Lili Powell, Kluge Professor of Compassionate Care, University of Virginia School of Nursing
“Nurses are looked to as leaders in so many ways,” explains prof. Lili Powell, "so it's imperative that they cultivate the practice of leadership alongside their practice of nursing."

You manage a hospital unit where squabbling and infighting rule. You’re a nurse practitioner who must lead an interprofessional team with conflicting views on a patient’s care. You’re a nurse scientist being considered for a major national grant, which includes formal presentations before board members. Or you want to start an initiative involving multiple departments that will improve the quality of care and patient outcomes.

Leading in healthcare takes both grit and grace. In a word, it take presence, a quality that ties seeming opposites together. It begins with learning to manage your own attention and actions first, which is often easier said than done.  It continues with engaging those around you with confidence and warmth. Your leadership succeeds when you bring out the best in people and organizations to provide superior patient care.

But how in the world do you learn to do that?

“Nurses are looked to as leaders in so many ways, so it’s imperative that, alongside developing their practice of nursing, they also cultivate their practice of leadership."

Kluge Professor Lili Powell

“Nurses are looked to as leaders in so many ways,” explains Lili Powell, the Kluge Professor of Compassionate Care and a Darden professor of business, “so it’s imperative that alongside developing their practice of nursing that they also cultivate their practice of leadership.  Leading with presence ties together being fearless and kind, compassionate and well-reasoned, and focused on individuals and attentive to the group.”

Leading with Presence (GNUR 5559), a new graduate course taught by Powell and offered for the first time this fall, 2018, will help students who are nurses, physicians and administrators to understand the key ingredients for showing up consistently as compassionate and effective leaders. During the semester, Powell will guide students though scholarly readings on mindful leadership from both academics and practitioners; teach personal practices, from reflective writing, centering in the body and mind, and acting and improv to grow their inner resources and resilience; and inspire students to lead well-coordinated action within a team or organization. Each student will complete a final project, including an oral presentation, on a subject of their choosing, and reap the benefits of Powell’s grounded, but inspired approach to leadership.

Powell is a long-time consultant, facilitator, instructor and coach who’s guided leaders in industries from banking to biotech, including the American Medical Association, the Annenberg Foundation, Hilton Worldwide, Lagos Nigeria Public Schools, United Technologies, the FBI, and the World Bank. An award-winning teacher, she is also a certified yoga instructor, and has taught UVA courses ranging from management communication to MBA students to the executive short course “Leading Mindfully.” Powell earned an undergraduate and master’s degree from UVA, and a PhD from Northwestern University.

Though designed with graduate nursing students in mind, students from the School of Medicine, the Darden School of Business, and the Batten School of Public Policy considering careers in the healthcare arena – our nation’s largest business sector – will also find the course topics applicable and relevant.


The course will take place in the Resilience Room in McLeod Hall (MCL 2010) each Wednesday during the fall 2018 semester, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Individuals wishing for more information may contact Powell: 434-982-2730.