Connie Huffine was the original staff person for AAPPN. Equipped with a background in English literature and an unwavering effort, she greatly contributed to the association’s success.
In 2017, Connie was awarded one of the highest honors our Association can bestow, the Gretchen Schodde Lifetime Achievement Award. It is given to those who promote the profession of advanced practice nursing and advocate mental health and well-being.
In her retirement, Connie continues her community service as a volunteer serving homeless families. She is one of the founders of the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation and currently leads the Foundation as Co-President.
Throughout her career, she has demonstrated dedication, commitment, creativity, leadership, mentorship, and devotion to help healthcare professionals and students.
You’ve made great contributions to healthcare professionals and students. Tell us your background?
I was born in 1942 and grew up in Indiana and Illinois. I’ve been married to my husband, Charles Huffine, MD, for 52 years. Charley is a retired psychiatrist who worked with adolescents throughout his career. I have two birth children, Mason, my son, and Jessica, my daughter. I also have three “almost daughters”—Judy, Alyson and Lyn—girls I chose as daughters, but it’s nothing official. I now have eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
You were the first staff person for AAPPN and were on the job for 31 years. How did it evolve over the years?
I was hired part-time when there were only six people involved with AAPPN. My job was to type minutes, make a few phone calls, and organize a meeting or two. The organization grew and I began working about 20 hours a week and set up an office in my home—that was headquarters for AAPPN for 31 years.
As the membership grew, so did my responsibilities—keeping track of members and collecting dues, publishing the newsletter, organizing meetings, and keeping track of chapters. When AAPPN started conferences and began giving scholarships, I organized those projects.
I was initially hired as a secretary and worked my way up to Administrator.
I understand that you also worked as Director of CHAP at the UW?
As my job with AAPPN was part-time, I also worked in the UW Department of Family Medicine, where I was Director of the Community Health Advancement Program (CHAP). My responsibilities included taking medical, nursing, PA, social work, and dental students into the community to do service learning.
We did foot care for homeless women at Mary’s Place, provided a twice monthly dermatology clinic at the Downtown Emergency Service Center, gave free flu shots at neighborhood clinics, and did free sports exams at public schools.
Even in retirement, you’ve kept busy. You helped launch the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation. How did that organization start?
AAPPN had long wanted a 501(c)3 foundation so scholarship donations could be tax deductible. I thought starting a nonprofit wouldn’t be too difficult, so I took on the task. Two years later, and with a lot of help from an attorney, the Lois Price Spratlen Foundation became a reality.
Are you doing other volunteer work?
I work with my friend, Elaine, for a Holiday Cheer event hosted at the Ethiopian Center, where we have a party for low-income and homeless families. We serve about 100 persons at this community-supported event. In addition, we do a winter outreach where we gather sleeping bags, tents, blankets, socks, and other needed items and distribute them on Christmas Eve to homeless camps.
Tell us “fun fact” about yourself?
I am a very serious person, but I send whimsical cards of encouragement to people. And I like to leave candy or a wind-up toy or a little gift of some kind in a friend’s home when I am visiting and I say nothing about it. I will “confess” if they ask if I left something.
Any messages to the current and future AAPPN members?
I believe strongly that advanced practice psychiatric nurses are a vital link in solving the shortage of mental health providers. I know it is not an easy path but it is very rewarding and worth the effort. We depend on your leadership. Thank you.