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.

Ginni Buccola, DNP, ARNP

I have been a Nurse since 1994, working first as an RN in Public Health and then in Mental Health. I completed my MSN in 2012 and DNP in 2013, both through the University of Washington. I am currently working in Primary Care as a Psychiatric Consultant, prior to this I was working in Community Mental Health and maintaining a small private practice. I have a special interest in Perinatal Mental Health and Infant Mental Health but enjoy working with people of all ages. I live in Tacoma with my partner and our daughter.

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!


I am an “early career professional” when it comes to the field of psychiatric-mental health nursing (3.5 years), but I have also worked within the fields of education and counseling. I currently teach RN-level clinical courses for Seattle University and am the child and adolescent course sequence lead for Maryville University. In another life, I taught history to high school students.

I have previously worked across the field of psychiatry, within an FQHC, CMH agencies, inpatient facilities, urgent care facilities, and group practices.  I currently own a private practice in the Bellevue area, Spectra Integrative Psychiatry, and am in the process of completing my DNP degree.

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.

Jean Tang, PhD, PMHNP

I have been a PMHNP in the outpatient community setting for 15 years, serving culturally diverse population with chronic mental illness and trauma history. In addition to clinical practice, I have been involved in higher education with a focus on teaching, mentoring and research.

I hope to be an effective liaison connecting practice, teaching and research science. I am inspired by the AAPPN mission and its members’ dedication to the profession. It is my honor to serve on the AAPPN leadership team.

Danielle Waldron, MSN, ARNP

I have been practicing for the past five years after graduating from Seattle University in 2013. I practice in community mental health and focus on addictions. I currently co-chair the Snohomish County Chapter meeting. I have been a member of AAPPN since I was a student and have valued the organization and the many resources it offers.

Throughout the last two years I have become more experienced with the opportunities in AAPPN. The dedication and commitment this organization shows to its members has inspired me to become more involved. AAPPN’s dedication in combination with my goal to connect other psychiatric nurse practitioners has led me to role of Member -At -Large.

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!