From left to right: Dr. Marsha Adams, Dr. Louise O’Keefe, Dr. Cindy Cooke

UAB Visionary Leaders, (L-R), Dr. Marsha Adams, Dr. Louise O’Keefe, Dr. Cindy Cooke

Courtesy Michael Mercier

College of Nursing (CON) faculty and the advisory board chair at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), a part of the University of Alabama System, have been named to The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing list of 70 Visionary Leaders. Chosen to the list were Dr. Marsha Howell Adams, UAH Dean of the College of Nursing; Dr. Louise C. O'Keefe, Director of the UAH Faculty and Staff Clinic; and Dr. Cindy Cooke, Chair of the CON Advisory Board.

The UAB school of nursings 70 visionary leaders
Courtesy UAB Nursing

The list was created in celebration of the 70th anniversary of UAB Nursing to honor 70 alumni who are leaders in the field of nursing, nurse anesthesia and health care with the Visionary Leader distinction. This distinction recognizes outstanding UAB School of Nursing graduates for exemplary service in education and research, leadership, innovation and their far-reaching impact on nursing and health care on state, national and international levels. Visionary Leader award recipients will have their names and bios added to the Visionary Leaders digital display in the UAB School of Nursing building.

“As we mark the 70th anniversary of the UAB School of Nursing, we honor and celebrate our alumni who have been integral in distinguishing the School in state, national and international circles and in shaping the field of nursing and health care," said Dean and Fay B. Ireland Endowed Chair in Nursing Dr. Doreen C. Harper. “There are so many well-established and accomplished alumni from the UAB School of Nursing, that narrowing down to just 70 Visionary Leaders was an extremely difficult task for our peer evaluation selection committee.”

In selecting the 70 Visionary Leaders, the committee evaluated each nominee using the following to the following criteria:

  • Nominee has rendered distinctive service in the field of nursing and/or healthcare on the regional national and/or international level(s) in practice, education and/or research.
  • Nominee is recognized by colleagues and peers for outstanding achievement.
  • Nominee has demonstrated evidence of highest integrity in leadership, innovation and/or entrepreneurship.

Dr. Marsha Howell Adams developed two publications, “The NLN Excellence in Nursing Model” and the “Hallmarks of Excellence in Nursing Education” that have been instrumental in helping nurse educators question current practices and envision new possibilities. In addition, she served as co-editor and co-author of the book “Achieving Excellence in Nursing Education.” The Accreditation Commission on Nursing Education and the Commission on Nursing Education Accreditation have both used her work as a resource for the development of accreditation standards. From 2013-2015, Dr. Adams served as the President of the National League for Nursing. In 2015 she received the Marie L. O’Koren Alumni Award for Innovation by the UAB School of Nursing. In 2017 she was inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame, and in 2018 awarded the Alabama State Nurses Association (ASNA) Outstanding Nurse Administrator Academe.

Dr. Adams initiated a new online Joint Nursing Science Ph.D. program with UA in 2019. This Ph.D. program was the first totally online and joint Ph.D. program in the state. In the community, she served as President of the National Children’s Advocacy Center Board of Directors in 2020. That same year she spearheaded the creation of a College Recovery Community (CRC) for all UAH students who have completed a recovery program and seek support to successfully complete their college education. In addition, she has been nationally recognized for her innovative partnership program, KidCheck Plus, that brings nursing programs and community partners together to improve the health of Alabama’s children. By 2020, the program had expanded to include nursing programs throughout five states with screenings performed on more than 100,000 children, serving as a demonstration project for national implementation.

Dr. Louise O’Keefe established the first nurse-run employee health clinic on the campus of UAH. The clinic has been in operation for 13 years and has seen growth in both services and usage saving funds. Dr. O’Keefe’s leadership has led to several appointments, including serving on the UAH Benefits Committee, Faculty and Staff Wellness Committee, Medical Director of the AED Program at UAH and co-chairing the Communicable Disease Committee. She was also appointed to manage the COVID-19 crisis on campus. Under her tenure as Graduate Curriculum Committee as Chair, changes in the DNP program have been instituted to reflect the change from a joint DNP Program to an independent program.

Dr. O’Keefe has participated in internal and external grants relating to occupational health, including screening employees for colorectal cancer, bone health, cancer survivors in the workplace, and air pollution and cardiovascular health. She serves as a consultant and clinical advisor to Gene Capture, a biotechnology company at Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology. Dr. O’Keefe was awarded the Outstanding Regional Nurse Practitioner by the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama (NPAA), the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Nurse Practitioner State Award for Excellence in practice in 2014 and the Alabama League of Nursing Lamplighter Award in 2017. In 2019 she was awarded the Outstanding Regional Nurse Practitioner Educator Award by NPAA.

Dr. Cindy Cooke has been active in local, state and national NP organizations since her graduation and is currently serving as the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She was named a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners in 2009. She is a member of numerous professional organizations including NANPA, NPAA and AANP and has been involved in local, state and national NP organizations.

Dr. Cooke is past president of North Alabama Nurse Practitioner Association (NANPA), the founding president of the Nurse Practitioner Alliance of Alabama (NPAA), the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) state representative for Alabama and past AANP Region 11 Director. Dr. Cooke has been active in speaking locally and nationally on various clinical and health policy topics. She was selected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners in 2009.



Dr. Marsha Howell Adams

Russ Nelson