Brenda Olsen, RN
Division Vice President, Health Promotions, Jacksonville, FL
Hoyt E. Dearholt Distinguished Professional Service Award
Brenda Olsen started her American Lung Association career at the Gulf Coast Lung Association in 1988 as Program Administrator. Her primary focus was anti-tobacco projects. She is a registered nurse by training and fully understands that an ‘ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’
As Director of Health and Regional Director for the Big Bend Region in Florida, she managed statewide tobacco prevention efforts and directed fundraising, program delivery and volunteer development for a 15-county region. In 1995, as Assistant Executive Director for the Lung Association of the Florida, she directed government affairs and continuing education programs for nurses and respiratory therapists.
From 2006 to 2018, Brenda served as Chief Mission Officer for the Southeast, supervising all mission delivery services as well as directing governmental affairs and advocacy, marketing and communications, and human resources. In 2018, as Vice-President of Health Promotions for the Eastern Division, she led her health promotions team through the challenges of a new structure with calm, strong and forward-thinking leadership.
Brenda has set a very high bar for successful policy change through advocacy. In 1997, when the State of Florida settled with the tobacco industry for 11.3 billion dollars, Brenda was the Lung Association’s staff-point person for our efforts to establish the necessary enacting legislation and establishment of Florida’s Tobacco Pilot Program. Since 1998, she has been the “go to” person for both legislators and the media on tobacco and clean air issues in Florida.
Brenda has been a leader in promoting health and seeking and securing grants. In Florida, she obtained and managed a $5 million-dollar statewide contract to implement N-O-T, Not on Tobacco. Under her leadership, the Eastern Division staff manage $11 million in grants to implement mission- and evidence-based activities including asthma education, tobacco prevention and cessation, smokefree multi-unit housing policy support, youth empowerment and support for patients with tuberculosis.
For more than 30 years, Brenda has brought to the Lung Association a passionate dedication to our mission and has had a major impact on every aspect of our organization.
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