Jean D’Meza Leuner, dean of the University of Central Florida College of Nursing, was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing on Oct. 13. Leuner, a professor and the college’s founding dean, was one of four nursing professionals selected from Florida for the 2012 inductions in Washington, D.C.

Comprised of the nation’s top nurse researchers, policy makers, scholars, executives, educators, and practitioners, the academy’s 2012 inductees include 176 nurse leaders. The academy’s mission is to serve the public and nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the development and dissemination of nursing knowledge.

“Selection for membership in the academy is one of the most prestigious honors in the field of nursing,” said academy president Joanne Disch.  

Karen Aroian, a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and director of nursing research for the UCF College of Nursing, sponsored Leuner in her application to the academy.

“Dr. Leuner has shaped health initiatives, nursing education and practice models that improve nursing workforce capacity and population health by developing cutting-edge models and implementing them through her strategic leadership in national, regional, and local boards and task forces,” Aroian said. “She began actualizing recommendations from the Institute of Medicine’s report on the Future of Nursing well before the report was published, and has the knowledge, skills and passion to contribute significantly to the academy’s mission.”

Leuner said she was honored to be selected as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing.

“I look forward to working alongside our nation’s top nurse leaders, many of whom I have admired throughout my own career, to further advance the nursing profession and address the issues affecting our current health care environment.”

During her tenure, Leuner has made substantial contributions to the field of nursing through her strategic vision and longstanding leadership to improve population health and well-being, and prepare a well-educated nursing workforce. She has served as the sole nurse on three strategically selected national and regional boards to shape health policy and advance the stature of nursing. As an invited member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, she led efforts to advance women’s health and family care.

Leuner served on the board for the Heart of Florida United Way and sits on the board of trustees for the Winter Park Health Foundation. She also chaired the Older Adult Work Group at the Winter Park Health Foundation, where she reviewed and allocated grant funding for innovative, evidence-based community projects. Her leadership and community engagement were honored in 2010 by the Orlando Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business.”

Leuner served as co-leader for the Florida statewide Future of Nursing Robert Wood Johnson Foundation initiative and chair for the Florida Association of Colleges of Nursing. She has implemented an innovative education model in Florida with seamless articulation and concurrent enrollment in associate and baccalaureate nursing programs. With three locations and expanding, this innovative model accelerates the route to earn a baccalaureate degree and provides regional access to the nursing baccalaureate. She has raised more than $6 million in endowments for nursing education and established four endowed chairs in one decade.

Leuner serves on the board of directors for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and is the immediate past president of Sigma Theta Tau’s Theta Epsilon chapter. She received her B.S.N. from Seton Hall University in New Jersey and her M.S.N. and Ph.D. from Boston College.

With Leuner’s induction into the academy, she joins four other UCF College of Nursing faculty members who also hold this nursing honor: Karen Aroian, Angeline Bushy, Anne Norris and Mary Lou Sole.

The academy is made up of more than 1,850 nursing leaders. Leadership positions held by academy fellows include university presidents, chancellors, and deans; state and federal political appointees; hospital chief executives and vice presidents for nursing; researchers and entrepreneurs; and practicing nurses.

Selection criteria include evidence of significant contributions to nursing and health care and sponsorship by two current academy fellows. Applicants are reviewed by a panel comprised of elected and appointed fellows, and selection is based, in part, on the extent to which nominees’ nursing careers influence health policies and the health and well-being of all.