School of Nursing Faculty
Our faculty members are dedicated nursing professionals who bring decades of experience to the classroom.
Associate Degree in Nursing
Kylie Ackerman is a faculty program director for the Associate Degree in Nursing program. She became a RN after graduating from Berkshire Community College in 2011 and earned a BS in Kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts in 2008. She has worked in a variety of nursing roles, including primary RN, charge nurse, and nurse educator within various settings, including integrative medicine, primary care, robotic surgery, general surgery, dermatology, neurology, and cardiac surgery. Education has been a consistent theme throughout her nursing career, so it was natural for her to pursue higher education. Ackerman earned a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Excelsior University in 2018. She became part of the Excelsior faculty in 2019 and began teaching as an adjunct faculty member in 2020.
Marianne “Mickey” Brennan is a faculty program director for the Associate Degree in Nursing program. She is a two-time graduate of Excelsior University, earning her associate degree in 1991 and master’s degree in nursing in 2012. She earned a bachelor’s degree in health administration in 2004 through Empire State College. She spent her career in perioperative services, working as a scrub technician, then as a circulating nurse, and then a charge nurse. She spent many years in leadership within the perioperative environment as manager, director, division director, and system director over three sites. She also stepped in as interim CNO. Brennan has presented on perioperative and quality initiatives nationally at the Institute of Healthcare Improvement and at the OR Manager Conference.
Debora Coombs is a faculty program director in the Associate Degree in Nursing program. Dr. Coombs has been in nursing education since 2011, teaching at the practical nurse, associate, and bachelor’s levels of nursing in both clinical and didactic. She has been a certified nurse educator since 2015, and previously was a simulation and clinical coordinator. Her prior clinical work experience includes cardiology, PCU, medical/surgical, ER, Behavioral Health Unit, and some long-term care. She began her nursing career as an LPN, graduating from The Franklin County Career & Technology Center Practical Nursing Program, and earning associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in nursing from Excelsior University, and a DNP in educational leadership from American Sentinel University. Dr. Coombs has presented work at both the local and
national level, including posters at Nursing Education Research Conference, and a poster at the NLN Education Summit related to her doctoral project “An Intraprofessional Educational Workshop for PN and BSN Students to Promote Teamwork and Collaboration.”
Cathy DeChance has been practicing nursing since 1983. She has been working with Excelsior in a variety of roles since 2008 and has been a faculty program director in the Associate Degree in Nursing program since 2015. She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from SUNY Binghamton, a master’s degree in nursing from Sage Graduate School, and a PhD from the University of Phoenix. She has worked in a variety of clinical settings that include medical surgical nursing, emergency nursing, critical care nursing, and telemetry. While at Columbia Memorial Hospital, DeChance served as the director of nursing and was responsible for the overall operations of the nursing division. While at KQC staffing, she increased the business by 11 million dollars and increased the profit margin to 30 percent. DeChance is a member of NYONEL and Sigma Theta Tau. She has worked to create multiple courses and exams for the Associate Degree in Nursing program.
Ellen LaDieu is a lead faculty program director for the Associate Degree in Nursing program. She began her faculty role with Excelsior University in 2004 in the Associate Degree in Nursing program. LaDieu is a board-certified advanced holistic nurse, credentialed by the American Holistic Nurses Association. She has prior experience in medical surgical nursing, critical care nursing, emergency nursing, home health care, management, and education. LaDieu has been recognized as a certified nurse educator by the National League for Nursing. Her prior nursing education experiences have been with students earning their RN credential in hospital-based and community college nursing programs and with home health care staff in a staff development role for a certified home health agency. She earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing, both from Sage Colleges of Troy, New York.
Kristina McCall is a faculty program director for the Associate Degree in Nursing program at Excelsior. Prior to joining Excelsior, she took an active role in pulmonary medicine and helped to obtain national certification in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for a large hospital in western North Carolina. She earned her master’s degree in nursing administration from Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C., and then earned a PhD in nursing education from Walden University in 2018. McCall was highlighted on the Walden University blog for her dissertation in end-of-life care and education. She is a member of the National League for Nursing. She continues to work to provide quality education to enhance the future of nursing.
Deborah Smithers is a faculty program director for the Associate Degree in Nursing program and the LPN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing dual degree program. She earned her bachelor’s in nursing from Molloy College, a master’s in nursing with a specialization in nursing administration from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from Walden University. Her clinical nursing career was devoted to critical care nursing. She had transitioned from bedside nursing to critical care and trauma nursing leadership, for which she earned several leadership awards. Prior to her academic career at Excelsior University, she worked as adjunct faculty for the BS nursing program at Quinnipiac University and the MS nursing program at the City University of New York (CUNY).
Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Nursing
Nancy Bellucci, Ph.D., MSN-Ed. RN, CNE, CNOR, is a faculty program director with Excelsior University’s graduate nursing program. She has been with Excelsior since July 6, 2021 overseeing BS and MS nursing courses. Dr. Bellucci received her Ph.D. in nursing education from Capella University, a Masters and Bachelors degrees in nursing education from Thomas Edison State College. She holds a certificate in nursing education from Thomas Edison State College and is a Certified Nurse Educator (NLN). Dr. Bellucci has held multiple clinical nursing and academic nursing positions since becoming a nurse in 2006. She has led an RN-BSN program as a program director and chair of program evaluation. She has taught nursing leadership, healthcare policy and finance, nursing informatics, evidence-based practice, capstone courses, and professional roles and values. She has written over 30 courses for the online setting and performed course revisions on courses in the BSN and MSN levels. A strong advocate for patient-centered care and a student-centered approach to teaching, she involves her students in current events and the process of evidence-based research as it applies to the nursing profession. Her professional interests focus on moral distress in the operating room, professional socialization in academia and in clinical practice, and emphasizes the importance of effective mentoring on the nursing student and the nursing profession. Her work in academia spans from developing mentoring programs for newly hired faculty, acting as a past chair of a Program Evaluation Committee, co-chairing the nominating committee and peer-reviewing for AORN, and as a writer of continuing education modules (perioperative setting. She is a member of multiple professional organizations (AORN, STTI, the NLN, ANA, and Nurses International). As a published author, she has written numerous articles for the ANA, NurseTogether, RN Journal, The Daily Nurse, and Nurse.com. She has presented original research and other presentations at the National League for Nursing’s Education Summit, the Sigma Theta Tau International Conference on Healthy Work Environments, and the AORN National Summit. In the clinical setting, Dr. Bellucci has been a medical-surgical nurse and an operating room nurse, a preceptor, and a specialty team leader in the operating room setting. She has experience as a clinical development manager for surgical services, which encompassed providing education needs and competency assessments for eight patient care units and 144 staff members. She is a proven leader and interprofessional collaborator who works to promote the profession of nursing. In her spare time she enjoys training her pups Jersey and Lucky, boating with her husband on the Intracoastal Waterway, and spoiling her new grandson.
Bonny Kehm is the managing faculty program director in the baccalaureate and Master of Science programs for the School of Nursing at Excelsior University, where she designs curriculum and conducts research. Her nursing career has been dedicated to developing the next generation of nurses to lead in these ever-changing times. In 2017, Kehm was appointed by the governor of Missouri, and confirmed by the full state senate to the Missouri State Board of Nursing. The board governs and regulates the profession of more than 140,000 licensed nurses in the state. She is board’s vice president and serves on the Nursing Education Committee, which regulates and oversees nursing education programs. Kehm’s commitment to improving the nursing profession includes work to increase awareness of interprofessional education opportunities that link nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, and health sciences education to improve interdisciplinary learning. Kehm has received several honors and awards throughout her nursing career. She was a speaker at the Royal College of Nursing Centennial International Conference in England in 2016 and a speaker at the Nursing Educational Institute in New York in 2017. She received the Rising Nurse Leader Award from the Missouri Organization of Nurse Leaders in 2016; the International Quality Research Paper Award from The United States Distance Learning Association in 2018, and was selected as one of the winners in the inaugural Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs “Celebrating 100 Extraordinary Women” contest for her community service in 2009, to name a few. Kehm earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Webster University, her doctorate in nursing education from Capella University, and her graduate certificate in Health Care Informatics from Excelsior University.
Stephanie Yackel is a faculty program director with the Excelsior’s BS/MS nursing program. She brings 10 years of experience in higher education. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing from Bethel University and her doctorate in educational leadership from American Sentinel University. Prior to working with Excelsior, she was a dean of nursing, overseeing LPN, associate degree, and bachelor’s degree programs. Clinically, she specialized in oncology and worked in post-surgical nursing.