2017 Excellence in Leadership Awards


Awarded to a nurse leader from each geographic region (North, South, Central, San Diego) and an outstanding emerging nurse leader who have made significant contributions to nursing leadership. Awards presented at ACNL's 2017 Annual Conference.

Excellence in Leadership - North 


Myra Lang, MS, RN, CCRN, CNML, NE-BC
Senior Consultant
Regulatory, Risk, Compliance Specialists, Inc.

A passionate advocate for health care and professional nursing, Myra is a dynamic champion in the health care arena.

As current Chair and longtime member of ACNL’s Health Policy Committee, Myra is a tireless advocate for strengthening the voice of nurse leaders in forums where important health care decisions are made. Always ready to roll up her sleeves to get the job done, Myra has testified on behalf of ACNL on numerous occasions and has been working with fellow Health Policy Committee members to develop a multi-phase education program to engage nurse leaders in important advocacy issues. Along with ACNL’s CEO Patricia McFarland, Myra co-chaired the California Action Coalition’s Recommendation 7 work group to prepare nurses to lead health care change. She managed HealthImpact’s Values Project and is a strong supporter and participant in ACNL’s Mentoring Program.

Excellence in Leadership - Central


Marie Gilbert, DNP, RN, CHSE
Clinical Development and Professional Practice
St. Agnes Medical Center

A highly collaborative leader, Marie motivates nurses to take action and become change agents.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Marie has extensive experience in both service and academia. She utilizes her varied expertise to build collaborative teams, maximizing the diverse talents of nurse leaders. As 2015 President of the Nursing Leadership Coalition of the Central San Joaquin Valley, she created the theme of Team Up, and encouraged members to be visionaries while working collaboratively to advance the organization and its work. Under her leadership, the NLC developed a successful Legislative Boot Camp, bringing nurse leaders together with state and local elected officials to discuss health care issues and promote advocacy. Marie is an expert in the use of simulation to build competency and promote critical thinking. She has written and lectured extensively about simulation and has conducted several research studies on the topic. Marie currently serves on ACNL’s Research Committee.

Excellence in Leadership - South


Melanie Patterson, DNP, MHA, RN
Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer
CHOC Children's Hospital

An inspirational leader committed to providing expert, compassionate care for children and their families.

CNO at CHOC Children’s for less than three years, Melanie is a highly successful leader, admired by her leadership team, frontline staff, physicians and families. After a painful reduction in force eliminated several director positions, she focused efforts on building leadership skills for nurse managers and charge RNs. Melanie created the Nursing Research Fellowship and Evidence-Based Scholars Programs, empowering nurses to develop competency in the research process and use evidence to improve patient care quality. Melanie launched the Innovation Beach Day, an off-site retreat for RNs and other health care professionals, facilitated by proven innovators, including representatives from Google. To improve nurse retention rates, Melanie successfully advocated for staff salary increases. She is a strong proponent of the organization’s Nurse Residency program and ACNL’s Foundation for Leadership Excellence Course.

Excellence in Leadership - San Diego


Margarita Baggett, MSN, RN
Chief Clinical Officer
UC San Diego Health

A transformational leader, Margarita is dedicated to advancing nursing practice to improve patient and organizational outcomes.

A visionary leader, Margarita is committed to transforming the nursing practice environment by supporting and promoting the role of the professional nurse. This includes the development of a Professional Practice Model of Care and achieving Magnet designation. Margarita is a strong advocate of reaching beyond the walls of her organization to build partnerships among healthcare organizations. She encouraged several San Diego hospitals to participate in a 16-month leadership and innovation education program developed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Margarita also inspires nurse leaders with a passion for advocacy to seek positions on community, regional and statewide boards, and promotes involvement in ACNL. Margarita is a past ACNL president, former board member and has served on several committees.

Emerging Nurse Leader


Joey Driscoll, BSN, RN
Emergency Services
John Muir Medical Center - Walnut Creek

A resourceful and energetic leader, Joey models the way and empowers others to take action.

Joey began his nursing career in 2009, honing his skills on the medical/surgical unit before pursuing his passion for emergency nursing and transferring to the Emergency Department. In 2015, he became a unit supervisor. In recognition of his outstanding leadership potential, he was named ED manager just six months later. To improve efficiency, Joey analyzed patient flow and led collaborative efforts to reduce throughput time for discharged ED patients by 17 minutes and admitted patients by 62 minutes. An effective role model, Joey employs exemplary communication skills to build positive relationships and effective teams. In less than two years as manager, the ED has experienced a significant increase in employee satisfaction. Joey continues to expand his leadership skills by attending classes and working with a leadership coach. 



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