Our History


Our history began with the birth of the National Black Nurses Association, Inc....

It all began in 1970 at the American Nurses Association Convention in Miami Florida. A group of 150 black nurses met to discuss issues concerning lack of representation of black nurses and their concerns within the ANA... The National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) disbanded and merged with the ANA with the expectation that the concerns and needs of the black nurses would be addressed by the ANA. Between 1952 when Estelle Massey Osborne completed her four year term on the ANA board and 1970 when Fay Wilson was elected to the Board there was no representation. The group organized as the Action Oriented Black Nurses Council and elected Dr. Lauranne Sams to serve as Chairperson. She was charged with maintaining communication among the identified group. Dr. Sams convened the first follow-up meeting at the home of Dr. Mary Harper in Cleveland, Ohio December 18-19, 1971.This group identified themselves as the Steering Committee. A second meeting of the Steering Committee held in Cleveland from March 4-5, 1972, was attended by our Founder E. Lorraine Baugh.

This meeting was a planning and strategy session to outline the framework of how we would organize a caucus to be held at the ANA convention planned for Detroit in the summer of 1972. The Steering Committee sponsored three symposia workshops for black nurses present at the convention. The major purposes were to unify black nurses and to address the health problems and health care needs of black people.

The attendance by black nurses at the 1972 convention doubled that of 1970. The attendees were divided into six regional groups to discuss strategies for the development of local black nurse's organizations. It was at this time that the Steering Committee members voted to become a Board of Directors with Dr. Lauranne Sams as President. The National Black Nurses Association was incorporated in Ohio on September 20, 1972.

E. Lorraine Baugh, a co-founding member of the National Black Nurses Association returned to Boston following the 1972 symposium. She then organized the first meeting of what is now known as the New England Regional Black Nurses Association. The first meeting was held on August 14, 1972 at the Dimock Community Health Center. There were twenty-nine nurses in attendance including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, student nurses and four nurses from the state of Rhode Island. During that first meeting several issues were raised regarding membership; goals of the organization; geographic areas to be included and the name of the organization. The decision was made to include all registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing students in the membership. It was also decided to form an organization with an open membership to nurses from all six New England states. The primary goals of the New England Regional Black Nurses Association were as follows: unity, counseling for others wishing to enter the nursing profession, education of others and ourselves regarding nursing and the health care of the Black community, sensitivity in seeking out our identity and to find strength in our community, protection of fellow members and Black Nurses in the community,and serve as a bargaining group once a power base has been established. Several nurses volunteered to locate and recruit a contact person for the other New England states. There was also an agreement to bring at least one additional person to the next meeting, which was held on Wednesday, September 27, 1972. The New England Regional Black Nurses Association, Inc. (NERBNA) was incorporated in Boston, Massachusetts on January 9, 1973. The incorporators were E. Lorraine Baugh, Judith Harris, Gwendolyn Coffie, Jo-Anna Rorie and Harold Vaughn, Attorney at Law. NERBNA was approved for chapter status in 1978. The chapter received its charter on August 3, 1980 at the National Black Nurses convention in Dallas, Texas.

NERBNA is a part of the national effort to unify, educate and increase the number of African American Nurses in this country and is dedicated to investigating, defining and determining the health care needs of African Americans throughout the New England area and implementing the necessary changes to insure that optimum health care is available to all.

NERBNA provides educational programs to enhance nurses' competencies in leadership and ethical practice, and advocates for access to health services to the community to reduce mortality and morbidity in diseases that have a high incidence in minority populations.

NERBNA is a repository of information about nurses of African descent. The purpose of this information is to increase the number of African American nurses, facilitate networking, and monitor professional activities.

During its forty-year history, NERBNA has participated in a variety of programs and projects specifically aimed at increasing community awareness of factors affecting the health status of African Americans.

Since 1975, NERBNA has awarded more than thirty thousands dollars in scholarships to students pursuing nursing careers. Our present scholarships are: Francis W. Harris, in honor of the first African American nurse and graduate of the Boston City Hospital School of Nursing; Maxine V. Fennell Memorial, in memory of our past board member; Jessica Blanding Memorial and the Robin Gaines Memorial are in memory of our past members; and the Mary Eliza Mahoney award in honor of the first professionally trained black nurse in the United States, who was educated in Boston, MA. Our members, supporters and corporate contributors are to be commended for their unselfish donations to our scholarship fund.

In February 1989 NERBNA celebrated the second "National Black Nurses Day," in accordance with the National Black Nurses Association. Dr. M. Elizabeth Carnegie, author of The Path We Tread: The History of Blacks in Nursing was our keynote speaker for this inaugural event. At this celebration Ms. E. Lorraine Baugh, the Founder and First President of the New England Regional Black Nurses Association, was honored with the title of President Emeritus. We have continued to sponsor yearly celebrations of National Black Nurses Day and grant annual awards in recognition of nursing excellence.

In 2002, NERBNA celebrated "30 Years of Service to the Community" with Dr. Marcia I. Wells; a past NERBNA president was the keynote speaker. Today as we celebrate our fortieth anniversary with Dr. Deirdre Walton, NBNA President as the keynote speaker, we must stop and reflect on our history. We are grateful to Boston Medical Center for allowing NERBNA to conduct monthly meetings there for the past 20 years. Monthly meetings were held in the past at the Dimock Community Health Center, Lena Park Community Center, Harriet Tubman House/United South End Settlement, and Roxbury Community College.

NERBNA has been active in the community by offering health fairs in partnership with HEALTHWORKS, the Anheuser Busch Health Mobile at the Kite Festival in Franklin Park, at the malls in Roxbury, Dorchester, Roslindale and at the Roxbury Community College. The commitment to the community continues in partnership with community health centers, such as Mattapan Community Health Center's Health Care Revival where more than 700 people annually are offered health screenings and education. The organization has been able to establish a remarkable collaboration and partnership with the Center for Disease Control and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to offer Flu Vaccines to local churches and is the first chapter of the NBNA who is a provider of flu vaccines in the community. We are most proud of our Adopt-A- Classroom Project which focused on providing a healthy environment, health education and healthy snacks to 4th and 5th graders for three years at the Mather Elementary School in Dorchester, MA which was selected as a model program by the U.S. Department of Education 2010 at its conference in Washington, D.C.

In 1976, NERBNA sponsored its first clinical conference. We have continued to sponsor yearly clinical conferences that address the healthcare needs of the present and future, for minority and underserved communities. These interactive educational programs address both clinical and professional issues.

The annual clinical conferences have been held at the Sheraton Boston Hotel, Park Plaza Hotel and Lantana and for the past ten years at the Sheraton Four Points Conference Center in Norwood, MA. The clinical conferences continues to be a forum for African American/Black nurses to present cutting edge research, disease prevention strategies, and health improvement options that affect African Americans/Blacks and other communities of color. Continuing Education Credits are offered to all professional nurses at these conferences as well as at specified monthly organizational meetings.

NERBNA members traveled with nurses from other NBNA chapters to South Africa for education, research and exchange of information with our "fellow nurses" in the struggle to improved access and optimum health care and services to the people all over the world. Over the years NERBNA has embraced technology, promoted excellence in nursing education, supported local health care organizations, sat on boards of schools of nursing, and are often called to represent African American/Black nurses to address health care concerns of African Americans/Blacks.

This is the 24th year of our Excellence in Nursing Award which was established in 1988 because of our unswerving commitment to public recognition of Black nurses who consistently excel in their profession and specialty areas. The award is open to all licensed nurses in the areas of Practice, Leadership, Education/Teaching and Research and awarded annually.

NERBNA has maintained a committed membership during these forty years. The organization has been led by dedicated board members, diligent officers and a steadfast succession of ten presidents – E. Lorraine Baugh MSN, RN, (1972-1976); Sarah V. Myers, MSN, RNC (1976-1978); Beverly Brooks, MSN, RN (1978-1980) deceased; Marcia 1. Wells, MSN, RN (1980-1984); Betsy L. Harris, MSN, CSN, RN (1984-1988); Sharon T. Callender, RN, MPH (1988-1992); Lorna Chambers-Andrade, Ph.D, RNC (1992-1994); Cecilia P. Joseph, RN, MPH (1994-1998); Ronald Greene RN, BSN (1998-2002) and Margaret R. Brown, MS, PMHCNS-BC (2002-).

As we celebrate Forty Years of Service to the Community, NERBNA is proud of its accomplishments and history. We are one of the oldest chapters in the National Black Nurses Association where our Founder, Dr. E. Lorraine Baugh served as the third president and a past treasurer. NERBNA members have a legacy of serving at the national level. Four past presidents; Marcia Wells-Avery, Betsy L. Harris, Margaret R. Brown and Sharon T. Callender, as well as Peggy J. Leavy, a member have served on the Board of Directors of the National Black Nurses Association, Inc. in various positions. In addition, when the NBNA National Office was located in Boston at Boston City Hospital, from 1979 – 1983, Sadako Holmes, RN, MPH a member, served as the first NBNA Executive Director. NERBNA proudly continues their relationship with NBNA by serving on the national level as speakers, facilitators, mentors to new NBNA members at annual clinical conferences, or at the request of the National President. Locally, NERBNA members Yolanda Fahey, Dr. Lorna Chambers-Andrade, Phillip Waithe and Cilorene Weeks-Cabey, RN, MSN, served on the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. Their presence has provided the diversity that is needed in the profession on a state level. These accomplishments and many more, are just a snapshot of what has made this organization what it is today.

Since our first meeting at the Dimock Community Health Center, the New England Regional Black Nurses Association, Inc. remains committed to addressing those issues that impact the lives of Black Nurses and consumers of health care. So today as we celebrate our 40th Anniversary, National Black Nurses Day and the Excellence in Nursing Awards, we want to say "Thank You" to all of you, who help us do the work that makes a difference in the lives of so many.