New Selection Process Supports Diversity on the ONS Board of Directors

February 28, 2022 by Nancy Houlihan MA, RN, AOCN®, 2020-2022 ONS President

This month begins the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our world is still facing new variants and recommendations. We press forward to honor the memories of those we’ve lost. We adapt our personal and professional lives to the constantly changing guidelines and make every effort to cope with the encroaching burnout.

New Selection Process Supports Diversity on the ONS Board of Directors
Nancy Houlihan, MA, RN, AOCN®, ONS President

Through it all, ONS has focused on its mission and core values: to lead the transformation of cancer care by advancing oncology nursing practice in excellence, innovation, advocacy, and inclusivity. We’ve provided our members with the support they need in practice, education, and research and led strategically in a dynamic environment of innovation and change. To that end, the ONS Board of Directors centered its four-day February meeting on two important topics: the ONS 2023–2025 Strategic Plan and advancing our enterprise-wide work in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). 

Collaborating with industry consultants and content experts, the ONS Board is outlining the Society’s direction for DEI based on healthcare and cancer care trends, the National Academy of Medicine’s Future of Nursing 2020–2030 report, and the American Nurses Association’s report on racism in nursing. We’ll share more updates as ONS’s efforts solidify.

Board Leadership

The new directors-at-large joining the Board in May 2022 are Deborah “Hutch” Allen, PhD, RN, CNS, FNP-BC, AOCNP®, from Pittsboro, NC; Kris Mathey, MS, APRN-CNP, AOCNP®, from Hilliard, OH; and Jeanene (Gigi) Robison, MSN, APRN, AOCN®, from Cincinnati, OH. They participated in the strategic planning session during the February Board meeting and are prepared to hit the ground running on the Board’s ambitious agenda in May. Welcome to all!

The January ONS election ballot also contained a proposed amendment to the Board Composition, Nomination and Election bylaw that included new processes for director-at-large selection and Leadership Development Committee (LDC) function, and the membership voted to approve it. Here’s what that means for ONS leadership going forward.

The amended bylaw defines that the LDC will select new directors-at-large through a rigorous recruitment and vetting process of interested and qualified candidates that meet the identified strengths and characteristics needed for optimal Board composition. The LDC then submits the slate of candidates submitted to the Board for review and approval. As explained in the election materials, FAQs (, and webinar (, the change will best prepare the Board to meet its dynamic governance responsibilities and strategic leadership initiatives with a broad diversity of skills, experiences, and characteristics.

The LDC is reaching out to interested and talented leadership candidates for the 2023 slate with the Board’s gap analysis in hand. Watch for the annual call for letters of intent in late spring that will commence the application process for the next selection cycle. Because of the committee’s serious responsibilities, the Board has adopted the same rigorous recruitment and vetting strategies to also select the annual LDC membership. If you aspire to serve in an ONS leadership role, reach out to the LDC for guidance at

The bylaws change comes after five years of multiple Board and LDC discussions, engaging with consultants, and reviewing association management best practices. ONS leadership will continue to monitor the new processes to ensure it achieves the goal to find the most talented leaders for ONS through fair, inclusive, and strategic approaches. 

Begin your leadership journey this year. Learn more about ONS leadership opportunities and governance competencies online (

Copyright © 2022 by the Oncology Nursing Society. User has permission to print one copy for personal or unit-based educational use. Contact for quantity reprints or permission to adapt, excerpt, post online, or reuse ONS Voice content for any other purpose.