Debra Toney ’97 lights the way at 2012 Olympics


Dr. Debra Toney ‘97, PhD, RN, FAAN was one of 22 outstanding Americans honored by Coca-Cola for their commitment to positive living and community service by being selected to be a torchbearer in the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay.

The Olympic Flame was lit in Greece and arrived in the United Kingdom on May 18. The Olympic Torch was then passed for 70 days through U.K. cities, towns and villages before arriving at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Toney carried the Olympic Flame for 300 meters through Kirtlington in Oxford¬shire on July 9. She was in the company of Olympians Michelle Kwan and Summer Sanders.

“The opportunity to participate in this international event, which celebrates the accomplishments of some amazing people, was a proud and humbling moment– humbling because I never expected something this significant would happen to me. However, it is an experience that could happen to anyone,” said Toney. “The opportunity to spend time with people from different parts of the country and hearing their stories of giving has given me the drive to do more. We came from different cultures, spoke different languages and enjoyed different food, yet, we had a lot in common– mainly, the drive to make the world a better place to live.”

Toney has over 30 years of experience in the nursing and health care professions and received an M.S. in Health Services Administration from USF before obtaining a Ph.D. in human services with a specialization in health care administration. She is currently the director of nursing at Nevada Health Centers in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is a federally qualified health center with 16 locations statewide. Her practice-related scholarship focuses on reducing/eliminating health disparities and increasing a diverse and culturally competent healthcare workforce.

She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and a graduate of the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows program and was elected treasurer for the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Alumni Association. She is active with the Future of Nurses Campaign and was instrumental in the creation of the Nevada Action Coalition and currently serves as its chair.

Toney is the immediate past president of the National Black Nurses Association, a member of the American Nurses Association, board member for the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations and chair of the advisory committee for the Nevada State Office of Minority Health. She volunteers her time in national organizations where she advocates on issues regarding inequities in minority communities.

She is the president of the Jourdan Kasey/Karen Lazarus Foundation and is dedicated to raising awareness and educating others regarding early detection of ovarian cancer. She is also is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Links, Inc.

Toney has been recognized by numerous organizations for her contributions to society including receiving American Legacy Magazine’s Multicultural Healthcare Award and The Links, Incorporated’s Women Leading the Way Award. She is also member of the Women of Color Conference’s Hall of Fame.

Toney has worked diligently on behalf of the nursing profession and believes that we must all believe in something bigger than ourselves.