SDACNL | About Us
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The voice of San Diego’s
nurse leaders

ACNL is the premier professional organization for nurse leaders in California, with over 1400 members spanning the entire state. Sixteen local chapters work to further the organizational mission of developing nurse leaders, advancing professional practice, influencing health policy and promoting quality health care and patient safety throughout the state.

San Diego ACNL Chapter


Through the Association of California Nurse Leaders, nurse leaders at every platform possess a vital and vibrant voice.   From emerging to executive levels, the San Diego Chapter of ACNL is an assembly of dynamic nurse leaders, spanning a broad continuum of professional expertise and experiences. Based on the values of integrity, innovation, diversity, and inclusion, the SDACNL provides novice and experienced nurse leaders the opportunity to discover and pursue their passion, influence healthcare policy, and advance professional practice.

Chapter President

Karen Mitchell-Keels, EdD(c), MSN, RN, CMCN

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • 2015 Member of Innovations Planning
  • 2016 ACNL Life Moxie Mentorship
  • 2016 Co-Chair, Innovations Planning
  • 2017 San Diego Chapter
  • 2017 Healthy Workplace Environment
  • 2017 Innovations Planning
  • 2018 Innovation Planning Committee

University California San Diego Health

Department of Emergency Medicine

Clinical Educator and Community Outreach Manager

As professional nurses, we are challenged with the complexities of global health concerns, perplexing healthcare politics and policy and expansions in knowledge and innovation. Nevertheless, we hold a unique position to celebrate diversity among our patients, our colleagues, and others with truth and integrity. As nurses we should always face these opportunities with human respect, appreciation, and compassion. The Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) provides the opportunity to acquire and share these important values among like-minded nurses.


I am honored and privileged to serve as the 2017 San Diego ACNL Chapter President.


Chantelle Hicks MSN, RN, CEN

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • 2015 Life Moxie Mentorship Program
  • 2016 Healthy Work Environment Committee
  • 2016 Innovations Conference Committee, SDACNL
  • 2017 Quality, Safety, and Care Experience Committee
  • 2017 Innovations Conference Committee, SDACNL

University California San Diego Health

Quality and Patient Safety

Clinical Quality Improvement Specialist

I have had the privilege of my career being guided by wonderful and inspiring mentors and nurse leaders, many of whom I have met through the ACNL. Collaborating and communicating with this group of nurse leaders has encouraged me to see nursing differently, to see the potential in myself, to take chances, and to reach higher.  Influential nurse leadership and mentorship, continuing education, and professional organization membership allow nurses to achieve greater goals and promote the positive environment they desire for their patients and colleagues.

Former Chapter President

Laurie Ecoff, PhD, RN, NEA-BC

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • Member, Annual Program Committee 2016-present
  • President, San Diego Chapter 2016
  • Member, ACNL Board of Directors 2014-2016
  • Board Liaison, ACNL Research Committee 2014-2016
  • Chair, San Diego, ACNL Innovations Conference 2013-2015

Sharp Memorial Hospital – Director Research, Education and Professional Practice


Catherine McJannet RN, MN, CEN, HTCP/I

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


Cathy has been an active member of the San Diego Chapter of ACNL for a number of years, and secretary for the chapter since 2010.  She is a longstanding member of the Innovation Conference Planning Committee. Cathy is an emergency nurse and educator for Sharp Healthcare, educator for UCSD Extension Studies, and  nursing faculty  at Southwestern College. She has been active participant  in nursing education accreditation (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing )  in a variety of roles since 2010.


Janet Wessels MSN, RN, PHN, Captain US Navy

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Assistant Professor, Azusa Pacific University
Captain US Navy Reserve- Director of Professional Education
Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

Innovations Conference Chair

Marlys Vespe, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • 2015 Member of Innovations Planning Committee
  • 2016 Co-Chair, Innovations Planning Committee
  • 2017-2018 Chair, Innovations Planning Committee

Scripps Mercy Hospital – Director, Clinical Services

Nursing is a profession which places the patient at the center. All we attempt as nurses should be with that in mind. Being a part of the Association of California Nurses Leaders provides the forum for that discussion.  It also provides an opportunity for nurses to come together and share and learn from each other as we all strive to continuously improve patient outcomes and the work environment.

Board Member

Marlena Montgomery, MBA, MSN, RN, CEN

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  • Member Experience Board Liaison
  • SDACNL Innovations Planning Committee

Sharp Memorial – Director of Emergency Services

California nurses are facing the reality of senior nurse leaders transitioning to retirement and a growing need for succession planning. I believe one of ACNL’s significant challenges is mentoring, training, and retaining nurse leaders. My greatest impact with be engaging emerging nurse leaders and I will bring a unique lens to the board as a member of “generation X”. I will work to foster involvement and activism in the new generation.

Board Member

Dante Segundo, MSN, RN, PHN, CNL

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  • Member Experience Committee 2015-Present

UC San Diego Health – Nurse Services Manager

In a health care environment undergoing ever evolving change at an astounding pace, ACNL and is membership are vital in navigating and shaping the unfolding landscape. Together we’ll ensure that nurse leaders are embedded at the forefront of decision-making and that ACNL is positioned as the organization for their development. Crucial to our success is the ability to engage our experienced and established leaders to produce lines of succession – to identify, recruit, and transform impassioned nurses into conscientious and empowered nurse leaders. It is an honor to serve and contribute as we journey together toward our future.

Board Member

Jill Deetz BSN, RN, NE-BC

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • San Diego Innovation Committee 2012-Present
  • ACNL Philanthropy Committee - Board Representative 2016-2017
  • ACNL Leadership Development Committee 2012-2015
  • ACNL Quality and Safety Committee - Board Representative 2017-Present
  • ACNL Governing Board 2016-2018

Director of Nursing – Inpatient Surgical Service Line

The Association of California Nurse Leaders is one of the largest state professional organizations in this country. Participating in ACNL both locally and at the state level has been an enriching experience on many levels. We have done an amazing job showcasing and sharing our local nurse innovators work. State board experience has afforded me the opportunity to work with leaders across our state on strategy, process, and operational planning to strengthen and grow California nurse leaders, as well as, influence nursing practice.