February 23, 2020

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Dr. Wanda Thruston

Dr. Wanda Thruston, is now serving her third four-year term as a member of the Metropolitan School District Board of Trustees, having first been elected in 2008. To the board, she brings her experience in executive management and leadership, child and youth development, implementation of evidence-based program planning, disparities in health and education, developing trauma responsive learning communities, grant writing and program evaluation. During her tenure as a board member, she has served as president, vice president and secretary, as well as having worked on the policy committee. As a Board liaison to district committees, she has participated on the Advancement Center Board, Safety Committee, Community Advisory Council, Health and Wellness Council and Parent Council Network. She actively participates in board development through the Indiana School Boards Association, National School Boards Association, Indiana State Department of Education and Council of Urban Boards of Education.

With the exception of three years, Dr. Thruston has been a resident of Washington Township since 1967. She is a 1977 graduate of North Central High School and is the proud mother of five children who all received their education in Washington Township Schools, beginning in 1987: Carrie Spann (NCHS, 2001), Christopher Spann (NCHS, 2003), Crystal Spann (NCHS, 2005) Chad Spann (NCHS, 2007) and George Roddy IV (NCHS, 2018). During her 31 consecutive years as a Washington Township Schools parent, in addition to serving over a decade on the school board, she has been involved with various PTOs, Parent Council, NCHS Band Parent and Football Parent organizations as well as many ad hoc committees and has assisted with many classroom or teacher projects and field trips.

Dr. Thruston is a nurse and has actively worked in the area of maternal/child health for nearly 40 years as a public health administrator, clinician, educator and advocate. As a nurse practitioner for the National Service Corp, she provided health care services in several Indianapolis inner-city neighborhood health clinics serving women, children and adolescents who lived in low income neighborhoods, housing complexes, homeless shelters and the streets. Understanding the intersection between the health of children and their primary and secondary education, Dr. Thruston has targeted much of her health care work in public schools. She created and operated school-based and school-linked health clinics serving middle and high school students. She is the founder and former director of the Future Promises Program — a multi- school-based health promotion and wrap around services program for high school students that are expecting or parenting a child, including those young parents attending North Central High School. Further, she developed the Young Families of Indiana Network and the Indy Coalition for Pregnant and Parenting Teens, where she provided leadership, consultation and education for Indiana professionals that care for and support young families. Internationally, she provided expert consultation to improve the health services to West African pregnant and parenting teens living in Monrovia, Liberia.

Currently, Dr. Thruston is a Clinical Assistant Professor at Indiana University School of Nursing, with a Community Action Engaged Research focus on evidence-based program implementation and trauma responsive learning communities for children and youth. Her graduate-level teaching focus is on Family Dynamics in Health Care. She has earned numerous local and national awards such as the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Center for Leadership Development; Breakthrough Woman Award from the Indianapolis Chapter of 100 Black Women; the Charles R. Bantz Chancellor’s Community Fellowship Award from Indiana University; Clinical Scholar Leadership Fellowship from Robert Wood Johnson; Champion for Youth from the Marion County Council on Youth; Clinical Excellent Award from IU School of Nursing Alumni Association; National Emerging Program Award from Healthy Teen Network; and Leadership in Nursing from Sigma Theta Tau. Dr. Thruston recently co-authored position papers entitled “Educational Equity for young people who are pregnant and parenting” and “Adolescent Human Trafficking” for Healthy Teen Network and “Racism and its harmful effects on non-dominant racial-ethnic youth and youth serving providers: A call to action for Organizational Change” for the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine. She presents her work on children and youth at many local and national conferences, including most recently, Using Evidence-Based Approaches to Develop Program Services for Pregnant and Parenting Students” during the 2018 School-Based Health Alliance National Conference held in Indianapolis, IN.

She is a graduate of United Way’s Diversity in Leadership Program, as well as Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) and Opportunity Indianapolis (OI) both sponsored by Leadership Indianapolis. She is active on several local and national women and youth-focused non-profit board of directors, advisory boards or ad hoc committees, most notably Healthy Teen Network (Baltimore, MD), Nurse Family Partnership of    Goodwill Industries of Central and Southern Indiana (Indianapolis, IN), and the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana (Indianapolis, IN). Dr. Thruston earned her bachelor’s degree from DePauw University and her masters and doctorate from Indiana University School of Nursing.

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