New England Regional Black Nurses Association

Organization of Nurse Leaders





February is Black History Month


Celebrate Black History Month

ONL and NERBNA continue our long-standing partnership with a celebration of Black History month. We present an exciting four-part series of vignettes about the significant impact Black nurse leaders have had on the profession here in New England, and across the nation.

ONL celebrates Black History Month with the recognition of Mary Mahoney, the first Africian American to be a licensed nurse.

Our New England region's history is rich with the stories of nurse pioneers.One such pioneer was Mary Eliza Mahoney, the first black woman to study and practice nursing in the United States. Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1845, Mahoney expressed her desire to be a nurse early in life. After working as a nursing aide at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, Mahoney attended the institution’s nursing school in 1878. Her nursing career included private duty and serving as the Director of the Howard Orphanage Asylum for black children in Long Island, New York.

In 1896 Mahoney joined the mostly white Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC), which later became known as the American Nurses Association (ANA). Feeling the need to advocate for African American nurses' equality, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) in 1908. The NACGN was dedicated to promoting the standards and welfare of Black nurses and breaking down racial and discrimination barriers in the profession. In 1951, NACGN merged with the ANA after years of diligent lobbying to allow Black nurses to become members of state nursing associations.

NERBNA and ONL proudly celebrate Mary Eliza Mahoney's pioneering spirit, courage, and lifelong contributions to racial equity in our profession. That effort continues with the ONL and NERBNA pledge – the Nurses Pledge to Champion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity. Click here to take the pledge.

Please find the links below for more information:



 E. Lorraine Baugh


Lorriane Baugh was co-founder of the NBNA, she served as the third president and treasurer. In August 1972, the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) was initiated, and E. Lorraine Baugh was instrumental to its inception and sustainability. As the co-founder of the NBNA, Baugh served as the third president and treasurer. The scope of Baugh’s commitment to Black excellence, nursing education, and the community was demonstrated when she founded the New England Regional Black Nurses Association (NERBNA) and served as president from 1972-1976. While welcoming diverse nurses from all six New England states to NERBNA, Baugh established the organization’s goals and membership eligibility. One goal was to recognize the importance of belonging to a black professional organization that promotes unity, mentoring and continuing education. Another goal was to create a space for nursing in the Black community that modeled positive images and an available platform for rich discussions on African Americans' health care needs and other under-served populations in the community.

Baugh received a nursing diploma from Boston City Hospital School of Nursing, a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in nursing education from Boston University School of Nursing. In 2002, Baugh was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Endicott College.  Despite receiving this honor, she completed all comprehensive exams in the doctoral program for the Graduate School of Arts and Science at Boston College School of Education.  In 2012 the MGH Institute established the E. Lorraine Baugh Visiting Faculty Scholar Program to honor her service as an inspiration and beacon on diversity and inclusion issues. In 2018, she was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the MGH Institute of Health Professions. As a Nurse executive, Baugh served as the first chair of the Board of Trustees MGH Institute of Health Professions. Other board services included Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Partners HealthCare (Now Mass General Brigham), Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boston Children’s Hospital and Endicott College. Baugh is a born leader and a nurse at her core.

NERBNA and ONL celebrate Baugh’s innovative spirit, pioneering courage, and remarkable contributions to diversity and inclusivity. That effort continues with the ONL and NERBNA: Nurses Pledge to Champion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity.



Dr. Martha A. Dawson


Dr. Martha Dawson is an Associate Professor in the Nursing and Health Systems Leadership Division at the University of Alabama.

Martha A. Dawson, DNP, RN FACHE is an Associate Professor in the Nursing and Health Systems Leadership Division, and the Nursing and Health Systems Administration (NHSA) track at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing (UABSON). She has served as the division director and specialty track coordinator of the NHSA track.  Under her leadership, the NHSA track at UABSON has ranked #2 in the US and has been ranked in the top 10 for the last 10 years under her leadership. Currently, the NHSA is ranked #1 among public universities in the US and #3 among all universities.  In August 2019, Dr. Dawson was installed as the 13th President of the National Black Nurses Associates, Inc. She is the current president and represent the voice of over 300,000 African American and other nurses of different races and ethnicities. 

In 1976, Dr. Dawson earned her bachelor’s degree and in 1984, she earned her master’s degree, both from UABSON.   In 2010, she earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton, School of Nursing (FPBSON). In 1984, Dr. Dawson completed her hospital administration residency at Gaston Memorial Hospital at Gastonia, NC. Her education and experience has afforded her opportunities to serve in senior executive roles and also run her own healthcare consultant company. In 2019, Dr. Dawson was inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame Nurse.  She is a Scholar in the Sparkman Global Health Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (2017), Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives (2007), Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Executive Fellow (2000 Alumni), and Johnson & Johnson Wharton Nurse Administrative Fellow (1999 Alumni).

Dr. Dawson is active in 15 local, state, regional and national professional organizations. She has served on numerous AONL committees and taskforces, including assisting with the development of their Diversity Toolkit.  In addition, she has served as the President for Birmingham Regional Organization of Nurse Leaders. Dr. Dawson is the 2018 President for the Alabama Organization of Nurse Executives. Dr. Dawson is active in the Alabama State Action Coalition where she is the chair of the Diversity Committee, lead grant writer and a member of the Steering Committee.  She is also a founding member of the first Hispanic nursing chapter in Alabama.  Dr. Dawson is an active and supportive member of the Birmingham Black Nurses Association (BBNA), in Birmingham, Alabama.  Grants and Scholarship and Awards:  Dr. Dawson has served as principal investigator, project director and coordinator on HRSA and foundation grants exceeding $3.6 million. She has served as a grant consultant and program evaluator. Her research and scholarship focus are on career barriers and mobility, management development, succession planning, career progression, and workforce diversity and planning. She has publications in books, journals, newsletters, podcasts, and has won numerous awards.



Lyns Hercule


Lyns Hercule oncology nurse clinician at Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.Lyns Hercule, MSN, RN, NP-C is a remarkably dedicated oncology nurse clinician at the Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DFBWCC) in Boston, MA.  Throughout the past decade, Lyns has significantly contributed to improving patient outcomes as an oncology resource and hematology/oncology float pool nurse within the 16-unit, 180-bed DFBWCC inpatient service line.  Serving as a role model leader and mentor, Lyns has precepted numerous nurses in the clinical setting; however, his mentorship spans beyond the bedside as he coaches prospective healthcare professionals from all ethnicities, races, cultures through his work with Boston Leaders in Elimination of Academic Disparities (LEAD) and the Clinical Leadership Collaborative for Diversity in Nursing.  Additionally, Lyns has volunteered with Kenya Heart and Soul, traveling to Africa to provide needed community assessment, health promotion, and risk reduction education with the aim of mitigating morbidity and mortality among this underserved population. 

As a recent 2020 Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society Master of Science in Nursing graduate from University of Massachusetts Boston, Lyns received many honors including the Gretchen Stone Cook Foundation and LEAD scholarships.  As he prepares to embark on his new journey as a  palliative care nurse practitioner at DFBWCC, Lyns’ unwavering commitment to exemplary patient care, meaningful interdisciplinary collaboration, and unrelenting positivity will undoubtedly continue to better the lives of those fortunate enough to cross paths with him. This year, NERBNA is celebrating Lyns as a 2021 NERBNA Excellence in Nursing Practice Awardee. 



Take the Nurse's Pledge to Champion Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity

 Visit this page each week of Black History Month to learn more about black nurse leaders.




Mass Health and Hospital Association Patient Care LinkAmerican Organization for Nurse Leadership Massachusetts Action CoalitionCummings Foundation