Meet the Facilitators and Ambassadors

Mamie Williams standing at podium

Mamie Wililams,

"Unfortunately, within nurse leadership, there is long standing and recognized lack of diverse personnel. The lack of diversity within nursing leadership has multifaceted causes. However, it is understood that a key reason that keeps diverse nurses from ascending the leadership ladder is a lack of support for their aspirations.

I remember distinctly working as a staff nurse and envisioning my future and sharing that vision with other nurses. Rather than being encouraged, I was actively discouraged. I was told by more than one nurse leader that I shouldn’t divulge my plans and I certainly shouldn’t expect any help as I worked to attain my goals.

I wish I could say that my experience was the exception, but other nurses of color have shared that they experienced similar discouragement! Sadly, I have heard far too often about similar situations from other nurses who shared how their nurse leadership journeys were without support and mentorship. This program offers diverse nurses who are not yet in leadership roles the support of experienced and insightful nurse leaders who can help them navigate a path for achieving their goals—goals, that they are willing to work so very hard to achieve.”Co-Director Mamie Williams, PhD, senior director for nurse diversity and inclusion at Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Why This Program

In 2022, Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Vanderbilt University Medical Center launched the inaugural Academy for Diverse Emerging Nurse Leaders.

Participants called the experience “life-changing,” “transformative,” “profound” and “the most meaningful and impactful thing I have participated in.” Through their feedback, we learned that experiencing the leadership academy would also be of value to early-career nurses. 

This is that academy, developed for new nurses who aspire to leadership. It is the work of a multi-cultural group of nurses and educators who drew from their own experiences and knowledge to identify specific topics and opportunities to expand and support diversity in nursing leadership by encouraging and equipping early-career nurses with skills to advance and lead.


Benefit to Schools and Organizations 

It’s no secret that nursing schools and health care systems want and need faculty and leaders who support diverse backgrounds and populations. To provide quality, inclusive health care, it’s important that nursing staff and leadership reflect the populations that they serve.  

Nursing schools need to recruit faculty and students to shape the education of that future nursing workforce. Health care systems must recruit and retain diverse nurse leaders to positively affect the health outcomes of the diverse patients they serve.  

The Academy for Diverse Aspiring Nurse Leaders offers a path to prepare outstanding potential leaders to succeed. 


Aspiring Nurse Leaders Taskforce

  • Marilyn Dubree, Executive Chief Nursing Officer, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Pam Jeffries, Dean, Vanderbilt School of Nursing
  • Rolanda Johnson, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Vanderbilt School of Nursing
  • Mavis Schorn, Senior Associate Dean for Academics, VUSN
  • Mamie Williams, Senior Director of Nursing Diversity and Inclusion, Vanderbilt University Medical Center


Rolanda Johnson standing at podium

Rolanda Johnson, PhD, MSN, RN

"As I reflect upon the completion of my undergraduate studies, I distinctly remember being told that I was prepared to serve in leadership roles at any health care facility. Little did I know that although I had completed a leadership course and served in numerous clinical roles, my leadership skillset was in progress. Being an African American nurse in a hospital with little diversity representation at the administrative level, I felt that I was left to develop as a leader primarily independently. It would have been amazing if someone would have assisted me with transitioning to the “real world” of leadership and understanding contributing factors including empowerment, bias and stereotypes. This academy experience is designed to assist aspiring leaders with developing a realistic path to leadership while incorporating the unique nuisances of diversity. I perceive this experience as being potentially transformative for all who attend.”Co-Director Dr. Rolanda Johnson, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Vanderbilt School of Nursing

Positive, collaborative, hardworking, knowledgeable.