St. Elizabeth College of Nursing has new president

Kimberly A. Panko

Following an extensive search, Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) has named Kimberly A. Panko president of the St. Elizabeth College of Nursing (SECON) in Utica, effective June 6.

“In its nearly 118-year history, SECON has graduated thousands of nurses who have gone on to take care of the people of this community,” said Darlene Stromstad, president and CEO of MVHS. “Building upon its long legacy, we look to SECON, and Dr. Panko, to help take us into the future as we educate the nurses of tomorrow and open our new, state-of-the-art Wynn Hospital next year. 

“The role of president of SECON is vital to ensuring this region has access to strong nursing. Dr. Panko will be an integral leader in our recovery from the pandemic and our ability to deal with workforce shortages. Educating the next generation of nurses is critical to our success and we are so lucky to have such a well-established and respected college as part of our system. Dr. Panko is the best person to take over the reins and move us into the future of healthcare in our community.”

Kathy Horn, chairwoman of SECON board of directors said Panko brings a significant background in nursing, leadership and academia. “In addition, she is a dynamic, results-driven leader who will have a strong impact at SECON on our students, faculty, staff and community. I’m looking forward to Dr. Panko continuing our legacy of educating outstanding frontline nurses and leaders and creating innovative and exemplary academic programs. Dr. Panko’s vision toward the future and building partnerships are vital to SECON’s continued growth and evolution.”

Panko succeeds Varinya Sheppard, who announced her retirement after a 40 year nursing career in which she not only served as president of the college, but held multiple nursing roles including chief nursing officer at St. Elizabeth Medical Center. 

Panko has worked for MVHS since 2001 and currently serves as director of nursing, medical surgical and acute-inpatient rehabilitative services for MVHS. Before taking her current role, Panko worked for SECON as dean of students and faculty development and as nursing instructor and course coordinator. Panko has more than 28 years of experience in various nursing positions.

Panko earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice in systems leadership from Chamberlain College of Nursing in Downers Grove, Illinois; her Master of Science in nursing and administration from Clarkson College in Omaha, Nebraska; her Bachelor of Science in nursing from State University of New York at Utica/Rome in Utica; and her Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing from Northern Maine Technical College in Presque Isle, Maine.