Laura Karnitschnig was elected chair of the Board of Directors at their annual meeting June 20, 2019. Laura has served on the PCA Arizona board since 2016, and has served on the executive committee since that time.

Dr. Karnitschnig is a certified pediatric nurse practitioner who received her Doctor of Nursing Practice in 2015 from Northern Arizona University (NAU). She earned her Master’s in Nursing, PNP, in 2003 from Oregon Health Sciences University and her Bachelor of Science, with a minor in psychology, in 1997 from Salisbury University in Maryland. Laura’s doctoral project focused on prevention of child maltreatment through routine intimate partner violence (IPV) screening of adults. Her doctoral work also entailed investigating barriers to IPV screening in the emergency department setting, providing education to nurses on IPV impacts, and training nurses on how to respond to positive and negative patient screenings. Laura has practiced nursing in a variety of clinical settings, including neonatal intensive care and pediatrics. She is currently an Associate Clinical Professor at NAU School of Nursing.

We spent a little time speaking with Laura about her passions and goals both in her career and her new role as board president:

What about prevention inspires you?

After being a pediatric nurse for 22 years, I’ve witnessed many heartbreaking instances of child abuse. By making a difference beforehand, you can greatly lessen the impact of trauma on a child.

In your experience, what does prevention look like in the medical fields?

Screening! In my schooling, no one taught me how to screen for child or what to say after you’ve identified a case of child maltreatment. So, for my doctoral study, I wanted to study more about effective screening methods in partner violence. Because of my experience in this area, Flagstaff Medical Center has asked me to review and modify their trauma screening for child maltreatment in their E.R. department.

I believe that mental health screenings are an important part of this equation, including mental illness and substance abuse. These topics have a lot of stigma, but it’s vital to address these concerns in an integrated health setting if we also want to protect against child maltreatment.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the students! Also, I have the opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Child Safety on the substance-exposed newborn program with the intentions of making it more evidence-based.

Why is an evidence-based program so important?

You need to use something that you know will work! Many of Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s programs are evidence-based which means we are supporting, funding, and implementing programs that we know will make an impact within their targeted communities.

What are you looking forward to most in your new role as Board President?

I am looking forward greatly to working with my fellow board members and the PCA Arizona leadership team as we work together to identify a new executive director to lead our vital work in advocacy, training, and program development to prevent child maltreatment in Arizona. Also, I look forward to fostering and sustaining a good relationship with the staff. We have an amazing team and, as a group, we can move things forward with a growth-mindset. We have effective programs, but there is always room for growth and increased sustainability.

While not supporting Prevent Child Abuse Arizona or working, what do you enjoy in your free time?

I live in Flagstaff, where I love read, hike, and spend time with my two children, and black Labrador retriever.

Prevent Child Abuse Arizona is so fortunate to have Laura’s leadership and service enrich our organization. Prevent Child Abuse Arizona is currently recruiting for our board of directors. If you have a passion for protecting children, we would love to learn more about how we can utilize your experience and skills on our governance team. Please contact Development Director Rebekah Prieto at to learn more about roles on our board of directors.