Cassandra Mombrun knew she had to do something in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. What she didn’t know was the true impact her actions would have.

Only three weeks after giving birth to her son, Cassandra Mombrun sat before her TV and watched in horror as she learned of the murder of George Floyd. 

“I was holding my son, a baby the same color as George Floyd, and I knew that as a nurse and as a mother, I had to do something,” said the MGH Institute of Health Professions instructor. 

In addition to teaching pediatric nurse practitioner students at the IHP and pursuing her PhD at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Mombrun also serves as Vice President of the New England Regional Black Nurses Association (NERBNA)

In the days following Floyd’s murder, NERBNA’s leadership received a call from one of their local sister nursing associations. A frequent collaborator with NERBNA, the Massachusetts-based chapter of the Organization of Nurse Leaders was looking for guidance. It didn’t want to stand by silently in the wake of injustice, but the organization’s predominantly white leadership was afraid of saying the wrong thing or making a mistake. Mombrun, still on maternity leave, jumped into action along with NERBNA’s president Sasha Dubois and member Nadia Raymond. 

“Originally, we were only drafting a statement,” she said. “But it turned into so much more.” 

Ultimately, the collaboration between NERBNA and ONL resulted in a new pledge for all nurses to take and sign. The pledge has well over 3,000 signatures  Called the Nurses’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Pledge, it reaffirms each individual nurse’s commitment to personal responsibility and the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

The efforts of the two organizations were ultimately published in a scholarly article and in a 2021 edition of the Nurse Leader; the new pledge has been integrated into new graduate nursing pinning ceremonies  that marks the completion of their studies at schools like UMASS Boston.  

“It’s a way for nurses to remember that they have a role to play in championing equity,” said Mombrun. 

A Well-Deserved Recognition

Mombrun was recently named to the National Black Nurses Association’s 40 under 40 List, in part because of her equity and inclusion work. Comprised of nurses 40-years old and under who have gone above and beyond in their work, the list highlights those working at the bedside, in research, in academia and in leadership roles. 

For Mombrun, it was a culmination of an emotional time in her life, and the catalyst she needed to continue pushing forward. “It is moments like that which got me involved in NERBNA,” she said. “Nurses may be working on a floor where they are the only nurse of color. That’s not representative of the field and I’m honored to work with NERBNA to really highlight that.”

When Mombrun first joined NERBNA and parent organization National Black Nurses Association, her eyes were opened to the immense variety of spaces that nurses of color are making an impact in especially in leadership. It’s that sense of representation that Mombrun feels she’ll never be able to repay. 

“My work has just begun,” she said. “This organization has given me more than I’ll ever be able to repay, so this honor means so much to me.”