Distinguished Nursing Alumna Helps Advance Profession Through NLN Roles

JULY 24, 2014 – When the National League for Nursing (NLN) moved its headquarters from New York to Washington last year, Georgetown nursing alumna Elaine (Murray) Tagliareni (NHS’70), EdD, RN, CNE, FAAN, found herself living in the nation’s capital once again.

From the NLN’s offices in the Watergate, Tagliareni, who served as the organization’s president from 2007 to 2009 and is currently one of two chief program officers, can look up the Potomac River and see her alma mater.

She says she loves her role at the NLN, which is the first nursing organization in the United States and dates back to 1893.

‘Gift of a Lifetime’

“It is a gift of a lifetime because I have spent my entire career being involved with curriculum development, nursing education, and working with nurses nationally,” says Tagliareni.  “It is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference.  Our mission is to create excellence in nursing education, build a strong workforce through education, and advance people’s health through nursing.”

For nearly three decades, Tagliareni built her career in nursing education at the Community College of Philadelphia, where she was a professor of nursing and held the Independence Foundation in Community Health Nursing Education Chair.

In that role, she educated many adult learners from disadvantaged backgrounds who were seeking an associate’s degree to enter the nursing profession.

Agent of Change

“I always felt so proud to be able to teach the students a profession and a real skill set so they could advance in many ways,” she says.  “That was the social justice work that gave my career meaning.  Access to education could change the trajectory for an entire family.  That was profound and the motivator that kept me working.”

For her work as an educator, Tagliareni has received prestigious honors.

In 2008, she was named Pennsylvania Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation. Tagliareni also has received the Northeast Regional Faculty Award and the national William H. Meardy Faculty Award, both from the Association of Community College Trustees.

Faculty, Curriculum Development

During her tenure as president, Tagliareni coordinated a multipart project between the NLN and the Community College of Philadelphia – with funding from the Independence Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, and Laerdal Medical – to prepare nursing students to care for older adults.

In her new role, she is continuing to oversee that effort, as well as research and professional development and faculty development activities, including an annual education summit and Web-based seminars and workshops.

“Becoming president of the NLN was another gift and a wonderful way to celebrate my work with the NLN and certainly with faculty who have been my area of interest and colleagues all my life,” she says.  “And then to have the opportunity to come and be a chief program officer was the cherry on top of the cake, if you will.”

Georgetown Memories

In mid-August, Tagliareni says she plans to go on a trip to Maine with her Georgetown classmates.

“My Georgetown memories have to be the people,” says Tagliareni, whose daughter Marisa (B’99) is also an alumna.  “Forty-four years later, I am still really close with my classmates, and we meet together every year.  It’s building those friendships that really do last a lifetime.”

She remembers the liberal arts education, participating in student government and helping integrate nursing students into activities around campus, moving through college during the Vietnam War, and, perhaps most importantly, the faith the professors had in her and her classmates.

“The faculty believed in us,” she says. “We were intelligent and problem-solvers who could make good decisions.  And I bought it.  That has stuck with me as an educator – to give feedback about how students’ achievements will drive them forward in the future.  If people believe in you, you begin to believe it yourself.”

By Bill Cessato