Nwankwo's DLHS career began in 1995 as an Outreach Coordinator with the department's predecessor, the Department of Medical Education. Over her 26 years with the department she transitioned to become a Project Coordinator/Certified Diabetes Educator, playing an integral role in multiple NIH and foundation grants which provided diabetes education and support in the Detroit metro area, Flint and Toledo. Her leadership is well known in the Michigan Medicine diabetes community and beyond, culminating in a 2012 American Diabetes Association Outstanding Diabetes Educator of the Year Award. In 2020 she was awarded the Sally Joy Leadership Award from the Diabetes Partners in Action Coalition (DPAC) given each year to someone "who demonstrates exceptional leadership and passion for diabetes prevention and/or diabetes management."
Faculty member Gretchen A. Piatt, MPH, PhD, who has worked with Nwankwo on the Praise Diabetes Project, an outreach via black churches, said Nwankwo will continue to train peer leaders for the project and still be involved in other aspects of the program, writing abstracts and manuscripts. "I feel personally grateful for being able to work closely with Robin." said Piatt, "I learned so much from her about listening, hearing, interacting and leading across the diabetes community."