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Learn about the mission of the alumni board and meet the current members.

Mission of the KU Nurses Alumni Board

To serve as a valuable resource for the Dean of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s School of Nursing and to support and promote a positive image of the School of Nursing and its advancement of professional and academic endeavors.

The board accomplishes this mission primarily by:

  • Advocating for and promoting networking, fellowship and lifelong learning amongst present and former students from the School of Nursing.
  • Assisting in guiding the activities of the Association, as managed by the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Director of Alumni Relations or their designee.
  • Assisting the Dean of the School of Nursing by providing key contacts, information, knowledge, skills or expertise on matters relating to alumni relations and the field of health care.
  • Maintaining relationships with the School of Nursing student organizations and supporting their initiatives.

The Association serves the University of Kansas Medical Center graduates, nursing students, the KU School of Nursing and potential students.

Learn more about the KU Nurses Alumni Association

Current Board Members

Cathy Bartholow, BSN'81, RN
Metropolitan Member-at-Large

Cathy Bartholow is a part-time staff nurse at the office of Dr. K. Dean Reeves. She has worked with Dr. Reeves since 2017 after a career in pediatrics. She completed her BSN degree from the University of Kansas School of Nursing in 1981. Cathy loves spending her free time at her vintage booth and church.

Heidi Boehm, MS'09, BSN'02, RN, NPD‐BC, CPPS
Metropolitan Member-at-Large

Heidi Boehm is a Program Manager for Enterprise Initiatives focused on behavioral health quality and safety at The University of Kansas Health System. She’s been at the health system since 2002 when she completed her BSN from the KU School of Nursing. Boehm received her Master of Science in Nursing in 2009. In 2010, she was named the Early Career Achievement in Nursing Alumna by the KU Medical Center Alumni Association.

Amanda Cackler, DNP'22, MS’10, BSN’03, CPHQ, CIC
Metropolitan Member-at-Large

Amanda Cackler is the Director of Quality & Safety and Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System. She has been at the Health System since 2002 while completing her BSN at the KU School of Nursing. Cackler received her Master of Science in Nursing in 2010 and Doctorate in Nursing Practice in 2022. She has also served as adjunct faculty for KU SON since 2010. Cackler was recognized by Ingram’s Magazine as a Hero in Healthcare in 2021 and received the Early Career Achievement in Nursing Alumna by the KU Medical Center Alumni Association in 2022.

Rita Clifford, PhD, BSN’62
Administrative Liaison

Rita Clifford is an Associate Professor Emerita at the KU School of Nursing. Since 1964, she has worn hats at every level in the school, from instructor to acting dean including over 30 years as Associate Dean, Student Affairs. She became fully retired at the end of 2017 when she was granted Emeritus status. In 1992, Rita was awarded the Distinguished Alumni of the KU Nurses Alumni Association, and in 2007, was received the Honorary Recognition from the Kansas State Nurses Association. She has also been recognized by Ingram's Magazine as a Hero of Health Care, in 2011 as an honoree of The Women's Foundation of Kansas City, and, in 2012, as a KU Woman of Distinction.

Barbara Geiger, BSN'83
Vice President

Barb Geiger is Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations at MANA Therapeutics. In this role, she is responsible for the planning and management of all clinical activities related to MANA's drug development programs and works with the research, medical, regulatory, manufacturing and finance teams. Ms. Geiger began her pharmaceutical career at Marion Laboratories, and has over 30 years of experience in the CRO and biopharmaceutical industry where she held roles of increasing responsibility. She began her career as a pediatric oncology nurse and as an early phase research coordinator. Ms. Geiger earned her undergraduate degrees in nursing and human biology from the University of Kansas and completed the Columbia University Senior Executive Program.

Naomi King, DNP’19, MS’95, BSN’89, RN, CMSRN
Metropolitan Member-at-Large

Naomi King is currently a Nursing Professional Development Practitioner in the Allied Health Education department at The University of Kansas Health System. She received her BSN in 1989, MS in Nursing in 1995, and DNP in 2019, all from KU School of Nursing. She served on the faculty at KU School of Nursing from 1995 to 2010. In 2019 she received the KSNA Nurse of the Year Award in Practice. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, ANA, KSNA, Association of Nursing Professional Development and the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses. She holds the certified medical-surgical nurse credential.

Jeff Knight, MPH, BSN’11

Jeff Knight is the Chief Operating Officer at Crinetics Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining Crinetics, he was responsible for portfolio management and strategy, alliance management, quality and compliance, and corporate operations at Poseida Therapeutics, where he was a member of the executive leadership team. Earlier in his career, he gained valuable clinical development, program management, and regulatory affairs experience at Genentech, Hoechst Marion Roussel (now Sanofi), and PRA International. Jeff earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology followed by a Master of Public Health in biostatistics and epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma.

Chris Mackay, PhD’19, BSN’94, MSA
National Member-at-Large

Lynn Murphy, MS'17
Metropolitan Member-at-Large

Lynn Murphy is the Quality and Safety RN Supervisor at The University of Kansas Health System and focuses on improving patient safety through process improvement and just culture. She has worked in quality for 10 years after working in cardiac progressive care since 2005. She is also adjunct faculty at KU School of Nursing, working with undergraduate students to teach Quality Improvement. Lynn is also involved at the local and national level with multiple professional organizations and is the co-founder of the KC Metro Healthcare Quality and Safety Consortium.

Fred Neis, MS’97, BSN’93, FACHE, FAEN

Fred Neis is a Senior Client Partner in the healthcare practice based in Korn Ferry’s Chicago, IL office. Fred is an executive and enthusiast for healthcare change. He leads efforts to assess, design, and implement holistic workforce solutions. With nearly three decades of experience in health system operations, he has exposure to nearly the entire suite of functions. Fred designed and implemented one of the industry’s first pay-for-performance models for nurse and essential staff. Additionally, Fred is active at local and national levels as an author, journal peer reviewer, advisory committee member, and conference speaker to help shape policy and practice. Before joining the firm, he has held clinical and leadership positions within health systems (including AMCs), payers, consulting, and technology companies. Fred holds a MS in Nursing Administration and a BSN from the University of Kansas. He is a Fellow with both the Academy of Emergency Nursing and American College of Healthcare Executives. With a desire to serve, he volunteers actively for several professional and philanthropic organizations. 

Heather Nelson-Brantley, PhD'16, BSN'11, RN, NEA-BC

Dr. Heather Nelson-Brantley is an Associate Professor and Director of the Nurse Executive DNP Pathway at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). She is recognized nationally for her research in nursing leadership, implementation science, cancer care, and rural health care. Dr. Nelson-Brantley received her PhD in Nursing with a minor in Organizational Leadership from the University of Kansas, BSN from the University of Kansas, and BS in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration from Kansas State University. She is a 2019 Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (TIDIRH) scholar and a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar alumna.

Rebecca A. Paulsen, MS'99, RN, CPN
Immediate Past President

Rebecca Paulsen is Senior Director, Medical/Surgical Services at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO. She received her BSN from Loyola University Chicago in 1991 and her MS in nursing administration from the KU School of Nursing in 1999.

Rachel Pepper, DNP'11, MS'09, RN, NEA-BC
Metropolitan Member-at-Large

Rachel Pepper is the Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Kansas City Division at The University of Kansas Health System, a Magnet designated facility. She has served in the roles of staff nurse, unit coordinator, nurse manager, nursing director, and senior nursing director at the Hospital. In every role, Rachel has been dedicated to supporting the constant pursuit of high quality, safe, high satisfaction patient care, building exceptional work environments for staff, and mentoring aspiring professionals. Rachel is a proud champion of nurses being leaders on the health care team. She completed a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from the University of Kansas.

Damon Phouvanay, BSN'20
Metropolitan Member-at-Large

Damon Phouvanay is a cardiac ICU nurse at Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, MO. Damon received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Kansas In 2017 and his BSN from the KU School of Nursing in 2020.

Koi Wessel, BSN’23
Statewide Member-at-Large

Koi Wessel is a registered nurse in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at Ascension Via Christi St Francis in Wichita Kansas. Koi received his BSN degree from the University of Kansas School of Nursing in 2023. He is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International. 

Julie Wilhauk, DNP’11, MS’00
Statewide Member-at-Large

Become a Board Member

Interested in becoming a KU Nurses Alumni Board Member? Fill out this form >> 

Board Member Responsibilities

  • Attend meetings of the board annually, at own expense
  • Adhere to the Bylaws of the Association
  • Board members should maintain membership in the Association, as well as actively promote membership in the Association.
  • Participate and represent the Association at various events and activities supported by the KUMC Alumni Association
  • Identify and recruit volunteer leaders and financial support for the Association

Terms of Office

  • Terms begin at first board meeting of the year
  • President: two-year term
  • President-elect: two-year term
  • Immediate Past President: two-year term
  • Vice President: two-year term
  • Treasurer: two-year term, appointed by president
  • Membership and Elections Chair: two-year term
  • Member-at-Large positions: two-year term

Alumni Relations