The idea for the Coalition was developed during the May 1997, Third Invitational Minority Nursing Congress, “Caring for the Emerging Majority: A Blueprint for Action” sponsored by the Division of Nursing, in Denver. During that conference, the presidents of the Asian American Pacific/ Islanders, National Hispanic, National Alaska Native American Indian and National Black Nurse Associations held their own informal meeting to consider the issues, opportunities and advantages of forming a unified entity. The presidents found that they had mutual concerns and committed to joining forces into a coalition which would enable them to leverage their combined expertise.
In July, that year, regular meetings began to design NCEMNA, its by-laws, structure, mission and goals. Within 18 months (December 16, 1998) a Certificate of Incorporation, (District of Columbia) was attained. The initial Directors were Dr. Betty Smith Williams, Dr. Betty Keltner, Dr. Kem Louie and Dr. Antonia Villarruel. The Philippine Nurses Association of America learned about the Coalition and joined, bringing the NCEMNA membership to five national ethnic minority nurse associations.
Key to progress then, was the support of Pharma through a grant which allowed NCEMNA to hold the first “face to face” Board of Directors meeting and Strategic Planning retreat in June 1998. During that weekend, Black Entertainment Television (BET) hosted a Washington, D. C. reception to introduce NCEMNA to the national health leadership and organization community.
Having attained 501 © 3 status with the Internal Revenue Service in 1999, NCEMNA focused upon implementing its strategic plan. The initial and continued activities of NCEMNA focused on eliminating racial and ethnic disparities and increasing the number of minority nurse researchers . NCEMNA leaders built on existing contacts which they had with both federal and non federal organizations. They identified areas of mutual concern and sought to establish partnerships.
NCEMNA partnered with National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHDS) for an invitational conference “Minority Health Research Development For Nurse Investigators” in June 2000. An outcome of that conference was the publication of five white papers on the status of ethnic minorities’ health and nursing research in NURSING OUTLOOK 2001-2002.
Two years later, a second invitational meeting was sponsored by NCEMNA, NINR, National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHHD) and the National Institutes of General Medical Science (NIGMS). This meeting identified strategies to: increase the cadre of ethnic minority nurse researchers, prepare minority nurses to compete successfully for NIH funding opportunities, and establish a plan to increase health disparity research conducted by nurses.