Past Excellence in Leadership Award Recipients
The Excellence in Leadership Award is awarded on an annual basis to an active TONE member who provides a mechanism for the interchange of ideas and dissemination of information regarding nursing practice and legislative issues. The recipient promotes education and other professional activities through serving as a role model and mentor as well as sharing their knowledge through presentations, seminars, publications, etc.
Barbara Cherry, DNSc, MBA, RN, NEA-BC
Professor, Associate Dean and Department Chair, Leadership Studies
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing
Dr. Cherry’s original nursing degree is a diploma from Methodist Hospital School of Nursing in Lubbock, Texas. She eventually progressed through the BSN and MSN degrees and also earned a Masters of Business Administration from Texas Tech University. In 2006, she received her Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc) degree from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, Tennessee.
The majority of her nursing career has been spent in management and administrative positions in critical care and nephrology nursing. About 17 years ago, she moved into the academic setting at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, first as a policy analyst and lead for special projects for the university. In 2007, Dr. Cherry moved to the School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. By 2012 she had earned the rank of Professor and received tenure in 2014.
Throughout her nursing career, Dr. Cherry has had the opportunity to lead the development of many new initiatives making program development her special area of expertise. She led the establishment of the first home hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis program in West Texas, which eventually became one of the largest programs in the United States. After coming to Texas Tech, Dr. Cherry coordinated the project to build a teaching nursing home on the Texas Tech campus through a public-private partnership. She was a member of a small interprofessional leadership team that established the Garrison Institute on Aging. She came to the School of Nursing to lead the development of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. Currently, Dr. Cherry is Associate Dean, Department Chair for Leadership Studies and the Garrison Professor in Geriatric Nursing.
Her research areas are workforce issues in long-term care facilities and the use of technology in the caregiver role with funding from the National Science Foundation to investigate how robots can be designed to serve in the caregiver role. Her proudest scholarly achievement is being co-author and editor of Contemporary Nursing: Issues, Trends and Management, with the 7th edition published in 2016. Through this book, Dr. Cherry along with her co-author Dr. Susan Jacob, have influenced thousands of nursing students, practicing nurses and faculty.
Beth Ulrich EDD, RN, FACHE, FAAN
Senior Partner, Innovative Health Resources
Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing
Beth Ulrich is a nationally recognized thought leader who is known for her research studying nursing work environments and the experiences of new graduate nurses as they transition from nursing school into the workforce. Dr. Ulrich has extensive experience as a senior executive in both not-for-profit and for profit healthcare organizations. Currently, she is the Senior Partner, Innovative Health Resources providing consultative services to healthcare organizations and associations. She is also a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston School of Nursing, teaching in the DNP Nurse Executive Tract.
Dr. Ulrich is a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing (FAAN) and the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) and a long term member of ANA, AONE, Sigma Theta Tau, and the American Nephrology Nurses' Association. She was recognized as the Outstanding Nursing Alumnus of the Medical University of South Carolina in 1989, as a Distinguished alumnus of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing in 2002, and received the Outstanding Contribution to the American Nephrology Nurses' Association award in 2008. She also serves on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Research Advisory Panel on Transition into Practice.
Dr. Ulrich is currently Editor of the Nephrology Nursing Journal, the official journal of the American Nephrology Nurses’ Association. She has encouraged and personally mentored many nurses to pursue graduate education at the Masters and Doctoral level. While Sr. Vice President at Versant, Dr. Ulrich championed the New Graduate RN Residency program and provided preceptor opportunities for DNP students that served as the basis for several published DNP projects.
Dr. Ulrich has been a co-investigator on a series of national nursing workforce and work environment studies and on studies of critical care nurse work environments conducted for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses and is currently the primary investigator on ANNA's study Assessing the Patient Safety Culture in Nephrology Nurse Practice Settings. She is a sought after speaker for many national conferences and a prolific writer. Her book, Mastering Precepting: A Nurse's Handbook for Success, was named a 2012 AJN Book of the Year. Her most recent book is Mastering Simulation. Beth Ulrich is a true example of nursing leadership in action.
Dr. Jane McCurley DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE
St. David's North Austin Medical Center, Austin, Texas
The 2014 TONE Excellence in Leadership Award recipient is Dr. Jane McCurley, Chief Nursing Officer for St. David’s North Austin Medical Center in Austin Texas.
Dr. McCurley has been a CNO for 13 years, previously with HCA for 10 years at Las Colinas and North Hills in the North Texas Division. Jane is active in professional organizations and currently serves on the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives Board as President-Elect. She also serves on the Political Action Committee at the national level with the American Organization of Nurse Executives. She is a Regional Nurse Leader for Central West Texas Team Coalition. Jane has spoken at the state and national level on leadership and accountability for the patient experience and how to become a Top 100 Hospital.
Jane is a compassionate, servant leader, who is highly intelligent, innovative and influential. Though her passion and advocacy for nursing permeates throughout her organization, her talents and attributes all intently align with advancing the nursing profession at community, state and national levels. The underlying motivation for her action is her love of mankind and desire to serve those who stand in need. Spending 22 years of her career as a leader at the bedside, Jane’s influence as an executive leader is exponential, advancing the nursing profession.
Jane McCurley serves as a catalyst for the interchange of ideas and dissemination of nursing practice and legislative issues. Throughout her career Jane has been engaged at the frontlines of nursing issues. Following legislative action mandated by the State, in 1994, Jane became one of the first sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE) trained by Jamie Ferrell. Though an emotionally challenging role, Jane served her community in this capacity for 4 years. More recently, in 2013, Jane was involved in passing the legislature to prevent violence in our emergency departments. Also, Jane served as the NTONE President Elect and Chair of the Government Action Committee for 2010 to 2012, and is a AONE political action committee member. Jane is the TONE President-Elect for 2014-2016 and is a TONE Region 7 board member (2012-2014). Jane also serves as the Texas Team Central Texas Co-Lead.
Jane McCurley is a highly visible community leader and collaborator. She serves as a board member on the Pflugerville Education Foundation, the Pflugerville Independent School district Teacher of the Year Selection Committee, and is continuously partnering with schools and universities to advance studies in the health profession. In 2014, Jane partnered with the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing to support research examining nursing leadership at the unit level. In 2014 she also reached out to Austin Community College to establish a paramedic EMT training program at SDNAMC.
Jane started her career as a registered nurse in 1979 graduating from a Diploma program. Over her career she has continually strived to advance her own education, ultimately achieving a Doctorate in Nursing Practice from Texas Christian University. As a registered nurse who has advanced through many levels of professional nursing, Jane seeks out opportunities to coach and mentor others. She is continuously meeting with new graduate nurses, taking them to lunch, rounding on units and supporting them however she can. On several occasions Jane has paid the way of nurses to attend professional practice conferences when no other resources were available.
She is a Neil Kocurek Mentor for the St. David’s Foundation, establishing a lasting relationship with a freshman BSN student. As a lead reviewer for the ANCC Pathway to Excellence program, Jane leads and coaches a team of nurse leaders through the application review process.
Jane openly shares all that she is able to advance the nursing profession. She spends little time worrying about who gets the credit for successes; instead she focuses her efforts on figuring out the best way to disseminate newly discovered information.
The following are just a few highlights of her recent presentations:
• Inaugural ANCC Pathway to Excellence National Conference 2011: “Leading the Way”.
• National Healthcare CNO Summit: Carry the Day with Culture Transformation 2013
• NPSF Congress: Transforming the Patient Experience, 2013
• Healthcare Landscape: How to Become a Top 100 Hospital, 2014
• Texas Team Summit: Central Texas Region Update, 2014
• HCA CNO Summit: Transforming the Patient Experience, 2014
• CWT Texas Team Legislative Summit, Advancing Practice Team, 2014
• AACN CSI Panel Speaker, 2014
TONE would like to thank Lonestar Communications, Inc. for sponsoring the 2014 Excellence in Leadership Award.
Dr. Robert Dent DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, CENP, FACHE
Vice President, Patient Care Services / CNO
Midland Memorial Hospital
Dr. Dent facilitates ideas and suggestions into implemented processes and programs. He has successfully implemented the Telephone Nurse Triage program which has proven to be very successful as a valuable resource for our community, helping over 100 callers per day. This program resulted in an operational net improvement in bad debt of $2.3 million. He has conducted presentations on the success of the telephone nurse triage at the AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange, the Texas Coalition of Texas Nurse Leader Network, and the Nursing Clinics of North America. He has introduced and implemented TeamSTEPPS throughout the entire organization. Dr. Dent has promoted the Institute of Medicine Future of Nursing recommendations and disseminated this information, leading the organization to align with these recommendations; specifically, having 80% bachelors prepared nurses by 2020. The hospital continues to see an increase in bachelors prepared nurses. He also established a partnership between the Midland Memorial Foundation and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing to provide full scholarships to complete the BSN program. He was a key leader in developing a comprehensive Simulation Center. Dr. Dent has implemented new service lines and programs such as robotics surgeries, total joint replacement, palliative care, bariatric Weigh to Success, a Primary Stroke Center with designation, and a diabetes and nutrition learning center.
Dr. Dent collaborates with many nursing groups and community entities. His largest collaboration began earlier this year when he accepted the dual role as the Dean of Health Sciences at our local community college; where he oversees the nursing programs, as well as other disciplines. This has helped strengthen the relationship between the college and the hospital, increasing the number of graduates being employed with Midland Memorial Hospital. He was recently elected as the AONE Board of Director, Region 7 representative and is also on their Strategic Planning Committee, Nominating Committee, and their Professional Practice Policy Committee. With TONE, he has been a Board Member and Membership Committee Chair. Dr. Dent is also a member of the TNA Practice Committee, the Global Nursing Exchange, the Texas Purchasing Coalition, the Masimo CNO Advisory Board, and the Healthcare Financial Management Association. Dr. Dent also serves on the Practice Committee of the Texas Team representing West Texas hospitals on this regional action coalition responding to the Institute of Medicines report on the Future of Nursing.
Dr. Dent shares his knowledge and expertise through presentations, publications, seminars, and conferences. He produces cogent and persuasive materials to diverse audiences to address nursing, healthcare, and organizational issues. A few of his most recent presentations include being a panel presenter at the American Nurses Association Staffing Conference and guest speaking for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, and the Permian Basin HIM Association. He is scheduled to present at the THA Conference in February 2014. He has been published and acted as Guest Editor of Nurse Leader several times and is scheduled to be published in the Journal of Healthcare Management, On Nursing Excellence, and the AACN Advanced publications. Dr. Dent promotes system thinking as a value, provides leadership, and has built loyalty and commitment throughout our organization. He is an ideal candidate for the Excellence in Leadership award.
TONE would like to thank Lonestar Communications, Inc. for sponsoring the 2013 Excellence in Leadership Award.
Sylvain Trepanier, DNP, RN, CENP
Senior Director, Patient Care Services, Tenet Healthcare, Dallas, Texas
Texas Organization of Nurse Executives is pleased to announce Dr. Sylvain Trepanier as the sixth recipient of the Excellence in Leadership Award. The Excellence in Leadership Award is awarded on an annual basis to an active TONE member who provides a mechanism for the interchange of ideas and dissemination of information regarding nursing practice and legislative issues. The recipient promotes education and other professional activities through serving as a role model and mentor as well as sharing their knowledge through presentations, seminars, and publications.
Dr. Trepanier is a senior nursing leader for Tenet Healthcare (Tenet) Dallas Texas. Dr. Trepanier’s enduring contribution to nursing is to support professional nursing organizations in their mission to provide safe and efficient patient care. During more than two decades as a registered nurse and a leader, he experienced the challenges inherent in the transition from school to practice. As a senior nurse executive, he welcomed the opportunity to promote, support, implement and evaluate a nursing residency program for new graduate registered nurses, when evidence demonstrated the efficacy of residency programs in addressing the challenges of nurse on-boarding. However, the dearth of fiscal evidence, coupled with a difficult economic period, made it difficult to justify investing financial and human resources to implement a nursing residency. Therefore, he developed, implemented and published a "transition to practice” cost-benefit model to calculate the return on investment of a nurse residency program. He documented that nurse residency program resulted in an 80% reduction in the one-year turnover rate of new graduate nurses, leading to reduced reliance on contract labor and overtime costs. More importantly, the program also led to increased employee engagement and nurse competency – essential conditions of safe patient care.
Dr. Trepanier collaborated with multiple nursing organizations in 2012. He served as a member of the editorial board of Nurse Leader and The Journal of Continuing Nursing Education. He serves as a manuscript reviewer for Nursing Economic$: The Journal for Healthcare Leaders. He serves as an advisory board member for Versant LLC, a national provider of a nurse residency program for new graduate nurses. He also serves as a member of the nursing program advisory council for Western Governors University. He is a clinical assistant professor and graduate lead teacher (Nursing Administration Program) at University of Texas Arlington and assistant professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, in their Masters in Nursing Administration program. He is an active member of the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), a member of the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives (TONE) and the North Texas Organization of Nurse Executives (NTONE).
Dr. Trepanier’s credentials and contributions to the profession of nursing, coupled with his abilities to influence the business of nursing, is a skill set that makes him unique within nursing and healthcare. His ability to articulate a problem statement, investigate options, recommend a preferred course of action, and achieve repeatable, consistent results throughout complex health care organizations makes him an excellent recipient of TONE’s Excellence in Nursing Leadership Award.
TONE would like to thank Texas Health Resources for sponsoring the 2012 Excellence in Leadership Award.
TONE is pleased to announce Sally Gillam as the fifth recipient of the Excellence in Leadership Award. The Excellence in Leadership Award is given to a nurse executive who demonstrates the ability to relate and connect with the nursing staff though unique and effective methods. The award also represents the involvement of the recipient in the community through schools, clinics and civic organizations.
Sally W. Gillam, DNP, MAHS, RN, NEA-BC
Chief Nursing Officer at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center
Sally Gillam, Chief Nursing Office at St. Daivd's South Austin Medical Center, exemplifies all of these characteristics and more.
Gillam is a fourth-generation Texas nurse and a second-generation CNO. She currently serves on the board of the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives (TONE), where she has been appointed to the Nursing Legislative Action Coalition (she represents District 7, which includes several counties in Central Texas). Most recently, Sally was elected to serve as the TONE representative to the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses (TPAPN) Advisory Committee. In this role, she serves the nurses of Texas (RNs and LVNs) by ensuring that nursing professionals are effective and competent in their roles as leaders in the coordination of patient care, and providing greater accountability to the profession and the public. She is currently serving a three-year term.
Sally is not only a true professional, but also a mentor and role model for other nurses at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. She is well-liked and well-respected among her colleagues and patients. She has built strong relationships with the medical and administrative staff, aligned nursing goals with strategic plans, established high standards for nursing practices at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center, and has worked to recruit and retain qualified nurses. She is a respected member of the senior management team—and is educated in business practices and nursing administration. It is clear that Sally truly loves helping people. Her position as CNO at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center is not just a job for her—it’s her passion. She has a true understanding of people’s needs—those of her staff and the patients she serves—and has made treating patients (and those around her) with compassion her life’s work. She is passionate about nursing as a profession and actively works to encourage others to go into nursing or stay in nursing. Sally’s enthusiasm for her hospital and caring for others is contagious. In her current role, she believes everyone must be held accountable for providing the best healthcare possible because, as she says, “That patient in the hospital bed may one day be your mother, or your father, or your child—and we should treat people accordingly.” It is her goal to help those around her to understand the motivation behind her influences. She truly cares about people—and the people she can affect through her leadership role—and she works to reinforce this with her team of nurses so that they will see the significant impact they can have on people by showing them compassion.
Sally is a member of the leadership team at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center charged with overseeing a $72-million hospital renovation and expansion project that began in April 2010 and is scheduled for completion in April 2012. Under her leadership, St. David’s South Austin Medical Center (which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary) has received numerous awards and accolades from several of the nation’s top health care organizations. She helped St. David’s South Austin Medical Center rank third in Employee Satisfaction among HCA hospitals of similar size across the country for several consecutive years. Additionally, this facility has been nationally recognized for outstanding clinical performance several times, and has been awarded the Texas Nurse Friendly designation. Sally has been in this dynamic leadership role for more than 20 years, and was instrumental in developing several clinical service lines that have continued to provide exceptional compassionate care to South Austin and surrounding communities for more than two decades. Some of the numerous appointments and awards that define Sally’s career include a position paper on strategic planning and organizational management structure adopted by the National Advisory Board, the HCA leadership award, a gubernatorial appointment to the Texas Department of Insurance Board, numerous keynote speeches for national organizations, as well as several university and private sector board appointments. In 2010, she was named the Industry Standout (in the area of health care/medical) for the Austin Business Journal’s Profiles in Power & Women of Influence awards.
TONE would like to thank Decision Critical for sponsoring the 2011 Excellence in Leadership Award.
TONE is pleased to announce Dana Bjarnason as the fourth recipient of the Excellence in Leadership Award. The Excellence in Leadership Award is given to a nurse executive who demonstrates the ability to relate and connect with the nursing staff though unique and effective methods. The award also represents the involvement of the recipient in the community through schools, clinics and civic organizations.
Chief Nursing Officer at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center
Dana Bjarnason, Associate Administrator & Chief Nursing Officer, Ben Taub General Hospital & Quentin Mease Community Hospital, exemplifies all of these characteristics and more.
For the past three years, Dana Bjarnason, PhD, RN has served as the Chief Nursing Officer and Associate Administrator for Ben Taub General Hospital (BTGH) and Quentin Mease Community Hospital (QMCH), two of the three hospitals within the Harris County Hospital District (HCHD). During the time, those that have served on her leadership team have been continually amazed at her absolutely keen vision of whom and what a nurse truly is; regardless of the role a nurse may hold. Dana has consistently excelled in nursing leadership, been recognized as a professional role model, contributed to quality health care, and demonstrated her commitment to the practice of professional nursing. She has been instrumental in incorporating evidence based practice across the clinical platform at HCHD; which is clearly evidenced in their “Best Practices” initiative. Dr. Bjarnason established a Best Practices Workgroup for nurses at Harris County Hospital District. This group includes unit based champions from all medical-surgical, intermediate care and critical care units and the specialty areas of acute inpatient rehabilitation and geriatric skilled nursing across the HCHD. She has inspired a focus on quality outcomes and increased nurse involvement in evaluating and achieving best practice standards. Dr. Bjarnason is an active representative of nursing issues and concerns in the legislative arena. She consistently participates in Nurses’ Day at the Capitol (State of Texas) and encourages other nurses and nurse leaders to active involvement in legislation affecting their practice and patient care. Dana also is an ongoing supporter of the ANA PAC. In addition, she is active in the American Nurses Association where she has served as an appointed board member since 2002 and is past chairperson of the ANA Board of Ethics and Human Rights (2008-2010). She is also a member of the Texas Nurses Association District 9 where she currently serves as President Elect. Dana has played an integral role in leadership infrastructure and nursing practice redesign within HCHD, creating the foundation which supports advanced nursing practice and improves the quality of health care. As a strong advocate for shared governance, Dana was instrumental in increasing the proportion of direct-care staff nurses on HCHD Staffing Advisory Committee well before it became a legal requirement. Additionally, she has ensured that nursing is well represented on committees, work groups and task forces throughout the district.
During her tenure as Associate Administrator and Chief Nursing Officer for Harris County Hospital District’s Ben Taub General Hospital and Quentin Mease Community Hospital, Dr. Bjarnason has been instrumental in the development of the new “Lighting the Way” series of nursing continuing education seminars “Exploring the Clinical, Ethical and Legal Implications of Nursing Practice”. Dr. Bjarnason is a published author, co-author, and editor of articles in peer-reviewed professional journals including Nursing Clinics of North America and Journal of Research in Nursing. She regularly presents on the subject of Moral Leadership to many nursing professional organizations.
Dr. Bjarnason is a member of Sigma Theta Tau - Alpha Delta Chapter; the Southern Nursing Research Society, the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives. Dana demonstrates an active commitment to and unconditional support of the nursing profession through collaboration with academic leaders, support of nursing political action committees, and mentoring. She works on a bimonthly basis with the Texas Medical Center’s academic and organizational nurse leaders to optimize graduate nurses’ entry into professional nursing practice. Dr. Bjarnason also serves on as a member of Commission of the University of St. Thomas, a group that is working towards implementation of a new BSN program in 2012. She recently was appointed to serve on the data safety monitoring board of the South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience (STRONG STAR) Consortium for Treatment of PTSD, providing ethics oversight for research projects.
Dr. Bjarnason has served as a coach in the HCHD LEAD (Leadership Excellence Achievement through Development) Fellowship where she guides leadership candidates through the 12-month program. The purpose of this program is to improve candidates’ leadership skills and knowledge and enhance their confidence as leaders. She is highly valued as a coach and mentor by those who have participated in this program and by those nurse leaders who work with her. She is a nurse leader who embraces the concept of moral leadership in all that she does. A guiding mantra for Dr. Bjarnason is “seek first to understand”. It is a philosophy that serves all of her leaders as well. Dana consistently demonstrates her genuine passion for nurses and nursing practice. She cares deeply about the nursing profession and is committed to excellence in patient care. She holds high expectations of herself which creates a contagious environment for those of us who serve with her and indeed, the entire nursing team.
TONE would like to thank VersaSuite for sponsoring the 2011 Excellence in Leadership Award.
Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer
Medical City Dallas
Cole Edmonson, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer, Medical City Dallas, has been an active member of TONE since 2007. During that time, he has served in countless capacities, serving as the District 5 Director for the Board of Directors as well as on the Education and Conference Planning committees. Cole serves as the current President of the North Texas Organization of Nurse Executives (NTONE) and has been elected as the TONE Treasurer for the 2009 – 2011 term. In that capacity, he creates an environment for Nurse Leaders to network with each other, receive education on a number of leadership topics, and receive updates about legislative initiatives that impact healthcare environments and nursing practice.
Cole’s community involvement has made a significant impact on Dallas and the surrounding area. He partners with local colleges of nursing to bridge gaps between service and academics in order to take Nursing education and practice to the highest level of excellence. He serves on Advisory Committees for several universities in the Dallas area and has also been instrumental in leading an initiative to restructure the DFW Great 100 Nurses event. As a result of his leadership, he has broadened the involvement and sponsorship for the event to include local organizations of nurse leaders such as NTONE and NCONE. He truly believes in and champions collaboration whenever possible by working to bring groups of nurses together around a common purpose, whether it involves clinical practice, education/professional development, or leadership. In addition, he routinely serves as adjunct faculty for nurses enrolled in nursing administration graduate programs to help them grow and develop into nurse leaders.
Cole is an exemplary role model and mentor for both nurses and allied health professionals. He mentors students, staff, and beginning leaders, as well as providing mentorship to colleagues and team members at his own level. He led an initiative in the North Texas Division of his healthcare corporation to create and implement a Career Enhancement Program that included Career Paths. He is also an invited speaker at local, regional, and national professional development offerings. He has delivered keynote addresses and podium sessions on a variety of leadership, clinical, and research topics. Most recently he won the Visionary Leader award sponsored by Nursing Management and delivered the keynote address at their annual conference. He has also co-authored a number of print and poster presentations to disseminate project findings to the larger nursing and healthcare community. His ability to share knowledge with others truly creates a “learning community” for students, his employees, and his colleagues.
Cole Edmonson will be presented the TONE Excellence in Leadership Award on Thursday, February 18, 2010, at the Texas Hospital Association’s Leadership Conference Award’s Luncheon in Austin, Texas.