2021-2022 Jonas Policy Scholars

2021 - 2022 Academy Jonas Policy Scholars



Heather Bradford, PhD(c), CNM, FACNM

Heather Bradford, PhD(c), CNM, FACNM, has been a midwife since 2002 providing full-scope midwifery at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland, WA. She began as full-time faculty at Georgetown University in 2017 and serves as the Assistant Program Director for the Nurse-Midwifery and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner Programs in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.
She has advocated for advanced registered nurse practitioners at both the state and federal legislative front. Under her leadership in coalition with other nurse leaders, WA ARNPs acquired the capacity to prescribe without a joint practice agreement for controlled substance prescribing. While Chair of the American College of Nurse-Midwives Government Affairs Committee, nurse-midwives achieved equitable reimbursement under Medicare Part B services. She has also served on the WA State Maternal Mortality Review Panel. She became a Fellow of the American College of Nurse-Midwives in 2011 and currently serves on the Fellows Board of Governors as Vice-Chair. She is currently pursuing a PhD in nursing science from Vanderbilt University. She is exploring why patients with an elevated body mass index are more likely to birth via cesarean section, with a focus on birth attendant explicit and implicit weight bias.


Lakeshia Cousin, PhD, APRN, AGPCNP-BC

Lakeshia Cousin, PhD, APRN, AGPCNP-BC, recently joined the University of Florida College of Nursing as an Assistant Professor and completed her postdoctoral training in Behavioral Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center funded by the National Cancer Institute (T32 CA090314) in 2021. She is a three-time alumna of the University of South Florida College of Nursing and received her Ph.D. in Nursing Science in 2019. Dr. Cousin is a board-certified Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and holds a business administration degree from Florida A&M University with over a decade of business expertise. Her research focuses on eliminating health disparities by understanding contextual factors of health-related quality of life among Black breast cancer survivors and translating these findings to the development, implementation, and dissemination of culturally sensitive interventions to improve health outcomes and reduce cancer and multimorbidity risk (i.e., cardiovascular disease). As an emerging nurse scientist, Dr. Cousin co-authored 16 publications and has received numerous awards related to her clinical and research expertise, including the Transplant Nurse of the Year award at Tampa General Hospital, 2019 International Rising Stars of Scholarship and Research award with Sigma Theta Tau and is a 2019 alumna of the Summer Genetics Institute with the National Institute of Nursing Research.


Rachel French, PhD, RN

Rachel French, PhD, RN, is a postdoctoral research fellow through the National Clinician Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research seeks to identify ways to equitably improve the care and outcomes of people who use drugs by determining the best strategies to successfully implement evidence-based practices in hospital and community settings. As a Jonas Scholar, Dr. French is focused on eliminating regulatory barriers to care for people who use drugs while mitigating the racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities that currently exist.


Laura Grunin, RN, MSN

Laura Grunin, RN, MSN, is a PhD student NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. She is currently a member of several research teams working on different studies including the perspectives and experiences of school personnel regarding bullying and students with chronic health conditions, the relationship between violent crimes in schools and law enforcement and security measures in a nationally representative sample of US high schools as well as analyzing adolescent depressive symptoms over two decades using a nationally representative dataset of US teenagers. Laura’s dissertation research will focus on the mental health of youth in school settings.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Rutgers University, she gave birth to three children before deciding to return back to school to pursue her passion of nursing. Laura earned the Francis Velardi Award by graduating at the top of her class and went straight to work as a registered nurse at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. While developing her clinical expertise at the bedside in the Labor and Delivery Department, she simultaneously returned to school once again to earn a BSN, broadening her perspective on the field. A family relocation interrupted her career in the acute care setting but opened up the chance for the lifelong learner to go back to school yet again, earning an MSN from Kean University, where her work mainly focused on the importance of a bachelor level education for all RNs. Laura quickly identified her love of teaching and was able to fuse her two passions by becoming an adjunct faculty member at the very same university, teaching core courses to the bachelor’s level registered nurses. Laura’s career trajectory has allowed her to increase her impact exponentially - first at the bedside treating one patient at a time, then teaching the next generation of nurses, thereby impacting each of their patients, and now in her doctoral work, conducting and disseminating her research to even more practitioners.


Katie Fitzgerald Jones, PhD, APN, CARN-AP

Katie Fitzgerald Jones, PhD, APN, CARN-AP is a Palliative Nurse Practitioner at VA Boston Healthcare System and PhD student at Boston College Connell School of Nursing. Her clinical and research interests include cancer pain management, equitable access to substance use disorder treatment, combatting pain and addiction stigma, and enhancing opioid safety in individuals with cancer and substance use disorder. Past clinical experience includes developing a sustainable Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Fellowship at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, serving as the Palliative Nurse Director, and creating an innovative Palliative Care Program for older adults at Hebrew Senior Life. Ms. Jones has been an active member of the Palliative Care Academic Community. Over the past years has been an invited speaker at the Harvard Center for Palliative Care, the Harvard Inter-Professional Palliative Care, and the Harvard Geriatric Fellowship. Ms. Jones is a co-leader of the national Palliative Care buprenorphine clinical mentorship support group and research group. In her early research work- she has examined biopsychosocial factors associated with long-term opioid use and chronic pain in cancer survivors, the overlapping philosophies of Palliative Care and Addiction Treatment, and Buprenorphine prescribing practices in Palliative Care clinicians. Her research is supported by funding from the Foundation of Addiction Nursing and the National Institute of Nursing Research Predoctoral Fellowship Award (F31). She has spoken nationally and authored several manuscripts and book chapters on the intersection between palliative care and substance use disorders.


James Muchira, PhD, MSN

James Muchira, PhD, MSN, is a second-year postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. His research mission is to identify life course health factors and early childhood interventions to prevent and break the cycle of intergenerational cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. His research interests involve investigating the intergenerational transmission of cardiovascular disease from parents to their offspring. Dr. Muchira has expertise in analysis of prospective studies such as the Framingham Heart Study, investigating temporal trends and familial aggregation of cardiovascular health and disability adjusted life years (DALYs) attributable to cardiovascular disease. His published work has received national recognition in cardiology circles for addressing intergenerational cardiovascular health. His current research work includes examining (1) the relationship between maternal ideal cardiovascular health and early childhood obesity, and (2) mother-child association of arterial stiffness (pulse wave velocity) in young children (1-5 years old), as well as investigating the role of maternal health factors in epigenetic changes related to hypertension and arterial stiffness in early childhood.