Vernell DeWitty, PhD, MBA, RN

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Vernell DeWitty, PhD, MBA, RN

Director for Diversity and Inclusion, American Association of Colleges of Nursing


Dr. DeWitty is a transformational leader with a unique vision for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion for the nursing profession. She currently serves as the Director for Diversity and Inclusion at the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) where she advises the nation’s top academic nursing leaders on building consensus around a strategic approach to diversity and inclusion. Her previous background encompasses nursing education, practice, and healthcare administration. She directed the Robert Wood Johnson New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program, a nine‐year $41 million national collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and AACN that focused on diversifying the nursing workforce. In this capacity she created and implemented strategies and resources that contributed to the academic success of underrepresented and disadvantaged students in 130 nursing schools located in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Dr. Dewitty is currently leading the delivery of technical assistance programming for 32 nursing schools funded by the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) to increase nursing workforce diversity.

Dr. DeWitty has provided consulting services to healthcare systems in obstetric and neonatal risk assessment and guided new product development while serving as the Director for Consultation and Marketing at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). She earned her master’s degree from the Catholic University of America in Women and Neonatal Nursing and served as the first Director for Maternal and Newborn nursing at Howard University Hospital. As Program Director for the Center for American Nurses (now part of ANA), she developed, directed and administered all aspects of programmatic activities, including strategic formulation, concept testing, product and program design, development and execution for improving the work environments of professional nurses. Dr. DeWitty served as Interim Chief Executive Officer, Director of Patient Services and Director of Program and Business Development at the Hospital for Sick Children, a pediatric rehabilitation hospital located in Washington DC. As a member of the Executive Management Team, she was responsible for directing patient care services of 130 rehabilitation beds and overseeing 185 FTEs with a $15 million operating budget.

Dr. DeWitty has held academic appointments at George Mason University, Norfolk State University and Federal City College. She also served as seminar leader and guest lecturer at George Washington University and Howard University School of Law.

Dr. DeWitty most recently developed a training program, including the development of a consultative team, for nursing schools seeking to implement holistic admissions review and related strategies to increase diversity and inclusion in student populations. She has published on academic success and student progression as she continues to develop strategies and programs to increase the diversity and cultural competency of students in nursing education.

She earned her doctorate degree from George Mason University, her MBA from Howard University, MSN from The Catholic University of America and her BSN from Dillard University. She is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and received a certificate as a Healthcare Executive in Diversity and Inclusion from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Unconscious Bias Learning Lab by Cook Ross.