Rocky and the nursing staff


Janice Smolowitz, Ed.D, DNP, RN, ANP-BC

Dean, School of Nursing

Janice Smolowitz holds extensive experience in nursing education, practice and administration. She has served as the senior director of education, professional practice and research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She previously held positions at Columbia University’s School of Nursing as a professor of nursing, co-director of the school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program, senior associate dean, and faculty nurse practitioner with admitting and clinical privileges at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Columbia University Medical Center. Dr. Smolowitz has been an invited member to several national organizations and has served as a member of the workgroup to revise the American Nurses Association’s Nursing: Scope and Standards for Practice, 3rd Edition, 2015. She serves as the Chair of the professional conduct committee of the New York State Board of Nursing. Dr. Smolowitz is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow Alumni (2012).

Joan Valas, PhD, RN, ACNP-BC

Director of Graduate Nursing

Joan Valas serves as the director of the graduate nursing program and professor for the School of Nursing. She is an experienced nurse educator, administrator and practitioner. She graduated from Columbia University with a PhD in Anthropology, a Masters in Philosophy, a Bachelors and Master’s in Nursing and a Statutory Certificate as an adult nurse practitioner. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Center for Health Disparities Research. She is certified as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She previously held positions at Columbia University School of Nursing as the first director for the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program, an assistant professor and a faculty nurse practitioner with admitting and clinical privileges at Columbia University Medical Center where she had spent the majority of her nursing career spanning 23 years. Subsequently, she was the graduate nursing program chair, associate professor and director of the adult-geriatric nurse practitioner program at Adelphi University College of Nursing and Public Health. She was also a professor of nursing at Kean University School of Nursing. She has extensive experience in emergency preparedness and served as a Supervisory Nurse Specialist for NJ1-DMAT, a federal medical response team under the National Defense Medical System, Department of Health and Human Services. She has worked in the area of public health policy and public health practice through New Jersey Local Boards of Health Association as one of their founding members. Her area of research interest are health disparities, vulnerable populations, health policy, ethics, and disasters.

Elizabeth Zweighaft, Ed.D, MEd, MA, RN

Director of Undergraduate Nursing

Elizabeth Zweighaft serves as the Director of Undergraduate Nursing Program and Associate Professor for the School of Nursing. She is an experienced nurse educator, and administrator with 29 years of experience. She graduated from Fielding Graduate University with an Ed.D in Higher Education, Leadership and Change, a Masters of Education and Master’s of Arts from Columbia University Teacher’s College, and Bachelors in Nursing from Vanderbilt University. Previously, she served as Associate Dean of the Prelicensure Nursing Program and Associate Professor at Felician University. Her area of interest is student success, curriculum development and leadership and change. Dr. Zweighaft has presented and published on the use of specialty exams to ensure student success.

Courtney Reinisch, DNP, RN, APN

Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Courtney Reinisch is an associate professor for the School of Nursing. Previously, she served as Undergraduate Program Director for the Montclair State University School of Nursing and Director of the doctor of nursing practice degree program and associate professor at Rutgers University School of Nursing. Prior to that role, she was the family nurse practitioner program director and assistant professor. Dr. Reinisch was also an assistant professor of clinical nursing at Columbia University. She has been certified as a family nurse practitioner since 1999, and maintains a clinical practice in an urban setting providing direct patient care to underserved populations. Dr. Reinisch has presented and published on the DNP role and implications for practice both nationally and internationally.

Marybeth Duffy, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, ACNP-BC

Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Marybeth Duffy has 28 years of nursing experience, which includes interventional cardiology, EPS, general acute care cardiology, critical care, cardiothoracic surgery, telemetry and medical-surgical. She has worked at New York Presbyterian Hospital since 2009 coordinating the aortic surgery program. In this role, Dr. Duffy rapidly assesses incoming patients, obtains critical test results and directs patients to the appropriate specialists for treatment. Dr. Duffy is an active mentor and preceptor, and currently has clinical teaching appointments at Columbia University School of Nursing and New York University as adjunct assistant clinical professor.

Sarah Kelly, PhD, RN

Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Sarah Kelly joined Montclair State from Rutgers University in Newark, where she was an assistant professor in the School of Nursing. Her research is focused on vulnerable youth and the issues that influence their health care needs. Specifically, her program of research addresses vulnerable youth exposure to community and gang violence and the affect exposure to violence and the consequences of exposure to violence has on their health and health related quality of life. She has also focused her research on the professional development of students as they transition to nurses.

Yanick Joseph, RN, MPA, MSN, Ed.D

Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Yanick Joseph is an experienced leader in healthcare management with 30+ years in health care management, and over 12 years in nursing education. Her perspective of teaching is grounded in the constructivist framework of learning, and she brings a repertoire of skills to impart knowledge to students using a variation of instruction modalities. Her philosophy reflects her interests in experiential learning and she is passionate about using simulation in all aspects of student learning. The classroom dynamics she employs permits dialogue, self-direction, and inquiry—all of which fosters a higher degree of student engagement. She has held significant leadership roles of increasing responsibility in management, performance improvement, graduate and undergraduate nursing education. She has a proven record in transmitting vision into reality and mission into action plans through focused strategy / policy development, successful mobilization of resources, staff / student empowerment and engagement.

Dr. Joseph is also the 2018 recipient of the Mabel K Staupers Award for Outstanding Leadership in Professional Nursing Development and Results Oriented Growth in Nursing Practice.

Rachel Lyons, DNP, CPNP-PC/AC, DCC, CEN

Associate Professor, School of Nursing

Rachel Lyons holds a faculty appointment as an associate professor at Montclair State University School of Nursing. Previously, she served as an associate professor and pediatric nurse practitioner program director at Rutgers University. Dr. Lyons has been a certified acute care pediatric nurse practitioner since 2002 and is recognized nationally as a clinical expert in pediatric trauma and injury prevention. Dr. Lyons graduated from Columbia University (2007) with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. As a certified acute care pediatric nurse practitioner, Dr. Lyons maintains her practice in pediatric level one trauma centers in both Rhode Island and New Jersey. Dr. Lyons has experience identifying pediatric trauma risk factors and has implemented institutional, evidence- based policy changes related to pediatric access to care. Practice and research interests include pediatric access to health care, injury prevention and nursing education.

Nastassia Davis, DNP, MSN, RN, IBCLC

Instructor, School of Nursing

Nastassia Davis holds an Instructor appointment in the School of Nursing at Montclair State University. Dr. Davis is a licensed registered nurse with over 14 years experience in perinatal and public health nursing. Recognizing a community need for breastfeeding support, she became an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) in 2009. She has worked in several capacities in nursing from staff to perinatal clinical nurse specialist. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from the college of New Rochelle, a Master’s of Science in Nursing education from Mercy College, and a Doctorate of Nursing with a concentration in education leadership from American Sentinel University.

Dr. Davis is passionate about eliminating disparities in black infant and maternal health. In 2018 she went on to found a nonprofit, the Perinatal Health Equity Foundation, where she serves as the executive director. She is active in several committees and organizations, including the Association of Women’s Health Obstetrics and Neonatal Nursing and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. Her research and clinical interests include implicit bias/racism in healthcare, breastfeeding in the black community, obstetrical violence, high risk OB, and reproductive justice.