Nursing alumna honors her late mother with scholarship

May 11, 2024

Author: Zaynah Qutubuddin

Jeanne Duffer, along with her brother Mike Duffer, established the Ann Duffer Nursing Scholarship to support nursing students from underrepresented backgrounds who need financial aid.

ann duffer
Ann Duffer graduated from the VCU School of Nursing in 1952 and later became an entrepreneur and small business leader in Richmond. Her daughter, a fellow nursing alumna, has given to create a scholarship in her honor. (Photo courtesy of Jeanne Duffer)

Jeanne Duffer was five years old when she banged her head against the corner of a wall and split it open. She didn’t cry.


But after Ann Duffer arrived at the physician’s office in her nursing uniform and MCV cap, a younger Jeanne wept with relief at seeing her mom.

“That’s my first memory of my mother as a nurse,” said Jeanne, a retired nurse and, like her mother, a VCU School of Nursing alumna. “She came to my rescue offering her comfort and love.”

After a few years in nursing, Ann pivoted her career to business. She founded and successfully ran her own employment agency in downtown Richmond for 40 years. She also co-founded and was vice chair of the Women's Bank, and served as a member of the Governor's Advisory Committee on Small Business. She was instrumental in forming the Richmond Association of Women Business Owners, and she was Virginia's Women in Business Advocate of the Year. Ann also headed the Virginia delegation to a White House Conference on Small Business, and is a former chair of the Virginia Department of Commerce's Employment Agency Advisory Board.

“She was a force, and even as a businesswoman she was always so generous and caring,” said Jeanne who, along with her two siblings, was born at the MCV Hospital. “She was constantly on the go and finding more ways to make a contribution to Richmond.”

Inspired by her mother, Jeanne wanted to honor Ann’s memory and gave to create the Ann Duffer Nursing Scholarship at the VCU School of Nursing. The scholarship is supported by the Ann Duffer Family Foundation, which is managed by Jeanne’s brother Mike Duffer. The foundation’s investments over the years have allowed the family to make charitable contributions to support the School of Nursing, including donating to the Betsy Bampton Professorship, which honors a former professor of Jeanne’s. Along the way, the family decided to give back to honor their mother’s memory.

“It really astounds me now when I continue to read about what my mom’s life was like and what she did,” Jeanne said, “and I wanted to find a way to honor her and provide for the future.”

In the same way that Ann supported the Richmond community by helping people find employment over the years, her daughter hopes this scholarship will support nursing students from underrepresented backgrounds who are in financial need.

It really astounds me now when I continue to read about what my mom’s life was like and what she did and I wanted to find a way to honor her and provide for the future.

Jeanne Duffer

“My commitment to supporting equality, equity and creating a more inclusive community with students pursuing a nursing career stems from my 43 years of nursing,” Jeanne said. “I’ve seen and cared for so many who have been marginalized due to their race, low-income status or ethnicity, and have struggled to obtain better health care options, employment/housing opportunities as well as educational opportunities. I want to support these students and empower them to achieve their academic and career goals.”

Jeanne also plans to establish an endowment in her mother’s name that would support underrepresented nursing students and help alleviate financial hurdles to their education.

"With the endowment, I hope to help level the playing field and increase access to higher education,” said Jeanne.  She hopes to build the endowment over the next several years in addition to making a scholarship donation in honor of the late Pam Parsons, Ph.D., founder of the VCU School of Nursing's Mobile Health and Wellness Program and a high school friend of Jeanne's. 

“I’m a nurse,” Jeanne said. “Whether we’re making a donation or providing care, it gives me immense joy to give back. It’s just in my DNA.”  

If you would like to support student scholarships at the VCU School of Nursing, please contact Pam Lowe, the school’s senior director of development, at 804-827-0020 or