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Nurse Leadership - NLI Fellows

Nurse Leader Institute Fellows - 2020 Class

Those who complete the LAC Nurse Leader Institute and the LAC Nurse Leader Mentorship Program are honored as Nurse Leader Institute Fellows by the Louisiana Nurses Foundation. A list of the 2020 class of Fellows is below.

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Deborah Even, MSN, MPH, RN, APRN, FNP-C

Project: “Conducting Courageous Conversations”


Deborah Even serves as the Chief Public Health Nurse in the Louisiana Office of Public Health and is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner who is dedicated to improving public health, especially among vulnerable peoples.   She believes every person should have the opportunity to receive quality care in a language they can understand.

Deborah has cared for many vulnerable populations in the United States and Central America.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Costa Rica, a Master of Public Health from Tulane University and a Master of Science in Nursing from Duke University. 

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Denise Linton, DNS, RN, FNP, FAANP

Project: "An Innovative Teaching Strategy for Nurse Practitioner Student Leaders”


Bio: Denise Linton is a doctoral prepared Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and a Fellow of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She is well known as an expert distance educator, clinician, researcher, and prolific author. Dr. Linton disseminates her scholarly works in various peer reviewed journals and at local, state, national, and international conferences.


Dr. Linton obtained her Diploma in Nursing from University Hospital of the West Indies School of Nursing, Jamaica in 1986, Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn, New York in 1996, Master of Science in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner Certification from Columbia University, New York in 1999, and Doctor of Nursing Science degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans in 2009. Her dissertation, Pap Smear Intention among Rural Southeast Louisiana Women is the foundation for her program of research and scholarship.  She is Founder and Chapter Leader of Louisiana (Lafayette) Chapter of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition.  She believes in paying it forward and goes above and beyond in her service to her profession and community.

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LeeAnn Prisk, DNP, RN

Project: “Growing Nurse Leaders: Empowerment of Frontline Nurses through Leadership Self-Development”

Bio: Prisk currently serves as a Nursing (House) Supervisor at St. Tammany Health System in Covington, Louisiana where she demonstrates leadership by facilitating and providing oversight to day-to-day hospital operations.  In this role, she also monitors the flow of patients in and out of the hospital.  Her previous nursing experience includes emergency nursing, critical care, and medical/surgical nursing.


Prisk began her nursing career as a BSN graduate at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond and has since earned a MSN in Executive Nursing Administration from the University of South Alabama in Mobile.  She is currently working towards completing a DNP in Executive Nursing Administration from the University of South Alabama with an projected completion date of May 2021.  

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Lyndi Taylor, BSN, RN

Project: “Improving Morale of Emergency Department”

Bio: My name is Lyndi Taylor and I serve as the ER nurse manager at Hardtner Medical Center in Olla, Louisiana. I received my ADN from LSUA in 2008 and started my nursing career in the Intensive Care Unit at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, La. I started working at Hardtner Medical Center in 2010 and was promoted to my manager role in the fall of 2019. I received my BSN from Northwestern State University in December 2020 and hope to go back to obtain my MSN in the future.

As a manager at a rural hospital, I have many various roles. I manage my unit of approximately 20 staff members, I am a nurse educator teaching BLS, ACLS, and PALS, and I am a member of our PICC line team. I also serve as the Stroke coordinator, SANE coordinator, and Sepsis coordinator as well. I am committed to positively impacting the lives of others, empowering the nurses in my unit, and providing compassionate care for our community. The NIL mentorship program has been a wonderful experience and has helped me to grow as a leader.

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Michelle Dennis, PhD, RN

Project: “Super Huddle”

Currently the Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences for Baton Rouge Community College. Throughout my career in Nursing, I have in many capacities including Surgical Intensive Care, Perioperative and Post-operative Services, Kidney and Liver Transplant Coordinator, and have also served as Director of Nursing -Medical-Surgical Unit for Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. My passion is centered around giving patients, family, and staff the best experience possible, by embodying students and staff with what I consider the most critical components of nursing. Those components include intellectual capability, ethical responsibility, and the most important element compassion.

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Rachel Sanders Nickel, BSN, MBA, RN, CCRN

Project: “Standardizing Critical Care Skills: Unit-Based Competencies in the Medical Surgical ICU”

Rachel Nickel is the Director of the Medical/Surgical Intensive Care Unit at University Medical Center New Orleans. She graduated with her BSN from Johns Hopkins University and has over 14 years of critical care experience. Rachel is nationally certified and was recognized as Modern Healthcare’s Rising Star Honoree in 2018. She is an active member of the AACN, GNOC and LSNA, and has served on the board as treasurer of the Greater New Orleans Chapter for Critical Care. Rachel is an advocate for evidence based practice and is chair of the Standards and Practice Council Committee at UMCNO.

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Samantha Schmitt, ASN, RN

Project: “Patient Satisfaction/Experience”

I graduated from the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2012 earning my associate degree in nursing. I moved back to my home state in 2013, where I started working as a staff nurse on the Med-Surg unit at Hardtner Medical Center, on night shift. After moving to day shift, I began to charge, and from there I moved up to House Supervisor once that position became available.

     In the role of House Supervisor, I supervise over 50 staff members, I make sure all the nurses needs are met, such as scheduling, any issues they may be having, dealing with conflict at times, and helping with any needs they have on the Med Surg Unit. Also, I make rounds on all the patients on the Med-Surg Unit, to make sure they are satisfied with the care they receive and resolve any issues the patients may have. I am over the medication management of medication errors, and quality monitoring of the narcotic administration. I am part of the Steering committee that handles system updates. I am certified in ultrasound guided peripheral vascular insertion. I help to educate nurses and nursing staff on new policies and procedures that may come up. While completing the nurse leadership program, I feel it has helped me to be a better leader. My mentor was always there to help guide me in any way. I am proud to have been a part of the Nurse leadership Program.

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Project: "The Initiative for Mental Health through Peer Alliance & Community Training”


Bio: Garnand currently serves as the Director of Oncology at University Medical Center New Orleans. She was recently named the 2020 Louisiana Registered Nurse of the Year by the Louisiana Nurses Foundation and the Louisiana State Nurses Association and one of the 2021 Top 9 Louisianians of the Year by New Orleans Magazine. She began her nursing career as a graduate of Charity School of Nursing, later obtaining her Bachelor of Nursing Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and her Master of Business Administration from Louisiana State University Shreveport. She looks forward to achieving her PhD in Nursing Leadership from the University of Southern Mississippi this fall. Garnand has always felt called to inspire, lead and care for others and has a passion for giving back to her community, chasing after her dreams and empowering fellow nurses to achieve theirs. 


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