Newswise — WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2021 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is pleased to announce the results of its 2021 election to fill seats on the AACN Board of Directors and Nominating Committee. With votes cast by member deans from the nation’s nursing schools with baccalaureate and higher degree programs, those selected to serve as AACN’s top leaders include Lin Zhan (Treasurer) from the University of Memphis; Pier Broadnax from the University of the District of Columbia; Jean Giddens from Virginia Commonwealth University; Deborah Jones from the University of Texas Medical Branch; Susan Mullaney from UnitedHealth Group (practice representative); and Demetrius Porche from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans. New members of AACN’s Nominating Committee include Nancy Fahrenwald from Texas A&M University, Shirleatha Lee from the University of South Carolina Upstate, and Linda Thompson from the University of Massachusetts Boston. 
“On behalf of AACN’s diverse membership, I applaud this distinguished group of leaders for their strong commitment to advancing excellence and innovation in nursing education, research, and practice,” said AACN Board Chair Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, FAAN. “I look forward to collaborating with the new and returning members to magnify AACN’s impact on improving health, health care, and higher education.”
AACN is governed by a 14-member Board of Directors, which includes four elected officers (Chair, Chair-Elect, Treasurer, and Secretary), 7 at-large members representing schools of nursing, and 2 members representing practice. AACN’s President and Chief Executive Officer also serves on the Board as an ex-officio member.
With online ballots cast from January 5-29, those elected to the AACN Board and Nominating Committee will begin their terms of service following the business meeting at AACN’s Deans Annual Meeting on March 23, 2021. New and re-elected Board members include:

  • Lin Zhan, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and professor of the Loewenberg College of Nursing at the University of Memphis, was re-elected to serve a two-year term as Board Treasurer. An award-winning nurse educator who has taught students from the BSN to the PhD level, Dr. Zhan’s research focuses on quality of life for older adults and ethnic minorities, and current funded projects focus on the integration of adverse childhood experiences across nursing curriculum ($1.17M) and enhancement of eldercare education across BSN curriculum (HRSA funding near $1M). With over 100 publications including five edited books, her scholarly work extends to serving as a reviewer for the refereed journals Nursing EducationNursing ResearchAdvanced Nursing Sciences, and on the editorial board for the Journal of Gerontological Nursing and the Journal of Aging and Geriatric Medicine. A recipient of many top honors, Dr. Zhan is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and a Wharton Executive Fellow. For AACN, she has served as Board Member at-large, on the Program Committee as the chair of the Faculty Development Conference and the Executive Development Series, as a reviewer of the AACN-Johnson & Johnson Minority Faculty Scholarship. Dr. Zhan has served on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the American Academy of Nursing. She currently serves as the Board Liaison to the AACN Essentials Leadership Team and chair of the Finance Committee. 
  • Pier A. Broadnax, PhD, RN, program director for the Department of Nursing and Allied Health at the University of the District of Columbia, was elected to serve a two-year term as Board member at-large. Prior to her current role, she served as chair of the College of Nursing at Howard University. Dr. Broadnax is active with the National Black Nurses Association where she serves on the Advisory Board on Population Health and with the Black Nurses Association of Greater Washington, DC (BNA) where she holds the office of president. Her leadership on behalf of the profession includes service on the advisory boards for the Office of Minority Health/ Future of Nursing Campaign for Action and the Quality Trust for Individuals Living with Disabilities and as a member of the District of Columbia Ward 8 Health Policy Council. Among her many honors are the Emma S. Payne Community Service Award from Light House Baptist Church (2019) and Black Nurse of the Year award from the BNA (2016). A strong supporter of AACN’s advocacy work, Dr. Broadnax is a State Grassroots Liaison and has served on the Government Affairs Committee. 
  • Jean Giddens, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), was re-elected to serve a two-year term as Board member at-large. Prior to her appointment at VCU in 2013, Dr. Giddens held several leadership positions at the University of New Mexico School of Nursing, including executive dean from 2010-2013, as well as teaching roles at Mesa State College, University of Texas-El Paso, and Eastern New Mexico University. She currently serves on the editorial boards of Nurse Educator and the Journal of Nursing Education. For AACN, Dr. Giddens has served on the Vision for Nursing Education Task Force, the Nominating Committee, and on the Program Planning Committees for the Master’s Education Conference, Executive Development Series, and Faculty Development Conference. She currently serves as co-chair of the AACN Essentials Task Force, which is leading the revision of the Essentials, which delineate competency expectations for graduates of baccalaureate, master’s, and DNP programs. 

  • Deborah J. Jones, PhD, RN, senior vice president and dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch, was elected to serve a two-year term as Board member at-large. She previously served as associate dean, assistant dean, and department chair at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. In academic nursing, she has taught across all nursing program levels (baccalaureate to doctoral), led substantial curricula development and revision, and conducted extensive research in the areas of oral health and moral distress. In addition to her many leadership roles with the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses over the last 20 years, she has served on the boards of the Southern Nursing Research Society and the Texas Oral Health Coalition and on a work group appointed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to address the nursing shortage in Texas. A Fellow in the Leadership for Academic Nursing Program, Dr. Jones has served on AACN’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Membership Committee and is a champion for advancing holistic admissions review in nursing. 
  • Susan Mullaney, DNP, APRN, GNP-BC, GS-C, FAANP, vice president of the Center for Clinician Advancement at UnitedHealth Group, was elected to a two-year term as a Practice Representative on the AACN Board of Directors. She is a distinguished healthcare leader and geriatric expert who drives operational excellence through relationships and process-oriented execution. Dr. Mullaney’s extensive leadership experience extends to serving on the boards of the Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association, the Council on Aging, and the Advancing Excellence in Long-Term Care Campaign, as well as an advisory board member for the school of nursing at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Boston College Palliative Care. For AACN, Dr. Mullaney has served as a member of the current Essentials Task Force; the Bridging Partnerships Task Force with the National Organization for Nurse Practitioner Faculties, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, and AACN; and as part of the Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Competencies Expert Panel. 
  • Demetrius J. Porche, DNS, PhD, ANEF, FACHE, FAANP, FAAN, professor and dean of the School of Nursing at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans, was elected to serve a two-year term as Board member at-large. Dr. Porche has served in a number of prominent leadership roles in nursing education, research, policy, and regulation, including president of the Southern Nursing Research Society, the Southern Regional Education Board Council on Collegiate Education in Nursing, and the American Assembly of Men in Nursing; member of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing; and university representative for the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs. His areas of scholarship include executive leadership, emergent leadership and men’s health. In addition to his service on the board of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Dr. Porche is chair of AACN’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, was a member of the Doctoral Conference Planning Subcommittee, and currently serves as a mentor through AACN LEADS and as a State Grassroots Liaison.

Continuing members of the AACN Board of Directors include Chair Susan Bakewell-Sachs from Oregon Health and Science University; Chair Elect Cynthia McCurren from Grand Valley State University; Secretary Jean Leuner from Auburn University Montgomery; Victoria Niederhauser from the University of Tennessee Knoxville; Randolph Rasch from Michigan State University; Jan Strom from Aurora University; Marjorie Wiggins from Maine Health System; and Deborah Trautman, AACN President and Chief Executive Officer.

The newly elected members to AACN’s Nominating Committee include:

  • Nancy Fahrenwald, PhD, RN, PHNA-BC, FAAN, dean and professor of the College of Nursing at Texas A&M University, was elected to serve a two-year term on the Nominating Committee. Prior to assuming her current deanship in 2018, she served as dean and professor at the South Dakota State University College of Nursing. Dr. Fahrenwald has been active with the Council for Advancement of Nursing Science, where she served as chair or the Membership Committee and the Operations and Finance Committees, and also held leadership roles with the American Cancer Society (Midwest Division), the APRN Coalition for the State of South Dakota, the Texas and South Dakota Nurses Associations, Brooking Health System, and the Midwest Nursing Research Society. A leader in the policy arena, Dr. Fahrenwald serves as chair of AACN’s Government Affairs Committee and as a State Grassroots Liaison, and she has provided testimony on behalf of AACN before the US House of Representatives Committee on Upscaling the Healthcare Workforce for Innovation in November 2019. 
  • Shirleatha Lee, PhD, RN, CNE, dean and professor from the Mary Black School of Nursing at the University of South Carolina Upstate, was elected to serve a two-year term on the Nominating Committee. Formerly the associate dean of academic programs at the University of Memphis, she also serves on a national higher education advisory board focused on the ease of transfer and improving baccalaureate degree attainment rates for low-income students. Dr. Lee’s research is focused on innovative teaching strategies and nursing workforce development, and she has published in the areas of pre-diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese youth. Active with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), she has served on the CCNE Nominating Committee and Budget Committee and as an onsite evaluator for nursing schools nationwide. In addition, Dr. Lee has served on AACN’s Baccalaureate Education Conference Subcommittee and as chair of AACN’s Transform 2021 Program Planning Committee. 
  • Linda S. Thompson, DrPH, MPH, RN, FAAN, dean and professor of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences from University of Massachusetts-Boston, was elected to serve a two-year term on the Nominating Committee. Prior to her current leadership role, she served as dean of West Chester University College of Health Science, and as Provost and vice chancellor of Academic Affairs for North Carolina A & T University. Dr. Thompson’s extensive leadership experience includes service on the Governing Council for the American Public Health Association, as secretary of the Black Caucus of Public Health Workers, on the National Advisory Council for the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities, and on the Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Nurse Faculty Scholars Program. As a longtime AACN volunteer, she has served on the Program Committee and the Government Affairs Committee, as a member of the Task Force on the Essentials of Master’s Education, and most recently as chair of the Doctoral Education Conference Subcommittee.

Other Nominating Committee members include Ann Cary from Florida Gulf Coast University, Tracey Murray from Coppin State University, and Rita Trofino from Saint Francis University.



The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the voice for academic nursing representing more than 840 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide. AACN is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education. AACN works to establish quality standards for nursing education; assists schools in implementing those standards; influences the nursing profession to improve health care; and promotes public support for professional nursing education, research, and practice. Learn more at Learn more at