Tell us about your journey to the boardroom. What inspired you to seek a leadership position?
I became interested in board service because I wanted to learn more about philanthropy and its role in nursing scholarship. The Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation is a leader in supporting innovation in nursing research and education, and joining their Board of Directors has been an excellent way to learn more about how private foundations can play a role in advancing nursing and population health. I participated in one of the programs supported by the Hillman Foundation—called the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation—as a PhD student at the University of Michigan. I experienced first-hand how foundation support plays a role in nursing research and education. By supporting my education, the Hillman Foundation allowed me to excel in my doctoral program and devote my time to developing research skills and improving the health of vulnerable populations. They offered several small pilot grants that I used to build my research program, and more importantly, they offered an accelerated model of PhD education that helped me jumpstart my career as a nursing scientist. Now, as a board member, I am able to see this same model playing out for other promising nurse scholars and think about how the foundation can continue to innovate in nursing research and education. As I practicing nurse, I always think about patients first, whether I’m conducting research, teaching students, talking to policy stakeholders, or working in a hospital. I think of board service with the Hillman Foundation as another domain where I can think about patients and their health, only from more of a bird’s-eye view than how I’ve worked previously.
What is a key lesson you have learned through your leadership journey?
One key lesson I’ve learned is that all nurses have the potential to be leaders when it comes to patients and their health. It can be easy to let ourselves be held back by worries that we’re not experienced enough, talented enough, or smart enough to be leaders in our field or to serve on boards. But we bring valuable perspective to the table simply because we are nurses; we have a unique perspective on patients, families, and communities that no other stakeholder has in quite the same way. We need nurses to step up as leaders inside and outside of our field in order to confront the healthcare challenges facing patients and communities.
- PhD, MS, RN
“Board service can be rewarding to nurses both personally and professionally. It not only requires them to exercise leadership; it expands those skills and advances their capabilities and knowledge. It gives nurses the chance to meet people and enhance their professional networks. And it can be inspirational and empowering.” -Sue Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Nurses on Boards Coalition (NOBC) represents national nursing and other organizations working to build healthier communities in America by increasing nurses’ presence on corporate, health-related, and other boards, panels, and commissions.