Dorothy A. Cornelius (1918-1992) 1996 Inductee

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Dorothy Cornelius
ANA Hall of Fame Inductee

Dorothy A. Cornelius the distinction of being the only nurse to serve as president of the American Nurses Association, International Council of Nurses, and American Journal of Nursing Company.

Recipient of numerous honors and awards, including two honorary doctorates, Cornelius was recognized by government officials at national, state, and local levels.

A native of Pennsylvania, Cornelius was born on March 9, 1918, one of four children in the Cornelius family. In 1939, she received a diploma in nursing from the Conemaugh Valley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Johnstown and in 1942, a bachelor of science degree in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. She worked as a public health nurse in Johnstown and later for the American Red Cross in Pennsylvania and Ohio. From 1957 to 1983, she was executive director of the Ohio Nurses Association and editor of the Ohio Nurses Review.

In 1960, Cornelius was appointed to the American Nurses Association's Committee on Economic and General Welfare, and in 1961, to the Governor's Commission on Aging in Ohio. In 1963, she was named one of Ohio's Top Ten Women and chaired the Ohio Women's Defense Council.

Elected first vice-president of the American Nurses Association in 1964, she also chaired the association's Finance, Retirement, and Employee Relations Committees. During her presidency in 1968, the American Nurses Association experienced serious fiscal difficulties, necessitating reductions in staff and programs, and precipitating requests for additional, voluntary funds from constituents. Thousands of members overwhelmingly demonstrated their confidence in Cornelius and the association by responding with generous donations. Irrespective of the association's financial problems, Cornelius initiated collaborative relationships with the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association. For the first time, presidents and executives of those organizations met to discuss mutual goals and strategies.

In 1973, Cornelius was elected president of the International Council of Nurses and successfully kept the membership intact despite conflicts among various member countries. She continued to serve nursing and receive recognition for her accomplishments well into the 1980s. Appointed to national committees by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, she received commendations from the governors of Ohio and Pennsylvania, and the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives. A charismatic leader, remarkable conciliator, and expert strategist, Dorothy A. Cornelius personified professionalism and excellence.