Heather Young, center, stands flanked by fellows from inaugural cohort

UC Davis nursing school welcomes Betty Irene Moore fellows for third annual Convocation

Keynote event features internationally recognized expert in health and public policy


The national program office for the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis celebrated its annual Convocation  with a keynote on July 25 featuring an internationally recognized expert in health and public policy. The virtual gathering marked the third convocation for the program since its launch in 2020.

Mary Wakefield, Fellowship National Advisory Council member, former acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, gave the keynote presentation “Nursing Influence: Power, Politics and Policy.”

“It’s exciting to virtually meet with nurse scientists from across the nation to discuss the importance of nurses engaging in the areas of policy and politics and the substantive impact they can make, particularly when it comes to health care practices and health equity,” Wakefield said. “Nurse scientists have immense potential to affect change at the state and national levels. Consequently, learning how to craft initiatives and build relationships with policymakers is vital to informing health policies to advance the nation’s health.”

Heather Young, right, and Mary Wakefield appear side by side in screens from a Zoom presentation
Mary Wakefield, left, told the virtual gathering of Betty Irene Moore Fellows that building relationships with policymakers is vital to informing health policies.

Wakefield discussed her journey and highlighted how nurses get involved, from joining local hospital committees focused on quality improvement and patient safety, to taking on leadership roles within regional nursing organizations and joining advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. She also discussed engaging in non-traditional areas and sectors beyond health care to gain diverse knowledge that can then be used to improve nursing practice.

Nearly 70 people attended the virtual keynote presentation, including all three cohorts of Betty Irene Moore Fellows, program faculty, the national program office, Fellowship National Advisory Council members and a representative from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which supports the fellowship’s selection of five cohorts of fellows through a $37.5 million grant.

Before the keynote presentation began, Harvey Fineberg, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, gave recorded welcoming remarks after welcoming remarks were given by Council Co-Chair Antonia Villarruel, professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

Mary Wakefield headshot
Nurse scientists have immense potential to affect change at the state and national levels.Mary Wakefield, former acting deputy secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Convocation is the cornerstone event of the fellowship and spans July 20-29. Members of the 2020 and 2021 cohorts were able to meet for three days in person before the national program office pivoted to Zoom after a COVID-19 exposure. Within two hours of making the decision, fellows were online in their educational sessions.

“We felt it was in the best interest of everyone’s health and safety to return to our virtual format for Convocation. While it’s disappointing to return to a virtual Convocation, we did have a few amazing days together in Sacramento with the first two cohorts meeting in person for the first time, deepening their connections with one another,” said Heather M. Young, national program director for the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators.

During Convocation, fellows explore contemporary issues in health care and population health and participate in structured learning activities focused on leadership, innovation and networking. Sessions are led by the national program office, the UC Graduate School of Management and expert program faculty.

About the Fellowship

The Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators launched in 2020 and is supported by a $37.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Roughly 10 early- to mid-career nursing scholars and innovators are selected every year for five years to participate in the program and take part in an innovative project or study. Fellows receive $450,000 in funding over three years for their project plus $50,000 for their home institution. Fellows gather annually at UC Davis, when safety guidelines permit, for a week-long convocation and participate in an online learning community and mentorship throughout the three-year period.