| Washington, DC — Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives—Lauren Underwood (D-IL, 14th District) and Dave Joyce (R-OH, 14th District)—have received the National League for Nursing Award for Public Policy Advancement. The citation, established a decade ago and awarded annually, honors deserving congressional leaders who contribute to the nation’s progress in health care, nursing, and nursing education.
“In the midst of a public health emergency, the National League for Nursing is highlighting two individual elected officials whose advocacy and actions in public health have earned them one of the League’s highest accolades,” 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 commitment to improving public health, nursing and nursing education began years before the COVID-19 pandemic, and their work will undoubtedly continue to have a far-reaching positive impact long after it ends.”
NLN President and CEO Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN, said, “On behalf of the National League for Nursing, I extend deep and sincere gratitude for your service and leadership. We look forward to continuing to work with you on public policy initiatives that align with the League’s core values of caring, integrity, diversity and excellence as well as our mission to prepare a diverse and outstanding nursing workforce to advance the health of our nation and global community.”
Rep. Underwood, a registered nurse elected to the House in 2019, brought the uniquely valuable perspective of her nursing education and practice to her service on Capitol Hill. Her experience with the Medicaid program in Chicago and as a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helping communities prepare for and respond to public health emergencies like the current one, as well as disasters and bioterrorism threats have earned her the respect of colleagues as a trustworthy advocate for improving access to health care.
A co-founder and co-chair of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, she led congressional efforts to address a crisis in Black maternal health and advance policies to end disparities and improve health outcomes for this traditionally underserved population. In the House Nursing Caucus, Rep. Underwood pushed for passage of the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act and proposed policies to strengthen nursing education. She also played a leading role in initiatives to increase awareness of and access to vaccines, improve health care for immigrant families, and address the crisis of gun violence.
Rep. Joyce, a former county prosecutor who has been serving in Congress since 2013, was lauded for his forceful advocacy on a range of public health issues: nursing education and research; support for frontline health care providers; environmental protection; opioid and substance abuse; and suicide prevention. Co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, he helped raise awareness in the chamber of the role nurses play in improving access to affordable, high quality health care and of the importance of removing barriers that limit nursing practice.
Since 2015, Rep. Joyce has been a primary sponsor of the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, which secures critical federal funding for nursing workforce development programs. He also played a key role on the House Appropriations Committee in its annual renewal of funding for nursing education and research.
For more information about the National League for Nursing, visit NLN.org.