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Speakers and Honorees
Karen Kauffman, PhD, CRNP, RN, FAAN
Honorary Faculty Marshal
Retired Chair, Department of Family and Community Health,
School of Nursing
To appreciate the lengths Karen Kauffman will go to provide public service, turn back to 2010 when she took 23 dancing lessons in 13 weeks to be a “dancing star” at the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater Maryland Chapter’s Memory Ball, raising $12,000.
“I wanted to honor my mother [who had suffered from Alzheimer’s and died the year before], so I chose to do the ‘Viennese Waltz’ because it’s such a graceful and elegant dance, and I knew my mother would have loved it,” recalls Kauffman, who retired in December 2017 as chair of the University of Maryland School of Nursing’s Department of Family and Community Health. “It’s a very difficult dance to do well, but I had a wonderful professional instructor who kept me moving in the right directions.”
Kauffman’s career also moved in step, with a PhD at University of Pennsylvania and two decades of acute care nursing leading to the University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) faculty from 1995 to 1998. She left to start Life Passages Care Consultants, Inc., a long-term care consultation practice for older adults and their families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, then returned to UMSON in 2003 as the specialty director for community/public health nursing.
She became chair of the Department of Family and Community Health in 2007, building what she calls “a stellar faculty and staff who foster and receive national acclaim for excellence in obstetric, psychiatric, pediatric, primary care, and public health nursing.”
Now Kauffman is thrilled to be chosen as a marshal for UMB’s commencement ceremony on May 18.
“For me, serving as Honorary Faculty Marshal for the 2018 commencement is truly the capstone to my many rewarding years in the academy,” she says.
At Kauffman’s retirement party in November 2017, SON Dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, praised not only her accomplishments but also the manner in which she achieved them.
“Karen has led the department with intelligence, grace, and a deep commitment to her colleagues,” Kirschling said, “and we are all grateful for her hard work in making the department all that it is today.”
Kauffman has been widely recognized for her contributions to the larger community as well. In 2012, she received the University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ Faculty Award for Excellence in Public Service. Also in 2012, she was named to the Maryland Circle of Excellence of Top 100 Women. In 2013, she was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and in 2014 she received the UMB Founders Week Award for Public Service.
Her most personal work involves Alzheimer’s disease, a condition Kauffman witnessed firsthand for over 20 years while caring for her mother. Volunteering with the National Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Maryland Chapter, Kauffman’s advocacy resulted in additional funding for research — leading to the creation of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA); and expanding access to Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income for people with early onset disease.
“Having been a national and chapter leader in the work of the Alzheimer's Association has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my nursing career,” Kauffman says. “I see them not as separate pathways, but as one journey combining knowledge and skill with advocacy and public policy to maximize quality of life for persons and families living with Alzheimer's.”
Kauffman chaired the 23rd Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum to advocate for NAPA, and led the panel that revised the association’s Statement of Ethics to better reflect the changes that were occurring in diagnosis and management, the increasing incidence of early onset, and technological and pharmacological advances.
She also served as a governor-appointed member of the Maryland State Advisory Council on Quality of Care at End of Life and helped lead the charge for including nurse practitioners with physicians as signatories on the Medical Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment.
“Karen’s dedicated service in the public sector has made a profound difference in the lives of countless individuals struggling with Alzheimer’s disease, and their families and caregivers on a local, national, and international level,” Kirschling said. “Karen’s passion and deep commitment has focused on creating a world without Alzheimer’s disease, which is closer because of her efforts.”