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Community Nurse Phyllis Sharps Named Johns Hopkins Nursing Endowed Chair


Domestic violence/maternal health researcher, community advocate, and diversity champion, Phyllis W. Sharps, PhD, RN, FAAN, has been named the Elsie M. Lawler Endowed Chair of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON). She is a professor and the associate dean for community programs and initiatives. 

“Dr. Sharps is an exceptional nurse, educator, researcher, and leader,” said JHSON Dean Patricia Davidson, PhD, MEd, RN, FAAN. “She has been instrumental in furthering programs that support our East Baltimore community, and this appointment celebrates her leadership as an educator and researcher, her passion for local collaborations, and her conviction for mentoring innovative and culturally-competent nurses.”

Caroline Pennington, a 1918 graduate of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School for Nurses and student of Elsie Lawler, retained a life-long admiration for Lawler.  In 1988, to honor Lawler and in gratitude to Hopkins, she gave $1 million to endow a chair in Lawler’s name, praising Lawler for her exceptional understanding and sensitivity.  The parameters around the chair allow the Dean to identify a need of strategic priority of the time. Under Dean Patricia Davidson’s tenure, the Elsie M. Lawler Chair will focus on the needs of the Baltimore community. 

“Recent events in Baltimore have signaled to us not just the importance and value of our work but the importance of embedding the community in our curriculum and the role of scholarship, innovation and leadership in improving local health care needs. Dr. Sharps’ extensive work in the community, which interfaces with the critical needs of Baltimore, embodies the essence of this chair.” 

As associate dean for community programs and initiatives, Sharps directs three Baltimore-based health and wellness centers run by the JHSON and provides care in a local shelter for homeless battered women and their children. 

In addition, she spearheads the school’s service opportunities aimed at improving the health of the Baltimore community and engaging students in addressing complex public health issues. She fosters partnerships with community-based organizations like HIV counseling and testing sites, senior apartments, care facilities for the uninsured, education centers for minority populations, and more, and has been a driving force behind JHSON involvement with Henderson-Hopkins—the Johns Hopkins University-community partnership public grade school. Under Sharps’ leadership, JHSON manages the school’s health suite and nursing students who earn course credit for clinical work. 

As a researcher who has studied the effects of intimate partner violence on the mental and physical health of pregnant women and children, Sharps has also tested the Domestic Violence Enhanced Visitation Program as an intervention to keep abused women and babies safe from violence. 

“It is always a great privilege to be able to continue the work that we have established with our community partners,” says Sharps. “This position will allow me time to revitalize our strategic vision locally, solidify our plan for sustainability, and continue our engagement with community partners.” 


Located in Baltimore, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing is a globally-recognized leader in nursing education, research and practice and ranks #2 nationally among graduate schools of nursing and #6 for online programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. In addition, the school was named the “Most Innovative Nursing Graduate Program in the U.S.” by Best Master of Science in Nursing Degrees, and ranks #1 among nursing schools for Federal Research Grants and National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. For more information, visit www.nursing.jhu.edu.

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