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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 850 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



Meet the Graduates of the AACN-Wharton Leadership Program

Published July 26, 2012



First Cohort of Nursing Academic Leaders Selected to Attend 
the Inaugural AACN-Wharton Executive Leadership Program 

WASHINGTON, DC, July 26, 2012 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce the inaugural class of nursing deans and senior faculty leaders who have been selected to participate in the new AACN-Wharton Executive Leadership Program. Scheduled for August 14-17, 2012 at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, this world-class enrichment program, which is designed exclusively for top academic leaders in nursing, is generously sponsored in part by the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence.

“AACN is pleased to welcome our first class of nursing leaders who represent a broad, geographically diverse mix of educational programs, including large academic health centers, public and private institutions, and small specialized schools of nursing,” said AACN President Jane Kirschling. “Fortified with a new layer of leadership expertise, those completing the program will be well-prepared to make a lasting impact on how nurses are educated and how they practice.”

With 37 nurse educators from 25 states participating this year, the following individuals comprise the 2012 cohort for the AACN-Wharton Executive Leadership Program:

  • Lazelle Benefield, Dean, College of Nursing, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
  • Audrey Berman, Dean, School of Nursing, Samuel Merritt University (CA)
  • Devon Berry, Director of Innovations and Community Partnerships, Wright State University (OH)
  • Lenora Campbell, Associate Dean, Winston Salem State University (NC)
  • Ann Cary, Director, School of Nursing, Loyola University New Orleans (LA)
  • Daisy Cruz-Richman, Dean, College of Nursing, SUNY Downstate Medical Center (NY)
  • Debra Davis, Dean, College of Nursing, University of South Alabama
  • Judy Didion, Dean, College of Nursing, Lourdes University (OH)
  • Dorrie Fontaine, Dean, School of Nursing, University of Virginia
  • Rita Frantz, Dean, College of Nursing, The University of Iowa
  • Lorraine Frazier, Dean, College of Nursing, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
  • Carla Gross, Department Chair, Nursing, North Dakota State University
  • Phyllis S. Hansell, Dean, College of Nursing, Seton Hall University (NJ)
  • Marcia Hern, Dean, School of Nursing, University of Louisville (KY)
  • Karen Karlowicz, Chairperson, College of Health Sciences, Old Dominion University (VA)
  • Judith F. Karshmer, Dean, School of Nursing and Health Professions, University of San Francisco (CA)
  • Marsha Lewis, Dean, School of Nursing, University at Buffalo (NY)
  • Krista M. Meinersmann, Director, School of Nursing, University of Southern Maine
  • Helen Melland, Dean, College of Nursing, Montana State University
  • Pamela Mitchell, Interim Dean, School of Nursing, University of Washington
  • Dianne Morrison-Beedy, Dean, College of Nursing, University of South Florida
  • Nina Ouimette, Dean, Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing (TX)
  • Demetrius James Porche, Dean, School of Nursing, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
  • Rosanne Pruitt, Director, School of Nursing, Clemson University (SC)
  • Sharon Radzyminski, Chair, School of Nursing, Georgia Southern University
  • Joanne Robinson, Dean, School of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-Camden
  • Nena F. Sanders, Dean, School of Nursing, Samford University (AL)
  • Kerri Schuiling, Dean, School of Nursing, Oakland University (MI)
  • Juliann Sebastian, Dean, College of Nursing, University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Sandie Soldwisch, Dean, College of Nursing, Resurrection University (IL)
  • Mary C. Sullivan, Interim Dean, College of Nursing, University of Rhode Island
  • Beth Ann Swan, Dean, School of Nursing, Thomas Jefferson University (PA)
  • Kristen M. Swanson, Dean, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • David Vlahov, Dean, School of Nursing, University of California San Francisco
  • Pamela G. Watson, Dean, School of Nursing, University of Texas Medical Branch
  • Susan Wilkinson, Department Head, Department of Nursing and Rehabilitation Sciences, Angelo State University (TX)
  • Barbara Williams, Chairperson, Department of Nursing, University of Central Arkansas

“Though many executive leadership programs are available at top schools like Wharton, none focus exclusively on the needs of nursing deans,” added Dr. Kirschling. “AACN is hopeful that this innovative program will help to amplify nursing’s voice in national conversations about healthcare reform and enhancing patient care.” 

For more details on this leadership development program for nurse educators, see the Wharton Executive Leadership Program site.


The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania—founded in 1881 as the first collegiate business school—is recognized globally for intellectual leadership and ongoing innovation across every major discipline of business education. Informed by in-depth academic research and extensive industry experience, Wharton Executive Education programs offer a supportive and challenging context from which participants gain the skills necessary for their next level of executive development. In open-enrollment and customized programs, participants from a diverse range of industries interact with Wharton faculty, who are one of the most cited, most published faculties of all top-tier business schools. With a profound influence on global business, Wharton faculty are the trusted advisors of corporations and governments worldwide. Learn more at

The Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, established in 2006 by Barbara and Donald Jonas, is dedicated to improving healthcare by advancing nursing scholarship, leadership and innovation. Its two main programs are the Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar Program, which aims to address the dire shortage of nursing faculty by preparing nurses with doctoral degrees to step into this critical role, and the Jonas Veterans Healthcare Program, which seeks to improve the health of veterans by supporting doctoral-level nursing candidates committed to advancing veterans' healthcare. These programs currently support more than 600 doctoral scholars nationwide, with a goal to support 1,000 Scholars by 2016. Learn more at