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About the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 850 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. 



AACN Recognizes Excellence and Innovation in Clinical Nurse Leader Education and Practice

Published February 01, 2021

Awards Will Be Presented at Annual CNL Summit on February 25 

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 1, 2021 – The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Commission on Nurse Certification (CNC) are pleased to announce the latest winners of the annual Clinical Nurse LeaderSM (CNL) Awards, which recognize exceptional CNLs in academia and practice. Honorees include Latasha Kast, MSN, RN, CCRN, CNL from the UPMC Passavant, selected for the CNL Vanguard Award for exemplary practice as a CNL, and Rosemary Hoffmann, PhD, RN, CNL from the University of Pittsburgh, who will receive the CNL Educator Award. Both awards will be presented during the opening session of the virtual CNL Summit planned for February 25-27, 2021.
“Throughout our healthcare system, certified Clinical Nurse Leaders are serving as catalysts for change, and their efforts are helping to bridge quality gaps, lower costs, and improve patient care outcomes,” said AACN President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Deborah Trautman. “AACN commends the groundbreaking work of Latasha Kast, Dr. Rosemary Hoffman, and all this year’s honorees for their leadership to infuse innovation and excellence into how nurses are educated and how they practice.”
The Clinical Nurse Leader is an emerging nursing role developed by AACN in collaboration with leaders from education and practice to improve the quality of patient care and better prepare nurses to thrive in today’s healthcare system in any setting. These master’s-prepared clinicians put evidence-based practice into action to ensure that patients benefit from the latest innovations in care delivery. The CNL evaluates patient outcomes, identifies risk, coordinates care, and implements quality improvement strategies. 
The CNL Vanguard Award was introduced in 2012 by AACN and CNC (the autonomous agency charged with overseeing the CNL certification process) to recognize 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.
Latasha-Kast-HeadshotThis year’s recipient, Latasha Kast, provides on-boarding, education, mentorship, and leadership support to nurses in her role as an Advanced Clinical Education Specialist for Critical Care. She previously worked in progressive clinical and leadership positions within Trauma/Vascular Step-Down, Surgical Trauma ICU, and Neurovascular ICU. Additionally, she serves on the CNL Advisory Board at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Ms. Kast was selected for this award for her commitment to nursing practice by leading and developing several quality improvement projects to improve patient outcomes, including hair-washing to reduce surgical site infections in neurosurgical patients.
An Honorable Mention for the Vanguard Award will be given to the CNL Team from the Sinai Hospital of Baltimore for taking a strategic approach to redesigning patient care at the interface of education and practice. Team members include Elizabeth Krug, MS, RN, PCCN, CNL, Nursing Outcomes Leader; Kristen Liberto, MS, RN, CCRN, CNL, Nursing Outcomes Leader; and Sarah Stanley, MS, RN, CNL, Nursing Outcomes Leader.
The CNL Educator Award recognizes a CNL faculty member or education program director for their innovative and outstanding preparation of CNLs. In addition, the award promotes the contributions of the CNL faculty member in transforming nursing education and promoting excellence in both academia and practice.
Rosemary-Hoffman-HeadshotRosemary Hoffman HeadshotThis year’s recipient, Dr. Rosemary Hoffmann, has been on faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing since 1995 and has served as the CNL program coordinator since 2008. As a result of Dr. Hoffmann’s success with the post-baccalaureate CNL program (Model A), University of Pittsburgh is now creating an entry into practice CNL program (Model C), which will take effect within the next year. Dr. Hoffmann was selected for this award for personifying the idea of expanding the role of the CNL and being able to think holistically. She is praised by her colleagues for having a particular skill in challenging her students and peers to think bigger by using their credentials and skills as a CNL to become problem solvers and patient advocates.   
Awards also will be presented to runner-up Grace Buttriss, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, CNL, CNL Program Coordinator for Queens University of Charlotte (NC) and honorable mention Dianna Sorenson, PhD, MBA, MN, CNS, RN, CNL, Professor of Nursing, CNL Track Coordinator, and DNP Program Coordinator for Morningside College in Iowa. Biographies for these award recipients are posted on the AACN website.