Norma Lester enjoyed a professional career in long term care that expanded over a period of fifty years. She started as a nursing assistant in Ohio, and furthered her education by first becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse then proceeding to obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing and a Associate in Personnel Management from Shelby State Community College, a Bachelor’s in Professional Studies from Memphis State University, a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Union University, a Master’s in Health Care Administration from Memphis State University and a Master’s in Nursing from the University of Tennessee Memphis.
In addition to working as a nursing assistant, Norma has worked as an LPN, RN staff nurse, Assistant Director of Nursing, Director of Nursing, Quality Assurance Director, Professional Service Consultant, Director of Specialty Services, Nurse Educator, Nurse Practitioner, Assistant Administrator and Administrator. As a Professional Service Consultant she worked with State surveyors in Florida, Pennsylvania and Connecticut helping facilities in decertification come into compliance. She also trained administrators, nursing directors, managers and supervisors on the principles of management and supervision. Additionally she traveled across the United States conducting peer reviews, establishing quality assurance systems, monitoring for compliance, tracking and training.
In 1995 she assumed the position as State Nursing Director for the state of Tennessee at the request of a State Surveyor whom she had known for many years. The state was entangled in a Federal lawsuit and fines were being levied on a daily basis. Working with several of the nursing guru’s in the industry she traveled across the state developing nursing policies and a quality initiative system. Under her leadership the nursing department moved into the Federal Court Monitors quality tier of compliance. During this time she also worked with other experts in the field and as such became intricately involved in all aspects of programming services.
In 1999 she along with several co-workers established K.A.N & Associates--A nursing consultant firm specializing in Developmental Disability practices in which she participated on a part time basis. In 2005 she assumed the full time position of President and CEO. She received training through the world renowned Vickie Milazzo Institute and became certified as a legal nurse consultant. This enabled her to testify in malpractice/personal injury cases as a nurse expert and as such K.A.N became a medical, legal and nursing consultant firm. She is also certified as a Developmental Disability Nurse Specialist and Family Nurse Practitioner.
To stay abreast of current practices Norma maintains an active part time position in long term care and continues her knowledge base by yearly attendance to various seminars and continuing education events.
Although she is quick to say she has retired, Norma recently completed an appointment by former Governor Phil Bredesen as a member of the State Board of Examiners for Nursing Home Administrators where she was elected Secretary. She is secretary of the National Developmental Disability Nurses Association and additional professional, social and political affiliations include, The Tennessee Nurses Association, The Association of Legal Nurse Attorney’s, Board member of Primary Prep Head Start Academy, Board member of Frayser Mental Health Center, political activist and former long term officer of the Shelby County Democratic Party Executive Committee where she chaired the Rules and By-Laws Committee. She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions; the most endearing to her being a letter of Commendation for outstanding Leadership from the Women’s Army Corp. Norma is well known throughout the community and highly respected in the health care field.
Norma attributes the most rewarding experience in her life as that of serving as a missionary during the Rwandan crisis in Africa in 1994. The experience gave new meaning to her of the injustice of mankind from one group towards another.
Norma retired in 2006 and currently enjoys a life of travel, fulfilling affiliate obligations, spending time with her granddaughter, attending Bible Study through the Bible Study Fellowship Foundation and networking with family and friends. She was appointed to serve as a Commissioner on the Shelby County Election Commission in 2011 and holds the title of secretary.