Gaurdia Banister’s role as faculty, friend, and mentor to faculty and students is lauded as she retires

On the third floor of the Shouse Building, a crowd of friends, mentees, and colleagues from the MGH Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital gathered to say thank you to one of the IHP’s staunchest supporters – Dr. Gaurdia Banister - who was feted in a ceremony hosted by IHP Dean Ken White and the School of Nursing

“I've always said that the IHP is my family, that it's my second home,” Banister, a Professor in the School of Nursing who’s retiring from the hospital after 16 years, told the audience at last week’s gathering. “This was a place where I felt like I truly belonged.”

The feeling was mutual, as IHP leaders lauded Banister for her commitment to the school’s educational mission while pushing for diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

“You have been a mentor, big sister, and colleague,” said Associate Professor of Nursing Dr. Clara Gona. “You are like the shining star for me and for other people who look like me who can continue to look up to see what we can be. You are an example of what’s possible, so I thank you so much for that.”

Banister, who is retiring as Executive Director of the Institute for Patient Care at MGH, and Director of the Munn Center for Nursing Research, exemplified what was possible and so much more. Awards and accomplishments were commonplace. Among them: being named a Fellow with the American Academy of Nursing and receiving a Lifetime Achievement award from the National Black Nurses Association

“You also served on the search committee that brought me here to the IHP, so I appreciate that very much and thank you for that,” said White. He listed off more than a dozen of Banister’s job titles, awards, and accomplishments--for the latter included promoting opportunities for nurses and nursing students, and for ensuring that leadership and staff have a voice in key decision making.  Summarizing comments of the people in the room, chief among Banister’s contributions are her keen empathic listening skills and ways that Banister allows all voices to be heard.

“Your unwavering passion for justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion and for the opportunities for all people to have access to a great education and to have leadership opportunities,” noted White. “Your participation in advocacy for the IHP as a professor, as a guest speaker, as a problem solver when we need help, when we need partnership opportunities, you've been there, you've listened.”

President Paula Milone-Nuzzo called Banister a powerhouse in nursing, a champion for increasing the number of minority students and nursing programs, and a tremendous friend and supporter of the IHP. 

“Gaurdia, you are the person who has contributed so much and protected our discipline in so many ways,” observed Dr. Milone-Nuzzo. “So few people can claim credit for making their profession better than what it was when they entered. You saw places where your interventions would make a difference. And you thoughtfully and diligently worked to improve the lives of others. It was never about you. It was always about the world you were making better.”

Associate Dean Dr. Ruth Palan Lopez shared her secret of keeping a notebook at her desk and taking notes when she’s with extraordinary leaders who say or do just the right thing. Lopez got an up-close look at how Banister operates during their collaboration between the School of Nursing, scholarship and research, and the Munn Center.