Current Members

The Anna Maxwell Teaching Academy will accept new members late each fall. Individual members will be inducted for a five-year period and must resubmit an application for a second five-year term.

Current members of the academy are listed below.

Sally Aboelela, PhD
Assistant Professor of Nursing
Sally Aboelela is passionate about applying her research and experience in both the basic and clinical sciences to the education of future advanced practice nurses. Through her courses: Advanced Physiology, Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan, and Maternal/Fetal/Newborn Physiology, Aboelela is dedicated to teaching the underlying dynamics of both health and disease. Behind her consistently high student evaluations and favorable reputation as an educator are her genuine respect, compassion, and commitment to her students. As an educator, her mission is to distinguish her advanced nursing students in their respective specialties by providing a strong scientific foundation for their future practice. To this end, she continually seeks and employs the most effective pedagogical techniques in her courses.
Mary Woods Byrne, PhD, MPH, FAAN
Professor of Nursing
Mary Byrne is well known for always going the extra mile in helping students understand course content, for using creative and innovative ways of measuring competency achievement, and using her practice and international research projects to illuminate her pedagogy. She teaches across all levels of the curriculum, spending most of her time with doctoral students in the DNP program. A pediatric nurse practitioner, she uses her practice assessing toddlers and children and their caregivers at risk for sub-optimum or inadequate parenting, not only to inform her research but also to stimulate students to create viable interventions to prevent negative outcomes. Her careful attention to detail makes her a favorite among the students for dissertation advisement, and she is often in demand for committees in related disciplines across CUMC and the main campus.
Jeanne Churchill, DNP
Assistant Professor of Nursing at CUMC
Jeanne Churchill is a pediatric nurse practitioner and pediatrics course director for the Entrance To Practice program. Her goal is to provide students with the scientific knowledge necessary for developing critical thinking skills as well as the human, interpersonal and caring components of nursing. Churchill nurtures this through narrative writing assignments in her pediatric didactic class where students reflect on clinical experiences that have significantly impacted them. She feels this empowers students to become more compassionate providers. Most importantly, she hopes to instill her students with a passion for nursing and a sense that it is an art as well as a science.
Karen Desjardins, DNP, ANP-C
Assistant Dean, Academic Affairs
Assistant Professor of Nursing at CUMC
Karen Desjardins is an Adult and Geriatric Nurse Practitioner who practices at Columbia Doctors Midtown and directs the Combined BS/MS Nursing program. Her personal goal and philosophy of teaching is to impart an essential body of knowledge and experience in a way that creates competent critically thinking nurses who embrace the qualities of empathy and caring and a life-long commitment to learning. She believes mentoring colleagues can be as rewarding as caring for patients. Just as with patients, students cannot be equal partners in learning without trust and respect. She is passionate about gaining trust and respect with students, role modeling the profession of nursing and fostering lifelong learning by encouraging students to learn for professional and personal growth.
Jennifer Dohrn, DNP, CNM
Assistant Professor of Nursing at CUMC
Jennifer Dohrn is the director of the Office of Global

Initiatives and an assistant professor at Columbia Nursing where she teaches community health. She oversees collaboration with Columbia Global Centers and leads the Columbia Nursing WHO Collaborative Health Center for Advanced Practice Nursing.

Jennifer Dohrn has worked as a nurse educator and nurse midwife for more than two decades. She previously served as the program director of the Nurse Midwifery program at Columbia Nursing and as project director for the ICAP Nurse Capacity Building Program/Nursing Education Partnership Initiative Coordinating Center at Mailman School of Public Health. For more than a decade at ICAP, she worked to improve the infrastructure for nurses and nurse midwives in 12 Sub Saharan African countries. She continues to contribute to the ICAP program and works at a community health center in the Bronx. She received MS and DNP degrees from Columbia Nursing.

Kathleen Hickey, RN, EdD, FNP-BC, ANP-BC, FAHA, FAAN
Assistant Professor of Nursing at CUMC
Kathleen Hickey has more than 25 years of experience as a nurse practitioner in cardiac electrophysiology and has extensive knowledge of cardiovascular clinical trials. She is a 2008 Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Alumna and is the current President of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG). Hickey is dedicated to teaching her students in the clinical arena (physical exam skills, ICD/pacemaker evaluation, ECG analysis) and also lectures on topics such as cardiac genetics and chronic cardiovascular disease assessment and management.
Rita Marie John, EdD, DNP, CPNP
Associate Professor of Nursing at CUMC
PNP Program Director
The goal set by Rita Marie John is to develop the critical skills of her students and to encourage them to use informatics in practice and education to promote learning. Her students are exposed to a variety of web-based cases to foster critical thinking skills. A believer in continual learning, she has presented for the National Conference for National Associations of Pediatric Nurses and Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She is a contributing author and reviewer for pediatric nursing texts. She served as committee member for the Pediatric Primary Care self-assessment exercise for the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board. She is a member of National NAPNAP awards committee and is serving on the obesity guidelines revision committee for National NAPNAP.
Rebekah Ruppe, DNP, CNM
Assistant Professor of Nursing at CUMC
In her nurse-midwifery specialty and master’s nursing courses, Rebekah Ruppe strives to provide current content material with an innovative approach. She consistently updates her teaching and incorporates an array of methods in and out of the classroom. Ruppe engages her students in the learning process using creative group work and problem based learning sessions that facilitate the integration of knowledge into practice. Recognizing that each student and class cohort will benefit from an individualized approach to teaching and learning, she adjusts her teaching plans to respond to the clinical experiences and needs of students. Her expertise as an educator allows her to be fluid and open to new ideas. Ruppe consistently receives high marks from students and has received the American College of Nurse Midwives Excellence in Teaching Award.
Arlene Smaldone, PhD, CPNP, CDE
Assistant Dean, Scholarship and Research
Associate Professor of Nursing at CUMC
Arlene Smaldone believes that the process of teaching and learning is both dynamic and interactive and requires active engagement of both faculty and students. She leads the nursing PhD program at Columbia and teaches courses at the doctoral level in both DNP and PHD programs. She currently serves on the national Pediatric Primary Care Self-Assessment Committee for Pediatric Nursing Certification Board and is the co-chair of the Section of Evidence Based Health Care at the New York Academy of Medicine.