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Burke to be 2022 Penn Nursing Commencement Speaker

Sheila P. Burke, MPA, BSN, FAAN, an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, will serve as the 2022 Penn Nursing commencement speaker. The May 16, 2022 event at 3:00 PM EST will be the first in-person commencement the School has held in two years.

“We are all thrilled to have our first in-person commencement since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Penn Nursing Dean Antonia M. Villarruel. “Given the many policy changes being considered and enacted regarding COVID-19, health care access, and health equity at local, state, and federal levels, there is no better person to share her thoughts on the importance of nursing in shaping current health public policy than Sheila Burke. She has been a leader in the Senate and in Washington for over forty years—and she will no doubt inspire our students to use their skills and passion for improving health as a means of influencing public policy as she has.”

Burke served as Executive Dean of the Harvard Kennedy School from 1996-2000. Previously she had been Chief of Staff to former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (1985-1996), a professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Finance (1979-1982), and Deputy Staff Director of that committee (1982 to 1985). She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Academy of Nursing. She serves on the adjunct faculty at Georgetown University and is a Distinguished Visitor at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown Law Center.

Burke serves on several boards including the Commonwealth Fund, Abt Associates, Ascension Health and Chubb Limited. She served as a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (2000-2007) and on the Kaiser Family Foundation board (1999-2008), where she served as Chair. Ms. Burke, who also serves as a Senior Public Policy Advisor and Chair of the Government Relations Policy Group at Baker Donelson in Washington DC, is married and has three children. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School at Harvard and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of San Francisco, and worked as a staff nurse in Berkeley, California.