Frontier Nursing University hires chief diversity and inclusion officer

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Dr. Maria Valentin-Welch, first chief diversity and inclusion officer for Frontier Nursing University in Hyden 10-3-17

Hyden, KY — Frontier Nursing University (FNU), a graduate school offering nurse-midwifery and nurse practitioner programs through distance education, has hired Dr. Maria Valentin-Welch, DNP, MPH, CNM, FACNM, as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer to lead the University on matters of equity, diversity and inclusion. Dr. Valentin-Welch is a certified nurse-midwife and has served as a course coordinator at FNU since 2013. She will assume the new role on October 1, 2017.

FNU’s chief diversity and inclusion officer (CDIO) will lead the development of a vision and strategy that champions the importance of a diverse and inclusive environment that values and supports all members of the University community. The addition of the CDIO position is the most recent of a number of diversity initiatives implemented as part of FNU’s strategic plan to heighten the focus on diversity and inclusion for all faculty, staff and students. The CDIO will serve on the executive team along with the president, dean, chief operations officer and the executive vice president for finance and facilities.

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“Research tells us that in order to incorporate an effective culture of diversity and inclusion, you must have top administrators at the highest level in the organization leading the charge,” says FNU President Dr. Susan Stone. “We have done so much to foster a culture that values diversity and inclusion; this was the natural next step for our University.”

Dr. Valentin-Welch has worked on diversity and inclusion efforts throughout her career. One of her first assignments at FNU will be leading the implementation of a four-year program to increase the recruitment, enrollment, retention and graduation of students from disadvantaged backgrounds, made possible by a HRSA Nursing Workforce Diversity Grant totaling $1,998,000 that was awarded to FNU earlier this year.

Dr. Valentin-Welch joined the Frontier Nursing University faculty four years ago and has served as a co-chair of FNU’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She will be moving to Kentucky in 2018 to join other administrative staff at FNU’s campus, which will be relocating from Lexington to Versailles next year.

“I am very excited to get started in this new role because focusing on diversity and inclusion will only strengthen Frontier’s roots, as well as our mission and vision,” said Dr. Valentin-Welch. “The birthplace of nurse-midwifery in the United States stems from the roots of Frontier Nursing University. Therefore, I am humbled and honored to become FNU’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Together, hand in hand, we will bring our FNU Community to higher heights.”

Additionally, Dr. Valentin-Welch will offer leadership support to FNU’s Diversity PRIDE Program which has been in place since 2010 and was designed to promote diversity in nursing and midwifery by recruiting more underrepresented students. She will also focus on collaborative opportunities with other organizations to facilitate the goals of diversity and inclusion at FNU.

“I believe our founding mother, Mary Breckinridge, is smiling down at Frontier as we open this new historical chapter… a chapter made up of many different pages creating a wonderfully diverse and inclusive book,” said Dr. Valentin-Welch.

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