Julie Betts Pinkham, RN
Cushing-Gavin Award Recipient
Labor Award, 2013
As MNA’s Executive Director, Julie Pinkham represents over 23,000 Massachusetts nurses.
After graduating from Vanderbilt University’s nursing program in 1982, Julie was hired by Worcester’s University of Massachusetts Medical Center. “It started with an MNA flyer in the lunchroom seeking contract prep volunteers,” Julie explains. “My preceptor said, ‘do it, you’ll learn a lot.’ So at 23, I was on the bargaining committee and handled grievances and became bargaining unit chair a year later. It was the single best learning experience of my life.”
“Growing up in a Republican family in Medway MA, unions weren’t on my radar,” she recalls. “But I instantly realized how effectively a pro-active union could spotlight and hopefully resolve workplace problems.”
At UMass Medical and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, she practiced in the Oncology and Palliative Care Units, and Trauma and Burn ICU.
While holding several MNA leadership roles, Julie earned a Master’s in Health Care Administration from Simmons College and a second Master’s in Labor and Industrial Relations from URI. In 1989, Julie became a MNA Business Agent.
In 1995, she was named MNA’s Labor Program Director, where her ability as a strategist and a brilliant explainer of issues was widely noticed.
MNA’s Board of Directors (29 direct care nurses) hired Julie as their Executive Director in 2000. “Julie oversees our MNA staff and is our chief operating officer,” MNA President Donna Kelly- Williams says. “She’s a truly great leader and activist for nurses – who empowers our members and advocates healthcare for all.”
In 2012, in addition to her MNA duties, Julie served as interim Executive Director for the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and did a dazzling job guiding their 35,000 members to realize a long-time goal of being a union run by and for staff nurses.
“Julie’s led our patient safety fight and our public campaigns,” Eileen Norton, MNA’s Director of Organizing, notes. ”Every day, Julie fights for our members, and she provides so much of the vision, guidance, and education that has moved MNA forward.”
Julie and her husband, Tom Breslin, a labor educator, live in Quincy with their young son Lito.