Program Office

Developing a new generation of nurse leaders to transform America’s health care system

Julie A. Fairman
Julie A. Fairman, PhD, RN, FAAN
Julie Fairman is the Nightingale Professor of Nursing and Chair of the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Her work on the history of critical care earned her awards from the American Association of the History of Nursing and her first book, Critical Nursing: A History, received favorable reviews in the national and regional popular press and from reviewers in professional journals. Her most recent book, Making Room in the Clinic; Nurse Practitioners and the Evolution of Modern Health Care is in its second printing and recently out in paperback. She is currently working on a history of the intersection of health policy and nurse practitioners in the United States from 1980 to the present.
Susan B. Hassmiller
Susan B. Hassmiller, PhD, RN, FAAN
Emeritus Director
Susan Hassmiller joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1997 and is presently the senior adviser for Nursing. In this role, she shapes and leads the Foundation’s strategies to address nurse and nurse faculty shortages in an effort to create a higher quality of patient care in the United States. Drawn to the Foundation’s “organizational advocacy for the less fortunate and underserved,” Hassmiller is helping to assure that RWJF's commitments in nursing have a broad and lasting national impact. In partnership with AARP, Hassmiller directs the Foundation’s Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, which seeks to increase access to high-quality, patient-centered care in a health care system where nurses contribute as essential partners in achieving success. This national effort strives to implement the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s report on the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Hassmiller served as the report’s study director. She is currently serving as the Senior Scholar in Residence and Advisor to the President on Nursing at the National Academy of Medicine for the Future of Nursing 2020-2030 report.
Heather J. Kelley-Thompson, MA
Deputy Director
In addition to serving as the Deputy Director for the RWJF Future of Nursing Scholars program, Heather Kelley-Thompson is also the Department Manager for the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing's Biobehavioral Health Sciences (BHS) department. As manager of the BHS department, Kelley-Thompson supports more than 150 faculty (across ranks and appointments) and provides overall responsibility for the day to day operations of the department. She mentors and manages the department staff, while looking for opportunities to grow the work of the team to meet the goals of the school. Kelley-Thompson has served as the deputy director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Future of Nursing Scholars program since 2013. This national program supports more than 200 nursing PhD students, all of whom are enrolled in three-year doctoral programs. She provides direct support to these scholars, and also created and launched the program’s leadership development curricula. Previously, she served as the program associate for the RWJF Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) program, which was also housed within Penn Nursing. In that role, she fostered the development of 40 grantee teams, disseminated research findings through a webinar series, daily blog posts, a quarterly newsletter, and a special edition of Medical Care. Before coming to Penn, Kelley-Thompson was a vice president in a political advertising firm, which served candidates across the country, as well as teaching unions, and also worked on behalf of various issue referenda. She has served Penn Nursing on a variety of committees and currently co-chairs the Diversity and Inclusivity Committee. She has also served with the Penn Professional Staff Assembly’s Tri-Chair leadership. She volunteers outside of her professional roles as a Girl Scout leader for three Girl Scout troops and is the Past President for the Philadelphia Area Alumnae Panhellenic. Previously, Kelley-Thompson was a member of the Board of Directors for the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Florida. She resides in Upper Darby, PA with her husband, Ed, and their three daughters, Chloe, Amber, and Kyra.
Denise Scala, CRA
Business Administrator
Denise Scala has been working in grant administration for the past 30 years at the University of Pennsylvania. Her focus has been both pre award and post award administration within the School of Nursing. She has responsibility for finance, compliance, training, and reporting for specific faculty. Scala has participated on committees to enhance compliance and electronic research administration. She is currently the treasurer for the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Society of Research Administrators. She is a certified Research Administrator who is required to take continuing education seminars and/or present topics of interest in this changing field.
Amanda Bastelica
Associate Director
Amanda Bastelica graduated with an MPA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. She took the role of administrative coordinator of the Future of Nursing Scholars program in the fall of 2013. She has a background in academic publishing and was previously employed as a production editor at a publishing company in Philadelphia.