CONTACT: Gretchen Wright

Education Expert to Help Lead New Jersey Nursing Initiative

New Deputy Director Will Support Goal of Ending State’s Nurse Faculty Shortage

Trenton, N.J.—The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI), a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project of RWJF and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, today announced the appointment of Jennifer Polakowski, MPA, BA, as the organization’s new deputy director.

NJNI’s goal is to increase the number of nurse faculty in the state, so there will be enough nurses to meet the health care needs of New Jersey residents.  To meet that goal, NJNI is working to transform nurse education in the state.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jennifer Polakowski to the New Jersey Nursing Initiative team. Her talent and extensive expertise on education will be tremendous assets in our work to end the state’s potentially crippling nurse faculty shortage,” said NJNI Program Director Susan Bakewell-Sachs, PhD, RN, PNP-BC. Bakewell-Sachs is interim provost of The College of New Jersey.

Polakowski, who spent years in leadership roles with Lawrence Township Public Schools in Lawrenceville, brings considerable education policy experience to NJNI. In addition, she has vast experience building and sustaining partnerships, and with fundraising and grants management.

“It’s an honor for me to join the New Jersey Nursing Initiative,” Polakowski said. “The nurse faculty shortage poses a serious challenge that could affect the state’s families, its businesses and its future. I look forward in coming months to helping get closer to our goal, and making real the organization’s tagline: ‘So a nurse will be there for you.’”

New Jersey’s population is aging and dealing with chronic illnesses, facing an increasingly complex web of health issues that demand a highly knowledgeable and well-prepared nursing workforce. But the Garden State is facing a nurse and nurse faculty shortage of alarming proportions that could severely limit the quality of residents’ health and health care. Through NJNI, talented leaders across the state are focused on the issue and are working to develop innovative solutions to this crisis.

NJNI’s signature Faculty Preparation Program provides support to help RWJF New Jersey Nursing Scholars complete advanced degree studies. The program boasts 61 Scholars earning master’s and doctoral degrees, some of whom have completed the program and are already serving as nurse faculty in the state. NJNI recently launched a new website,, as a resource—the first of its kind in the state—that provides valuable information about a career as a nurse faculty member.


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