Nursing Executive Shares Leadership Lessons With Mercy’s Future Leaders

School of Nursing Dean Kenya Beard, nursing executive Launette Woolforde and School of Business Dean Lloyd Gibson standing in front of a Mercy University step and repeat banner.

From left to right: Dr. Kenya V. Beard, Mercy University dean of the School of Nursing, Launette Woolforde, deputy chief nursing officer for Northwell Health, and Lloyd Gibson, Mercy University dean of the School of Business.

On November 14, Launette Woolforde, Ed.D., D.N.P, spoke to business and nursing students about leadership as part of the Mercy University Executive Speaker Series. The event was co-sponsored by the School of Nursing. Woolforde is deputy chief nursing officer for Northwell Health — the largest employer and the largest health care provider in New York State — and assistant professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. In her 30-year career, she has served in various clinical and leadership roles, led Northwell throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and now leads almost 19,000 nurses across Northwell.

In her talk entitled “Leadership Lessons: Tools and Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Landscape,” Woolforde discussed leadership lessons by sharing anecdotes from her own career and highlighting famous leaders that she admires, including Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and Nelson Mandela.

She emphasized that leadership is less about “calling the shots” and more about “challenging the status quo.” She explained that leaders must think outside the box to see how they can do things better. However, they must do so by listening and gaining a deep understanding of their team. Leadership is about empowering other people to function at their highest level.

Woolforde asserted that leadership is also about taking calculated risks. Leaders must have the courage to act on what they believe, deciding both which battles to fight and which not to. She assured students that even if they fail, they will “fail forward” and learn a lesson about what not to do next time.

She encouraged students to spend an endless amount of time developing their expertise and to work harder than everyone else. She even shared a book list at the end of her presentation comprised of books that have shaped her own leadership.

When Woolforde opened up the floor for questions, students thoughtfully asked about topics including how to approach working for a leader who does not hold similar values, how leaders can diminish toxic work environments and examples of when Woolforde “failed forward” in her career.

The Executive Speaker Series provides students with the opportunity to hear from successful professionals about issues that matter in the working world today. The series will resume in the spring with three more speakers.