Faculty Profiles

Our faculty are active researchers, writers and speakers; many of them internationally known for their contributions toward the advancement of their fields of study. But, most of all, they're passionate, caring teachers.

  • Cynthia Dols Finn, MN, DNP, PHN, CNE, AHN-BC, CHTP/A

    Associate Professor of Nursing

    Cynthia is faculty in the College for Adults Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing (BSN CFA), Masters of Science in Nursing Entry Level (MSNEL) and the Doctor of Nursing Program (DNP).  She is an Associate Professor at St. Catherine University and has been on the nursing faculty since fall 1999. She assisted in the development of a Unitary Human Caring Science BSN curriculum, which includes integrative and cultural healthcare curricular components. She is active in promoting healthy learning environments built upon safe interpersonal behaviors. She completed her Doctor of Nursing Practice at St. Catherine University.

  • Gay M. Varecka, PhD, APRN, CNP

    Assistant Professor, Nursing

    Gay M. Varecka, PhD., APRN, CNP is an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the DNP program. She obtained a B.S in Nursing from D'Youville College, an M.S in Nursing from the State University of New York, and a Ph.D in Higher Education Administration and Policy from the University of Minnesota. Gay also completed a post-doctoral certification as an Adult Nurse Practioner. She has more than 25 years of experience in both Family Practice and Internal Medicine managing the care of underserved patients with complex, chronic health problems from ages 16 to the elderly in Hennepin Health System. This is a safety net hospital with the mission of ‘transforming the health of our community with exceptional care without exception’.

  • Grace Gao, PhD, DNP, RN-BC, LHIT-HP, RWJF Future of Nursing Scholar Alumni

    Associate Professor, Department of Nursing

    Grace Gao earned her DNP degree in Nursing Informatics and Integrative Health, and PhD in Nursing from University of Minnesota. In addition, Grace is a public health nurse and ANCC certified Informatics Nurse. Grace has worked in a variety of roles in both public and private sectors across extensive health care settings, including case manager in home care, care plan coordinator in long-term care, staff nurse in hospital, nurse educator in the academic setting, and clinical informatics specialist and consultant.

    Grace’s nursing experiences showcase expertise in public health, nursing informatics, and integrative health.

  • Gwendolyn (Gwen) Short, DNP, MSN, MPH

    Associate Professor & DNP Programs Director, Nursing

    Gwen is an Associate Professor and previous NP Programs Director at St. Catherine University. She holds a Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP) degree from the University of Kentucky, where she was a member of the nation's inaugural DNP cohort. She also holds a Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Kentucky, Master's in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Minnesota, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the University of Virginia. She has had clinical positions as a family nurse practitioner in a variety of practice sites including rural health, academic health, federally qualified health centers, and healthcare for the homeless and underserved.

  • Joyce Brettner, DNP, MAHS, RN-BC (Previous Surname Rudenick)

    Assistant Professor, Nursing

    Joyce Brettner, DNP, MAHS, RN-BC. Dr. Brettner has a BS in Nursing from Bethel University, MA in Holistic Health Studies from St. Catherine University, and Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a specialty in nursing informatics from the University of Minnesota. She completed the Veterans Administration Quality Scholars (VAQS) 2-year, post-doctoral fellowship at the Minneapolis VA Healthcare Center in October 2021. VAQS is a multi-site, interprofessional, Federal fellowship program that has been developing quality leaders for over 20 years. She is board certified in nursing informatics through the American Nurse Credentialing Center.

  • Kathleen Bell EdD, RN, PHN

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    It is my honor and pleasure to work with the nursing students in various programs at St. Catherine University. My role involves teaching with the BSN, MSNL, Nurse Educator, and DNP students. As a healthcare educational leader with over 20 years of experience in higher education, I possess an expansive knowledge of course and program development and assessment, leadership with supervisory experience, internal and external partnership and alliance initiatives, diverse team building, fiscal responsibility with institutional and grant budgets, nursing and healthcare accreditation, and a diligent dedication to meeting the needs of students, faculty, administration, and stakeholders.

  • Katrice Ziefle, PhD, RN, CNE

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Katrice Ziefle is an Associate Professor of nursing at St. Catherine University. She completed her Masters of Nursing Education at Bethel University and PhD in Nursing Education at Capella University. Dr. Ziefle’s research interests include generational theory and the impact of the environment on learning, specifically civility in nursing. Her teaching experience includes associate degree nursing, entry-level master’s degree nursing and doctor of nursing practice. Dr. Ziefle has a passion for teaching and learning strategies in nursing education and works to engage students at every level.

  • Laura Fero, PhD, MSN, RN

    Dean of Nursing - Henrietta Schmoll School of Health

    Laura Fero brings an extensive background in healthcare as both a practitioner and higher education administrator to St. Catherine University. In her role as the dean of nursing in the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health, she is responsible for the growth and sustainability of Minnesota’s oldest nursing program. In addition to managing daily operations and the effectiveness of the nursing program, Fero leads innovation, curriculum design, and interprofessional education, ensuring all nursing graduates are prepared to provide cutting-edge, compassionate, and ethical care to patients. 

    Her research interests include critical thinking skills development for nursing students, nursing career pathways, and supportive health services.

  • Maria Tice, PhD

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Maria Tice, PhD, RN, PHN, CNE is an Associate Professor at St. Catherine University in the MSNEL program. Dr. Tice earned her MSN in Nursing Education at St. Catherine University and her PhD in Nursing Education at the University of Northern Colorado. Dr. Tice has over 20 years of combined clinical practice in mental health, pediatrics, geriatrics, and as a licensed school nurse; and 8 years as a nurse educator and community/mental health clinical instructor. Dr. Tice’s research interests are in competency development in nursing education, specifically how to develop foundational mental health nursing and intercultural competency for all nurses; and intentionality in nursing as a spiritual practice.

  • Matthew Byrne, PhD, RN, CNE

    Associate Dean for Nursing

    I am passionate about improving the technologies used by nurses and patients in both the clinical and educational contexts. My research focus in in the areas of Nursing Informatics, notably clinical decision support, UX/UI design and workflows. In terms of nursing education my focus is on instructional technology and educational analytics. My clinical "home base" is perianesthesia nursing and I serve as a reviewer and columnist for the Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, serve on their Ed Board and publish in several perianesthesia texts.

  • Michelle Koopman, DNP, RN, CNE, PHN

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Michelle Koopman, DNP, RN, CNE, PHN joined St. Catherine University in 2015. Her varied nursing experience includes roles as nursing faculty, case manager, nursing supervisor, diabetic educator, and float pool bedside nurse. Working as a float pool nurse involved caring for multiple, diverse patient populations in acute care settings. Professor Koopman currently teaches in the College for Women Baccalaureate Degree Nursing program and serves as a student mentor in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Her experiences as a nurse educator include course and level coordination, curriculum development, student mentoring and advising, and didactic, lab and simulation teaching.

  • Nan Hoerr, EdD, DNP, RN

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    I began my teaching career at St. Catherine University in January 2013 when hired as adjunct in the Baccalaureate Day Program – College for Women.  I currently serve as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program Director with oversight for the post-master DNP and four dual degree + DNP options (Master of Health Informatics, Master of Holistic Studies, Master of Organizational Leadership, and Master of Business Administration).  In addition to my administrative duties, I teach at the graduate level, mentor DNP projects, and serve on St. Catherine University's IRB.  My research interests include public health nursing, DNP education, and the faculty role in developing students' scholarly writing.

  • Nicole Beckmann, RN, PhD, APRN-CPNP

    Assistant Professor, Nursing

    Dr. Beckmann is the track coordinator of the pediatric nurse practitioner program. She is a nurse scientist and practicing PNP with clinical expertise in pediatric hospital medicine and stem cell transplant. She is passionate about supporting parent family caregivers of children with life threatening and life limiting conditions. Her expertise and research interest focus on resilience, post-traumatic growth, and meaning making for patients, families, and healthcare providers. Dr. Beckmann earned her Master of Science in nursing from Duke University and a PhD in nursing from Vanderbilt University.

  • Rebeca Barroso, DNP, MSN, APRN, CNM, FACNM

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Rebeca is an Associate Professor of Nursing with St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, MN. She is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota, Case Western Reserve University, and Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing. Rebeca teaches in both the nurse practitioner and master's entry level prelicensure programs. She has extensive clinical experience as a nurse-midwife, and has educated and precepted several generations of nurse-midwives throughout the course of a four decade clinical career. As part of a multidisciplinary team, Rebeca served at-risk populations at Seton Catholic Charities Clinic until the closing of the clinic in 2016.

  • Renee Colsch, PhD, RN, SCRN, CQ

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Renee Colsch has a passion and specialty in the area of neuroscience nursing. Her professional experience includes acute care nursing in the intensive care unit, emergency room, and the United States Air Force deployment in Balad Iraq, 2007. She teaches courses in undergraduate and graduate pathophysiology, leadership and serves as a DNP student mentor. She views the teacher as the facilitator of learning. Her teaching focuses on cultural awareness and sensitivity, holistic nursing, bringing technology into the classroom and practice, evidence-based practice, research, learning, and retention.

  • Sarah Beman, PhD

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Sarah has taught at St. Catherine University since October of 2006. Sarah is currently nursing faculty teaching primarily in the MSN - Entry Level Program (MSNEL). She specializes in simulation and is the MSNEL Simulation Coordinator. Previous work at St. Kates includes Interim Program Director of the MSNEL Program, Collaborative Practice Site Coordinator between the HSSH and the MDVA, Coordinator and then director of the Associate Degree Nursing Program. Sarah's clinical practice began at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) on the Cardiac and Renal Unit and then the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

  • Susan Hageness, DNP

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Susan Hageness, DNP, RN, CNE, AHN-BC is an advocate for integrating holistic-focused care and integrative therapies into nursing and interdisciplinary healthcare practice. She currently teaches in the doctorate and baccalaureate degree nursing programs, as well as in the Master of Arts in Holistic Health Studies program. Susan is a Board Certified Advanced Holistic Nurse (AHN-BC), a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE), a Healing Touch Practitioner (HTP), and a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner (CCAP).

  • Vicki Ericson, DNP

    Associate Professor, Nursing

    Vicki Ericson, DNP, ANP-BC, FNP-BC is an Associate Professor of Nursing in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. She obtained a BA and MA degree in nursing from St Catherine University as well as a post baccalaureate certificate as an adult nurse practitioner. She obtained a postmaster’s certificate as a family nurse practitioner from George Washington University and a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree from the University of Minnesota. She has a strong clinical background as an emergency department nurse practitioner for 22 years. Her teaching interests are on experiential learning and simulation.