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APNA Elections Results

APNA members voted in 6 psychiatric-mental health nursing leaders to the Board of Directors and 2022 Nominating Committee. Click on the name to learn more about each new leader.

Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli, PhD, MPH, MSN, PMHNP, BC
Lexington, KY


Kristen Kichefski, MSN, MBA, RN-BC
Boston, MA


Kerry Peterson, PhD, DNP, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC, RN
Colorado Springs, CO



2022 Nominating Committee

Committee Member
Anita S. Daniels, MS, RN-BC
Poughkeepsie, NY


Committee Member
San Diego, CA


Committee Member
Daniel Wesemann, MSW, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC
Moline, IL


Chizimuzo (Zim) Okoli, PhD, MPH, MSN, PMHNP, BC

Present Position
Professor and Executive Director, Behavioral Health and Wellness Environments for Living and Learning (BH WELL), University of Kentucky College of Nursing
Director of Evidence Based Practice, Eastern State Hospital
Nurse Scientist, UK Healthcare

Post-Masters Lifespan PMHNP, University of Kentucky College of Nursing, 2020
Post-doctoral Fellowship, University of British Columbia, 2010
PhD, University of Kentucky, 2005
MPH, University of Kentucky, 2005
MSN, University of Kentucky, 2002
BSN, University of Kentucky, 1999

APNA Contributions

  • Scholarly Review Committee: 2014-Present
    Chair 2019-2020
    Associate Chair 2018-2019
  • Addictions Council Tobacco Dependence Branch
  • JAPNA Peer Reviewer 2020-current
  • JAPNA Contributor
  • APNA Annual Conference Presenter: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
  • APNA Kentucky Chapter
    Treasurer 2021-Present
    Conference Program Planning Committee 2016-Present

Other Experience

  • Health Policy for Smoke-free Settings in U.S. and Canada
  • Tobacco Treatment in Behavioral Health Settings
  • Eastern State Hospital ‘Work Learning Program’, supporting mental health nurses to further educational attainment: 2017-Current
  • Interact for Health, Healthy Choices About Substance Use Advisory Council: 2014-2015
  • DrugFree Lexington Advisory Council: 2013-2015
  • UK Healthcare Professional Practice Nursing Research Council: 2013-2019

Other Professional Experience

  • Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist and Trainer
  • Grant Reviewer for several International Cancer Foundations: 2012-2016
  • Associate Editor, International Public Health Journal: 2015-2020

APNA Members Should Vote for Me Because: Through leadership responsibilities in international, national, and local organizations, I have gained a strong basis to serve as APNA’s President-Elect. In recent leadership positions at both national and local APNA committees, I have further discovered opportunities to advance our organization and profession. Now, more than ever, as we face the aftermath of COVID-19, a window of opportunity has opened to ADVOCATE for psychiatric-mental health nursing. Our advocacy involves informing consumers, fellow healthcare professionals, and opinion leaders about who we are, what we do, and the tremendous impact we have made (and continue to make) on the mental health landscape. By serving as President-Elect, I will make certain that our voice continues to be clearly heard—our voice that speaks firmly through our excellent research, innovative evidence-based practice, and ardent patient care.

I Can Help Fulfill APNA’s Purpose As A Scientific and Education Organization By: In serving as President-Elect, I will support ongoing work to maintain APNA’s influence as the premier psychiatric-mental health nursing organization. This work involves promoting policies that ensure access to psychiatric-mental health care to diverse individuals, families, and communities. Achieving this goal requires safeguarding diversity in the psychiatric-mental health workforce and supporting inclusive practices that honor and respect individuals, families, and communities. Realizing this goal requires promoting psychiatric-mental health nursing science, supporting student education in evidence-based practice, and providing opportunities for knowledge exchange among care providers. If elected, I will continue advocating and providing education about our organization and psychiatric-mental health nursing to thought leaders, while working with you to make certain that APNA remains a vanguard of innovative healthcare delivery, cutting-edge research, and relevant and contemporary education.


Kristen Kichefski, MSN, MBA, RN-BC

Present  Position
Director of Nursing, Doctor Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, Boston, MA

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), University of Massachusetts Medical School (In progress)
Master of Science Nursing (MSN), University of Texas at Tyler (2016)
Master of Business Administration (MBA), University of Texas at Tyler (2016)
Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN), Rhode Island College (2012)
Bachelor of Science Accountancy (BS), University of North Carolina at Wilmington (1999)
Associate of Arts (AA), Cape Fear Community College (1997)

APNA Contributions

  • Member since 2011
  • Attendee of 9 annual conferences
  • Represented APNA at the Nursing Organizations Alliance (NOA) Nursing Alliance Leadership Academy in 2018
  • APNA New England Chapter:
    • President-Elect, 2017
    • President, 2018
    • Immediate Past President 2019
    • Treasurer, 2014-2016
    • Massachusetts Area Representative
      Conference Committee
  • Administrative Council Co-Chair, 2019-2021
  • Council for Safe Environments Advisory Panel
  • Janssen Board Scholar, 2011
  • APNA Award for Excellence in Leadership – RN, 2016
  • APNA/ISPN Task Force Member, Psychiatric-mental health nursing: Scope and standards of practice (3rd Edition), 2019-2021
  • APNA Seclusion & Restraint Report Contributor, 2012
  • APNA Conference Presentations:
    • “Addressing the Needs of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual and/or Developmental Disabilities on Inpatient Psychiatric Units”, Preconference Session, 2020
    • “Administrative Council Interactive Workshop”, 2018
    • “Eradicating stigma of mental illness across the generations” Poster, 2018
    • “The use of Technology to Improve Staff Engagement and Safety on an Inpatient Psychiatric Unit”, Poster, 2017
    • “Benefits of Restraint Chair vs. 4-Point Leather or Velcro Restraints vs. Locked Door Seclusion (LDS) During Psychiatric Emergencies in the Inpatient Hospital Setting”, Poster, 2017
    • “Implementation of Education and Audit Tool to Improve Psychiatric Nurse Documentation”, Poster, 2016
    • “The Evolution of a Culture of Shared Governance in a Unionized Psychiatric Hospital”, Poster, 2016
    • “Implementation of a De-escalation Emergency Assistance Team to Improve Patient Outcomes”, Podium, 2015
    • “Teamwork Within the Community: Educating First Responders About Behavioral Health to Prevent Trauma”, Poster, 2015
    • “The Clinical Safety Committee: A Collaborative Approach to Improving a Culture of Clinical Safety Through Staff Empowerment and Shared Governance in a Unionized Psychiatric Hospital”, Poster, 2015

Other Experience
Prior career in managerial accounting providing management and oversight of all accounting activities, including account analysis, budgeting, forecasting, and periodic reporting.

APNA Members Should Vote for Me Because: In addition to my dedication to APNA’s mission and experience as treasurer on the chapter level, I have extensive accounting and management experience through my years in hospital administration, prior managerial accounting experience, and my education including BS in Accountancy and MBA. If elected I will continue my work towards supporting the mission of APNA through mentorship and education. I am passionate about improving the financial acumen of nurses to better advocate for our practice and our patients in the changing landscape of health care.

How I Can Help Fulfill APNA’s Purpose As A Scientific and Education Organization: If elected, I will continue to promote the values and purpose of APNA to providers of healthcare, PMH RNs and APRNs, and recipients of care through advocacy, education, and mentorship in a manner that is non-political and routed in science.


Kerry Peterson, PhD, DNP, PMHCNS-BC, PMHNP-BC, RN

Present Position
Associate Professor, Specialty Director of PMHNP program, and Psychiatric Mental Health Endowed Professorship at the University of Colorado College of Nursing
Volunteer, PMHNP clinical practice at a shelter for abused women and children.

PhD in Nursing- Johns Hopkins University (2014)
DNP- Shenandoah University (2011)
Post-Masters Certificate, PMHCNS and PMHNP- Shenandoah University (2010)
MSN- Shenandoah University (2007)
BSN- Shenandoah University (2005)
BA in Psychology- University of Colorado (2003)

APNA Contributions

  • APNA Colorado Chapter:
    • Secretary
    • President-Elect
    • President (2 terms)
    • Immediate Past-President (2 terms), 2014-Present
  • APNA Nominating Committee Member, 2016-2017
  • APNA Research Grant Recipient, 2013
  • APNA Janssen Student Scholar, 2011
  • JAPNA Peer Reviewer
  • Presenter at APNA Annual Conferences
  • Presenter and Conference Planner for the APNA Colorado Chapter events
  • APNA Recovery to Practice Facilitator

Other Experience

  • Over 15 years of experience in mental health nursing as a RN, PMHCNS, and PMHNP including inpatient, outpatient, residential/shelter, and campus settings.
  • Practice emphasis in psychotherapy, crisis interventions, and trauma-informed care including extensive work with survivors of domestic violence as well as primary prevention programs for interpersonal violence across the lifespan.
  • Over 10 years of experience as a nurse educator with primary emphasis in mental health nursing and PMHNP education.
  • Actively engaged in research and scholarship related to mental health nursing and disseminating knowledge annually through publications and presentations.

APNA Members Should Vote for Me Because: I am passionate about psychiatric nursing and improving mental health care for diverse and underserved populations. I believe that my experience as a mental health RN, PMHCNS, PMHNP, and mental health nursing faculty gives me a broad range of perspective on the issues facing psychiatric-mental health nursing. I have a sustained and consistent record of mental health practice expertise, teaching excellence in mental health education, research and scholarship related to mental health, and leadership in psychiatric nursing that makes me highly qualified for the APNA Member-at-Large position. APNA has helped me tremendously in my career as a mental health nurse, and I want to give back more to this wonderful organization!

I Can Help Fulfill APNA’s Purpose As A Scientific and Education Organization By: I understand the importance of APNA’s mission, and I am happy to invest my time and effort to achieve the goals of our organization. I am deeply committed to advancing psychiatric nursing and addressing the mental health crisis that our country is facing that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is imperative that we collectively work towards the goals of improving mental health, preventing mental illness, reducing stigma, and promoting equity and inclusion. I have been a strong ongoing advocate for our mental health nursing profession through my clinical practice, teaching, service, and leadership. I would be honored to help fulfill APNA’s vision by sharing my passion and experience and working collaboratively with APNA members and the APNA leadership team to maintain and enhance the scientific and educational purposes of our organization.

2022 Nominating Committee

Anita S. Daniels, MS, RN-BC

Present Position
Associate Commissioner, Child and Adult State Operated Services, New York State Office of Mental Health

ANCC Board Certified Psychiatric- Mental Health Nurse, 2020-2025
Lean Empire Belt, New York State Lean, 2017
MS (Family Health Nursing), Mercy College, 2003
BS (Nursing & Psychology), University of New York at New Platz, 1989

APNA Contributions

  • APNA Member, 2009-present
  • Co-facilitator in developing a conference between the APNA New York Chapter and the New York State Office of Mental Health, 2009

Other Experience
Leadership and Change Agent

  • Executive Director overseeing both adult and child psychiatric hospitals in the public sector.
  • Statewide Director of Nursing for the New York State Office of Mental Health


  • Adjunct Lecturer, Nursing Department, Mercy College
  • Keynote speaker: Chief Nursing Officers’ Annual Conference, 2018; APNA New York Chapter – Upstate, 2009; Rockland Psychiatric Center & St. Vincent’s Westchester Behavioral Health Nurse Recognition Day programs, 2008
  • Guest Presenter: Catskill Hudson Area Health Education Center Nursing Summit, 2016; New York City Children’s Center Nursing Leadership Summit, 2014; New York City Children’s Center Leadership Development series, 2013; Nursing Grand Rounds, 2009


DNP candidate, 2020-present

APNA Members Should Vote for Me Because: With over 35 years of administrative and clinical experience in psychiatric mental health nursing, I will be able to use that knowledge gained to support APNA’s mission and vision. Working in the public mental health system for nearly three decades, has offered me the opportunity to serve in a policy and decision-making capacity, supporting and creating services to meet the needs of those with severe and persistent mental illness and their families. Using my leadership skills, I have been able to develop, empower and create opportunities for psychiatric mental health nurses to practice with confidence and pride. Commitment, proven leadership skills, ability to educate others, diversity, and pride in being a psychiatric mental health nurse is what I will bring to this role.

How I Can Help Fulfill APNA’s Purpose As A Scientific and Education Organization: Through my leadership journey and evolution over the past 20 years, I will be able to empower others, set clear goals, lead with vision, model flexibility and adaptability, proactively problem solve and demonstrative effective self-management skills. These traits are key and are needed to help advance and support APNA’s mission to improve mental health care, shape health care policy and empower the psychiatric-mental health nursing community.


2022 Nominating Committee


Present Position
Executive Officer (Chief Operating Officer), US Naval Hospital, Rota, Spain

Doctor of Nursing Practice, Executive Leadership focus, Duke University, 2019
Jonas Nursing Veterans Healthcare Scholar, 2018-2020
Master of Science in Nursing, Psychiatric-Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2004
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, 1995
Associates Degree in Nursing, De Anza College, Cupertino, California, 1989

APNA Contributions

  • APNA California Chapter President; 2017-2018
  • APNA Nominations Committee, 2016
  • Military Cohort (“Plankowner”), 2012 to Present
  • Presenter, APNA Annual Conferences; 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018
  • Presenter, Clinical Psychopharmacology Institute; 2012

Other Experience

  • Standardized therapeutic containment practices using the Veterans Administration program – Prevention and Management of Disruptive Behavior, in collaboration with the Army, Air Force and Veterans Administration
  • Afghanistan; deployed for 9 months as Officer-in-Charge of a Mobile Care Team-7; responsible conducted over 800 psychological health assessments on Navy individual augmentees throughout the country, used to inform military psychological policy.

APNA Members Should Vote for Me Because: I have the experience of serving on nominating committees and my contribution to this committee will ensure that the best possible candidates are nominated to lead APNA. I have served on two Navy-Wide promotion boards, one Military Health Systems Award committee, and over 20 promotion recommendation boards. The duties as a member of these boards (committees) were conducted without prejudice or partiality, having in view the best candidate recommended based on the presenting information. Discretion is important and I will ensure that no information of the committee discussions is communicated except as authorized by APNA.

How I Can Help Fulfill APNA’s Purpose As A Scientific and Education Organization: Although there is an abundance of mental health research, the nursing scientist community, in particular mental health, is underrepresented. I am a proactive advocate for research and evidenced based practice and enjoy guiding newly graduated psychiatric-mental health nurses in expanding their academic efforts through grant writing, advising and/or preceptorship. By these continued efforts, my goal is to contribute to APNA’s mission as a scientific and education organization.


2022 Nominating Committee

Daniel Wesemann, MSW, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC

Present Position
Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing
PMHNP-DNP Program Director at the University of Iowa College of Nursing
Practicing PMHNP at Genesis Psychology Associates

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Rush University in Chicago, IL
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with concentration in Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at University of Iowa College of Nursing
Master’s in Nursing and Healthcare Practice at University of Iowa College of Nursing
Master of Social Work at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bachelor of Science (Major: Psychology) at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

APNA Contributions

  • JAPNA Peer Reviewer 2015-Present
  • Presenter APNA Annual Conferences: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and scheduled 2021
  • APNA Board of Directors Student Scholarship Program reviewer: 2021
  • APNA Iowa Chapter
    • Current Southeast Region Representative to the Board
    • Chapter President: 2017-2018
    • Chapter President-Elect: 2016-2017
    • Education Council Advisory Panel

Other Experience
National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty
Psychiatric Special Interest Group Co-Chair: 2018-2019
Psychiatric Special Interest Group Chair: 2019-2020
International Society of Psychiatric Nurses
Foundation Board Treasurer: 2020-2021
Foundation Board President-Elect: 2021-2022

Other Professional Experience

  • psychotherapist
  • educator
  • medication management
  • inpatient
  • forensic

APNA Members Should Vote for Me Because: The world has never needed psychiatric-mental health nurses more than they do now. With COVID-19 straining the entire healthcare system psychiatric-mental health nurses will be needed to address the needs of those who have suffered with the illness of COVID-19 along with the nurses who were caring for these critically ill patients. Psychiatric-mental health nurses have the unique acquired skills to be exceptional leaders within the entire healthcare system. I believe the Nominating Committee for the APNA serves a crucial role within the organization. The people who serve on the Nominating Committee have a direct impact on selecting the individuals who will lead the APNA. I have served on state, national and international boards and have witnessed the characteristics of exceptional psychiatric-mental health leaders. Based on these experiences I believe I can effectively screen and identify those who demonstrate the best of what we all expect from our APNA leaders.

How I Can Help Fulfill APNA’s Purpose As A Scientific and Education Organization: As a member of the APNA I always believed that psychiatric-mental health nurses should have a unifying organization where all members learn from each other as well as support each other through difficult times (i.e., COVID). I also believe the unique diversity of the APNA’s members is what makes this organization such a strength for all psychiatric-mental health nurses and nurse practitioners. If elected to the Nominating Committee I will work to preserve the APNA’s status as a place where psychiatric-mental health professionals inform and learn from the scientific tenets within the APNA and its members.