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30 Foundational Leaders in Family Nursing

30 Foundational Leaders in Family Nursing

I was recently invited to develop a list of 30 Foundational Leaders in Family Nursing.  What an honor to be given an opportunity to reflect on the relatively short history of the family nursing movement (which began in the late 1970’s) and identify the early “shakers and movers”–individuals in family nursing who helped lay the early foundational building blocks at the local, national and/or international level through their vision and pioneering efforts! The biggest distinction in my list of foundational family nursing leaders is that these persons offered foundational initiatives that have had a larger “contagion effect” and influence which has transcended their own practice, education, and/or research efforts. That is to say, there are many colleagues who are doing great work to develop and advance family nursing.  But only a smaller number of these dedicated, visionary efforts have had a larger scale “contagion effect”.

30 Foundational Family Nursing Leaders from my Pinterest Board

To construct the list, I combed through all of the Proceedings of the International Family Nursing Conferences and the two edited books of selected papers from the First International Family Nursing Conference in 1988 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (Bell, Watson, & Wright, 1990) and the Second International Family Nursing Conference in 1991 in Portland, Oregon, USA (Feetham, Meister, Bell, & Gilliss, 1993).  I also reviewed all of the back issues of the Journal of Family Nursing (Volumes 1-18) and consulted with several family nursing colleagues. In my role as Editor of the Journal of Family Nursing, I had the pleasure of honoring members of my family nursing community between 2005-2011) who have made significant contributions to the field.  I reviewed this growing list of honorees.  Lorraine Wright and I have also enjoyed welcoming many learners to our Family Nursing Externship workshop offered over more than two decades in Canada, USA, Europe, and Japan. This learning opportunity has allowed us to meet many international colleagues who have a passion for improving their skills in family nursing and we have enjoyed learning about family nursing developments in their countries. Invitations to keynote and lecture in a variety of countries around the world have also increased my awareness of family nursing leaders whose work has had a marked contagion effect. 

There are many colleagues whose names could be added to this list.  I found the word “foundational” an interesting one.  For me it infers history–people who had/have a vision for the first and early initiatives to move family nursing forward–those who laid down the building blocks and created contexts for change in nursing practice and education and research to expand the vision to include families–not necessarily the second or third generation of former graduate students of the foundational leaders who may now have matured into current leaders. It also includes people in countries like Portugal and Spain where family nursing leaders are relatively “new” historically, but their efforts are foundational for that country or region because they are the first initiatives.  And of course, when I construct a list like this, I am always brought to an awareness of how contextual my understanding is from my vantage point of being English-speaking, knowing only the English academic family literature, living in North America, living in family nursing for only 35 years, and holding to some particular beliefs about how family nursing is defined, etc.

So, I offer my carefully curated list–knowing that there are likely many others whose efforts have helped move family nursing forward in remarkable ways such as Jean R. Miller and Ellen H. Janosik who published what I consider to be the FIRST family nursing textbook (1980).  Here is my list of 30 Foundational Leaders whose pioneering work is having or has had a “contagion effect” in the world.

 30 Foundational Thinkers and Leaders Who Helped Move Family Nursing Forward in the World

  1. Päivi Åstedt-Kurki, PhD, RN (Finland)
  2. Margareth Angelo, RN, PhD (Brazil)
  3. Janice M. Bell, RN, PhD  (Canada)
  4. Eva Benzein, RN, PhD (Sweden)
  5. Perri J. Bomar, PhD, RN (USA)
  6. Catherine (Kit) Chesla, RN, DNSc, FAAN (USA)
  7. Janet Deatrick, PhD, RN, FAAN (USA)
  8. Fabie Duhamel, RN, PhD (Canada)
  9. Catherine L. Gilliss, DNSc, RN, FAAN (USA)
  10. Suzanne L. Feetham, PhD, RN, FAAN (USA)
  11. Maria do Céu Barbieri Figueiredo, PhD, MSc, RN (Portugal)
  12. Marilyn M. Friedman, RN, PhD (USA)
  13. Shirley Hanson RN, PMHNP, PhD, FAAN, CFLE, LMFT (USA)
  14. Darunee Jongudomkarn, RN, PhD (Thailand)
  15. Kathleen A. Knafl, PhD, FAAN (USA)
  16. Maureen Leahey, RN, PhD (Canada)
  17. Marilyn McCubbin, RN, PhD (USA)
  18. Michiko Moriyama, RN, PhD (Japan)
  19. Sayumi Nojima, RN, PHN, DSN (Japan)
  20. Barbara Preusse-Bleuler, RN, MNS (Switzerland)
  21. Britt-Inger Saveman, RN, PhD (Sweden)
  22. Chieko Sugishita, RN, PhD (Japan) [deceased]
  23. Kazuko Suzuki, RN, PHN, DSN (Japan)
  24. Erla Svavarsdottir, RN, PhD (Iceland)
  25. Cristina G. Vivar, RN, MSc, PhD (Spain)
  26. Lorraine M. Wright, RN, PhD (Canada)
  27. Chintana Wacharasin RN, PhD (Thailand)
  28. Hiroko Watanabe, RN, MS (Japan)
  29. Dorothy Whyte, BA, RN, RSCN, PhD (Scotland, United Kingdom)
  30. Rutja Phuphaibul, RN, DNSc (Thailand)

To view a photo tribute of these 30 Foundational Leaders click here.

This list includes the following countries:

Canada – 4

Finland – 1

Iceland – 1

Japan – 5

Portugal – 1

Spain – 1

Sweden – 2

Switzerland – 1

Thailand – 3

Scotland – 1

USA – 9


Bell, J.M., Watson, W.L., & Wright, L.M. (Eds.). (1990).  The cutting edge of family nursing.  Calgary, Alberta, Canada: Family Nursing Unit Publications. (selected papers from the 1stInternational Family Nursing Conference.) Free download available from DSpace, University of Calgary Library:

Feetham, S.L., Meister, S.B., Bell, J.M., & Gilliss, C.L. (Eds.).  (1993).  The nursing of families: Theory/research/education/practice.  Newbury Park, CA: SAGE. (selected papers from the 2nd International Family Nursing Conference.)

Miller, J.R., & Janosik, E.H. (1980). Family-focused care.  New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.