When Brigham nursing leaders gathered in 2017 to meet Maddy Pearson, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, the new chief nursing officer and senior vice president of Patient Care Services, someone asked what she was most proud of.
Pearson responded, “My children,” and shared a little about her son, Matt, and daughter, Alex.
Katie Fillipon, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, deputy chief nursing officer and vice president of Nursing, remembers that interaction as a defining moment for the department.
“I was expecting her to launch into a story highlighting her professional accomplishments, but she didn’t,” said Fillipon. “The joy that she emanated sharing her true self in that room was a moment I have never forgotten because it’s a reflection of the humanness that makes Maddy such an exemplary leader. It made me want to lead here and to be part of bringing that joy into this workplace in times of extreme adversity.”
Fillipon was among five speakers who described Pearson’s compassion, accomplishments, advocacy, leadership and devotion to family during an Aug. 4 celebration of the establishment of the Beth V. Martignetti Distinguished Chair in Nursing and Pearson as the inaugural incumbent.
“An endowed chair is the highest honor the Brigham can bestow upon a member of our community,” said Robert S. D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “The Brigham has a long history of nursing excellence, and this chair is truly a milestone in that storied tradition. We want to honor nurses’ extraordinary contributions to patients, their loved ones and our entire Brigham community as we celebrate Maddy’s extraordinary achievements.”
The chair was established in June, thanks to the generous funding and vision of Beth and Carmine Martignetti. In addition to recognizing Pearson and the Department of Nursing, the chair also provides a source of funding to advance clinical, research and educational initiatives that have the potential to transform patient care.
A former Brigham Operating Room nurse, Beth Martignetti spoke about the profession, her love for the Brigham and the special meaning of this chair in her name during the celebration.
“Nursing is one of the most demanding, challenging, rewarding and noble professions,” said Martignetti, who originally joined the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital as a nurse in an intermediate care unit. “The Brigham’s commitment to nursing and to patients is second to none. How proud I am to have been a nurse here.”
Since retiring from nursing, Martignetti has continued to serve and support the Brigham community, first as a member of the Board of Trustees and now as a member of the President’s Advisory Board, Women’s Health Advisory Board and the Brigham Luminary Society.
“When Dr. Higgins shared this opportunity to establish the first chair in nursing, Carmine and I knew immediately it was a perfect fit for us,” she said. “Maddy is a strong leader and a fierce advocate with a heart of gold. We know she will use this chair to benefit the entire nursing community.”
Honoring an Advocate, Confidante, Mentor, Leader and Mother
Pearson, who attended the event with her husband, Andy, and children, Matt and Alex, was lauded for her leadership, advocacy, professional accomplishments and caring, compassionate nature.
“Maddy has probably two careers’ worth of achievements, and that’s before she even began at the Brigham,” said Sunny Eappen, MD, MBA, chief medical officer and senior vice president of Medical Affairs, who described Pearson as his friend and confidante. “She inspires the people around her to do their best. She’s someone who really understands what it’s like to care for people at their worst and also how to deliver solutions that allow us as a hospital and system to care for patients in the best way. That’s unique in administration. No one deserves this honor more than Maddy.”
Cori Loescher, MM, BSN, RN, NEA-BC, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, recalled the first time Pearson visited the Faulkner campus after joining the Brigham in 2017. “She said to me, ‘We will be in this together,’” Loescher said. “She has never faltered on that commitment. Maddy has been with us in the best of times, such as when we achieved Magnet designation, and during our most challenging times in the pandemic.”
At the system level, Pearson serves as co-chair of the MGB Chief Nursing Officer Council, advocating for nursing to be represented on numerous committees, councils and groups that provide input in decision-making around patient care. “With her advocacy, Maddy has ensured that nurses and nursing leaders serve on committees and councils related to COVID response, medical equipment selection, recruitment and retention strategies and many other issues,” said Loescher.
The Power of Voice
For Pearson, the power of voice — a lesson instilled in her by her mother — has been the most important thread connecting each accomplishment on her resume. This includes leadership roles, state-wide advocacy efforts and regional and national influence as an elected member of the board for the Organization of Nurse Leaders in New England and her appointment to the American Nurses Association Committee on Revising the Nurse Leader Scope and Standards.
“I have made it a priority in every setting that I have worked to elevate the voice of nurses, ensure that they are able to lead patient care initiatives and provide input in decisions about care and nursing practice,” she said. “Over the past five years, we have worked hard to make sure that that the voice of nursing is heard, respected and valued at the highest levels of our institution and system.”
Thanking the Martignettis, Pearson emphasized that the distinguished chair honor is for all Brigham nurses.
“Beth and Carmine, thank you for your tremendous support of Brigham nurses. You will always be part of this nursing community, and we are so grateful for your vision with this truly transformational gift. This is not about me, but about the tradition of nursing excellence that began here long ago and is carried forth today in every patient room, in our clinics, in our perioperative and procedural rooms,” Pearson said. “Having a distinguished chair in nursing elevates this department and solidifies the important place of nursing in this institution.”
She spoke with pride about the Brigham nursing community, including nurses’ expert clinical skills and advocacy for patients and loved ones.
“When I’m asked what makes Brigham nurses so special — because everyone knows they are — I always come back to the compassion,” said Pearson. “Nurses’ compassion, along with their relentless pursuit of better ways to care for patients, truly sets the Brigham nursing community apart. I’m so proud to serve as the chief nursing officer for this incredible nursing community.”