In November of 2019, Josiane “Josy” Dusabe was preparing to sign up for an overseas mission trip, one she’s made at least annually for more than a decade to help combat human trafficking. Yet, a nagging feeling made her decide to sit 2020 out.

“Something just kept telling me I needed to stay home,” recalls Dusabe, director of clinical excellence at the Vincentian Collaborative System, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit with three skilled nursing facilities, three personal care homes and two independent living communities. 

Six months later, her answer came when she was asked to lead a COVID-19 isolation unit for the organization. 

“I immediately said yes,” Dusabe says. “When people are suffering, I want to be there to help. Shepherding patients and families through this pandemic became my mission trip for the year.” 

Dusabe, 34, has long been answering a call to serve seniors and others in her community. She was born and raised in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, to parents who instilled a proclivity for volunteerism.

“Since I was 4 years old, I have memories of going out with my parents and siblings to help people,” Dusabe says. “When my dad passed away in 2017, he left me with big shoes to fill in that respect.”

Dusabe’s family was forced to flee Rwanda during the 1994 genocide and spent three years at a refugee camp, where volunteers cemented her need to make service part of her life. In 2006, she moved to the U.S. to study nursing and began working at Vincentian Home. She worked her way up to director of nursing at Vincentian de Marillac and then last year, she was promoted to director of clinical excellence for the entire Vincentian organization.

To all of her roles, she’s brought humility, grace, a strong work ethic, and a commitment to bettering the resident experience, says Jennifer Pruett, Vincentian Home’s administrator.

“Josy carries herself with peace, joy and does not get stressed out, something that is so important in this field where we are always bombarded with different stressors,” says Pruett, adding that Dusabe’s ability to connect with others energizes her. “You can tell she believes this is a mission-driven calling, not just a job.”

Patty Embree, Vincentian Collaborative System’s chief operating officer and vice president of innovation, has been impressed with Dusabe’s efforts to change the perception of nursing in long-term care. “She’s committed to showing new nurse graduates that we’re just as interesting and in need of strong skill sets as anywhere else,” Embree says. 

While the past year hasn’t provided much downtime, Dusabe has found moments to partake in favorite hobbies, such as hiking with her family. Three siblings have moved to the U.S., and she has 22 nieces and nephews. 

In an attempt to conquer 10 languages by age 40, Dusabe is learning her sixth, Spanish. And she always finds time to enjoy chapati, a rustic African flatbread, a staple she grew up eating.

“Nothing beats drinking a Chai tea with chapati,” she says. “It’s simply heaven!”

Resume: 2007, Hired as a certified nurse assistant at Vincentian Home in Pittsburgh; 2009, Earns associate’s degree in nursing from La Roche University in Pittsburgh; 2010, Promoted to nurse supervisor at Vincentian Home; 2011, Earns diploma in ministry/leadership from MCM Ministry School in Pittsburgh; 2016, Becomes director of nursing at Vincentian de Marillac in Pittsburgh; March 2020, Starts as infection preventionist director of COVID-19 unit at Vincentian Home in Pittsburgh; September 2020, Begins role as director of clinical excellence at Vincentian Collaborative System; 2021, Named a Rising Star in the McKnight’s Women of Distinction Awards; 2024, Projected to complete her master’s of science in nursing at Walden University