St. John's College Faculty  & Professional Staff

Charlene Aaron, PhD, RN
PhD: University of Iowa 
MSN: Illinois State University
BSN: Illinois Wesleyan University
Diploma: Methodist Medical Center School of Nursing

Dr. Aaron comes to St. John’s College of Nursing from Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing where she most recently served as an assistant professor. She has worked at ISU’s nursing college since 2005. Prior to that, Aaron served as the director of nursing for various nursing homes and retirement communities in Livingston County. She began her career in nursing as a post-surgical nurse in 1978 at St. James Hospital in Pontiac.

Dr. Aaron received her doctorate of nursing in aging from the University of Iowa. Her dissertation research focus was on the self-management of diabetes in African American female caregivers of persons with dementia. She received her MSN in nursing systems administration from ISU, her BSN from Illinois Wesleyan University, her diploma in nursing from Methodist Medical Center School of Nursing and her licensed practical nursing (LPN) license from Kankakee Community College.

Dr. Aaron has received several honors throughout the years for her distinguished career at ISU’s nursing college. In 2015 she received the Illinois Nurse Leader Fellowship from the Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders and the Kathleen A. Hogan Endowed Faculty Development Award.

Judy Shackelford, PhD, RN
Dean of Academic Affairs
PhD: University of Missouri
MS: University of Illinois
BSN: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Judy Shackelford, PhD, has been an educator for 29+ years. She is a Faith Community Nurse and  medical/surgical “generalist” with a research focus in education to improve health care outcomes in the areas of adult asthma self-management, breast cancer awareness in underserved populations, and colorectal cancer screening in rural populations.  Dr. Shackelford has been the lead investigator for Faith Community Nursing in grants with published works and awards in the areas of breast cancer awareness education for underserved populations, and colorectal cancer screening in rural communities. She is a founding board member for Faith Community Nursing International (FCNI), is Chair of the FCNI Education Committee, and is currently coauthoring a textbook on faith community nursing. She is passionate about nursing and research with a career goal to expand nursing research utilization to improve health care practice and outcomes for the health care consumer. She has vast experience in curriculum development at the undergraduate and graduate level.

She has done program development in continuing education for professionals in the areas of leadership and faculty development, spirituality and Faith Community Nursing.

She serves on the editorial board for The International Journal of Faith Community Nursing. She has served on the board of Nu Pi at-large Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau’s Nursing Honor Society in a variety of roles, including president.

Dr. Shackelford considers it an honor to work for an institution where Christian values are foundational to its mission, and a blessing to serve in a profession that recognizes the importance of God’s healing presence.


Melissa Adams, PhD, MSN, RN
PhD: Capella University
MSN: Chamberlain College of Nursing
BSN: Chamberlain College of Nursing

Dr. Adams started her nursing career as a LPN. She then bridged her way to obtain the RN license and transitioned to completing her PhD in 2016. Dr. Adams graduated with her PhD in Nursing Education from Capella University. Her research was focused on student centered learning in the classroom for her dissertation. Her research interests are nursing incivility, active learning, and nursing education.

Melissa Ashley, DNP, FNP-BC, CCRN
Coordinator FNP Track/Associate Professor

DNP: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
MSN: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
MA English: Southern Illinois University Carbondale
BSN: St. John’s College
BA English: Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Professor Ashley comes to St. John's College of Nursing with prior teaching exterience at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, SIU Medicine and adjunt faculty at St. John's College. She has been in the nursing profession for over 12 years, the last five as an advance practice provider in the ICU setting. Her professional interests include improving quality of life at end-of-live, improving patient outcomes for septic shock patients in the acute care setting and improving patient safety and outcomes through evidence-based practice in creating, reviewing and updating protocols in varying aspects of patient care. She looks forward to teaching and mentoring the next generation of nurse practitioners at St. John's College of Nursing.

Mary Baker, MS, RN
Assistant Professor
MS: University of Illinois Chicago
BSN: Sangamon State University
Diploma: St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing
Mary joined the college as full time faculty in 2015.  She has over 30 years of nursing experience, with the past 15 years focused on nursing education in the college setting, as well as in the acute care setting.   Mary’s specialty area is medical-surgical nursing at the intermediate care level.  She also has experience in home health, transplant nursing, cardiovascular care, and neurology nursing.  Her professional interests include patient education and the on boarding process of nurses/new employees.   

Mary Barnes, MS, RN
Assistant Professor
MS: University of Illinois at Chicago
BSN: Delaware State College

Specialty areas and research interests:  Critical Care/ICU; Cardiac Surgery ICU; Foley Catheter Usage Reduction; Dementia; Dementia Education for Hospital Staff; Care of Hospitalized Elderly. 


Linda Blakley, MSN, RN
Assistant Professor
DNP:  University of St. Francis (anticipated graduation: 2020)
MSN: St. Louis University
BSN: McKendree College
Diploma: St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing

Linda has been a faculty member of nursing at St. John’s College since January 2009. She has been involved in maternal / newborn nursing as a staff nurse, charge nurse, as well as a perinatal outreach educator. 

She has taught courses in maternity and pediatrics, as well as introductory medical surgical nursing at St. John’s College. She is a member of AWHONN (Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses), STTI (Sigma Theta Tau International) and NACNS (National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists). Her research interests include: maternal/ infant morbidity and mortality, use of simulations in nursing education, and increasing the number of BSN prepared nurses in bedside/ direct patient care. 


Allison Braden MSN, RN, MHA
Adjunct Faculty
MSN/MHA: University of Phoenix
BSN: Illinois State University
Allison received her BSN from Illinois State University in 2009 and her MSN from the University of Phoenix in 2015.  Her clinical experience includes progressive care/telemetry nursing with a concentration in neurology and neurosurgery.  She has experience with travel nursing across several states before completing her MSN.  She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau and the American Nurses Association-Illinois.  

Gloria Brummer, DNP, RN, CEN, CNE
Associate Professor
DNP: Rush University
MS: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
BSN: University of Illinois at Springfield
Diploma: St. John's Hospital School of Nursing

Gloria Brummer, a certified nurse educator, has taught at St. John’s College for 27 years.  Her teaching experience includes online education, clinical practice, classroom, simulation and nursing laboratory settings in courses including nursing leadership, medical-surgical nursing and critical care and transition to practice. She has served on the lead team for the graduate program and contributes to college accreditation processes. Certified in emergency nursing, Gloria instructs advanced cardiac life support and has served as a trauma nurse specialist at HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Her clinical experience includes emergency, trauma and flight nursing, surgical intermediate care and ambulatory care.
Gloria’s research interests include inter-professional education and improving client-centered care through evidence-based practice and quality systems. She is currently a member of the Emergency Nurses Association, Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders, American Organization of Nurse Executives, Midwest Nursing Research Society and Sigma Theta Tau.  For the past three years she has served as faculty for the Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Collaborative through Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, which is a national program that identifies individual barriers which cause over-utilization of the health care system. Gloria authored a chapter in the 2018 book, Simulation Scenarios for Nurse Educators: Making it Real, 4rd Edition, and co-authored an online learning module: Medication Safety for the Emergency Nurses Association GENE series.
Gloria values the opportunity to assist in the development of future professional nurses who will carry on the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis healing ministry among the complexities of today’s health care.

Mary Ellen Carlson, MS, RN
Adjunct Faculty
MS: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
BSN: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville  
Diploma: Swedish American Hospital, School of Nursing

Mary Ellen Carlson has 30 years of full-time nursing teaching experience. She is now adjunct clinical faculty who specializes in developing clinical judgment in the acute care setting.

Bettianne Casper, MSN, RN
Assistant Professor
MSN: Kaplan University
BSN: Millikin University

Bettianne received her BSN from Millikin University (Decatur, IL) in 2008 and her MSN in Nursing Education from Kaplan University (Des Moines, IA) in 2013.  Her clinical experience includes floor nurse and charge nurse on an acute psychiatric unit.  She also completed mental health assessments for the Hospital to Home clinic at Prairie Heart Institute.

Bettianne's professional interests include mental health advocacy and education. 


Dee Hood, MSN, RN
MSN: California State University
BSN: University of Phoenix
AA: Los Angeles School of Nursing & Allied Health

Dee has a background as a certified Burns Critical Care Nurse, working for over twenty years at USC Los Angeles County Hospital. She became interested in education and worked as an Adjunct Clinical Instructor teaching in the BSN program West Coast University in Los Angeles California, before joining St. John's College as full time faculty.

Meagan Hood, MSN, RN, CNE
Assistant Professor
MSN: Walden University
BS: Western Illinois University
ADN: Spoon River College

Meagan received a Bachelor of Science degree in 2007, majoring in microbiology. She received her Associate's in Nursing in 2010 and Master's in Nursing Education in 2013. Meagan, a certified nurse educator, has taught at St. John's College since 2014. She currently teaches  Pathophysiology/Pharmacology and Community Health Nursing. Her clinical experience is in Emergency Medicine and TeleHealth Nursing. She maintains certification in ACLS and PALS.


Cheryl Huffman, MS, RN
Assistant Professor
MS: Indiana State University
BSN: Indiana State University
Diploma: Lakeview Hospital School of Nursing

Barbara Huttman, MSN, RN-BC
MSN: Benedictine University
BSN: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Barb Huttman grew up in Rhode Island and has a bachelors of science in microbiology from University of Rhode Island. She received her bachelors of science in nursing from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her masters of science in nursing from Benedictine University. Barb has lived and worked overseas as a science teacher for the Peace Corps in Kenya, East Africa, and she and her husband ran a Habitat for Humanity project in Guatemala, Central America. For the past 27 years, Barb has worked at St. John’s Hospital in various roles. For the last 12 years, she has been a central nurse educator doing orientation for new staff at HSHS St. John’s Hospital. Barb joined St. John's College in August 2018.

Genevieve Kragness, PhD, RN
Adjunct Faculty
PhD: Medical University of South Carolina
BSN:University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Genevieve grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin and holds a BS-Nursing from UW-Eau Claire. She started her nursing career in pediatric bone marrow transplant and peds CCU/CVICU. She graduated with her PhD in Nursing Science from Medical University of South Carolina in 2012 and taught full time for 3 years before returning to bedside nursing. She now works in Emergency Medicine at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, and teaches as adjunct faculty here at St. John's. Life highlights include running a critical access clinic in El Salvador and Honduras. She now lives and raises her 7 children in Eau Claire. 

Lisa Lanzotti, MSN, RN
Adjunct Faculty
MSN: University of Evansville
BSN: University of Evansville
Diploma: St. John's Hospital School of Nursing

Michelle McCarthy, DNP, RN, CPHQ, NE-BC
Assistant Professor
DNP: Rush University
MS: University of Illinois at Chicago
BSN: University of Illinois at Springfield
Diploma: St. John's Hospital, School of Nursing

Michelle is a certified professional in health care quality and served as the division director for Quality Resource Management at HSHS St. John’s Hospital for 14 years. She has 30 years of nursing management and leadership experience and is a board certified nurse executive. Her scholarly interests include evidence-based practice, nursing leadership and patient safety.

Ife Muyiwa-Ojo, DNP, MSN, RN
DNP: Grand Canyon University
AGPCNA: Maryville University
MSN: Western Governor's University
BSN: Western Governor's University
BSN-Western Governor’s University

Before becoming a nurse, Ife was an information technology engineer with several years of tutoring, network and database management experience. Ife received both his bachelors and masters of science in nursing from Western Governor’s University. He is pursuing an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNA) degree from Maryville University and a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) from Grand Canyon University . 

Cheryl Pope, MSN, RN
Assistant Professor
MSN: Benedictine University
RN-BSN: Benedictine University
ADN RN: Heartland Community College
Cheryl joined St. John’s College of Nursing in 2019 with prior teaching at Benedictine University, Illinois Wesleyan University and as an Emergency Department Educator at HSHS St. John’s Hospital. She has vast experience in emergency and cardiac nursing, including flight nurse experience. She has more than ten years experience as a nurse educator with interest in improving nursing assessment skills, quality and safety of patients, and patient centered care with evidence-based practice and use of simulation. She specializes in assisting nurses/nursing students with learning disabilities to be successful in their careers.  Cheryl is an instructor for Trauma Nurse Specialist, Trauma Nursing Core Course (course coordinator), ABA Burns, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Basic Life Support (BLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), School Nurse Emergency Care (SNEC), Jumpstart/Mass Casualty Triage. She also holds a licensure as a Prehospital RN (PHRN), Trauma Nurse Specialist and Emergency Communication RN (ECRN). She is an Illinois Council Committee member for Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and on the subcommittee for Trauma Nursing Core Course.Professional memberships include Emergency Nurses Association, American Nurses Association (ANA), American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN).

Nancy Semenza, PhD, RN
Assistant Professor
PhD: St Louis University
MS: University of Illinois at Chicago
BSN: Sangamon State University
ADN: Lincoln Land Community College

A professional nurse educator since 1994, Nancy has been affiliated with St. John's College, MacMurray College, Lincoln Land Community College, and Millikin University as nursing faculty. She received her MS Degree from University of Illinois at Chicago in the Clinical Nurse Specialist Track where she also worked as a research assistant for an NIH study of 'Self Efficacy and Symptom Distress,' and her Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Saint Louis University where she completed her dissertation on 'Stress, Mood, and Bone Mass Density in Post menopausal Women,' in conjunction with an NIH funded research project at the SLU School of Medicine. Nancy has practiced in medical-surgical, psychiatric, preoperative, pharmacology, ethics, and community/public health nursing. Nancy was the founding director of the Master's program of Millikin University and currently teaches at all four programmatic levels of nursing education at St. John's College. She currently chairs the Pathway 2 Success student learning enhancement program at the College. National nursing presentations that nancy has provided include the 125th National League of Nursing Conference in 20189 and the 2019 Annual Conference for the Higher Learning Commission. 

Judy Skelton, MSN, RNC-OB, CLC
MSN: Benedictine University
BSN: Mennonite College of Nursing

Judy has certifications in inpatient obstetrics, lactation counseling, and serves as a neonatal resuscitation instructor. She has 28 years’ experience in all areas of OB in varying roles from floor nursing to education and management. She received her BSN from Mennonite College of Nursing and her MSN in nursing education from Benedictine in 2014. Judy began at the college as adjunct faculty in 2015 in psych/geriatrics. In 2017 she began full-time and continues to do psych/geriatrics, med/surg 1 on rotation as well as OB. 

Malissa Talbert, MSN, RN, CMSRN
Adjunct Faculty
MSN: Benedictine University
BSN: Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville 
ADN: Lewis & Clark Community College

Malissa is a Med/Surg certified. She has 27 years experience in Med/Surg Nursing. Malissa started at St. John's College in 2012 in Med/Surg and continues as adjunct faculty. Professional interests include Med/Surg and Geriatric Nursing

Julie Varns, PhD, RN
Simulation Center Administrator
PhD: University of Missouri
MSN: University of Missouri
BSN: Sangamon State University
Diploma: St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing

Julie Varns has been an educator for over 24 years. She presently serves as Assistant Professor of Nursing and Administrator of the Simulation Center. Ms. Varns’ commitment to nursing education first began in 1994 when she worked as faculty at a local vocational school. It was there that she taught in both practical nursing and surgical technology programs. Before joining the college in 2011, Julie mentored medical students at SIU School of Medicine.  

Ms. Varns’ is a Jonas Nurse Leader Scholar. She has extensive clinical practice including medical as well as surgical nursing, working as a staff nurse in neurology, orthopedics, and cardiology, before joining surgery as an EENT scrub nurse. She worked for twelve years in the role of first assistant/office nurse for a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. Ms. Varns utilized her perioperative nursing expertise to initiate and develop skills laboratory sessions for students to gain competency in the perioperative scrub role, providing a unique experience for students at the college. Ms. Varns has taught Perioperative nursing, Pathopharmacology, Nursing Research, Ethics, Adult Health Assessment and various clinical rotations at the college. She has served as faculty advisor to the Student Government Association, Chair on the college’s Research and Evaluation Committee, and College Assembly Chair.  She is a former Sunset subcommittee member for revisions to the Illinois Nurse Practice Act, and has worked with the Illinois Health Action Coalition Seamless Education Workgroup. Professional memberships include: Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, National League of Nursing, Society for Simulation in Healthcare, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the Obesity Society, and the Obesity Action Coalition. Ms. Varns’ areas of research interest include body image in persons with severe obesity, with a special focus on bariatric surgery patients and the psychosocial adjustments they face following rapid and massive weight loss. 

St. John's College Professional Staff

Britni Caruso, BS
Admissions Administrator/Registrar
BS: Illinois State University

Britni has a bachelor of science in communication studies from Illinois State University in Normal, IL. Britni worked in the admissions office and served as an academic advisor for six years at Benedictine University at Springfield prior to joining St. John’s College in 2014. She is an active member of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). 

Tim Marten MS, Ed.
Financial Aid & Compliance Administrator
MS: Illinois State University
BS: Illinois State University

Tim has a master's of science in educational administration and a bachelor's of science in agriculture degree from Illinois State University (ISU) in Normal, IL. He has two years of student activities experience at ISU and three years of residence life experience at Middle Tennessee State in Murfreesboro, TN and Western Illinois University in Macomb. Tim was a financial aid counselor at ISU for seven years before joining the staff at St. John's. Tim is an active member and committee chair for the Illinois Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (ILASFAA).

(217) 544-6464, ext. 44705