On April 20, 2020, Lauren Leander, an ICU nurse who cares for critically ill COVID-19 patients, stood with three of her colleagues in support of stay-at-home orders that were critical to slowing the spread of the virus during the early days of the pandemic. Leander’s courageous, silent counterprotest at a rally of hundreds of angry protestors demanding that the state of Arizona immediately reopen was captured in a now-iconic photo in which an unmasked protester stood before her at close range. Leander stood in silence as rally attendees intentionally coughed on her and her fellow nurses and accused them of being paid actors. Leander has utilized her new platform to create a GoFundMe Page to help raise over $286,000 dollars that has been used for PPE, medical supplies, and compassion fatigue gifts for Navajo and Hopi frontline nurses.
“Lauren embodies ASU’s charter '…assuming fundamental responsibility for the economic, social cultural and overall health of the communities we serve.' She continues to take great risk in working the COVID-19 unit and serving as a voice for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities at a time when speaking out remains controversial. ASU is proud to have her as an alum, as she is an excellent example for our students and all people. She is a beacon of hope and reason for citizens in Arizona and around the world during uncertain and challenging times, and an exemplary model of courage in the face of adversity.” - Michael Crow, ASU President