Gilead leaves behind a legacy in mental health nursing

maggie gilead

Maggie Gilead 73MN 81PhD RN, who ably and gently guided students through their mental health rotations, died of cancer at Emory University Hospital on July 16.

Gilead, 68, was known for her extensive work in mental health nursing practice and education and improving local and state mental health services. As a member of the DeKalb County Community Mental Health Board, she was part of the statewide effort to implement House Bill 100, which improved availability of services for mental health patients and restructured Georgia’s community mental health system. She also served on Governor Roy Barnes’ Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council and worked with sickle cell patients at today’s Emory University Hospital Midtown. 

Calm and quiet-spoken, Gilead was an invaluable resource to nursing students, leading them on clinical rotations at Grady Memorial Hospital, the Georgia Mental Health Institute, and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Katherine Yeager 84N 12PhD, research assistant professor at the School of Nursing, was among those students during the 1980s.

"One of my most vivid memories was my psychiatric nursing rotation with Maggie at Georgia Mental Health Institute," says Yeager. "She taught me how to communicate with a group of patients who had major psychiatric issues with respect and care. She boosted our confidence and role modeled a professional and caring approach. She calmed our fears and usually threw in a little humor to help us get through the next adventure."

In addition to teaching at the nursing school for nearly four decades, Gilead taught in Emory’s Department of African and African American Studies. Gilead, among the school’s first African American faculty members, wrote about Reynoldstown, one of Atlanta’s African American neighborhoods, in her Emory dissertation. 

"Her interest in cultural diversity and the ongoing changes brought about by integration were useful as the School of Nursing developed programs of study to teach cultural concepts," recalls nursing professor emeritus Rose Cannon 74MN 95PhD. "In 1984, Maggie was one of the authors of a scholarly article titled ‘A values clarification approach to cultural diversity,’ published in Nursing and Health Care. It laid out a new model for teaching cultural diversity to avoid stereotypical thinking."

Gilead received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Ludie Andrews Award from the Georgia Nurses Association and the Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Community Service from Emory.  

Born in Savannah, Gilead spent her formative years in New York City. She earned her BSN from Long Island University and her MSN and doctoral degree in liberal arts from Emory. She is survived by three daughters, a son, 10 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.—Pam Auchmutey


Help support graduate students in mental health 

Memorial gifts honoring Maggie Gilead may be made to the Rose Dilday Scholarship. This scholarship benefits graduate nursing students who demonstrate need and have elected to enter the field of gerontology or mental health. Gifts may be sent to the Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, 1520 Clifton Road N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30322. To learn more, please contact Betsy Oliver, senior associate director of development, at 404-727-5291 or


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