Our founder, Dr. Phyllis Noerager Stern, of Indianapolis, passed away May 4, 2014. She was born in San Carlos, California to Phillip and Grace (Zoellin) Noerager on September 2, 1925. She was preceded in death by her parents and brother, Roy Noerager. After high school she earned her nursing diploma from Mount Zion Hospital as part of the federally funded Cadet Nurse Corps which helped alleviate the severe shortage of nurses after WWII. Upon graduation she worked in California and Arizona. She continued her education earning her AA nursing degree from the College of San Mateo, a BS in Nursing from San Francisco State University, a Masters in Nursing from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and a Doctorate in Nursing Science, also from UCSF.

Dr. Stern held faculty positions at California State University at Hayward, UCSF, Northwestern State University at Shreveport, LA, and was Professor and Director of Dalhousie University School of Nursing in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Nursing as Professor and Department Chair of Family Health Nursing and was named a Professor Emerita upon her retirement from Indiana University.

Dr. Stern is best known for her research and campaigning on behalf of women’s health internationally. With colleagues in Canada, in 1984 she founded the International Council on Women’s Health Issues (ICOWHI) and served as Council General until 2002.

She served as editor-in-chief of the refereed journal Health Care for Women International from 1983 to 2001 and as such was able to help launch the publishing careers of several first time authors. Dr. Stern is considered an expert in classical (Glaserian) grounded theory method of research and has generated several mid-range theories on family crisis situations and the impact of culture on health and care. She was a member of the AAN Expert Panel on cultural competence, served on the editorial boards of Qualitative Health Research and Issues in Mental Health.  She continued to mentor a number of international students who chose to use grounded theory in their doctoral dissertations.

In 2008, Stern was named a Living Legend of the American Academy of Nursing. Other honors include a Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to Women’s Health Internationally, an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Dalhousie University, Distinguished Alumna and a Living Legend of the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

The Phyllis N. Stern Distinguished Lectureship Award recognizes an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to women’s health.  These individuals share Dr. Stern’s courage, vision and commitment for improving the life of women and girls globally.

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