Leadership and Staff

Center to Champion Nursing in America


CCNA Leadership

Susan Reinhard Center to Champion Nursing in America Chief StrategistSusan 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 Polansky Patricia A. Polansky, RN, MS, Co-Director, the Center to Champion Nursing in America

Pat Polansky is co-director of the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Pat directs education progression efforts, leadership, policy, communications and outreach strategies for 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. Pat oversaw 12 federal grants and lead New Jersey’s efforts toward long-term care reform.

Before joining DACS, Pat was executive director of the New Jersey Board of Nursing and co-founder of a health care consulting firm, and worked in executive management roles at New Jersey hospitals for more than 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 the 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 Dickinson University, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Rutgers University. Ms. Polansky holds a master's degree in community health from Rutgers University. Her undergraduate degree is from the University of Pennsylvania.


Winifred Quinn Center to Champion Nursing in America Co-DirectorWinifred 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.

Campaign Staff

Andrew Bianco, BA, Project Specialist abianco@aarp.org

Andrew J. Bianco is a project specialist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America. His responsibilities include supporting state-based Action Coalitions for the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, tracking state legislation, and compiling the Campaign’s weekly email newsletter.  Bianco 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. Before joining AARP, he worked for U.S. Representative John J. Hall (NY-19) in his Washington, D.C. office. Mr. Bianco graduated from Boston College in 2009 with a B.A. in Political Science and minors in Hispanic Studies and Latin American Studies. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in Security Policy Studies at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.


Nefertari Carver, BA, Project Manager ncarver@aarp.org

As Project Manager, Nefertari Carver supports the mission of the Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA), Carver manages stakeholder engagement initiatives, and CCNA’s efforts to increase the diversity of the nursing workforce, faculty, and leadership. She is responsible for managing communications and outreach initiatives, including large-scale external events, connecting state and national-level stakeholders to help further their strategic initiatives, and providing state-based coalitions technical assistance to help implement strategies to promote diversity.  She joined AARP after working for a Washington, DC based media and political communications firm where she managed national political and media engagements. Carver received a bachelor of arts in Political Science from the University of Michigan. 

Meredith Courville, MPS, Communications Advisor  mcourville@aarp.org

Meredith Courville is the Communications Advisor at the Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA). In this role, she is responsible for strategic communications and outreach for CCNA and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Her responsibilities include speechwriting, media relations, and leading content development and creation, which help the Campaign to reach a wide range of influential audiences. She also contributes to the Campaign’s online presence. Before joining AARP, Courville spent nearly six years at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), where she held several communications and editorial roles. At NAEYC, she developed and implemented marketing and communications campaigns, managed the organization’s social media presence and strategy, and handled media relations. She also wrote for the organization’s award-winning publications. Her previous experience includes teaching at an independent school and serving as an AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps volunteer, where she provided disaster relief and recovery services in the Gulf Coast following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She holds a master’s degree in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University.

Stefanie Cruz, BA, Online Communications Manager scruz@aarp.org

Stefanie Cruz manages online communications for the Center to Champion Nursing in America and The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. She joined AARP after seven years as the Director of Digital Media for Congressman Sander M. Levin (MI-9). Throughout her career, Cruz has adopted social media as a tool to build a community where information and ideas are shared. She has utilized her knowledge of the latest trends in online communication and her practical understanding of how people receive information to guide political candidates, nonprofits and elected officials through a comprehensive web presence across all digital platforms. During her tenure with Congressman Sander Levin his office was awarded the Congressional Management Foundations 2010 and 2012 Congressional Gold Mouse Award which recognizes the best websites and social media profiles on Capitol Hill.  She received her bachelor of arts in Political Science and Sociology from Pepperdine University and has a certificate in Project Management from Rutgers Business School. 

Jihane Guidy, Executive Secretary jguidy@aarp.org 

 Jihane Guidy is the Executive Secretary to the Center to Champion in Nursing (CCNA), a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AARP, where she oversees the administrative needs of the CCNA team. In this role, Guidy manages the CCNA Directors' calendars, travel arrangements, and expenses. She also coordinates team meetings, and ensures that the Center’s Directors and staff have the resources needed to accomplish AARP goals in support of CCNA. Prior to joining CCNA, Guidy  was  a contractor with the National Institute of Health. At NIH, she worked as an administrative assistant with The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, The National  Institute of Child and Human Development, and most recently in the Office Of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine, where she worked for a year and a half. Guidy  has 7 years of administrative support experience,  and gained her experience in the nonprofit, medical research, and legal fields. Aside from continuing her administrative career, She plans to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland, University College.

Meredith Rucker Hunter, MS, Communications & Outreach Manager mhunter@aarp.org

Meredith Rucker Hunter leads CCNA’s communications efforts in support of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action. Prior to joining AARP five years ago, she spent nine years in the public relations agency world where she 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, Hunter has communicated about a variety of health and 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 people and families, and helped her build partnerships with the consumer, quality and provider stakeholders critical to health care reform. Hunter 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.

Pamela Lighter, MPH, Project Specialist plighter@aarp.org

Pamela Lighter is a project specialist with the Center to Champion Nursing in America at the AARP Public Policy Institute. Prior to joining the Center, she was a Research Assistant at the Institute of Medicine where she worked for over four and a half years with numerous committees, including the Committee on Improving the Quality of Cancer Care and the Committee on Living Well with Chronic Disease, which focused on improving the quality of life of individuals, particularly the older population, living with chronic conditions. She graduated from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in August of 2013, earning a master of public health and certificate on health disparities and health inequality, and she graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in August of 2008, earning bachelor degrees in mathematics and general biology.

Elijah Logsdon, MPP, Project Specialist, State Implementation Program elogsdon@aarp.org

Elijah Logsdon serves as Project Specialist for the RWJF State Implementation Program (SIP) National Program Office at the Center to Champion Nursing in America.  The SIP team provides oversight and technical assistance to 30 grantees who are working to improve health and health care in the United States, through implementing recommendations from the Institute of Medicine report: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change Advancing Health. Logsdon began working in the Public Policy Institute in January, 2014.  He previously served in U.S. Department of State in three different capacities within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.  Most recently, he worked as a Foreign Affairs Officer on international religious freedom issues in Europe.  Prior to that, Logsdon served as the Special Assistant to the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism; and before that he worked on human rights issues in South Asia and Central Asia.  He has a Master’s degree in Public Policy (M.P.P.) from George Mason University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Fort Lewis College. 

Melissa Mariñelarena, RN, MPA, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor mmarinelarena@aarp.org

Melissa Mariñelarena oversees CCNA’s collection, analysis, and reporting of Campaign for Action data as well as leads the Campaign’s overall work regarding nursing workforce data. Her clinical and non-clinical nursing experience includes adult ICU, Interventional Radiology, healthcare policy, quality measurement, and performance and quality improvement. She received an associate’s degree in nursing from Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, VA, a BSN from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, and a Master’s in Public Administration - Health Policy and Administration also from George Mason University. Mariñelarena has cared for diverse patient populations in various settings such as a small community hospital in Arlington, VA and in large hospitals in southern California including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Her career in healthcare policy and quality improvement began at the National Quality Forum (NQF) in Washington, DC - a nonprofit consensus building and national endorsement standards for measuring and publicly reporting on healthcare quality performance organization. Prior to joining CCNA, Mariñelarena worked with a quality improvement organization (QIO) as a federal contractor with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) providing support at the policy level on healthcare quality measurement projects.

Jennifer A. Peed, MSW, Deputy Director, State Implementation Program jpeed@aarp.org

Jennifer Peed serves as Deputy Director of the RWJF State Implementation Program (SIP) National Program Office at the Center to Champion Nursing in America.  The SIP team provides oversight and technical assistance to 30 grantees who are working to improve health and health care in the United States, through implementing recommendations from the Institute of Medicine report: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change Advancing Health.  Peed began working in the Public Policy Institute in September 2013.  Prior to this position, she served as the Program Administrator for two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants that provided technical assistance and education to professionals and consumers about Medicare and the Medicare Savings Programs.  She has also served as Program Director and Development Associate for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.  During her academic preparation, she was a legislative intern and monitored state and federal legislation that had a potential impact on health care professionals and health care delivery systems. She also served as a crisis counselor specializing in suicide prevention.  Peed has a Masters in Social Work from University of Maryland, with a concentration in Management and Community Organization and a specialty in Health. 

Michael A. Pheulpin, MS, Project Analyst mpheulpin@aarp.org 

As Project Analyst, Michael Pheulpin supports the strategic priorities of the Center to Champion Nursing in America (CCNA) by providing project management in the areas of reporting and technical assistance to states. He coordinates the data collection, analysis, and reporting of the 51 state Action Coalitions. He also works to ensure compliance with grant reporting requirements. Additionally, he is responsible for coordinating the production of webinars.  Pheulpin joined AARP after working to support 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, and compliance with federal regulations in an effort to build a comprehensive program and improve education in underserved communities. He received a bachelor of arts in psychology from Salisbury University and a master of science in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University.


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