TVote Now!his position is responsible for assisting the president and overseeing other duties as assigned by the president or the board. In the absence of the president, the president-elect performs the duties of the president, and when so acting, has all the powers of and is subject to all the restrictions upon the president. The president-elect year serves as an orientation for the upcoming year as president.  Full Description


Zim OkoliChizimuzo (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
    • 2014-Current
  • 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.



Amy RushtonAmy J. Rushton, DNP, APRN-BC

Present Position
Vice President
Behavioral Health, HCA Healthcare

Doctor of Nursing Practice, Executive Leadership, The Ohio State University

Master of Science in Nursing, The Catholic University of America
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Minor in Sociology, Syracuse University

APNA Contributions

I have been an active APNA member in good standing since 1996.

  • Board of Directors, Member-at-Large, 2011-2015
  •  Nominating Committee Chair, 2007-2008
  • Seclusion and Restraint Task Force Co-Chair, 2007
  • Institute for Safe Environments Co-Chair, 2008-2011
  • Workforce Task Force, 2018-present
  • Scholarly Review Committee, 2009-2019
  • Annual Conference
    • Planning Committee, 2006-2008
    • Presenter (2011, 2020)
  • Councils for Safe Environments Round Table Discussion, (2008- 2010)
  • Journal of American Psychiatric Nurses Association Editor Search Committee 2014-2015

Other Experience
  • Private Practice Psychotherapist (2001-2007)
  • Director of Continuing Education for APNA (2003-2006)
  • Assistant Chief Nurse Executive (2008-2010)
  • Chief Nurse Executive experience (2010-2019)
  • Board of Nurse Executives, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (2010-2016)
  • Board of Directors, PRS, Inc. (2018-2019)
  • Former Member of the District of Columbia Associate for Healthcare Quality
  • Former Board Member, District of Columbia Associate for Healthcare Quality

APNA Members Should Vote for Me Because: As a healthcare executive I’ve had the opportunity to work in many different settings and encounter a wide variety of opportunities and challenges. These experiences have informed my ability to advocate for psychiatric-mental health nurses in all settings and all levels of practice. As the physical, emotional, and financial toll of the pandemic becomes more evident, the contributions that psychiatric-mental health nurses can make will be paramount to the health and wellness of our communities. We must continue to educate the public about psychiatric–mental nursing, engage with thought leaders, and strengthen APNA partnerships with organizations around mental health/addiction issues. In 2011, I had the honor of being elected to the board of directors as member-at-large for APNA. My service on the board allowed me to weigh in on initiatives that promoted the advancement of our specialty and helped to improve the mental health care for diverse individuals, families, groups, and communities. I hope to continue to do this work as the future President-Elect.

I Can Help Fulfill APNA’s Purpose As A Scientific and Education Organization By: I will work to uphold the core values of APNA and to ensure APNA is the unifying voice of psychiatric-mental health nursing. Continuing to encourage and fund research initiatives, develop our workforce, and nurture innovations in all practice settings will be required as the pandemic subsides. As healthcare delivery models continue to change, we must continue to not only be a part of the conversation, but to initiate and lead the conversation.  To achieve this, I will make sure we continue to develop and foster strategic relationships and partnerships and that we advocate for our profession and the individuals we serve. Now more than ever nurses must practice to the top of their license, we must continue to grow our workforce, insist on having our voices heard in our communities, and be viewed as subject matter experts on mental health and wellness.


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