Martha Griffith Lavender, PhD, RN, FAAN, has more than 40 years' experience in clinical nursing practice, nursing education, and organizational administration. She currently serves as President of Gadsden State Community College located in Northeast Alabama. Gadsden State is a comprehensive community college that operates in six locations and employs more than 800 full and part-time employees.
Having served in all levels of higher education, Dr. Lavender has experience in baccalaureate nursing education at Jacksonville State University for 10 years. As Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences, she led in the development of a 33-member scientific research team and was successful in securing a $3.2 million cooperative agreement to study the health effects of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) exposures on the citizens of the Anniston community. In addition to serving as a Co-Principal Investigator for the research consortium, Dr. Lavender led the College in the development and implementation of a population-focused Community Health Master of Science in Nursing degree program. In addition, she is appointed as a Visiting Professor for the doctoral program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and has taught courses in leadership and health policy.
In the clinical and business sector, she has held staff, management, and administrative positions. She held various positions in the emergency response training program at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Anniston, Alabama. As the Associate Director for Training and Education, she was responsible for the resident and non-resident training program including the toxic chemical training facility, instructional delivery, and evaluation of program effectiveness. Prior to serving as a federal employee for the Center, she served as the SAIC/EAI Project Manager for a $25 million training contract, responsible for all components of training delivery and evaluation and management of approximately 200 employees.
As a leader in the nursing profession, Dr. Lavender was elected as the National President of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN), an international specialty organization of more than 22,000 nurses in 2001. Previously, she was elected as the National Treasurer of the association and led the fiscal transition of the organization during an unprecedented organization and financial restructuring.
Dr. Lavender has presented papers on nursing education, practice, domestic violence, child health, healthcare trends, and domestic preparedness at local, state, and national conferences. She has received several awards for excellence in nursing education including the Outstanding Faculty Award by the JSU alumni Association, the Outstanding Educator Award by the Cottaquilla Council of Girl Scouts (Anniston, Alabama), the Outstanding Nurse Educator – Academe by the Alabama State Nurses Association, and the Alabama League for Nursing’s Excellence in Teaching Award. In June 2004, Dr. Lavender received the AWHONN Distinguished Professional Service Award, AWHONN’s highest honor, for contributions to the profession of nursing and the specialty practice of women’s and infant’s health. She has also been honored with the Distinguished Service Award by the Gadsden State Alumni Association, recognized as one of the 60 Visionary Leaders from the UAB School of Nursing anniversary celebration, named as the Outstanding Administrator by the Chancellor of the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education, inducted into the Alabama Nursing Hall of Fame in 2013, and inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in October of 2015. In 2017, she was named as one of thirty “Women Who Shape the State” in Alabama.
Dr. Lavender is married to Tim Lavender, has two sons, and two grandsons.