Backed by more than three decades in her field, Dr. Phyllis Jane Reeder, PhD, RN, has influenced multiple generations of students through her dedication to community health. From watching her aunt excel as a nurse, she wished to emulate her and sought a career in nursing in her own right. In 1960, she obtained a diploma from South Chicago Community Hospital and commenced her career as an intensive care unit and critical care unit staff nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in Kankakee, Illinois, holding the position from 1961 to 1975. Subsequently, Dr. Reeder earned a Bachelor of Science in nursing from Olivet Nazarene University in 1975.
Moving into the next stage of her professional work, Dr. Reeder accepted an opportunity to teach courses at Olivet Nazarene University, where she served as a professor for 16 years until her retirement in 2006. She recalls transitioning into academia was a wonderful experience, as she had small children at the time and teaching gave her the flexibility to raise them and pursue a fulfilling career. She also very much enjoyed teaching the next generation of nurses. During this time, Dr. Reeder furthered her education and matriculated at the University of Illinois at Chicago, attaining a Master of Science in nursing in 1979 and a Doctor of Philosophy in 1991. She is also certified as a gerontological nurse.
Finding vast success in her career, Dr. Reeder was the recipient of a Willis Snowbarger Award for Teaching Excellence in 2005. She was also a fellow of the Illinois Public Health Leadership Institute in 1995 and has received recognition from the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, of which she serves as president of the Kappa Sigma chapter. Further offering her expertise to her local community, Dr. Reeder served as president of the Kankakee County Board of Health for two years and as vice president of the Kankakee Parish Nurse Network between 2001 and 2019. Additionally, she maintains membership with the Illinois Nurses Association.
Outside of her primary work, Dr. Reeder is actively involved in her local parish as a faith community nurse, a role she has excelled in for 18 years. In recent years, she has led the WITT “We’re in This Together” Group Potluck Picnic in collaboration with her friend Carol Warring. The group is intended to bring together those of the parish community who are widows and widowers, and it has been met with great success. Citing education as a lifelong process, she encourages all budding professionals to continue educating themselves and devote time to volunteering.
Currently enjoying her retirement, Dr. Reeder feels fortunate to spend quality time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also dedicates her free time to sewing. A celebrated Marquis listee, she has been featured in the fourth and fifth editions of Who’s Who in American Nursing and the eighth edition of Who’s Who in American Education.