Nurse Leader Trio Earns Awards from CA Association
May 5, 2021
Monique Binkley Smith
Trio of Nurse leader portraits

Three incredible nurse leaders were recently recognized by the Sacramento Sierra Chapter of the Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) for:

  • Leading the evacuation of a hospital ahead of raging wildfire—twice!
  • Re-establishing a nursing leadership organization;
  • And leading research into how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts people of color.

According to Anna Kiger, Sutter Health’s chief nurse officer, “Each year the Sacramento-Sierra Chapter of Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) recognizes the outstanding contributions of nurse leaders who improve healthcare delivery, lead change, build healthy work environments and excel in other areas of leadership and nursing. I am so pleased that the Sacramento-Sierra Chapter of ACNL selected three Sutter nurse leaders for honors this year.”

Portrait of Ali Meyers RN

Ali Meyers, R.N., director of education, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital

Ali Meyers, R.N., director of education for Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, was honored with ACNL’s “Contributions as a Humanitarian Award” for leading the safe evacuation —twice in three years— of patients and staff when huge wildfires roared toward the hospital.

With flames approaching, Meyers and her patient care service team acted quickly to safely evacuate patients and staff and then lead the reoccupation of the building once the danger had passed and the hospital was deemed safe.

portrait of Debi Cale, RN

Debi Cale, R.N., MHA, chief nurse executive, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

Debi Cale, R.N., MHA, chief nurse executive for Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, was given ACNL’s “Contribution to Sac Sierra Nurse Leaders (SSNL) Award” which honors a nurse leader who has made significant contributions to the organization’s work, vision and mission.

In collaboration with UC Davis Medical Center Chief Nurse Executive Toby Marsh, Cale worked hard to ensure the chapter re-opened in 2018. Without her direct contributions of time, networking and advice on strategy to grow the chapter, SSNL would not have achieved the success it did in 2018 -2019. Despite the extreme challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cale juggled her responsibilities as the chief nurse executive with her continued commitment to the SSNL.

Kristen M. J. Azar, R.N., MSN, MPH, FAHA, was honored with ACNL’s “Diversity and Inclusion Award.” Azar is the scientific medical director of Sutter Health’s Institute for Advancing Health Equity, where she and her team identify health disparities and develop innovative solutions to eliminate them. Over the past several years, Azar and her team have generated data-driven insights and practical solutions that can be directly applied in clinical settings to improve patient outcomes for Sutter patients and patients across the country.

Portrait of Kristen Azar, R.N.

Kristen Azar, R.N., MSN, MPH, FAHA, scientific medical director of Sutter Health’s Institute for Advancing Health Equity

Early in the pandemic, Azar led a research team that examined inequities and disparities among Sutter’s patients with COVID-19 to help inform solutions. Her ground-breaking study was published in the May 2020 issue of Health Affairs. The research is yielding a better understanding of COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on communities of color and socioeconomically disadvantaged people and has contributed to the national conversation on COVID-19 disparities.

Three cheers for this inspiring trio of nurse leaders who daily demonstrate integrity and innovation!



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