Board Candidates

Watch the town hall session with our 3 candidates for Director-At-Large for 2023, hosted by President-Elect Linda Sekhon. Watch the recording here.

Watch the Q&A between President-Elect Linda Sekhon and candidate Nicole Burwell.

President Elect Candidate

Nicole Burwell, PhD, MSHS, PA-C

President Department Chair and Program Director North Carolina A&T State University PA Program

Describe the key strengths you bring to the position of president elect of PAEA and how you will help to advance PAEA’s mission of “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion.”

As we emerge from the pandemic and adjust to the new environment that this crisis has created,  we as leaders in the profession have been called upon to make some of the most difficult decisions of our careers.

As current Director at Large, I was integrally involved in conceptualizing and creating the recently unveiled new PAEA strategic plan.  The role of President-elect of PAEA will require clarity and deep appreciation for the organization’s mission to ensure that we continue “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion.”

I am a results-oriented person that understands the importance of rigorously reviewing the organization’s overall efficiency, ultimate impact, and advancement towards the mission.  Some of the other unique attributes and strengths that I bring to the existing culture are intellectual curiosity, and the ability to analyze strategically and objectively.  Over the past three years, this has allowed me to forge mutual respect among my peers and fellow members of the Board.  This culture of inquiry allows for transparency and constructive debate that is necessary when making decisions as a steward of the organization.

In addition to pre-existing governance experience, I bring an energy and passion to serve.  I look forward to linking new ideas, and a bold vision, with ambitious plans for execution as we advance into this new era.


PAEA is a values-based organization. Please describe your leadership philosophy and provide an example of how, as a PAEA leader, you would uphold PAEA’s values. 

Collaborative and bi-directional transparent and authentic communication are just a few unique characteristics and traits that define my leadership philosophy.

Collaboration and effective communication are essential in upholding the core values of “Justice, Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, Quality, Collaboration, Well-Being, Learning, Service, and Sustainability .”As the workforce becomes more diverse and more widely dispersed, leaders must become adept at navigating cultural, geographic, and generational barriers using these skills.

Collaboration and effective communication are critical in building bridges and strategic alliances internal and external to the Association and those in other industries. Having this ability to leverage relationships, connections, and interpersonal interactions have proven to help drive growth and innovation.


PAEA is committed to model and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in PA education. What are some of the key issues facing PA programs in this space and what can PAEA do to address these issues?

All too often, members of marginalized communities face systemic issues such as racism, underrepresentation, mistreatment, and isolation that negatively impact our sense of belonging.

As the national gaze shifts back to other prominent challenges our nation faces, PAEA must strengthen its resolve to eliminate these disparities and be a leader in excellence and diversity. As an association, it is incumbent upon us to encourage inclusivity and make significant shifts towards a more equitable future in PA education.

Opportunities to design bolder interventions and more proactive efforts to cultivate a more diverse and culturally prepared workforce include 1). Conducting environmental scans, periodic assessments, and climate surveys to utilize the findings to effect change and advance the development of the Association’s strategic planning efforts.  2).  Performing a critical and transparent examination to understand better how systemic barriers negatively affect diversity in PA education.  3). Employing innovative recruitment and retention strategies to increase the diversity of the faculty beyond the current representation and promote advancement within their respective institutions. 4).  Creating opportunities for mentorship of diverse groups. 5).  Improve outreach efforts and access to information and resources for underrepresented college students interested in a career in the health profession.6).

Solidify current connections and form formal partnerships with universities, national organizations, federal agencies, and other community stakeholders who share a commitment to social justice and health equity to achieve common goals. 7).  Contribute to the body of research that can help further inform policies and processes at the programmatic, institutional, and national levels.

Director at Large Candidates

Jennifer Eames

Jennifer Eames, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C

Hardin-Simmons University

How will you help to advance PAEA’s mission of “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion?”

PAEA has taken an impressive stance on promoting the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our profession over the past decade. As a board member, it would be my desire to continue to put these issues at the forefront of the organization. We have seen great strides forward in improving the diversity of our profession but there is much work to be done. As a part of project access through my entire career as a PA educator, I have displayed my own personal commitment to advancing the profession through improved diversity. As a proven leader, both in the profession, and in education, it is time to not pause or slow down, but to push forward into new territory boldly. As the first woman to be the founding director of a PA program in my state and the first woman PA to be promoted to the rank of full professor in my state, I know a little about breaking barriers. At times, breaking barriers as a leader can be terrifying but must be done for others to succeed. This is the time for PAEA to continue pushing even harder to reach new goals. To discuss the mission statement, we must first promote excellence. Our profession is well known for excellence and that comes from the excellent training PAs receive in member programs. Without PAEA to guide the ongoing development of program faculty, this excellence could be at risk. PAEA must continue to offer innovative training options for PA educators, most of whom did not attend formal training programs in education prior to becoming faculty members. We must bridge the gap. Next, PAEA must continue to provide leadership opportunities to PA educators to help advance the profession. This includes leadership training, development, mentoring opportunities, and networking groups of educators that can build one another up along the journey. Scholarship is also central to the success of the
profession and has been noted to be the biggest gap in our profession’s legacy. More publications & dissimination are needed to build the library of evidence for successful PA training and professional advocacy. Finally, PAs must continue to be recruited from all backgrounds. We must help new generations ‘see one to be one.’ It is our obligation as professionals to be the role models for the future. It would be my absolute honor to serve as a part of this dynamic and amazing organization.


PAEA is a values-based organization, please describe how you, as a leader, would uphold PAEA’s values.

The core organizational values of Justice, Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, Quality, Collaboration, Well-Being, Learning, Service, and Sustainability all align with my personal values.

As a current leader in my program and my state, I already hold these values dear and would continue to display a commitment to promoting them if selected for the PAEA board of directors.

Some examples of how I have displayed a commitment to these values in other roles include my time as the president of our state organization where I created a new committee for DEI and encouraged that they complete a minimum of three outreach activities using Project Access materials during their one year tenure. This group to-date has exceeded that goal and through empowered members has even started a ‘diversity spotlight’ on the state organizations social media with monthly highlights of members from diverse backgrounds.

Additionally, I have displayed and hope to continue to display a commitment to community and professional service throughout my career with ongoing volunteer activities both at the local (clinical) level and with students across the globe.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of this amazing profession and in all organizations I have been able to work with Quality (excellence) is key. PAEA displays quality in all activities and makes me excited to be a PA Educator.


PAEA is committed to model and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in PA education. What are some of the key issues facing PA programs in this space and what can PAEA do to address these issues?

To begin with, it is thrilling to note that for the first time in history, the overlapping terms of the leadership of the ‘four orgs’ has more representation from people of diverse backgrounds that ever before. A full media campaign is needed to show the efforts of organizations on this front. Not only is it critical to have representation in the profession but in leadership as well. Honestly, biases (both conscious and unconscious) exist among the public but even amongst faculty in PA programs who need to see the diversity in Leadership roles to hopefully make minds and practices change. Another key issue is that of retention. While programs may have made strides in recruitment of diverse candidates, large gaps remain for retention in PA programs. This may be attributed to a ‘check the box’ attitude. With the new ARC-PA standards, diversity, equity, and inclusion is now a required part of program planning more than ever before, but if it s only done a part of a ‘checklist’ then the intent is lost and the efforts are bound to fail. The culture must change for success to take root and grow. Many institutions face concerns about legal challenges if they include race, ethnicity, gender identity, underrepresented status, etc. as part of admissions and even use this as an excuse to not encourage faculty promotions for those from various groups. This has to stop. If PAEA has resources to research and challenge these perceived barriers this could make a big impact.

Elizabeth Elliott

Elizabeth Elliott, MS, PA-C

Baylor College of Medicine

How will you help to advance PAEA’s mission of “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion?”

As the main body guiding PA educators, PAEA has a tremendous responsibility to the educators, students, and providers it serves. Therefore, the people doing this work have to be leaders in their field in both big and small ways. I will bring my leadership skills of collaboration and organization to tasks in which I participate. These tasks are important work, and, as the example for PA educators, we must always be thinking about how to disseminate our knowledge to others through publications and presentations. I have a niche interest and some expertise (although still learning) in holistic selection processes, and recruitment and retention strategies for all students. I have served on the PAEA CASPA Advisory Steering Committee since its inception and believe we have done some important work in this space, including dissemination of admissions guides for programs and workshops at PAEA’s annual forum. The best way that I can help to advance PAEA’s mission through equity and inclusion is being an ally. While I do not identify as underrepresented, I am an ally to those that do. I want to do the work needed to help programs provide equitable learning spaces and employment environments, and holistic selection processes. I would be specifically interested in task forces or projects that involve these topics and hope that being on the Board of Directors will provide opportunities to contribute to those areas. PAEA’s mission statement provides a context for those that work in PA education, but specifically gives tangible and measurable areas that the organization can use to provide examples for PA educators. We must prioritize meaningful leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion. The future of excellence in PA education depends on it!


PAEA is a values-based organization, please describe how you, as a leader, would uphold PAEA’s values.

PAEA’s values of justice, equity, inclusion, diversity, quality, collaboration, well-being, learning, service, and sustainability are broad and far-reaching. However, they are all requisite to the work of a group that is leading an educational organization. I have a long history of collaboration with others, both at my home institution and nationally. Collaboration and diversity of ideas make any project or process stronger. I will continue to use this skill to further PAEA’s mission on projects within the purview of the Board of Directors. Another important skill for all leaders is learning. None of us have “arrived” yet – we are constantly taking in new information and applying it to circumstances. Modeling life-long learning is an important attribute for any leader. I will bring that model to any work that I do for PAEA, never assuming that I am the expert in the room. Service is the last value that I will mention, as I believe that all PA educators choose to do this work to give back to the next generation of providers. In that same realm, I will continue to uphold this value, viewing PAEA’s work as a service to these educators. The work we do impacts the current and future generations of providers and educators. It is important work and cannot be taken lightly.


PAEA is committed to model and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in PA education. What are some of the key issues facing PA programs in this space and what can PAEA do to address these issues?

There are many issues facing PA programs in the DEI space. The two that are most important in my mind are sponsorship and mentorship of underrepresented PA educators and recruitment of underrepresented students. While I do not identify as underrepresented, I am constantly aware of how my allyship and actions affect those around me, including my faculty and students. The bottom line is that we do not have enough PA educators or student who identify as underrepresented. Over the past several years, PAEA has started programs to target those educators and student who identify as underrepresented. More must be done in this space, and it cannot just be the work of those that are underrepresented. All of us have a part in creating safe and inclusive spaces that can recruit and retain all faculty. I often notice with PAEA that those who are doing much of this work are underrepresented. I want PAEA to also have allies in this work – those that do not identify as underrepresented and can support and lead these efforts alongside those that are already doing the work. In the realm of recruitment of underrepresented students, PAEA can continue to emphasize pipeline programs as well as assistance with grants to help programs fulfill the intention of these programs. I think financial constraints continue to be a major barrier, both for programs and applicants. Considering more scholarships and programs that would support the underrepresented pipeline is something that PAEA should continue to pursue.

Patty Scholting

Patty Scholting, MPAS, MPH, PA-C

Creighton Univeristy

How will you help to advance PAEA’s mission of “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion?”

I will support PAEA’s mission of “Advancing excellence in PA education through leadership, scholarship, equity, and inclusion” through refection, active listening, clear communication with key stakeholders and maintaining a flexible mindset to support an environment to guide process and change. Fostering educational excellence empowers the next generation of PA leaders to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion.  I will support programs through advocacy for Title VII and other funding sources to create opportunities to maintain and expand high quality PA education that is equitably accessible to all. The shortage of clinical training sites continues to be a barrier for programs. Creating incentives for PA preceptors is a key element in solving this problem. I will support and advocate for federal funding to create incentives and eliminate barriers for preceptors. As the healthcare landscape evolves, so must the way we educate students. Faculty development is necessary to ensure our graduates are ready to practice medicine on day one. Designing innovative, competency-based curriculum and enhancing research skills must be a priority in faculty development. I believe that cultivating faculty leadership will support and strengthen the PA profession. I support funding to provide an avenue for faculty to obtain advanced degrees in education and research. Faculty fatigue is a reality in PA education and needs to be addressed. I will look for opportunities to support faculty retention and well-being. As a leader, I will learn from the past and take steps forward to create a more inclusive learning environment through open communication and dialogue. It truly takes a village to educate PA students and I am invested in identifying a path forward to create a culture that is supportive of programs, students, and faculty.


PAEA is a values-based organization, please describe how you, as a leader, would uphold PAEA’s values. 

I believe that value-based leadership is a process that involves drawing upon our own values and beliefs and aligning them with the values that the organization has established. Value-based leadership provides direction and motivation when faced with challenges. Leaders have an important responsibility of creating and maintaining the organizational vision and keeping the organization’s values as its guiding principles.  PAEA’s core values ensure access to healthcare and education for all. By practicing the art of listening we recognize that not every program, faculty, or student has the same needs. Voices matter and taking the time to listen to the membership and their perspective and experiences will help us move forward in promoting values such as quality, diversity and inclusion. Providing a quality education should be first and foremost, recognizing the importance of maintaining high educational standards will result in successful outcomes. Only through collaboration with the AAPA, ARC-PA, and NCCPA is this possible.  We must strive to have a unified voice in all aspects of PA education and PA practice. The mental health of our faculty, staff, and students must be considered as healthcare evolves.  We must continue to seek better ways to provide high quality education but not at the expense of faculty emotional well-being.  As faculty we must strive to grow and better ourselves through educational opportunities and service, recognizing that all decisions and actions must be sustainable for faculty, staff, and programs in order to ensure future success.


PAEA is committed to model and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in PA education. What are some of the key issues facing PA programs in this space and what can PAEA do to address these issues? 

The journey to becoming a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in PA education starts with understanding. Taking time to listen to the needs of programs, faculty, and students to improve recruitment, admission and retention of a diverse body of faculty, staff and students is a starting point. PAEA can assist programs in their diversity efforts by providing resources that allow educators to learn and improve skills regarding cultural competence, advocacy both within and external to their institution, and inclusive curriculum development to create an equitable learning environment for all students. PAEA has taken important steps in addressing structural racism in PA education through the development of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tool Kit. It is important to build upon this important work and create a broader scope of resources for programs.

The admissions process alone can be a financial barrier for future students.  Investigating ways to lessen the financial burden of applying to PA programs. Creating a holistic admissions process promotes equity for applicants. It is important that we continue to advocate for the federal and state funding of student scholarships and grants, making PA education accessible for students from a diverse range of backgrounds.