Through dedicated leadership and hours of service, Elizabeth Swanson has advanced the causes of many local and statewide organizations.
Swanson — who has a bachelor of science in nursing, master of arts in nursing and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Iowa — served as associate professor and director of alumni and external relations at the University of Iowa College of Nursing until her retirement in July 2018.
Not only has she made significant contributions to the nursing profession, she has donated her time and skills to numerous not-for-profit organizations throughout her career and continuing after her retirement.
“It’s important for me to give back and give as much as I can,” she said.
Swanson’s passion for community service began when her two children were young and taking music lessons at Preucil School of Music in Iowa City. Through her work as a board member for the school, Swanson helped with the organization’s successful capital campaign while growing her own skills.
“It’s where I learned fundraising,” she said. “I didn’t have fundraising experience, but my husband was with the University of Iowa Foundation, and I learned vicariously through him.”
Later, on the board of Shelter House in Iowa City, Swanson developed successful fundraising strategies for the organization and provided workshops on fundraising for staff, board members and development committee members.
She also used her nursing background to support the organization’s nurse’s clinic, establishing protocols and developing medication and incident reports. In recognition of her contributions and support, the clinic is named Elizabeth’s Clinic.
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“I still volunteer there in my capacity as a nurse,” she said. “I read incident reports as an outside reviewer.”
Other contributions in her professional capacity include Swanson’s continuing work with the University’s Center for Nursing Classification and Clinical Effectiveness, which has involved developing a comprehensive, standardized classification of outcomes for evaluating the impact of nursing interventions. She also was involved in developing and implementing the 100 Great Iowa Nurses program, now in its 15th year, which recognizes and celebrates 100 outstanding nurses throughout the state each year.
Swanson’s influence has extended beyond the state of Iowa. Her work to develop a family medicine program in St. Petersburg, Russia, helped spread family medicine services throughout Russia.
Most recently, Swanson has become involved with TRAIL of Johnson County, joining the board of directors in January. That organization provides tools and resources for active independent living.
“We recruit volunteers to help older residents with things like driving them to the grocery store, changing a light bulb or even decorating their Christmas tree,” she said. “The intent is to keep people living in their own homes.”
One of the efforts about which Swanson is most passionate is her long-time association with Iowa Women’s Foundation. As chairwoman of the foundation’s development committee, Swanson is working to establish a legacy fund of at least $3 million, which will be used to support the organization’s mission of removing barriers to women’s economic advancement in Iowa, including access to child care.
With three young granddaughters of her own, that mission is personal to Swanson.
“I know how important child care is,” she said. “I want a better life for the women in my family. I want them to be able to do whatever they choose to do.”
• Once a month, Business 380 will spotlight one of HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by the Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.