Rural Nursing Leadership Institute

The Rural Nursing Leadership Institute has been canceled. We apologize for the inconvenience.


The Rural Nursing Leadership Institute is designed to provide aspiring and new nurse leaders, regardless of their nursing specialty area, with the tools and knowledge needed to be successful in their roles and drive client-centered care in their organizations.

With a focus on health care providers in the rural Appalachian region, the institute will help nurse leaders identify their specific leadership styles, prioritize financial and human resources to meet organizational goals, as well as improve client-centered care delivery.

In addition, participants will receive training in communicating with staff, managing disciplinary processes, delegating and mentoring techniques, boundary management, and team building skills.  

Those who aspire to become leaders in their organizations or who are currently new to management roles may find the Rural Nursing Leadership Institute most helpful.

Upon successful completion of the institute, participants will be awarded 12 contact hours. 

Speaker Biographies

Teresa Darnall, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE

Teresa Darnall worked in health administration for over 15 years in Canada. Upon returning to the US in 2010, she worked for DaVita Inc. as a group facility manager over three dialysis clinics. Teresa is a Faith Community Nurse with Higgins Memorial UMC, in Yancey County, NC providing health education and promotion, assessments, transitional care, and referrals to county agencies. She currently is the Assistant Dean of the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC. Teresa has presented at several international and national conferences on leadership, nursing leadership, and strategic planning. She has been involved in board positions and committees in numerous nursing organizations. Her research interests are nursing transitional care and health promotion in rural communities. She holds Certification as a Nurse Educator.

Mary Furst, MS, SPHR

Mary Furst is the Lees-McRae College Human Resource Director and Benefits Administrator. She previously was the Director of Benefits for Stevenson University in Stevenson Maryland for more than 13 years. Prior to working for employers in academia, she held human resource positions for several private employers while residing in Maryland, including FILA, USA, Inc., and Publishers Circulation Fulfillment.

Mary was awarded a master's in human resource management from Golden Gate University (with honors) and a bachelor's in liberal arts, majoring in political science from Temple University. She also was awarded Paralegal Certificate from Widener University—specialization in Pensions and Profit Sharing.

As a further recognition of her many years of dedication to the HR field, she holds Senior Professional in Human Resources designation from the HR Certification Institute. Her experience and expertise in Human Resources includes focused areas such as recruitment, employee relations, benefit administration, and training. Mary, along with her husband Michael, reside in a log cabin in Sugar Mountain, North Carolina enjoying the scenic mountain life.

C. Renee Mayo, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC 

Renee works as a nurse manager for Orthopedics and is currently the Interim Nurse Manager for Medical Oncology at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC. She has 13 years of nursing experience and has spent the last 5 years in a leadership role. Renee is a member of the North Carolina Organization of Nurse Leaders, the American Nurses Association and the North Carolina Nurses Association. She serves on the NCNA Leadership Development committee along with being the Director of Tactical Operations with the North Carolina Future of Nursing Action Coalition. She has presented a podium presentation at the annual NCNA convention and presented positive quality outcomes poster presentations at the NCONL annual convention and at the annual NC Hospital Association. Renee proudly volunteers with local Veteran organizations to provide necessitates during times of need. She is interested in how to better connect nurse volunteers with community service organizations.  

Claire Cline, DNP, MPH, BSN 

Dr. Cline is an experienced nursing leader with degrees from UNC-G in nursing, UNC-CH in health policy and administration, and American Sentinel University in nursing and executive leadership. Her clinical background is in medical-surgical and behavioral health in acute and outpatient settings. Dr. Cline has served in increasing roles of responsibility with twenty years at the senior nursing administrator/patient care services level. She is especially interested in the influence of authentic nursing leaders on the work environment for clinical nurses and the delivery of safe and effective patient care. She also has a long history in promoting professional practice models, such as shared governance, in acute care and various speaking engagements. Dr. Cline has served as the president for the North Carolina Organization of Nurse Executives, and held other positions on community boards and neighborhood associations. She currently serves as Director and Assistant Professor for the RN-BSN program at Lees-McRae College.

Elaine Scherer, MAEd, BSN, RN

Elaine has 43 years of Nursing, Leadership and Education experience.  Her career highlights include 25 years in the Navy Nurse Corps, retiring as a Captain (06) on 1/1/01 to start a second career in the civilian sector. She started working for the American Nurses Credentialing Center in 2001, first in certification then moved on to become the Director of the Magnet Recognition Program until the fall of 2007, when she retired once again to Asheville, NC.  Retirement didn’t stick and she became the Director for Nursing Education at the Mountain Area AHEC in 2008. Many positions later, she retired again in 2016. She is currently serving as the President of NCNA until Fall 2019.  

Laura Pell, MA

Laura serves as the Director of Career Services for Lees-McRae College, where she advises students on a variety of career development topics, plans networking events, collaborates with employers and businesses, and teaches a career and life planning course. She has a passion for leading students to right path for them and helping them prepare for success after college. Prior to working at Lees-McRae, Laura was a graduate student at Appalachian State University and an instructor of career and professional development topics for their business college. In her free time, Laura loves spending time with her dog, Bear, her family, and the outdoors.

About the May School

The May School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Lees-McRae College prepares students, through rigorous coursework and clinical experience, for a lifetime of service within various health care professions. Programs of study on our main campus in Banner Elk, North Carolina include nursing, emergency medical services and management, and health and wellness science. We also offer an online nursing degree completion program for those wanting to obtain a BSN degree.

Did you know? The May School was ranked #2 up and coming nursing school in the south by Best Master of Science in Nursing Degrees

For More Information

Contact the event coordinators:
Dr. Teresa Darnall ( or 828.898.8752)
Dr. Claire Cline ( or 828.898.2549)

This activity has been submitted to North Carolina Nurses Association for approval to award contact hours. North Carolina Nurses Association is accredited as an approver of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. The planning committee and presenters have no conflict of interest in the development or presentation of this program. Program expiration date is June 28, 2021.