UNCP professor Cherry Maynor Beasley named American Academy of Nursing Fellow

Cherry Beasley
Dr. Cherry Maynor Beasley

Dr. Cherry Maynor Beasley, an internationally recognized expert in public health and founding member and chair of UNC Pembroke’s Department of Nursing, has been named a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

The fellowship is one of the highest honors in the nursing profession. Beasley is the first UNCP faculty member to ever receive the award. She joins an elite group, as only 2,700 distinguished nursing leaders worldwide have been given the honor.

“Not only is this an honor for me, but I consider that a major honor for our community,” Beasley said. “Many of the people who are selected focus their efforts in urban communities and large research universities. This selection clearly demonstrates that nurses who work in a variety of settings are leaders in the profession. I want to specially thank Drs. Horns and Puentes for their nomination efforts. We all need others to mentor us and appreciate our work, and I am extremely honored that these two leaders in nursing recognized my work as important.”

Beasley, the Belk Endowed Professor for Rural and Minority Health, is among 230 nurse leaders in education, management, practice and research to join the 2020 Class of Fellows.

The American Academy of Nursing is a professional organization that generates, synthesizes and disseminates nursing knowledge to contribute to health policy and practice for the benefit of the public and the nursing profession.

Fellows are selected based on their contributions to advance the public’s health. Induction into the academy is a significant milestone in nurse leaders’ careers in which their accomplishments are honored by their colleagues within the profession.

Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings applauded Beasley describing her pending induction as a well-deserved, high honor.

“Dr. Beasley has received many accolades over her career, but most inspiring is her motivation doesn’t come from recognition but her commitment to serving others and empowering the next generations of nursing professionals to succeed and improve the health in rural and underserved regions. She has led our Department of Nursing to incredible success, and we’re so honored to have her leadership at our university,” Cummings said.

This year’s inductees will be recognized at the annual conference, taking place virtually October 29-31.

Beasley was nominated by Dr. William Puentes, Brenda B. Brooks Distinguished Professor of Nursing at UNCP and East Carolina University nursing professor Dr. Phyllis Horns.

“Dr. Beasley’s commitment to health care equity and her drive to respond to the health care needs of disenfranchised, rural populations is reflected in her tireless involvement in initiatives to address these pressing issues,” Puentes said.

“Her advocacy for rural populations has made her to go-to person throughout North Carolina, as well as nationally among American Indian and rural healthcare professionals, for implementing data-drive, culturally appropriate solutions. As a colleague, I have found her tireless pursuit of equitable health care for all an inspiration. I expect great things to result from her work for many years to come and am proud to have had the opportunity to work with her on these initiatives.”

Horns added, “Dr. Beasley is a nationally recognized expert on American Indian culture, beliefs and health issues. Building on her own cultural heritage as a Lumbee Indian and through her exemplary nursing career, she has an impressive history of advancing Indigenous people’s health issues and influencing related health care policies to better serve this population, particularly in rural settings. She’s an amazing person who cares deeply for the health and welfare her fellow citizens.”

Beasley has devoted most of her 45-year career to rural, underserved populations. She is the first member of the Lumbee Tribe to earn a BSN, MS and Ph.D. in Nursing. She was the first nursing faculty member of the Department of Nursing at UNCP.

The synergy of Dr. Beasley’s research and service interests evolves from a focus on health care decision-making and behaviors of rural, minority populations. This approach informs her extensive work with populations utilizing participatory community outreach and research to address health disparities, well-being, and environmental and healthcare policy. She is a sought after collaborator and mentor on research and service projects.

Dr. Beasley currently serves in several nursing and public health leadership roles, including the North Carolina Future of Nursing Taskforce, the North Carolina Action Committee of the Health Care Quality Commission, Southeastern Health Board of Trustees and the GlenFlora Board of Directors. Dr. Beasley frequently consults with the Lumbee Tribe on health concerns. Her numerous teaching awards include the coveted UNC Board of Governor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. As a major in the Army Nurse Corp, she served in field hospital units, worked on research teams for HIV/AIDS and participated in NATO exercises to design health care systems.

Among her many accolades, she was awarded the North Carolina Legislative Nurse of the Year in 2009. She is co-editor of American Indian Women of Proud Nations: Essays on History, Language and Education, selected for the Critical Indigenous and American Indian Studies series.