School of Nursing to host conversation with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood will discuss leadership, nursing and health equity during a virtual conversation with Vanderbilt University School of Nursing leaders on Tuesday, May 17, noon-1 p.m. CST. The event is free and will be available via Zoom.

Headshot of U.S. House of Representative Lauren Underwood wearing a cobalt blue top. There's an American flag behind her right shoulder.Underwood, a registered nurse who represents Illinois’ 14th Congressional District, is a leader in Congress regarding health issues and disparities. She will speak with VUSN Dean Pamela R. Jeffries and Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Rolanda Johnson, who will pose questions about the role of nurses in achieving health equity, influencing policy and serving as patient advocates.

“Nurses see health inequities, lack of access, high health care costs and situations in their communities that need to be addressed, but too often, they don’t know how to effect change,” said Jeffries, Vanderbilt’s Valere Potter Distinguished Professor of Nursing. “As a nurse and United States Representative, Congresswoman Underwood is uniquely positioned to lead policy change and to raise awareness of health care issues. She’s a powerful role model for our nursing students as well as other nurses, and we look forward to hearing from her.”

Underwood began her congressional term in January, 2019, becoming the youngest African American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. She serves on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and the House Committee on Appropriations.

She co-founded and co-chairs the Black Maternal Health Caucus, which advances policy solutions to improve maternal health outcomes and end disparities. She serves on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, and is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, the LGBT Equality Caucus and the Future Forum, a group of Democratic members of Congress committed to standing up for the next generation of Americans. She is also a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Underwood has extensive experience with health care issues and policy. She served as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, helping communities prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters, bioterror threats and public health emergencies. She was appointed senior advisor by President Barack Obama and advised on the Flint, Michigan, lead-tainted water crisis. As a public servant, Underwood helped implement the Affordable Care Act, broadening access to care for Americans, reforming private insurance and improving health care quality. Before being elected to Congress, she worked with a Medicaid plan, ensuring it provided high quality, cost-effective care.

She earned her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Michigan and a master of science in nursing and master of public health from Johns Hopkins University. She also completed a fellowship at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and was a research nurse at Johns Hopkins.

“A Conversation with Congresswoman Lauren Underwood” is a special presentation combining VUSN’s two signature lectures series, the VUSN’s Dean’s Diversity Lecture Series and the Leadership Lecture Series. T

The Dean’s Diversity series was established in 2016. It explores the diversity of backgrounds, cultures, ideas and viewpoints in our world today. It seeks to equip students, faculty, staff and other community members with the knowledge and understanding needed to lead nursing forward. The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing Leadership Lecture Series welcomes nationally recognized leaders to share their expertise, knowledge and leadership lessons with students, staff, faculty and alumni, as well as with the wider Vanderbilt and nursing communities.