1. FranU's Influential Women
Sr. Martha Ann Abshire

Sr. Martha Ann Abshire, who has been Vice President for Mission Identity since July 2015, first joined Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University as Campus Minister in July 2011.

She has been a Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Sister since 1967. She is a graduate of Our Lady of the Lake School of Nursing Class of 1972. She received a B.S.B.A. in Management from USL and a Master of Science in Administration from the University of Notre Dame.

Sister Martha has worked in various healthcare positions within the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS), co-founded a medical mission in Haiti, served on the Sister's Congregational Leadership team in France and has been serving on the Provincial Leadership team 2010 – 2018. She serves on several FMOLHS Boards, is an active member of Quota International; is spiritual assistant to two Secular Franciscan Fraternities and served as the spiritual assistant to the State Board of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas State of Louisiana 2015 – 2017.

Laeisha James-Barnes

Laeisha James-Barnes MBA, RN is the Director of Inpatient Nursing at Our Lady of the Lake Ascension. She is a 1993 graduate of Southern University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a 1999 graduate of Our Lady of the Lake College, where she received her Associate degree in Nursing. She furthered her education by obtaining her MBA in Healthcare Management from Western Governors University in 2018 and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University in 2019.

She has devoted her career to caring for patients in the FMOL Health System. Before her current role, she worked as a staff nurse on the Telemetry unit, Emergency Room nurse, ICU nurse, House Supervisor and Emergency Room Manager. Her focus is and always has been patient care is evident by earning the Leapfrog Honor Roll and leading over the 90 percentile in patient satisfaction.

During the pandemic, Laeisha was instrumental in leading the inpatient team to care for COVID-19 patients, converting nearly every inpatient bed to COVID CARE while assuring staff safety.She said that her most significant accomplishment in nursing is the care provided to patients in Ascension daily.

Catherine Blanchard

Catherine Blanchard transferred to FranU in the Fall of 2018 to pursue her Bachelor's degree in Theology while minoring in Philosophy. Since then, she has found much success in her academic studies and spiritual development. She is passionate about helping others encounter Jesus Christ and has accepted a job offer to teach Theology at St. Michael in Baton Rouge for the 2021-2022 school year. She is getting married in December 2021 and looks forward to continuing the rich faith tradition that has been nurtured at FranU in her own family.

Jan Breen

In her role as president of St. Joseph's Academy, Jan Breen maintains the overall vision and mission of the school. During her tenure, Jan has overseen a 73.1 percent increase in Annual Fund donations, a 106.07 percent growth in the Academy's endowment and the addition of 30 new scholarships in the SJA Foundation.

As president, she ensures that through the Endowed Scholarship Program, no student is denied admission solely based on her family's ability to pay full tuition.

Through the years, her volunteer work in the community has included developing the potential of each person, helping to improve communities and promoting service to others. Her role in the Junior League of Baton Rouge included serving as president on the local chapter and vice president of the Association of Junior Leagues, International in New York. She has helped form Young Leaders Academy, an organization to develop leadership abilities of young African American males and served on the board of directors. Her volunteer work has also involved participation on many boards, including the YMCA, Chamber of Commerce, Public Relations Society of America, the Parish Council of St. Aloysius, to name a few. Currently, she serves as a Eucharistic Minister at St. Aloysius.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University, Jan supports the mission of the institution to educate and form Franciscan servant leaders of all faiths. Additionally, she works to help build the future of FranU in visioning, strategic planning, providing avenues of financial support and engaging in work to promote and build a student body aligned with the goals of the University.

Denise Gillespie

Denise Gillespie RN, BSN has been with FranU for 21 years in the Health & Safety Office. As Director of Campus Health & Safety she is responsible for student health records, campus health and safety programming, a comprehensive Campus Safety Plan, the Annual Security report and other regulatory reports. Denise serves as chair of the Campus Safety Committee, the campus Clery Compliance Officer, and is a member of the Title IX team. She coordinates the Campus Emergency Response Team, the Crisis Communication Team, and the Behavioral Assessment Team in response to threats to campus facilities, faculty, staff, or students. She leads the FranU Transition Leadership Team responsible for response plans, procedures, and campus communications related to COVID-19. Most recently she facilitated the development of a Medical Advisory Group made up of community health practitioners to assist FranU leaders with COVID related matters.

April Graham

April Graham has been a PTA for over 11 years. She graduated from LSU in 2007 with a Bachelor's in Biological Sciences. In 2010 she graduated from OLOL (FranU) with an Associates in Physical Therapy Assisting and earned the Clinical Excellence Award. April has taken her clinical skills from multiple backgrounds of orthopedics, neuro rehab and geriatrics and incorporated them into the TaR Program to assist in achieving one of the missions of FranU; achieving highly skilled practitioners. She said that she enjoys her time with the PTA group, helping them find ways to assist in the community. In 2020, the students were creative and began making videos about physical health and well-being for kids (boys & girls club) and older adults (Council on Aging). Recently, she served as the FranU Ambassador for the AHA Capital Area Heart Walk. Her team was able to raise over $1600 with the various activities planned throughout the month.

Dr. Charla Johnson

Dr. Charla Johnson has over 33 years of experience in the healthcare industry and nursing, with the majority of her nursing career aimed at promoting musculoskeletal care and the advancement of Orthopedic nursing in the region, state, and at the national level. She graduated from the Our Lady of the Lake School of Nursing in 1987, obtained her baccalaureate in nursing from Loyola, her master's in nursing in Education from Southeastern Louisiana University, and her doctorate of nursing practice in leadership from Grand Canyon University. Charla is board certified in orthopedic nursing and in nursing informatics. Her research pursuits have addressed both patient and staff challenges in healthcare, including pain management, delirium, nurse navigator role delineation, and telework. She is published in peer-reviewed journals in the areas of pain management, telehealth and shared decision making. She has held various leadership roles in and outside the Board room and is dedicated to community volunteer service. She currently serves as the President-Elect on the National Association of Orthopedic Nurses Executive Board and assumes the President role on May 25th, making her the first President of NAON from Louisiana. In addition, Charla serves on the FranU Development Board, the Baton Rouge District Nurse Association Board as Nominating Chair, the Louisiana Arthritis Foundation Board and is an Executive Steering Committee member for Movement is Life. Outside of her volunteer roles, Charla is an instructor in the master's programs Research Methods course at FranU. She currently serves as the System Director of Nursing Informatics at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System.

Danielle McNamara

Danielle McNamara is a student at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University majoring in Biology: Human Medicine with a Minor in Nutritional Sciences.

After she graduates, she plans to continue her education at FranU to become a physical therapist. Danielle is active on campus in various student organizations. She serves as President of the Catholic Student Association, Vice President of Intensive Care Earth, a member of Beta Sigma Mu, Campus Ministry, the Art Club, and is a Franciscan Peer Leader. She has been nominated in the 2020-2021 school year for three leadership awards: Outstanding Leadership, Emerging Leader, and Commitment to Service.

At FranU, Danielle has set up key speakers for events, held collections for victims of domestic violence, and organized various events. Off-campus she is active in the community by serving as a Committee Member for the Celebrity Waiter Event benefitting the Baton Rouge Children's Advocacy Center and being a Facetime Pal at Sunrise Assisted Living.

Dr. Lindsay Mullins

Since August 2017, Dr. Lindsay Mullins has served as the Sister Agnes Marie Fitzsimons Endowed Chair of Gerontology and teaches in graduate nursing programs. She has held multiple faculty and director positions at FranU, most recently the Family Nurse Practitioner program director. As a practicing Family Nurse Practitioner, Dr. Mullins works with hospice patients in their homes.

Since 2014, she has been the Principal Investigator for the Culturally-Informed Healthy Aging Project – HUD Housing. The CIHA research integrates nursing, anthropology and epidemiology as an approach for a Nurse Practitioner to systematically partner with communities and providers to assess social determinants of health to identify community cultural capital and issues central to aging and health. The CIHA program partnered with four HUD facilities owned by Our Lady of the Lake to serve as a model program to provide population-based gerontology and healthy aging interventions.

She continues to develop initiatives that include a Healthy Aging Mentor/Mentee program for FranU faculty and students, as well as a program to recruit and engage high school students interested in gerontology. In the Fall, Lindsay will also continue her "Healthy Aging Talk Around" lecture series. This includes community discussion with older adult groups from the surrounding areas that will educate them on topics related to healthy aging.

Grace Ann Ourso

Grace Ann Ourso is the owner of Competitive HR and has over ten years of experience in a variety of industries and corporations, she has intimate knowledge of multi-national corporations, publicly-traded companies, small businesses and start-up ventures. She is a certified Professional in Human Resources® by HRCI and SHRM and holds a Masters of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law from Tulane University.

Before becoming an HR professional, Grace Ann was one of the most winningest athletes in Louisiana. As a professional athlete, she was a member of the United States Triathlon team, represented Team USA at two World Championships, including winning the Runner-Up title at the World Duathlon Championship.

Currently, she shares her talents with her community by leading numerous boards and committees across the state. She knows how to be a part of a team and build confidence in others. Grace Ann shares her skills in service to FranU as a member of the Development Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Laura C. Poché

Laura C. Poché is the Managing Member of her law firm, Poché Estate Planning & Wealth Preservation Law, LLC, where she is an Estates and Trusts attorney. Prior to opening her firm, Laura served as a private banker and securities representative for JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA, member FINRA/SIPC, as well as is a licensed Title Insurance Agent for the State of Louisiana Department of Insurance and practices real estate law.

She is the author of "Estate Planning Advice By A Woman For Louisiana Women: A Guide for Women and Those They Care For About Wills, Trusts, Probate, Power of Attorney, Medicaid, Living Wills and Taxes." She is a Louisiana Board of Legal Specialization Estate Planning and Administration Specialist since 1997 and is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association, Baton Rouge Bar Association, Federal and American Bar Associations and the Baton Rouge Association of Women Attorneys.

Since 1987, she has worked for some top law firms and attorneys in the State of Louisiana and throughout the country. Laura enjoys helping others through her involvement in several non-profit organizations focused on education initiatives, women empowerment, poverty prevention and attaining self-sufficiency in Baton Rouge.

Rhoda Reddix

Dr. Rhoda Reddix is the founding Director of the Office of Service-Learning and Associate Professor in the Population Health Management Graduate Certificate and Human Medicine Programs at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University. The university received the 2020 Carnegie Community Engagement Classification in Higher Education Classification under her leadership. Dr. Reddix's personal mission is to serve as an educator servant leader and to stimulate a love for life-long learning in her students.

She received her B.S. from Xavier University, NOLA, Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, Postdoctoral Fellowship at Ohio State University and currently an MPH student at Purdue University Global. Dr. Reddix is a scholar and serves as Associate Editor of Special Issues for the Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship.

Dr. Reddix is also co-chair for the 2022 Gulf South Summit on Service-Learning and Community Engagement in Higher Education. Theme: "Cultivating Community Resilience through Engagement." She is a community advocate and passionate about health equity and improving the health and well-being of vulnerable communities.

She serves on the Louisiana Governor's COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, Louisiana Center for Health Equity Health Summit Planning and Assessment Committee and the Capitol Area Family Justice Center for Domestic Violence Board.

Nicole Scott

Nicole Scott is a Registered Nurse, Registered Yoga Instructor, Certified Case Manager, and Community Advocate. After earning her Master's Degree, she began her career in academia at FranU in the BSN program. In addition, Nicole has returned to Baton Rouge General Mid City to work as a nurse during the pandemic.

At FranU, Nicole serves as the Simulation Faculty Manager in the Simulated Environment Teaching Hospital (SETH), where she assists with creating and facilitating healthcare scenarios for students. She developed the SETH Training Institute, which provides Basic Life Support and Advanced Cardiac Life Support courses through the American Heart Association.

In 2016, she founded a community service project development firm called Nikky Scott Incorporated and established the Yoga Noir Project and One Breath Project. Through these projects, Nicole has gained trust within the community as a leader and advocate for those most in need.

Nicole serves on multiple committees with Mayor Sharon Weston Broome's HealthyBR initiative to include the Maternal and Fetal Health committee and the COVID-19 Vaccine initiative. She remains an active member of the community by contributing her expertise during panel discussions and lending a hand wherever needed.

Nicole stated that her calling is to change the world by loving one person at a time. She not only exhibits this through her care for her patients, students, and community but through the parenting of her four children and devotion to her husband.

Tinicia C. Turner

Tinicia C. Turner, is the director for career and leadership initiatives at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University. Before joining FranU, she spent 15 years gaining valuable experience in education and non-profit.

Tinicia holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a Master of Public Administration from the Southern University Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

She is currently the president-elect for the Louisiana Career Development Association.

In addition to her work and community involvement, she is co-author on the book chapter, "The State of Black Mental Health: Understanding Disparities Through the Lens of Critical Race Psychology" in Critical Race Studies Across Disciplines: Resisting Racism through Scholactivism.

Tinicia is an entrepreneur and professional career and college consultant. She recently released the first product from her educational line: the "I Can Achieve It" Career Exploration Coloring Activity Book. She is currently a doctoral student at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.