Dr. Roberta Waite is Dean of Georgetown University’s School of Nursing. She joined our community on May 1, 2022 as professor of nursing and assumed the leadership role of the nursing school on July 1, 2022.
Dr. Waite is a highly regarded nurse leader whose career fuses education, practice, research and community through innovative and transformative strategies. A fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the Academy of Nursing Education, Dr. Waite completed her tenure as professor of nursing in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University in Philadelphia and as the school’s associate dean of Community-Centered Health & Wellness and Academic Integration on February 28, 2002. As executive director of the nurse-led Stephen & Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel (henceforth 11th Street) operated in partnership with FPCN — recognized as a national model of innovative care by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) — Dr. Waite animated her 33-year career focus on behavioral health, structural influencers of health and racial justice.
A psychiatric-mental health clinical nurse specialist, Dr. Waite provided transformational and visionary leadership at 11th Street, a federally qualified comprehensive health service center with a client base of more than 6,000 patients, including populations that are vulnerable and residents of public housing. The patient-centered medical home is a complex model of nurse-managed, community-based care for the education of nursing and health professions students and for faculty practice. During her tenure, Dr. Waite, as an expert educator and practitioner drawing from her foundational professional work as a clinician including her role as director of psychiatric nursing at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, strived to create opportunities for student formation through this critical work, particularly in the areas of early interventions, health equity, prevention, and wellness. Because of this experience, students apply critical thought to trauma-informed care using an antiracist approach and transdisciplinary model.
The Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation named Dr. Waite as an inaugural Macy Faculty Scholar in 2011. Through this prestigious honor, she created the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program. Reflecting her commitment to intentional interdisciplinarity, this program is specifically designed for undergraduate students in the health professions, nursing and public health. In particular, it focuses on leadership development while concurrently fostering critical consciousness using a social justice lens.
Additionally, Dr. Waite is dedicated to work that advances diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. She served on Drexel’s Antiracism Task Force, directing the Listen, Learn, and Lead Subcommittee with the goal of embedding this work in the institution’s culture, policies, planning and practices. In addition, she was on the leadership team of Healing-Empowerment-Advocacy-Learning-Prevention-Action Trauma-Informed Pennsylvania co-chairing the Racial and Communal Trauma Prevention Action Team. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s office asked her to serve as the only nurse expert for his “Think Tank” to develop guidelines and benchmarks for “Trauma Informed PA,” a plan to guide the Commonwealth and service providers statewide on what it means to be trauma-informed and healing-centered. Also, she serves on both the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing, Education Work Group and serves as a representative for the American Nurses Association on the Health Equity Advisory Group for National Quality Forum (NQF) MAP (Measure Application Partnership). This Advisory Committee, convened on behalf of the Centers for Medicare &Medicaid Services will provide input on the measures under consideration with a goal of reducing health differences closely linked with social determinants of health.
Dr. Waite’s ethos aligns with Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit values; her appreciation for the mission is deepened as a member of Catholic Health Ministries and a corporate board member (with fiduciary responsibilities) of its Trinity Health, one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic health care delivery systems in the nation. Waite also serves as a board director for the Family Process Institute; Independence Blue Cross Foundation; the Advisory Group for COACH (Collaborative Opportunities to Advance Community Health), a cross-sector collaborative that brings together health systems and community-based organizations to address community health needs in Greater Philadelphia; and the Advancing Health Equity National Advisory Committee supported by the RWJF.
Dr. Waite’s sustained record of scholarship, and education, evaluation and clinical funding center on work in behavioral health, nursing leadership, social and racial justice, and antiracism. She has been primary investigator on numerous grants, and her scholarship — primarily as lead author — has appeared in more than 70 refereed publications and numerous book chapters.
As part of her scholarship, Dr. Waite was invited to serve on the working group established under the auspices of the National Advisory Council for Nursing Research (NACNR), an advisory council to the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health. As co-author, Dr. Waite and her working group published the “Future Direction in Nursing Science” in 2021 in fulfillment of the charge to provide recommendations to the NACNR to help to identify strengths, limitations, challenges and opportunities in nursing science to inform the development of NINR’s next strategic plan.
Dr. Waite completed her doctorate in education at Widener University with a focus on higher education administration leadership. Following her doctoral work, she held a T32 post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Disparities focused on Vulnerable Women Children and Families. She completed her baccalaureate in nursing at Widener, and her master’s in nursing — with a focus on adult psychiatric-mental health nursing — at Penn.