Association of Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses
Advancing your practice, your career, and our community.

Meet Your AAPPN Board Members

Nikki Behner, DNP, MPH, ARNP

I am currently employed by Sunrise Mental Health in Mt. Vernon/Bellingham and as Psychiatric Prescriber in the Skagit County Jail. I have received DNP, MN, and MPH degrees from the University of Washington.

Throughout my career my chosen practice areas have included community mental health, involuntary psychiatric facilities and correctional (jail) facilities. In my spare time I enjoy gardening and spending time with our horses, dogs, and farm critters.

Dana Dean Doering, ARNP

I am an ARNP, Advanced Registered Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Professionally, I have National Board Certification in Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Mental Health; I am licensed as an ARNP, Advanced Registered Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, in the States of Washington, Idaho and Oregon, and in good standing with all states. I maintain National Board Certification qualifications. I am in private practice. I am also a national Therapeutic Special Needs consultant, specializing in therapeutic and complex case assessment, case management, and complex case disposition and planning.

I have a 45-year career in child development, child and adolescent and young adult psychiatric differential diagnosis and treatment planning. I have sought extensive training in gender-specific child, adolescent and young adult mental health concerns and facilitate their access to care and treatment.

Kristine Highlander, MSN, ARNP, PMHNP-BC

I come to advanced practice psychiatric nursing thru an undergraduate degree in English literature from the UW, 15 years in retail service and management mostly at Nordstrom, and a lifelong interest in psychiatry. Since graduating from Seattle University’s School of Nursing in 2014, I have been working for Navos at the hospital in West Seattle, in addition to now working mostly at Lakeside Milam’s residential program in Kirkland where I focus on addiction medicine.

I share this wonderful life with my husband, our young son, and toddler daughter. Thank you to all those trailblazers who have helped make my ability to pursue my passion a reality by your dedication to this profession!


Mary is an internationally known psychiatric mental health nurse clinician, researcher, educator, and presenter. She is an advanced registered nurse practitioner who is dually certified as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric-mental health nursing and a psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner. She is an Associate Professor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA where she is coordinator of the psychiatric nurse practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Her teaching foci include psychopharmacology, psychopathology, group therapy, 1:1 psychotherapy, mental health assessment and advanced practice nursing including legislative activity related to independent practice.
She is also the Director of Psychiatric Services for Northwest Center for Integrated Health in Tacoma, WA where she is in practice as a psychiatric ARNP treating patients in a triple integration agency: substance abuse, mental illness, and primary care. She is implementing psychiatric wellness protocols for relapse prevention across the three disciplines.

Mary Ellen O’Keefe, MN, MBA, PNHCNS-BC, ARNP

AAPPN has been fundamental to my success as a nurse clinician. The founders were colleagues of mine at the University of Washington who envisioned AAPPN as a user-friendly organization to enhance education, nurture leadership, and lend supports to advanced practice psychiatric nurses when the role of nurse psychiatric practitioners was in a formative phase of development. As a grateful recipient of their labor, I am honored to participate with the leadership of AAPPN.

Bonita Quiroz-Cantu, MSN, ARNP

I have served the mental health needs of our community for over 35 years as a practitioner, educator, member, and leader in my professional organizations and as an activist in the political arena. Today, more than ever, I see an urgent need for creative solutions to solve the mental health crisis in our homes and communities.

I’m deeply committed to supporting AAPPN and increasing our influence in the community and nationally. My AAPPN volunteer experience includes my current role as At-Large Member; I formerly served as President, President-Elect, Past President, Newsletter Editor, and Conference presenter.

Patricia Wuertzer, MSN, ARNP-BC, PLLC

It is a great honor to be a voice on the board for AAPPN. This dedicated organization has been helping me grow for almost 30 years! It is a lifeline and a connection!

I am in private practice in Kirkland and acknowledge this is possible because of those who paved the way. My hope is to continue the legacy and help to create more pathways of compassionate connection in our organization and beyond!