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

Rachael Murray, NP, RN, CEO of Elevate Nurses

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

Nurse Practitioner for Rady Childersen’s Hospital

Rachael was introduced to ACNL and its benefits in 2018 and immediately wanted to be involved. She’s an active member of the Communications and Voice Committee, the Healthy Work Environment Committee, and is President of the San Diego Chapter. She became a Nurse in 2004 and has been a practicing Neonatal Nurse Practitioner for the last 10 years, currently at Rady Children’s Hospital. Rachael is also owner and CEO of Elevate Nurses LLC, a coaching business for bedside nurses. In her free time, she is likely found running on the beach with her dog, Ollie, or having travel adventures with her husband Curtis..

President Elect

Mary Kay Shibley, DNP, RN

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Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital
Manager, Clinical Informatics & Electroconvulsive Therapy Services

Mary Kay Shibley has been an RN with Sharp Health Care in San Diego for over 25 years. She is currently the manager of clinical informatics for Sharp’s behavioral health service line, and Sharp Mesa Vista’s Electroconvulsive Therapy Services and COVID Observation Unit. Mary Kay. Mary Kay recently received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Point Loma Nazarene University. Mary Kay has been a member of the Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) since 2017. She is currently the co-chair of the Communication/Voice Committee, and President-Elect for the San Diego chapter of ACNL.

Former Chapter President

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

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  • 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.


Pat McClendon RN, DNP, MSN; Caritas Coach & End of Life Doula

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Pat McClendon2

  • 2018 Innovations Conference Planning Committee

Pat is a former nurse leader on clinical, administrative and executive levels in healthcare organizations for over 30 years across four states, some of which in San Diego.  Now Pat leads with the mission to de-medicalize nursing and end of life: helping nurses experience authentic connections in everyday practice settings through nurse leader coaching and healing circles, and helping those seeking a personal path at end of life through doalaship.


Denise Foster, DNP, RN

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Denise Foster3

Chief Nursing Officer, County of San Diego

Dr. Foster brings with her a wealth of experience in the art and science of nursing, including 20 years of progressive leadership in two Magnet-recognized organizations. She is experienced in leading in numerous nursing specialties and in a variety of settings. In her current role as Chief Nursing Officer for the County of San Diego, Dr. Foster develops the strategic plan for nursing, and provides direction for enterprise-wide policies and planning for nursing practice in clinical and community-based settings.

 Before joining the County, she was the Division Director of Women’s and Children’s Services for Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon and the Director of Emergency Services for Oregon Health and Science University; Manager of the Emergency Department of Sharp Memorial Hospital; Manager of peri-operative and post-operative services at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women in San Diego; as well as other key nurse education, administration, and clinical roles. She currently serves as the treasurer for the San Diego Chapter of ACNL, the secretary for the Assocairton of Public Health Nursing and the President for the California Directors for Public Health Nursing.

Dr. Foster holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice from the Oregon Health and Science University; a Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Phoenix; and is a Board-certified Nurse Administrator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, traveling and playing with her grandchildren.


Board Member

Marlena Montgomery, MBA, MSN, RN, CEN

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  • 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.