Annette Kennedy is a dedicated nursing leader who possesses vision and leadership to advance nursing and midwifery practice and steer the professional development of nurses. She is a Registered Nurses and Midwife with a strong record of being a nursing and midwifery leader in Ireland for over 20 years. Her career spans all levels of healthcare, ranging from providing health services in various healthcare settings to working internationally to engage national nurses associations (NNAs) around the world and help craft global health policy on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Kennedy has been exemplary in the role of President of The International Council of Nursing (ICN), achieving some of the most successful outcomes for nurses across the world. She has a strong belief that nurses should be empowered to become leaders for change and nurses are essential at the decision-making level of health policy. Her vision in nursing leadership and her work in ICN has led the organization to have close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). She also called for greater nursing representation and leadership at WHO and this has been reflected in the view of the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros. This eventually pushed for the creation of a chief nursing officer position in the WHO Headquarters Leadership Team. This role has been a welcome sign of WHO’s commitment to nurses, those working both in the community and at the policy table. Besides emphasizing the influence of nurses at the health policy level, Kennedy focuses on building up nursing’s voice globally and highlights the perspectives of nurses and midwives. She was active in lobbying WHO and has achieved having 2020 designated as the Year of the Nurses and Midwife. As the Commissioner on WHO independent High-Level Commission on NCDs, she worked with heads of state and ministers, leaders in health development and entrepreneurs, from various backgrounds, experiences and regions.
She considers ICN as the conduit to bring nurses together and to enhance the health of populations by advocating for nurses at all levels. She has advocated initiatives aimed at advancing nursing practice, supporting professional development and driving innovation to improve the quality and safety of patient care. In a time of crisis of the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Kennedy also leads ICN response supporting nurses through their ICN NNAs and liaises with the nursing associations of the most-affected countries for possible support and donations. In 2019, Kennedy, as the President of ICN, brought together the largest gathering of international nurses in Singapore. This boosted both ICN exposure and the WHO with nursing’s increased confidence in WHO.
Previously, Kennedy held the position of President of the European Federation of Nurses and was active in lobbying the European Parliament, Commission and Council to secure positive developments, for nurses and healthcare systems, across the European Union. She also developed her first programme of nursing leadership for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation over 20 years ago when she took on the role of Director of Professional Development for the organization.