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She Throws Herself at Happiness

Combining interests in healthcare, finance, and law, Lan Marinelli ’06 helps to address nation’s nursing shortage.

Lan Marinelli ’06. 

Lan Marinelli intended to be a doctor like her father, a Vietnamese immigrant who moved his family to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, just before the fall of Saigon. She earned her EMT certificate in high school and volunteered in emergency rooms—but during her senior year she passed an operating room where a man lay on a table “with a very, very large knife sticking out of his chest, and I just burst into tears,” she says. 

Although that was the end of her medical career, Marinelli ’06 found a different way into the field, as general counsel at connectRN, a tech-enabled platform that connects clinicians with shifts at partner organizations to help mitigate the nation’s critical nursing shortage.

What affected Marinelli most about the ER was being surrounded by “sadness and illness,” she says. “I wanted to throw myself at happiness.” To Marinelli, that meant pursuing business. (“I was eighteen—I didn’t really know what ‘going into business’ was, but I wanted to build things at a company.”) 

While studying accounting and finance at the University of Arizona in Tucson on a full scholarship, Marinelli took the LSAT in preparation for an eventual transition into law. “With my parents coming from another country and not being well versed in American laws, I wanted to make them proud and be involved in something meaningful,” Marinelli says. “Most businesses revolve around making money, so I thought it would be good to have a deep understanding of finance, to help me in my role as a corporate attorney.” 

She interned at Arthur Andersen, one of the then-big five accounting firms, and after graduation was offered positions at all five. 

Marinelli chose Deloitte in Boston, a move that led her to Boston College Law School, followed by work as a corporate transactional attorney at Brown Rudnick and then for public companies like athenahealth and HubSpot. There, she oversaw corporate legal matters to ensure that her organizations met their listing exchange and other public company reporting requirements. In 2022, Marinelli joined connectRN. 

“As an Asian female, I think being a strong, visible leader may help others see that you can be yourself and use your voice to make a difference and contribute.”

Lan Marinelli ’06

Due to burnout, an aging workforce, and many other factors, the nursing shortage in the US will continue to advance, with an estimated need for more than 275,000 additional clinicians from now through 2030. That’s more open positions than any other profession in the US, according to the American Nurses Association and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

connectRN helps close this gap by matching clinicians in twenty-three states with shifts at partner organizations like skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, and home health companies. Through the connectRN app, tens of thousands of clinician users identify their location and the type of work they’re seeking, then select from available shifts posted by healthcare partners. 

In 2022, hundreds of partners listed 9 million shift hours, bringing back nurses forced out by the limitations of traditional staffing models, like the requirement to work twelve-hour shifts or weekends.

“We’re trying to empower nurses to do the job they love, because they became nurses for a reason—but do it on their own terms,” says Marinelli, whose role is to build and coach the legal team that establishes connectRN’s processes, playbooks, and legal documentation, and set the tone for compliance at the company. She thrives on helping organizations create positive work environments and developing strong teams through positive leadership. 

“As a manager, I aim to be very transparent,” says Marinelli, who recently conducted a retreat for her team of five. “We did a psychological safety and empathy exercise; reviewed our mission, vision, and values; and set the groundwork for how best to work together.”

Marinelli’s family and heritage remain sources of inspiration. “As an Asian female, I think being a strong, visible leader may help others see that you can be yourself and use your voice to make a difference,” she says. And she still throws herself at happiness: “You can work hard and be really successful, but also have fun while doing it.”