to AARP, she served as the associate director for Brazile & Associates, LLC, a Washington, DC based media and political communications firm. At Brazile & Associates, Mrs. Carver managed national political and media engagements for Donna Brazile, including coordinating media appearances with CNN, ABC, NPR and other media outlets. She also worked in the congressional office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), where she staffed her work for the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee. She began her career in the management training program at PepsiCo, where she received extensive training in business development, and marketing. Mrs. Carver holds a bachelors degree in political science from the University of Michigan.
Meredith Rucker Hunter, MS Communications & Outreach Manager
Meredith Rucker Hunter joined AARP after nine years in the public relations agency world. She has led multi-faceted communications and outreach projects for large foundations, non-profits, associations and advocacy organizations reaching out to consumers, providers, funders, and policy makers. Throughout her career, Meredith has communicated about a variety of health care issues, including quality, long-term care, end-of-life care, chronic conditions, mental health, the nursing workforce and reproductive health. She is particularly proud of her contributions to Last Acts, a national public education campaign to improve the care Americans receive at the end of their lives. This work was the foundation for Meredith’s understanding of the tough health care issues facing Americans, and helped her build partnerships with the consumer, quality and provider stakeholders critical to health care reform. Meredith received a master of science in justice, law and society from American University and a bachelor of arts in government and politics from George Mason University.
Michael A. Pheulpin, MS, Project Analyst
As Project Analyst, Michael supports the mission of CCNA with day-to-day project management and the implementation of strategic, operational and business processes. He is responsible for maintaining regular communication with all team members and internal/external partners, project management, analysis, and tracking project processes. Michael joined CCNA after working with a federal education grant within a Maryland public school system to promote the capacity for family involvement in education. In this position he provided project management, program development, technical assistance, and ensured compliance in an effort to build a comprehensive program and improve education in underserved communities. Michael received a bachelor of arts in psychology from Salisbury University and a master of science in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University.
Laura Thornhill, JD, Policy Research Senior Analyst
Attorney Thornhill joined the Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA)in 2011. Having begun her health policy career with the American Academy of Nursing, she helped to promote nursing’s evidence-based contributions to an improved health care system. Her tenure at AAN provided her with valuable insight into and experience with some of health care’s most important issues, such as care coordination, team-based care, quality and safety, and access. As a Policy Research Senior Analyst within CCNA, Laura works to advance The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action initiative, tracks relevant legislation, statutes, and regulations, and explores policy issues and pursues solutions in support of CCNA’s nursing agenda. A proud Midwesterner, Laura received her bachelor’s degree in english from the University of Kansas and her JD from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. Prior to her current role, Laura served as a fundraiser for health and welfare organizations and worked on professional regulatory issues for the Missouri Attorney General’s Office.