Nov 17, 2014

Indiana Nurse Selected as Recipient of National Leadership Award

Contact: Susan Lamontagne
(631) 899-3825 or

An Indiana nurse who has made extraordinary efforts to improve the lives of low-income new mothers will be recognized as one of the 10 recipients of the new Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award created by the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Jessica Gonzalez Contreras, MPH, BSN, RN, was raised by teenage parents in a Texas family of migrant workers who told her the best way to another life was college. While she was in high school, her grandfather got cancer, and watching the nurses who cared for him inspired her to pursue a career in nursing.

After studying health care systems in China and South Africa, Contreras focuses on helping low-income new mothers through the Nurse-Family Partnership at Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana, providing home visits, education, and support. “I am back working with the population I was a part of and want to encourage them that anything is possible,” said Contreras, who works to recruit the next generation of nurses from the people she serves.

Contreras also is working to diversify Indiana’s nursing workforce through the Indiana Action Coalition’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Team. She aspires to open the first chapter in Indiana of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.

The Campaign for Action created the 2014 Breakthrough Leaders in Nursing award to celebrate nurse leadership and the importance of efforts by nurses to improve health and health care. The award recipients have worked to help victims of sexual assault, medically fragile children, neurologically impaired individuals, and low-income women in rural areas, among others. Their work is helping to improve the quality of medical care in Vermont, prevent bedsores and reduce Medicaid costs in Texas, and recruit minority nursing students in Wisconsin, to name a few.

“Jessica has worked tirelessly to improve health care for some of America’s most vulnerable,” said Kimberly Harper, chief executive officer, Indiana Center for Nursing, and the nursing co-lead for the Indiana Action Coalition. “This award recognizes the incredible progress Jessica’s leadership is making for the citizens of Indiana and beyond.”

Learn about the other recipients.