Nursing alumna encourages students to carve out new paths in Founders’ Day keynote address

Nursing alumna encourages students to carve out new paths in Founders’ Day keynote address

Nursing alumna encourages students to carve out new paths in Founders’ Day keynote address


Deneen Richmond on stage with UDC Nursing students.


UDC nursing alumna Deneen Richmond (MHA, RN ‘86), one of only a few Black women to lead a hospital in the country as the president of Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center, encouraged students to maximize their opportunities during this year’s Founders’ Day celebration. The theme of the event was “Our Path Forward: Pride, Progress, Promise.”

Founders’ Day recognizes the University’s rich history. Founded in 1851, UDC was originally established as Normal School for Colored Girls by abolitionist and educator Myrtilla Miner, who envisioned a more equitable society and believed that education and learning opportunities should be available to everyone.

In 1976, the University expanded through the merger of the District of Columbia Teachers College, Federal City College and Washington Technical Institute. UDC continues its tradition of public education and training from workforce development, associate’s, undergraduate, Ph.D. programs and a law school.

The District of Columbia Fire and EMS Honor Guard kicked off the program with the presentation of colors, followed by a performance by the UDC Chorale. Chief Academic Officer Lawrence T. Potter welcomed the audience of students, faculty and community supporters to the event.

The audience also included nursing students dressed in their full white uniforms, who were excited to hear Richmond’s message of support. Richmond was introduced by third-semester nursing student Javay Engelking-Scott.

“It gives me great pleasure to introduce our distinguished keynote speaker who once stood here as a student attending our excellent nursing program at the University of the District of Columbia. She is a Firebird,” Engelking-Scott said. “When I was asked to introduce such an amazing woman of virtue, it overwhelmed me with joy.”

Richmond is passionate about improving the health of underserved communities, promoting equity, and eradicating health disparities. In addition to being president of Luminis, Richmond also serves as the chief quality and population health officer. She has more than 30 years of healthcare leadership experience, and took on her current role in 2020, during a global pandemic.

She received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of the District of Columbia in 1986 and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from George Washington University in 1992. She has served as an adjunct professor at George Washington University, Milken School of Public Health. Richmond has received numerous awards and recognitions.

The healthcare professional shared her journey and reminded students that anything is possible, having sat where they are as a student herself.

“I am honored and humbled to be with you,” said Richmond, who gave a shout-out to the nursing students. “I proudly credit the University of the District of Columbia for the foundation that allowed me to spread my wings and launch my healthcare career in 1986 when I graduated with my bachelor’s in nursing. This is home in so many ways.”

Richmond described her journey that included twists and turns. She encouraged students to have bold aspirations, which shape the path forward.

“I’ve always had bold aspirations, but I will admit that I never imagined I would have the honor of being president of Luminis Doctors Community Medical Center,” she said. “I’m proud to be one of a few women running a hospital, but I am also sad that women of color account for only about 5% of hospital CEOs in the U.S. We must change this statistic. I know that UDC students and alumni can change this and leverage their foundation and education at UDC to do bold things in healthcare and every industry. That’s what our Firebird Nation is all about.”

Richmond is responsible for more than 1,000 employees and 600 medical staff and encourages an environment of health equity. She encouraged students to build on their accomplishments, celebrate progress and claim their rightful place in claiming the promise for their future calling.

“I’m proud of the role that UDC has played to educate the next generation of health professionals and in producing a well-qualified workforce in all fields,” Richmond said. “Individually and collectively, I ask that we all promise not to just talk, but that we take action to eradicate those horrible inequities in healthcare.”

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Richmond said, “Of all of the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.”

“Sadly, this is still true today. Each of us must drive for more equitable outcomes. Let us all be a living legacy for our beloved University as we continue to shape our path forward with pride, progress and promise. Firebird excellence is alive and well.”

Traditionally, UDC celebrates outstanding students and staff during Founders’ Day through its award presentations. This year, President Ronald M. Mason, Jr. was presented with the Faithful Firebird award for his eight years of service by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Mason is the longest-serving president of UDC.

To watch the 2023 Founders’ Day ceremony, please click here.

2023 Founders’ Day Awards include:

Student Humanitarian & Civic Engagement Award

Juliana M. Adewumi

Salim Adofo

Sade M. Clarke

PathMaker Awards

Eddie Baker

William Howard Jones, Ph.D. (Posthumous)

Distinguished Alumni Legacy Award

Bernard M. Grayson, Jr.

Dr. Marjorie Holloman Parker Distinguished Educator Award (Named for the Honorable Marjorie Holloman Parker ’36)

Mathilde (Matty) Knight, Ph.D.

Dr. Cleveland L. Dennard Distinguished Service Award (Named for Washington Technical Institute President Cleveland L. Dennard)

Denise Bledsoe Slaughter

The Honorable Ronald H. Brown Distinguished Leadership Award

Sabine O’Hara, Ph.D.

Dr. Paul Phillips Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award (Named for the distinguished educator and former District of Columbia Teachers College President Paul Phillips Cooke ’37)

Carolyn Evans Cousin, Ph.D.

Myrtilla Miner Award for Exceptional Service to Society

LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, M.D., MPH

Faithful Firebird Award

President Ronald M. Mason Jr., J.D.