CNL Vanguard Award

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) are pleased to announce the 2023 CNL Vanguard Award. This national award recognizes a certified CNL for innovative and outstanding professional performance and advocacy of the CNL skill set. In addition, the award promotes the contributions of the CNL in transforming health care. The 2023 recipient will be recognized during the opening session of the CNL Summit, which will be held in Orlando, FL, February 23-25, 2023.

NOTE:  Application is now closed.

The CNL Vanguard Award recipient will receive a complimentary registration and a $500 award to attend the 2023 CNL Summit and Research Symposium, a commemorative award, and a CNL lapel pin. (For information about the CNL Summit and Research Symposium, click here.)

See past award winners >>

Award Criteria

The candidate must be nominated by a nursing colleague/co-worker, nursing supervisor, or CNL student. (Nominations of previous nominees are accepted but should be updated and reconfirmed with nominee.)  The candidate must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold CNL certification from the CNC
  • Employed as a CNL or in a position that exemplifies the CNL skill set characteristics and education for a minimum of two years
  • Demonstrate innovation in transforming patient care with sustainable outcomes (specific examples of outcomes should be included)
  • Demonstrate clinical leadership or professional leadership in developing the CNL skill set through innovative education or academic-practice partnerships
  • Serve as a role model of professional practice contributing positively to the professional environment
  • Promote change or collaboration within the system to improve quality of patient care
  • Advocate for the CNL skill set at the local, state, or national levels

If selected, the recipient must be available to attend the 2023 CNL Summit and Research Symposium and present a brief 10-minute presentation highlighting his/her experiences, actions, and outcomes implementing and advancing the CNL.

Submission Requirements

The application must include a criteria statement/narrative (not to exceed two pages in length) that explains how the candidate demonstrates the eligibility criteria and two letters of support from individuals other than the individual submitting the application. These individuals may be from academia or practice and should describe the relationship with the CNL nominee, length of time known, and how the CNL nominee embodies the award criteria. The criteria statement/narrative and two letters of support may be submitted as an attachment.

Application Deadline and Review

Note: Application is now closed.

The application for the 2023 CNL Vanguard Award must include the completed application form (criteria statement/narrative) and two letters of support. All materials must be submitted together. The completed application and letters of support should be submitted electronically to Bridget Bingle at

A review panel (two members representing AACN and one member of the CNC’s Board of Commissioners) will consider all completed applications received by the deadline (November 4, 2022). The recipient will be selected based upon the information submitted describing how the nominee meets the eligibility criteria; preference will be given to the applicant who has demonstrated innovative and effective change for care delivery as well as advocacy of the CNL. The recipient will be notified by Monday, December 5, 2022.

(By submitting the application, all parties consent and authorize use of the narratives as well as future photos for promotional purposes. Excerpts from the application will be read during the award presentation at the CNL Summit. Descriptions may be included in a future database of CNL best practices. It is the responsibility of the individual submitting the application to obtain permission from the nominee prior to submitting the application.)



Questions? Contact Dr. Joan Stanley, AACN’s Chief Academic Officer, at or Allison Jacobs at