Mercy University School of Nursing Launches Nation's First Health Equity Influencers Program for Nurse Educators

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Mercy University has launched the nation’s first Health Equity Influencers Program (HEIP) for nurse educators. This unique program is an intensive residency designed to strengthen nursing faculty’s preparedness to educate the newest generation of nurses through the lens of health equity. Nurse educators from across the nation have been selected to participate in the program, generously funded by the American Nurses Association and the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing.

“Over time, we’ve realized that improving health outcomes isn’t just about focusing on patients or the system; it's also about focusing on providers,” said Kenya Beard, Ed.D., AGACNP-BC, ANEF, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing. “The research shows that we all have implicit biases because of how our environment shapes our reality. We're trying to help educators create curriculum and policies that acknowledge these implicit biases and their impact on our decision-making.”

The HEIP program is designed to enhance the readiness of nurse educators to spearhead the advancement of health equity, both within and beyond the classroom. Throughout the program, participants will actively engage in a variety of activities aimed at designing and implementing nursing curricula that not only fosters inclusivity but also confronts structural racism. By doing so, they will assume a pivotal role in bolstering the preparedness of future nurses to champion health equity.

The hybrid program will be delivered synchronously over six months through a mix of virtual and in-person sessions at Mercy’s Bronx Campus. Anti-racism content expert Danica Sumpter, Ph.D., R.N., will facilitate the sessions along with guest instructors. Thanks to the funding received from the ANA grant, Mercy will waive the course fee for every HEIP participant this year. Participants will also receive a small stipend to offset the cost of long-distance travel.

The first cohort of participants consists of 20 nurse educators affiliated with 14 schools across the nation.

  • Brittany Baker, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, CNE - (East Carolina University – College of Nursing)
  • Kim Belcik, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, CNE - (Texas A&M University College of Nursing)
  • Heather Bradford, PhD, CNM - (Georgetown University – School of Nursing)
  • Mary Brennan, DNP, AGACNP-BC, ANP, FAANP - (New York University – Rory Meyers College of Nursing)
  • Michele Crespo-Fierro, PhD, MPH, RN, AACRN, CNE, FNYAM, FAAN - (New York University – Rory Meyers College of Nursing)
  • Ashley Darcy Mahoney, PhD, NNP-BC, FAAN - (George Washington University – School of Nursing)
  • Debora M. Dole, PhD, CNM, FACNM - (Georgetown University – School of Nursing)
  • Mara Evans, DNP, CNM - (Georgetown University - School of Nursing)
  • Alejandra Gonzalez-Cabrera, PhD, RN - (College of Saint Mary)
  • Laura Kincheloe, EdD, MSN, RN, NE-BC - (Texas Nurses Association)
  • Delany W. La Rosa, EdD, MSN Ed, RN - (Northern Arizona University)
  • Adrian Lennon, DNP, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC - (East Carolina University – College of Nursing)
  • Mikki Meadows-Oliver, PhD, RN, FAAN - (New York University – Rory Meyers College of Nursing)
  • Chijioke Okeke, MSc, MSN, RN - (Mercy University – School of Nursing)
  • Sandy Phan, DNP, RN, NPDA-BC, CRRN, EBP-C - (UC Davis Health & Health Impact)
  • Sharon Shockness, EdD, MSN-Ed, RN - (Mercy University – School of Nursing)
  • Holly Simpson, MS, RN - (University of Portland – School of Nursing & Health Innovations)
  • Erin Sivak, MSN, BSN, RN - (Boston University – School of Public Health)
  • Jannyse Tapp, DNP, FNP-BC - (Vanderbilt University – School of Nursing)
  • Nutrena Tate, PhD, MBA, RN, CPNP-PC - (University of Detroit Mercy)

“We extend our heartfelt congratulations and warm welcome to these trailblazing nurse educators as they embark on this transformative journey,” said Beard. “Together, we are steadfast in our commitment to forging a healthcare landscape that is more equitable and inclusive for all.”

For more information on the program, visit