Roberta Waite, dean of the Georgetown University School of Nursing (SON), received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) at their 51st Annual Institute and Conference Awards Ceremony Aug. 5 in Atlanta, Ga.
The NBNA is a professional organization that serves to exemplify the voices of Black nurses, provide them educational resources and ensure that people of color receive the highest quality of care. Founded in 1971, the NBNA now represents over 308,000 nurses with more than 100 chapters.
The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to those who show a high level of dedication and commitment to nursing throughout their career in healthcare, academia and service. The award was presented to Waite by Martha Dawson, president of the NBNA and associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing.
“Dr. Waite is a long-time member of NBNA and has worked to increase diversity in education, practice, research and leadership,” Dawson said in a recent press release. “Her work in public health, advocacy, mental health, social justice, education and leadership has impacted so many nurses. She is a role model.”
Waite joined Georgetown in May 2022 as a professor of nursing and shortly thereafter became the dean of the School of Nursing in July 2022.
Under Waite’s leadership, School of Nursing students are able to focus more on healthcare equity. Edward Healton, executive vice president for health sciences, is thankful for Dr. Waite’s contributions to the university.
“We are most grateful for Dr. Waite’s leadership in ensuring new nurses and those advancing their nursing expertise do so with a focus on health equity,” Healton said.
Waite specializes in psychiatric and mental health nursing. Prior to arriving at Georgetown, she led 11th Street, a health services center for vulnerable populations and those in public housing. She has also actively contributed to developing educational programs for aspiring nurses. Waite encourages students to focus on early intervention and prevention as well as overall wellness when serving as nurses.
As an inaugural Macy Faculty Scholar, a faculty leader chosen to implement a project in their institution, Waite developed the Macy Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program to provide a social justice focus on nursing and public health education. Waite is committed to creating a healthcare system that addresses deep-rooted societal inequities.
Waite has held several appointments at other higher-education institutions across the country. She was previously a T32 postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Disparities, in addition to serving as a fellow at the American Academy of Nursing and the Academy of Nursing Education.
Waite’s achievements extend into the public sector as well. She is currently part of the National Commission to Address Racism in Nursing, the Education Work Group and the American Nurses Association on the Health Equity Advisory Group for National Quality Forum. She was the only nurse asked to serve on former Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf’s 2019 task force on trauma reform and healing from it.
A member of Catholic Health Ministries, Waite’s goals align with Georgetown’s Jesuit values of caring for the whole person.
Waite has brought her years of experience to Georgetown students. She is grateful for the award that honors her past achievements, but also looks forward to the future of her career.
“It’s an honor that NBNA has recognized my achievements, but there’s so much more that I want to do,” Waite said in the press release. “The recognition of my contributions is important to me because I feel strongly that we should all live our legacies. This is one chapter of my life and I have other chapters to write.”