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Shakira Henderson, PhD, DNP, MS, MPH, RNC-NIC, IBCLC



Shakira Henderson, PhD, DNP, MS, MPH, RNC-NIC, IBCLC
North Carolina, Region V

  • Video Introduction
  • Bio
  • Q & A

Video Introduction



Dr. Shakira Henderson has been a longtime volunteer with AWOHNN at the local, regional, and national level. She started as an AWHONN emerging leader and has served as a chapter leader, section leader, national conference chair, national committee member, journal reviewer, and NOEP4 module reviewer and writer. A certified neonatal nurse by training, Dr. Henderson is passionate about maternal-child health nursing and research to improve the health of women and infants. Her passion for maternal-child health has led her to focus on breastfeeding research and advocacy. She has served in unit leadership, unit education, and corporate administration. She currently serves as the founder and senior administrator of the Vidant Health Center for Research and Grants.

An experienced nurse scientist in the practice setting, who is both PhD and DNP prepared, Shakira has worked across small community hospitals and large academic health systems. With innovation as her core skill, Shakira has built and executed several research and practice programs in a variety of clinical and community settings. She has been recognized for outstanding achievements in academia and nursing practice with awards from National Association of Neonatal Nurses, March of Dimes, AWHONN, Florida International University, and DAISY.


Q & A

Question #1 
Please describe significant contributions you have made to AWHONN and/ or in another professional leadership role. Include any examples where you have advanced the strategic agenda of AWHONN and/or other professional organizations.



Some of my significant contributions to AWHONN occurred during my terms as a chapter leader and member of the section leadership team. As a chapter leader, I was able to increase membership of my chapter by over 50% with innovative meeting designs and securing an AWHONN grant. The focus was on making meetings not just informational, but also a venue of kinship. 

As a member of the section leadership team, I was integral in launching the first-ever student conference. This conference was designed to connect students early in their nursing career with future nursing leaders in maternal-child health, current AWHONN nurses, and volunteer leaders. Students were also encouraged to join AWHONN! Further, I introduced the idea of AWHONN boards for hospitals and associated institutions to serve as informational corners to help further the visibility of AWHONN at the bedside. Presence on the hospital units facilitated recruitment as well.

Question #2
Please describe your expertise or contributions related to promoting improved care for women and babies. Discuss this in terms of your position on Maternal Mortality and Morbidity, Workforce Diversity and other racial and ethnic disparities in reproductive healthcare.

 As a neonatal nurse and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I am passionate about maternal-child health. As a staff nurse, I worked tirelessly to implement the 20-hour breastfeeding education in my hospital. I facilitated the support for ten nurses including myself becoming IBCLCs. Then I led this team to teach over 400 nurses the 20-hr breastfeeding course. This was one step in ensuring that maternal-child nurses and staff were equipped to support all mothers and babies in our hospital setting. The positive impact on the health outcomes of these dyads was also undeniable. I also authored the white paper on the “The Role and Impact of the IBCLC”, which is translated into five languages to date.  As a researcher, I am committed to finding strategies to support mothers and infants to meet their feeding goals. I implemented an innovative approach called the “the NICU Breastaurante” -a culturally sensitive breastfeeding model.

Question #3
Please describe a significant leadership challenge that you have experienced; how you addressed it and relevant outcomes.

When I became a new charge nurse in NICU on nights, I was faced with dealing with the unit night bully on every shift. Our unit bully enjoyed making fun of new nurses or shaming less experienced nurses on their skills. The lack of leadership presence on the night shift, made our unit bully thrive and gain support. I knew that as a new charge nurse, I had the opportunity to either accept the unit bully’s reign of terror or ignite change by renouncing the unit bully’s actions. I chose ignition. My first action was to re-engage my peers in huddle with inspirational quotes, simple reflective exercises on professionalism, and publicly denouncing behavior that was not supportive. Before long, I saw my nursing peers supporting each other and the reign of terror slowly began to diminish. I could not believe how simple, positive, persistence could change an entire culture. 





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