About Friends of nursing

Friends of Nursing is a grateful patient program that was established to:


In 1988, Martha White Blalock, a Duke patient, and her husband, Dan S. Blalock Jr., envisioned a program to support the exceptional nurses who were caring for them.  After his wife’s death, Mr. Blalock donated funds to begin Friends of Nursing (FON) as a way of thanking Duke Nurses for the excellent care they provide.

Since its inception in 1988, FON has sponsored professional development opportunities, such as seminars and Nursing Grand Rounds, funded scholarships for continuing education, financially supported learning and research dissemination, and recognized outstanding nursing practice.  FON activities ensure that all Duke University Health System (DUHS) nurses have access to the funding and education required to enhance their roles as health care providers, educators, researchers and administrators.

Fast Facts

Friends of Nursing supports more than 6,800 Duke Nurses with activities for nurse professional development, recognition and appreciation:

Professional Development

Nursing Grand Rounds presentations on topics of interest
Seminars based on staff-driven needs
Stipend Program for nurses selected to present at conferences


Award Program that honors exemplary nurses each year
Annual Gala Celebration of Nursing Excellence
Nominations for Professional and Community Awards
Award Winner recognition via internal and external media
Legacy of Nursing Excellence documentation and celebration


National Nurses Week Speaker presentations
“Thank You” gift distribution during National Nurses Week
Exemplars of Nursing Excellence promotion during National Nurses Week

As of May 2023, FON has:

  • Recognized 911 nurses with Excellence Awards, which includes the 2023 honorees. Each winner receives a FON pin, a certificate, an engraved trophy and a $1,000 education stipend.
  • Engaged more than 12,000 participants in continuing education opportunities, including seminars, Nursing Grand Rounds and National Nurses Week speakers.

Board of Advisors

The Board of Advisors has been the driving force behind the development of Friends of Nursing into a program that is the envy of hospitals and health systems across the country.  In fact, Duke Health is one of only a few organizations (~6) in the country with an endowed program to support nursing.

The Advisors have met regularly through the years to envision activities for recognizing professional excellence in nursing practice, nursing education and nursing research; enhancing the status of nursing; and promoting the image of nursing as a positive career choice.  And, they have committed time and energy to plan and execute key initiatives.  Our Advisors remain focused on the future, to keep Friends of Nursing relevant.  And, they are key contributors to the program year after year.

Duke Friends of Nursing 2023 Board of Advisors


Mary Ann Peter, PhD, RN
Hillsborough, N.C.


Nancy Anderson, MSN, RN
Durham, N.C

Alyson Breisch, MSN, RN-BC
Durham, N.C.

Ted Cole
Garner, N.C

Sharon Dooley
Cary, N.C

Pam Edwards, EdD, MSN, RN-BC, FABC, CNE, CENP
Willow Spring, N.C.

David Kong, MD
Durham, N.C.

Fran Mauney, MEd, BSN, RN
Durham, N.C.

Brenda Nevidjon, MSN, RN, FAAN
Durham, N.C.

Ellen Tim, MSN, RN
Raleigh, N.C.

Mary Vinson, DNP, RN-BC
Durham, N.C.


Mary Champagne, PhD, RN, FAAN
Durham, N.C.


Priscilla Ramseur, DNP, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC
Interim Vice President of Patient Care & System Chief Nurse Executive
Duke University Health System
Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Officer
Duke Raleigh Hospital

Kristin Merritt, DNP, MBA, RN, NEABC, CCRNK
Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Officer

Duke Regional Hospital

Chantal Howard, MSN, RN, CEN, NEA-BC
Chief Nursing and Patient Care Services Officer
Duke University Hospital

Cheryl Brewer, PhD, MSN, RN
Associate Vice President, Nursing
Private Diagnostic Clinic
Duke Health

Committee Chairs

Jana Alexander
Director of Special Programs, DUHS Nursing Chair, Gala Committee
Interim Chair, Scholars Committee

Zhila Mostaghimi, BSN, RN, CNIV
Chair, Publicity Committee

Fred Sullivan, MSN, RN
Chair, Awards & Stipends Committee


Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021

Friends of Nursing Gala 2021