We are facilitators, faculty, clinicians and practitioners collectively focused on helping our learners and colleagues be their best selves.
Tim Cunningham, DrPH, MSN, RN
Dr. Cunningham never thought he would become a nurse. His first passion was in the performing arts. For nearly a decade he worked as a professional actor and with the organization Clowns Without Borders (CWB). A small non-profit, CWB sends artists into war zones, refugee camps and other zones of crisis with the simple mission of catalyzing laughter and playfulness. Tim has served as Executive Director and Board Member of CWB in addition to performing with them globally. It was his work performing as a clown in resource poor hospitals that inspired him to become a nurse.
In 2009, he completed nurse training at UVA in the CNL program and began work as an emergency/trauma nurse. He has worked internationally as a clinician in post-earthquake Haiti, Sierra Leone during the Ebola outbreak and most recently with Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. His work as a clown and nurse keep bringing him back to the central question: What keeps a person resilient?
This question helped him complete his Doctorate of Public Health at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University. His dissertation focused on psychosocial support of aid workers and Narrative Medicine. He joined the faculty at UVA in 2016 with a joint appointment in the School of Nursing and Department of Drama.
Elizabeth (Lili) Powell, PhD, MA
Maria and John Kluge Endowed Chair in Compassionate Care
In healthcare, where the ideal is to provide compassionate and effective care for every patient, how can a leader most effectively influence and inspire a team to achieve this worthy goal? Exploring the answer to this question is at the heart of Dr. Powell’s work with the Compassionate Care Initiative.
Lili has dedicated her academic and consulting career to learning and teaching the practical wisdom required to lead people and organizations. Beginning as a graduate student and continuing since 1994 as a professor at UVA Darden School of Business, she has been fascinated by the intersections of leadership, communication, performance and self-inquiry.
Out of a personal interest, Lili became a certified yoga teacher in 2006. She was surprised to discover that practices and insights from this somatic, contemplative and ethical discipline would inform her academic interests. Since that time, she has developed innovative courses in mindful leadership and leadership presence. She has come to believe that by teaching leaders to train their attention and cultivate goodwill, they can more skillfully exercise a positive influence in their own lives and in their workplaces.
In recognition of this novel work, she was awarded a joint appointment with UVA School of Nursing in 2017 to further her contributions in the context of healthcare. Her new course, Leading with Presence in Healthcare, has attracted a diverse and interprofessional student audience.
Hannah Crosby, BA, RYT-200
Ms. Crosby's passion for promoting holistic well-being was first sparked in 2011, as an original member of UVA School of Nursing's award-winning Healthy Work Environment (HWE) team. It was through this work and dialogue with her colleagues that she recognized self-care as an important avenue to nurturing personal and professional resilience.
So when joining the Compassionate Care Initiative (CCI) staff in 2013, there was an immediate synergy with Hannah's passion and CCI's mission. While pursuing her own self-care, Hannah developed a deep yoga practice over the years, which inspired her to complete the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2018 at Opal Yoga (Charlottesville, VA). She now teaches a drop-in yoga class with CCI monthly.
During her tenure with CCI, supporting the rest of the leadership team and ambassadors, programming has tripled, outside funding for programming has increased, and outreach has grown beyond UVA, both nationally and internationally.
Ebru Cayir, MD, PhD
Postdoctoral Research Associate
After graduating from Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty in Istanbul, Turkey, Dr. Cayir served as a general practitioner at a primary care clinic in Istanbul. Her experiences as a clinician, and her passion for making an impact on health at the population level brought her to the field of Public Health. She worked and received training as a resident physician in the Department of Public Health at the Hacettepe Medical University in Ankara, Turkey, before receiving a Fulbright fellowship to study in the US. In 2017, she earned her PhD from the Department of Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at the Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina.
Ebru is interested in understanding how organizations can support self-care and resilience among caregiving professionals so that they can not only maintain their well-being, but also thrive in their work. She also focuses on how social identity categories such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality intersect with one another and shape work experiences, well-being, and belongingness among healthcare providers. Her other research interests include mental health disparities that affect ethnic minority and vulnerable populations, intersectional and social justice-based methodologies. Currently, she is working on an intervention study that examines the impact of mindfulness-based practices on health care providers’ well-being, resilience and capacity to provide compassionate care.
Susanna Williams, PhD
Senior Lecturer in Nursing
Dr. Williams is a multi-disciplinary faculty member and researcher at UVA - originating at the Mindfulness Center in the School of Medicine, then expanding into the Law School, College of Arts and Science and most recently the School of Nursing, where she is creating a Wisdom In Nursing curriculum. She teaches courses that explore the science and applications of contemplative practice, often dividing class time between learning about the mechanisms within the brain that are impacted by meditation and mindfulness, and experiential practice.
Her research specialty relates to the outcomes of teaching mindfulness practices in various populations. In addition to other projects, she is conducting research on the three year, Wisdom In Nursing program.
Susanna has a background in healthcare, and has worked both internationally and domestically in the area of designing and implementing health systems with a focus on full wellbeing, and sees mindfulness as both an entryway and a prerequisite for service work. She has used mindfulness practices in her work with African caregivers, based on the latest neuroscience that marries human connection to human development.
She has presented Innovative Approaches to Teaching Mindfulness in Higher Education at the Annual Scientific Conference of Mindfulness in Healthcare and Society and is engaged with UVA’s Contemplative Pedagogy exploration through the Center for Teaching Excellence.
CCI team members that work with us to lead drop-in programs and retreats.