Shawna L. Nist, PhD

Dean of TWU GLOBAL; Associate Professor of Leadership
I count it an honour and a privilege to serve as the Dean of TWU GLOBAL*. As the academic division in the university that provides leadership and support for emergent and innovative approaches to higher education, we are delighted to provide learning environments that allow our students to thrive.

*GLOBAL is an acronym that stands for: Global learning connections; Leadership programs; Online learning support; Branch campuses; Adult learning support; and Leading innovation.

In her role as Dean of TWU GLOBAL, Dr. Nist brings nearly 30 years of university leadership experience serving in administrative and faculty capacities at institutions in Canada and the United States. She holds a PhD in Higher Education with an emphasis on organizational leadership from Azusa Pacific University, an MA in Leadership from Trinity Western University, and a BA in Christian Education from Briercrest College.

Awarded for Strategic Leadership

Previously, Dr. Nist had been an Associate Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Azusa Pacific University (APU), where she taught master's and PhD courses, designed curricula, and served on university committees including the Faculty Senate. From 2009 to 2017, she was an Assistant Professor and Director of Curricular Effectiveness, where she directed university program reviews and student learning assessment efforts for 154 academic and 11 co-curricular programs and assisted faculty in designing curriculum and measuring academic student learning outcomes. For many years she co-led APU's Designing Significant Leadership Experiences (DSLE) institute with the goal of supporting faculty in innovative course redesign and delivery. Dr. Nist's areas of expertise include leadership studies, gender and leadership, spiritual formation, teaching and learning, and conflict management.

In 2021 APU formally recognized Dr. Nist's considerable contribution of strategic leadership in preparing faculty for remote teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic by granting her the APU Faculty Uncommon Citizen Award.

Recognized for Entrepreneurial Success

In 2000, she founded the Canadian Christian College Tour and the Christian Higher Education Enrollment Association of Canada (CHEEA) - now merged with Christian Higher Education Canada (CHEC), which brought together nearly 50 Christian institutions for the purpose of raising the profile of Christian higher education in Canada. The entrepreneurial founding of this organization garnered significant recognition for Shawna, and she was nominated twice for the Globe and Mail's “Top 40, Under 40” leadership award and given full scholarship to pursue Ph.D. studies.

A Wealth of Experience

Dr. Nist has exceptional knowledge of both TWU's BA and MA Leadership programs. She is a 2002 graduate of TWU's MA Leadership program. For the past twelve years she has been an adjunct faculty member in the BA Leadership program where she developed and taught three online Leadership courses per year and has twice been nominated for TWU's Davis Teaching Award.


  • PhD in Higher Education, Azusa Pacific University
  • MA, Leadership, Trinity Western University
  • Certificate of the Seminary, Briercrest Biblical Seminary
  • BA, Christian Education, Briercrest College



Conflict Management, Gender and Leadership, Leadership Studies, Spiritual Formation, Teaching and Learning, Curriculum Design

Awards & Honors

  • Awarded Azusa Pacific University's Faculty Uncommon Citizen Award (2021)
  • Nominated by students for the Distinguished Teaching Award at Trinity Western University (2014)
  • Selected for Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Assessment Leadership Academy (2010)
  • Inducted into Alpha Chi honor society – top ten percent of graduate students at Azusa Pacific University (2008)
  • Inducted into Pi Lambda Theta – an international honor society and professional association in education (2004)
  • Awarded a full scholarship for PhD studies as an International Leadership Scholar at Azusa Pacific University (2003)
  • Recipient of the National Association of Christian College Admission Personnel National Service Award for Canada (2001)
  • Nominated as one of the Top 40/Under 40 leaders in Canada (2001, 2000)

Recent Publications

  • Lafreniere, S. L. (2019). God first leadership educators: Christian leadership educator identity and faith integration. In D. R. Dunaetz (ed.), God first: Essays in honor of Michael M. Whyte and Gary D. Lemaster. (pp. 121-130). Claremont, CA: Martel Press.
  • Longman, K. A., & Lafreniere, S. L. (2012). Moving beyond the stained glass ceiling: Preparing women for leadership in faith-based higher education. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 14(1), 45-61.
  • Lafreniere, S. L. (2009). Women’s leadership development in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities: A review of the history and impact of the Women’s Leadership Development Institute. Commissioned white paper for the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities.
  • Lafreniere, S. L., & Longman, K. A. (2008). Gendered realities and women’s leadership development: Participant voices from faith-based higher education. Journal of Christian Higher Education, 7, 388-404.

Affiliations & Memberships

  • International Leadership Association
  • Harvard Business Review Advisory Council
  • WASC Assessment Leadership Academy
  • Design, Thinking, Teaching and Learning Studio, Stanford University
  • Certified LEGO Serious Play Facilitator, Association of Master Trainers

  • LDRS 302 Historical Concepts & Theories
  • LDRS 303 Contemporary Leadership Approaches
  • LDRS 400 Negotiation & Conflict Resolution
  • LDRS 611 Organizational Behaviour