Academic Leadership Team
Meet our dean, associate deans and directors at the Faculty of Nursing
Dr. Karen Benzies PhD, RN
Associate Dean, Research
Dr. Benzies is a Professor with the Faculty of Nursing, and Adjunct Research Professor with the Department of Pediatrics, at the University of Calgary. She received a PhD from the University of Alberta and completed post-doctoral fellowships at Stockholm University and the University of Ottawa. She leads a program of research in early parent and child relationships with a focus on children at risk for developmental delays, including behavior problems.
Dr. Kathryn King-Shier, PhD, FESC, RN
Associate Dean, Graduate Programs
Dr. Kathryn King-Shier is a professor and the Guru Nanak Dev Ji Dil Research Chair, jointly appointed to the Faculty of Nursing and Department of Community Health Sciences at UCalgary, and a Visiting Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s University Belfast.
She earned a BScN from McMaster University and a Masters and PhD in Nursing from the University of Alberta before undertaking post-doctoral training in the Faculty of Medicine, Division of Cardiology (EPICORE Centre) at the University of Alberta. King-Shier was appointed to the University of Calgary in 1999 and was supported by Alberta Innovates-Health Solutions for 13 years. She has held competitive research funding from bodies such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Heart and Stroke and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
She is known for her multi-methods program of research that focuses on the influence of ethnicity and sex/gender on cardiovascular disease symptoms, access to care and prevention activities. As one of Canada’s leading cardiovascular nurse scientists, she has served on the Institute Advisory Board for CIHR’s Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health and numerous peer-review committees for CIHR and Heart and Stroke. She currently is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing and the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.
Dr. Catherine Laing PhD, RN
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Programs
Dr. Catherine Laing’s program of research is in the field of paediatric oncology. Having an extensive background in clinical, educational, and administrative areas in this field, her doctoral research was a hermeneutic study related to understanding the meaning and effects of children’s cancer camps for the child with cancer and the family.
Dr. Laing’s current research interests lie in understanding the therapeutic value of digital storytelling with pediatric oncology patients, and she is also working on incorporating the methodology of social return on investment in the healthcare setting where questions of social value are present. She is active at the local, national, and international levels of paediatric oncology nursing.
Zahra Shajani, RN
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Practice Education, Undergraduate Programs
Zahra Shajani is a tenured, senior instructor at the Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary. She is currently the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Practice Education. She has been at the faculty since 2006 starting as a sessional instructor in clinical practice.
She has a broad range of experiences in family nursing, community health, maternal child health, and medical nursing. She has been a co-investigator on funded projects on nursing education, focused on the science of learning and the science of teaching.
Shajani has presented at national and international conferences including Canadian Association School of Nursing and National League of Nursing. She has co-authored a chapter in Canadian textbook of community nursing and family nursing book. Her research interests include faculty development, family nursing, maternal and child health, nursing practice simulation learning. Shajani also serves in internal committees within the Faculty of Nursing as well as within the external Aga Khan Institutions.
Dr. Andrew Estefan, PhD, RPN
Interim Associate Dean, Curriculum Development & Program Evaluation
Dr. Andrew Estefan joined the Faculty of Nursing in 2008. Since this time he has taught undergraduate, master's and doctoral students in the areas of philosophy, research methods, and mental health/psychiatric nursing.
Between 2014 and 2016 he served in the role of Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning. Before coming to Calgary, Dr. Estefan taught in nursing, health and social care programs in Australia and the United Kingdom. His research program focuses on narrative inquiry and he has published work relating to narrative practice and pedagogy in post-secondary undergraduate and graduate learning. He was the recipient of the inaugural University Teaching Award for assistant professors in 2014 and is a member of the Teaching Academy at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary.
Dr. Estefan's program of research inquires at the intersections of sexuality, gender, and people's experiences of mental health and illness. His research work in narrative inquiry and philosophical hermeneutics, alongside faculty colleagues, has been published extensively; he supervises numerous master's and doctoral students undertaking narrative and hermeneutic studies. His teaching, research, and scholarship have been recognized with international awards from the American Educational Research Association.
Tracey Clancy, RN
Assistant Dean, Faculty Development
Tracey Clancy is a tenured, senior instructor within UCalgary Nursing who took on the new role of assistant dean, faculty development on July 1, 2019. She has been teaching students in clinical practice since 1996 and joined the faculty as a full-time instructor in 2008.
She is an inaugural member of the Teaching Academy at the University of Calgary, Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Her research interests include the scholarship of teaching and learning in nursing and higher education, educational leadership, faculty development, peer mentorship, co-teaching, teaching presence, authentic learning and self-authorship.
Clancy's practice experience is in oncology, hematology, bone marrow and stem cell transplant, in addition to an advanced nursing practice role within the Advanced Vascular Access Service at the Foothills Medical Center. She serves as a parent volunteer with the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Currently pursuing her PhD in Educational Leadership from the University of Victoria with an interest in exploring what characterizes the self-development of nurse educators, Clancy holds a MN (2008) and a BN (1996) from the University of Calgary, having completed her nursing diploma from the Foothills School of Nursing in 1988.
Dr. Jacqueline Smith PhD, RN
Director, Mental Health and Wellness
Jacqueline Smith has been an assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Calgary since July 2017. She is passionate about education, prevention and early intervention research in the context of adolescent and young adult substance abuse. Her research promotes mental health and wellbeing for all children and families. Jacqueline teaches undergraduate level courses and supervises graduate students with interest in addiction, mental health and narrative inquiry. She is an associate member of the Mathison Centre and the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI). She is currently serving as Vice President of the Canadian Chapter of the International Nurses Society of Addiction. Jacqueline embraces community partnerships and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Calgary Fetal Alcohol Network and sits on the Advisory Committee for Drug Free Kids Canada.
Louise Baptiste, MEd, RN
Director of Indigenous Initiatives
Louise Baptiste joined the University of Calgary in August 2017 as a nursing instructor, and the Director of Indigenous Initiatives with a focus on student supports and community outreach. She has a strong commitment and passion for nursing education geared towards health promotion, social justice, and Indigenous health. She has previously served on numerous committees related to Indigenous health, and volunteered as a student mentor. Currently she is serving on the Advisory Task Force on Indigenous Initiatives for the Faculty of Nursing. Louise was a recipient of the 2016-2017 Indigenous Graduate Award from the University of Calgary.
Heather Bensler, MSN, RN
Director, International and Global-Local Health
Heather Bensler joined the Faculty of Nursing in August 2017 as a tenure-track instructor and the Director of Indigenous Initiatives with a focus on faculty and curriculum development. Her previous teaching experience included teaching Maternal Newborn, Community, Pathophysiology and Health Promotion at the School of Nursing, Mount Royal University. Heather has worked in the South American jungle developing medical training programs with indigenous leaders that continue to be used in South America, Africa and South East Asia. Heather is passionate about global health, obstetrics, and nursing education. During her graduate work at Trinity Western University, Heather was the knowledge translation lead for a unit-wide obstetrics quality improvement project where she continues to practice.
Dr. Lorraine Venturato, PhD, RN
Director, International and Global Research
Dr. Lorraine Venturato joined the Faculty of Nursing in January 2014 and holds a Chair in Gerontology. She has previously held a joint position as a senior research fellow in Australia and is an advocate for partnership approaches to research, education and practice.
With more than 20 years experience as a clinician, educator and researcher in long-term aged care, Dr. Venturato's passion for working with older people has led her to explore creative and innovative approaches to meeting the challenges that face older people and those that care for them. Her current research focuses on the interplay between nursing practice, education and research in gerontology, with particular interest in the nexus between service delivery and workforce development.
Dr. Venturato's research program includes the development and testing of models of care, professional practice models and staffing frameworks for the aged care industry. She is also engaged in translational research and practice development in aged care. Her clinical research focuses on quality of care and models of care for people living with dementia.