Meet our Board!

The Sigma board of directors consists of 11 voting members and the chief executive officer. The 11 elected voting members are the president, president-elect, vice president, secretary, treasurer, Regional Chapters Coordinating Committee chair, and five directors. Elections for the board take place at Sigma's biennial conventions.


Richard Ricciardi,



Richard Ricciardi, CRNP, PhD, FAANP, FAAN is a Professor and Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at The George Washington University School of Nursing. Prior to joining GW, Dr. Ricciardi served as the Director, Division of Practice Improvement and the Senior Advisor for Nursing at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Dr. Ricciardi’s research conducted at AHRQ focused on ambulatory care practice improvements in the areas of teams, team-based care, outcomes measurement, treatment of acute and chronic pain, and improving patient safety practices. Prior to joining AHRQ in 2010, Dr. Ricciardi served on active duty in the Army for 30 years and had numerous positions as a pediatric and family nurse practitioner, clinical scientist, and senior leader. In his last two positions on active duty, he served as chief of nursing research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and director of research at the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury.

In addition to having experience in the clinical, research, educational, and health policy areas, Dr. Ricciardi brings corporate governance expertise to the position of President. He has served as a member of the board of directors on community and national-level boards of several nonprofit corporations and associations. For example, he served as president of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) and president of the NAPNAP Foundation. Dr. Ricciardi maintains a part-time nurse practitioner practice at a community based clinic that serves uninsured and underserved populations.


Kenneth Dion,



Kenneth Dion, PhD, MSN, MBA, Assistant Dean for Business Innovation and Strategic Relationships at the John Hopkins School of Nursing, is a 40-year veteran of the health care industry. He is a nurse entrepreneur, inventor, and scholar.

In 1999, Dr. Dion founded Decision Critical, Inc., an information systems company, to meet the education, compliance, and competency development needs of health care organizations. In 2012, Decision Critical was acquired by HealthStream, Inc., where Dr. Dion served as vice president and chief of nursing informatics until 2014.

Dr. Dion joined Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in 2018 where he is responsible to bringing nursing innovations to market, implementing emerging technologies, and providing strategic guidance to the organization.

Dr. Dion earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing at the University of Central Florida and his MBA, MSN, and PhD in nursing systems at the University of Texas at Austin.


Karen Gorton,


Vice President

Karen Gorton, PhD, MSN, RN, MS is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She teaches across the graduate programs, focusing on Nursing Education within the PhD program. Dr. Gorton has held a variety of leadership positions in academic nursing since 2005, all while maintaining her faculty role.

Dr. Gorton has been active in Sigma across many levels and in multiple chapters.

She transitioned to Nursing in 1998 and has worked in a variety of roles across practice and academia. Dr. Gorton earned her BSN from Carroll College/Columbia College of Nursing Intercollegiate Nursing Program, her MS in Nursing from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a PhD in Nursing Education from the University of Northern Colorado. Prior to her nursing career, she earned a BS from Wheaton College and a MS from Indiana University and held certification as an athletic trainer until 2015.


Safiya George Dalmida,



Dr. George is Dean and Professor at the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University. She has been an active member of Sigma for nearly 20 years and has a strong track record of several, effective leadership positions at Sigma and other organizations.

She is also currently Chair of Healthy Nation, a non-profit organization in Monrovia, Liberia that provides screening and healthcare to children of K-12 age and their families. She is a former member of the Board of Directors of Five Horizons Healthcare and of the Executive Team of the Interdisciplinary Religion and Public Health Collaborative at Emory University. Dr. George is a leading scholar in the fields of HIV research and spirituality/religion and health. She obtained her PhD in Nursing and certificates in Women’s Studies and Teaching from Emory University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Research on Religion and Health from Duke University. She is also a board-certified Adult Nurse Practitioner and has a specialty in HIV/AIDS and Oncology. Her research focuses on: (1) identifying psychosocial predictors of mental health, medication adherence, immune function and health related quality of life among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH); (2) developing interventions to improve mental health, substance use, and treatment adherence among PLWH; and examination of neurocognitive substrates of sexual decision making and risk behavior among adolescent girls.

Jose Alejandro

Jose Alejandro,



Dr. Alejandro is an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Mount St. Mary’s University – Los Angeles and Director of Care Management at UC Irvine Health. Jose currently serves as a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army Reserves. In addition to Sigma Treasurer (2019-2023), he is active in other professional associations which include serving as President (2018-2020) of Case Management Society of America (CMSA) and Board Member (2019-2021) for the American Academy of Nursing. Dr. Alejandro also served as the 15th President (2012-2014) of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses; President (2017-2019) of Organizational for Associate Degree Nursing Foundation and Treasurer (2015-2019) of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing Building Corporation.


He was awarded the CMSA’s Case Manager of the Year in 2015. Dr. Alejandro is a Virginia Henderson Fellow of Sigma; Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing; and Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, and Virginia Henderson Fellow of Sigma.

Joanne Clavelle

Joanne Clavelle,



Dr. Clavelle is the CEO of Clavelle Consulting, LLC and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado College of Nursing. Prior to this, she served as Regional Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer ~ West, for GetWellNetwork , leveraging technology to improve patient experience and clinical outcomes while leading its commercial and service strategy in the Western U.S. Prior to this. Dr. Clavelle served as a site and system Chief Nursing Officer for over 10 years, all in Magnet® organizations. Dr. Clavelle has an AD in Nursing (University of Vermont), a BSN (Vermont College of Norwich University), a MS in Community Health Administration and Wellness Promotion (California College of Health Sciences), and a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) from Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. As a doctoral student, Clavelle worked with the American Nurse’s Credentialing Center Magnet® Recognition Program in conducting national research on transformational leadership practices of CNOs in Magnet organizations. She currently serves as adjunct faculty for the DNP Program at the Case Western. She is board certified in Nursing Administration, - Advanced, by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, and is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.

Dr. Clavelle is a well-known writer, presenter, and researcher, is published in several peer-reviewed professional journals, and speaks frequently at state and national conferences on transformational leadership, structural empowerment, Magnet, the nursing practice environment, nurse practitioner/physician collaborative practice and other topics. For the past 7 years, Joanne has led a nationally recognized research team on developing a model and instrument that measures professional governance in organizations – the Verran Professional Governance Scale.

Juana Mercedes Gutierrez Valverde

Juana Mercedes Gutiérrez-Valverde,



Dr. Gutiérrez-Valverde is a Professor and Coordinator for Internationalization and Academic Exchange and International Representative of the School of Nursing at the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (UANL) in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, México. She teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs. She is advisor of the master and doctoral students. She has the federal profile: Program for Professional Development Teacher and the certification as Nursing Teacher with mention excellent by the Mexican Nursing Certification Council. She has had multiple positions within Sigma. Dr. Gutiérrez-Valverde is a Member of the National Researchers System, of The National Council of Science and Technology in Mexico. Her research work is in the chronic illness and risk factors in adults. She has publications on indexed journals, book chapters and presentations in different forums, nationally and internationally. She served as a reviewer and editorial board of the international journals.

She participated as visiting professor in the Universidad Autonoma Tomas Frias in Potosi, Bolivia. Currently, she is a visiting professor in the Universidad de los Angeles de Chimbote, in Chimbote, Peru.

She holds a membership in professional organizations including The National Nursing Academy of Mexico (ANEM), and the International Society of Nursing in Genetics. She is part of the Global Genomics Nursing Alliance Project (G2NA). Dr. Gutiérrez-Valverde earned her BN from Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana in the Mexico City, her MSN and DSN from Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon and Certificate in Intensive Care for Adults from Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education.

Juana Mercedes Gutierrez Valverde

Janice Agazio,



Dr. Janice Agazio is currently Associate Dean and Director of the PhD and DNP programs at The Catholic University of America in the School of Nursing where she serves as Ordinary Professor. She retired from active duty in the Army Nurse Corps after twenty-two years of service. She has specialized in pediatric nursing and is certified as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Her research includes issues related to military nursing care delivery and impact of military life upon families. Dr. Agazio is active in other nursing professional organizations serving currently as Secretary, Southern Nursing Research Society; Maryland Nurses Association Treasurer-Elect and Chair of the Continuing Education Approval Committee; and member of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education Accreditation Review Committee and site visitor. She is an active reviewer for nursing journals, and other grant and abstract review committees. Her recent publications have reflected previous research in ethical issues experienced by military nurses in wartime and deployment experiences for military families.


Cynthia Diefenbeck,



Cynthia Diefenbeck, PsyD, APRN, BC is an advanced practice psychiatric nurse with prescriptive authority and a licensed clinical psychologist. She currently practices in the Psychiatric Services division of the University of Delaware’s Center for Counseling and Student Development. She has had practice or teaching experiences in in a wide range of psychiatric settings including inpatient acute hospitals, emergency room psychiatric crisis, outpatient chronic settings, day programs, and traditional outpatient practice. In addition to psychiatric evaluation and medication management, she has expertise in individual, family, and group psychotherapy.

Prior to a return to full time clinical practice, she dedicated nearly two decades of her career to higher education, achieving tenured Associate Professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Delaware. She was passionately involved curriculum design and transformation at undergraduate and graduate levels, including the development of an immersion model of baccalaureate education and the launching of DNP and Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Programs. She pursued scholarly activities directed at dismantling systemic disadvantages for underrepresented minorities in nursing including serving as Principal Investigator and Project Director for a 3 year, federally funded HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant. She continues to be involved in ongoing research to evaluate the outcomes of the program and is also exploring underrepresented minority presence in the psychiatric specialty. She is a proud Sigma member since 1994 and has served in numerous leadership positions at local and international levels.

Sara Horton Deutsch

Sara Horton-Deutsch,



Sara Horton Deutsch, PhD, RN, PMHCNS, FAAN, ANEF, Caritas Coach, is a Professor at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions and Director of the University of San Francisco/Kaiser Permanente Partnership where she coordinates the Clinical Nurse Leadership track. She is also an adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado where she mentors doctoral students in the Caring Science PhD program track and a Research Fellow at the University of South Africa. She is an established nurse leader known for her work in leadership development and advancing the art and science of caring, reflective pedagogies and mindfulness in nursing education. Her work in reflective practice has been published in two books coedited Reflective Practice: Transforming Education and Improving Outcomes and Reflective Organizations: On the Front Lines of QSEN & Reflective Practice Implementation. In 2018, she co-edited the textbook, Caritas Coaching: A Journey Toward Transpersonal Caring for Informed Moral Action in Healthcare and The Handbook of Caring Science, an encyclopedia, representing over 30 years of caring science scholarship.

Carole Liske

Carole Liske,


Regional Chapters Coordinating
Committee Chair

Dr Carole Liske has passionately served in leadership positions in nursing practice and academic positions for over 35 years. She is currently an award-winning Graduate Faculty Manager at a national, non-profit university. Carole is dedicated to advancing the education of diverse student populations and is a staunch advocate for the care of vulnerable populations through ongoing civic service. Carole’s service includes positions on governmental, political, and non-profit boards.

A Sigma member since completing her undergraduate degree, Carole maintains active membership in five chapters and is currently President of a large, national chapter. She served in all elected positions including President of three chapters that, under her leadership, achieved the Key Award for the first time in chapter history. At the Regional and International levels, Carole has served in multiple elected and appointed positions.

Elizabeth Madigan

Elizabeth Madigan,


Chief Executive Officer

Liz Madigan, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the Chief Executive Officer of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing (Sigma). She assumed the position in November 2017 following a 21 year period as a tenured professor at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Ohio. Her clinical background and her program of research focused on home health care. She has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and private foundations for her research. She is widely published in the area. During her time at Case Western she led the global health initiatives for the school of nursing and has provided consultation in multiple countries for home care and aging care in the community. She is a graduate of Wright State University, Dayton Ohio (BSN), The Ohio State University (MS in nursing) and Case Western Reserve (PhD), a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and proud member of Sigma Theta Tau.

Since assuming the position as Chief Executive Officer, she had led initiatives in strengthening the scholarship offerings from Sigma, raised funds for new research grants in conjunction with partner organizations, and obtained funding to support nursing students in accelerated baccalaureate and doctor of nursing practice programs. Sigma continues to work with universities around the world to develop chapters with recent changes to simplify the chapter development process. The two scholarly journals, Journal of Nursing Scholarship and Worldviews on Evidence Based Nursing are ranked in the top ten in impact factor among all nursing journals worldwide. The online continuing nursing education/continuing professional development program offers more than 100 contact hours of programming for Sigma members.  

Board Matters:
Stay up to date on board of directors activities and initiatives by reading a summary of the most recent Sigma board meeting.