| Washington, DC — Rear Admiral Susan Orsega and Brother Ignatius Perkins will both be honored at the 2021 NLN Education Summit with the National League for Nursing President’s Award. The prestigious recognition is bestowed each year to celebrate distinguished career achievements.
“Rear Admiral Orsega and Brother Ignatius have gone above and beyond their merely extraordinary service. Susan stepped into the leading role as ‘America’s health care expert,’ helping combat a once-in-a-century pandemic, and Brother Ignatius, as a nursing school chair, was among the nursing education leaders in preparing a new class of graduates to join the front lines of health care delivery under the most challenging public health emergency of our lifetime,” said NLN Chair Dr. Patricia S. Yoder-Wise, RN, EdD, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAONL, FAAN, Professor and Dean Emerita at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and president of The Wise Group. “Their decades of unflagging dedication to excellence in nursing and nursing education make them the ideal honorees for the 2021 NLN President’s Award. I will be delighted to publicly honor them in the presence of friends and colleagues during the NLN Summit.”
RADM Susan Ortega, MSN, FNP-BC, FAANP, FAAN
Director, Commission Corps, Headquarters (CCHQ), U.S. Public Health Service
In January, President Joe Biden tapped Rear Admiral Orsega to become only the third nurse in history to fill the seat of Surgeon General. The appointment, while interim, elevated the profile of nurses as trusted health professionals and leading public servants. She served as Interim Surgeon General during the Senate confirmation process for President Biden’s nominee for the position, Dr. Vivek Murthy, after which RADM Orsega resumed her role as director of the Commission Corps Headquarters (CCHQ) and principal advisor to the Surgeon General.
In the latter capacity, she consults on activities and policies related to Commissioned Corps training, preparedness, activation, deployment, and total force fitness. A career commissioned officer in the U.S. Public Health Service Corps and nationally recognized specialist in infectious diseases, RADM Orsega was exceptionally qualified to oversee the Public Health Service at this critical time in the nation’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
In her leadership of CCHQ, she helps manage the agency’s personnel, operations and readiness, with responsibility for the diverse functions of the 6,500-odd members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps (USPHS).
RADM Orsega was promoted to CCHQ director from her previous position as chief nurse officer of the USPHS, in which she advised the office of the Surgeon General and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on recruitment, assignment, deployment, retention, and career development of nurse professionals and provided leadership to 4,500 Commissioned Corps and civilian nurses.
RADM Orsega’s exemplary career in public service has been dedicated to research, treatment, and policy surrounding national and global disasters, pandemics, and health emergencies, including the spread, containment, and mitigation of infectious diseases. She was a key player at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, working with an international team of nurses and researchers in Africa as they pioneered human vaccine trials in response to the Ebola crisis on the continent.
Her career began in 1989 at NIH as part of the Commissioned Corps of the USPHS during the unfolding of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A nurse practitioner, she took her clinical experience to the next level, helping to advance scientific understanding and approaches to treatment of the disease through publication of scholarly papers and presentations, and becoming expert in advanced nursing practice, health diplomacy, and disaster response.
Brother Ignatius Perkins, OP, PhD, RN
Chair, School of Nursing, Spalding University, Louisville, Kentucky
Brother Ignatius Perkins, an alumni and former faculty member of Spalding University, bioethics scholar and experienced nurse, returned in October 2019 for his second stint as chair of Spalding’s School of Nursing. There, he oversees all undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. In his earlier turn as the college’s leader, from 2003-05, he simultaneously served as dean of the university’s College of Health and Natural Sciences.
Brother Perkins was director of provincial administration for the Dominican Friars-Province of St. Joseph in New York when he left to rejoin Spalding. From 2010-15, he was the dean of the School of Nursing at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, and his career of more than four decades includes numerous other administrative, teaching and research positions in health care and nonprofit settings. He has presented and been published dozens of times, often on issues related to bioethics and medical ethics, and he has served on countless boards and committees.
As a member of the National League for Nursing for nearly 50 years, Brother Perkins has served as a member of the Board of Governors, accreditation site visitor, and on the NLN Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation, and in many other ways.
His numerous recognitions include: Pillar Award (2019) from the Religious Brothers Conference; Faculty of the Year Award (2015) from Aquinas College in Nashville; and Lifetime Achievement in Nursing Leadership Award from the College of Mount S Joseph in Cincinnati. He holds fellowships in the NLN Academy of Nursing Education (ANEF); the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN); the New York Academy of Medicine; the Royal Society of Medicine; and the National Catholic Bioethics Center.