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

Ala Garza, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • 2017 Innovations Conference Committee, SDACNL
  • 2017 Healthy Work Environment Committee, ACNL
  • 2018 Healthy Work Environment Committee, ACNL

UC San Diego Health

Director of Nursing

Women & Infant Services

The Association of California Nurse Leaders provides incredible opportunities, education, and networking for nurses in all roles. This organization connects nurse leaders across city limits to move California in a united direction of advancing professional practice, influencing health policy, and developing nurse leaders. Personally, ACNL has provided the forum where I can connect, learn, and be inspired by expert nurse leaders, specifically through the San Diego local chapter as well as a member of the Healthy Work Environment committee.  Authentic leadership is a key component to supporting a healthy work environment through mentoring, collaboration, communication, and supporting professional nursing practice. There is no better place to learn how to influence, grow, and sustain our own professional practice environment than through the ACNL and SDACNL.

President Elect

Michelle Goldbach, DNP, MHA, RN, CHPN

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


Elizabeth Hospice – Palliative Care & Pediatric Program Clinical Manager

For over 30 years she has been an international public speaker, educator, mentor, author, and leader in the Healthcare.

Dr. Goldbach’ s experience includes NICU, women’s health, fertility, bariatric, trauma, and hospice care. She received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing and her Masters of Science in Health Administration from California State University, Long Beach and completed her Doctorate in Nursing Practice in Health Systems Organizational Leadership from Oregon Health & Science University. She also holds certification as a Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse. Dr. Goldbach is trained in Reiki, Healing Touch, Holistic coaching, aromatherapy, meditation, dream work, the Enneagram, emotional intelligence and as a transformational/holistic Leader. Dr. Goldbach is a contributing author of, “Holistic Leadership in Healthcare”. She completed her Anamcara “soul-friend” apprenticeship through the Sacred Art of Living Spiritual Foundation (SALC). Dr. Goldbach is the 2019 Innovations Conference Chair and President –Elect for the Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) as well as a member of the and is faculty and mentor with CNESD (Consortium for Nursing Excellence, San Diego- Evidence Based Practice Institute). She is the 2019 Chair of the San Diego Chapter of the Coalition for Compassionate Care organization.  Dr. Goldbach has volunteered at Camp Erin Grief Camp with The Elizabeth Hospice.  Her current activities also include serving as guest speaker at California State University, San Marcos.

Former 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.


Catherine McJannet RN, MN, CEN, HTCP/I

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • 2018 Innovations Conference Planning Committee

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.


Denise Foster, DNP, RN

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Chief Nursing Officer, County of San Diego

More information coming soon!

Board Member

Marlena Montgomery, MBA, MSN, RN, CEN

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • 2016-2017 Innovations Conference Planning Committee
  • 2017 Member Experience Board
  • 2018 Health Policy Committee Board Liaison

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

Hover over image to see list of ACNL committee participation


  • 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.