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Dean Villarruel Named Delaware Valley Influential Latino

Penn Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been named among the 2015 Delaware Valley Most Influential Latinos by Impacto Latin Newspaper, PHLDiversity and the Most Influential Latinos Foundation.

Villarruel accepted her award during a November 20th ceremony at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, which recognized all of the honorees from across the Delaware Valley.

For the past 10 years, the Most Influential Latinos Foundation, Impacto and PHLDiversity have made it their task to recognize individuals who have made great contributions to the Delaware Valley’s Latino community and the community at large.  As part of the recognition, a special bilingual magazine featuring the awardees is published and distributed with the Impacto edition the week of the ceremony.

Since becoming the dean of Penn Nursing in 2014, Villarruel spearheaded a campus-wide initiative , Penn in Latin America and the Caribbean (PLAC), which focused on elevating Penn’s impact in Latin America. PLAC addressed health equity, access, and innovation in the region. In addition, the School has hosted two major events: the inaugural Latino Nurses Network Symposium, which focused on leadership, advocacy, research, and service; and, in collaboration with Adrianna Perez, PhD, ANP-BC, FAAN, an assistant professor in the School, and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, a training conference was held to teach Latina nurses about navigating the Affordable Care Act. Villarruel has also made a focus of her administration the importance of connecting Penn Nursing to the local community. She has done so personally with Latino organizations like Congreso and Puentes de Salud. It is also interesting to note that Villarruel is one of just 11 Latina deans of nursing schools in the country, and is the ONLY Latina dean of an Ivy League school.

In addition to her administrative duties at Penn Nursing, Villarruel also has an extensive program of research in health promotion and health disparities, working with diverse Latino and Mexican populations. Her research incorporates a community-based participatory approach. One program – entitled ¡Cuídate! – was part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ‘Diffusion of Evidence Based Intervention Programs.’ It has also been featured by the Office of Adolescent Health as part of a compendium of interventions that must be used in conjunction with federal funding. Currently, more than 30 US states and Puerto Rico are actively implementing ¡Cuídate! A current research project of hers – based in Puerto Rico – involves teaching parents how to communicate with their adolescent children about the risks involved in sexual activity.

Villarruel also has a place in the national spotlight. She serves as chair of the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities. She is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. Villarruel is a recipient of many prominent scholarly and awards including the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame Award; President’s Award for Health Behavior Intervention Research from the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research; and the Edge Runner Award from the American Academy of Nursing.

The evening celebration gathered some 500 Latino leaders at a sit-down dinner that included a VIP cocktail hour, dance performances, live music, as they recognized the 50 Most Influential Latinos of 2015 from across the Philadelphia region.