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|ACNL in Action|
ACNL in Action
Interview With President Anitra Williams
By: Jacob Roche
You joined ACNL in 2012 and have worked your way through committee and board positions and are now the 2020 President, but what went through your mind when you won the election to become President-Elect?
“Wow this is going to be a big job.” [laughs] I was excited that the members trusted me enough to elect me as their president-elect, and I immediately became overwhelmed by all of the possibilities and the direction that we could take ACNL in. I was eager to begin meeting with the committee chairs, because I believe that the committees are the foundation of ACNL and the committee chairs drive the work. I felt that I had a huge challenge ahead of me, but that challenge is filled with beautiful possibilities. I also found comfort in knowing that the Past Presidents and Past Board Members are available at any time should I need to reach out for advice on any matter.
You mentioned the Kim Squared call (a call between CEO Kim Tomasi and then-President Kimberly Long) in your speech at the Annual Program. What other things have you done since the election to prepare for your role as President?
I spent a lot of time reviewing bylaws, committee charters, the strategic plan. I reviewed past strategic plans as well as the current plan. I also began studying some of the bills that are going to impact nursing, including SB 1299, which instituted workplace violence prevention standards, and AB 890, which would provide full practice authority to nurse practitioners.
Your theme for the year is “Aligning Our Values”. Could you talk a bit about what that means for you and how it might shape your presidency?
It was important for me to continue with and add to work that Dr. Kim Long introduced during her presidency. She refocused ACNL on our purpose as an organization and really encouraged us to keep living and manifesting that purpose in all we do. I wanted to bridge our work around purpose and felt that by Aligning our Values—we would keep our purpose central and ensure that our values are our guiding principles…that our values serve as our compass for any work product created and decisions made.
So with any work we do, we should be asking ourselves, is this work product aligned with our values? How does this connect to our integrity as an organization? Is this innovation? Does this tap into diversity and inclusivity? So it’s more of a question of making sure our values are guiding our work. Interestingly enough, when we did our strategic planning session and examined some of our key programming, during the crosswalk—we discovered that we had some opportunities as it relates to alignment with our values. However, I am encouraged by every single one of our committee chairs and co-chairs. These fine leaders understand our vision, purpose and demonstrate our values in all they do. They are also already making plans to produce work that our members will find valuable... We already saw some of this innovation during the recent annual program with brain dating. So I know we’re on the right path.
With Foundations and ELA, there’s going to be increased marketing and collaboration with health system CNOs and university deans of nursing. Wherever a nurse leader practices we want them to know Foundations is for them. For ELA, again, that’s going to require us to partner with the chief nursing officers in California. We have an opportunity to highlight the value.
Moving into membership we are going to be working closely with the chair and co-chair of Member Experience to focus on retention. Recruitment is important but we want to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our current members. That’s going to require some assessment, possibly surveys.
With Annual Program, we’re going to continue to work closely to bring more innovation. We’re looking at providing tracks for different types of nurses. So if I’m a brand new nursing manager, there will be a pathway for me to go to this breakout session or that breakout session and do the right kind of networking for where I’m at. If I’m in academia, there might be a different pathway for me. So this will tie into our values of inclusivity and diversity. It will also mirror the tracks that our parent organization AONL offers at their annual program. This is something that our members have been requesting for years, and we want to deliver where we can.
Lastly, is there anything you would like the membership or the public in general to know about ACNL as we head into the Year of the Nurse?
ACNL is THE professional organization for nurse leaders in California. I feel it’s important to qualify the term leader, and for ACNL, it’s an inclusive organization that recognizes the bedside nurse as being a leader. So whether you are in a formal or informal leadership role, ACNL is the influential voice of nursing leadership committed to the advancement and elevation of the nursing profession. ACNL is positioned to provide lifelong learning opportunities and we do this by equipping nurses to be leaders of self, systems and others. ACNL is at the forefront of issues impacting the nursing profession and it’s an organization willing to take a firm stand to ensure that our voice is heard on issues that matter most.
We’re an organization that’s a friend of the chief nursing officer. If you’re a CNO and you’re not a member of ACNL, you could be potentially missing out, because this is where the most brilliant minds in nursing convene and where you can establish an inner network that can help guide you when dealing with complex matters.
This organization will help build the leader within you. I was introduced to ACNL at the infancy of my formal leadership career, and was able to be propelled forward as a result of my membership and through networking opportunities, and now I’m the 2020 president. In my speech at annual program, I talked about Marlena Montgomery, who joined ACNL early in her career and was gifted a Circles of Giving scholarship to continue her education. Just a few years later she’s now a Chief Nursing Officer. So why not be a member? You’re missing out if you aren’t.
With ACNL, any issue that nurses face in rural, correctional, academia, acute care, and other settings, you have a network. You can be part of a united voice that’s helping to push our purpose forward. We want to elevate the profession of nursing and it’s going to take like minds to do that. Becoming a member of ACNL is both a gift and an investment in YOU!