The CNA/NNOC board responses to prompt “What are you most proud of accomplishing over the past three years through your leadership on the board?”

Submitted by ADonahue on
Large group of nurses outside U.S. Capitol building

Tinny Abogado  
“Not one inch was conceded to the hospital industry and government officials when they wanted NNU nurses to re-use our personal protective equipment and respirators, especially during the height of the pandemic. We defiantly protested when employers wanted to push unsafe staffing ratios onto our units and we successfully fought for presumptive eligibility for nurses. But our power was not limited to just the health care industry - our collective solidarity took on a greater meaning when we came together to defeat Trump.”

Amy Arlund  
“The moment NNU nurses heard about Covid-19, we took an astounding amount of initiative and action to connect nurses across the country to vital information, so we could protect ourselves and save lives. When our world was becoming unfamiliar and scary, nurses had each other’s backs to handle crisis after crisis. In the face of so much uncertainty, fear, and misinformation,  our union – with the help of the education and research staff – successfully pushed for solutions rooted in science and patient care.”

Martese Chism
“NNU empowers Black nurses to speak out against the deadly, structural racism that is present in all aspects of our lives, from the health care industry to the policing of our communities. One of the best examples of that was the resolution we passed in 2020 that endorsed an end to militarized and lethal policing, investment in public health programs, and reparations for Black Americans. I was so proud, as a Black woman and a Black nurse, to be part of an organization that stands up to do the right thing.”

Zenei Triunfo-Cortez
“The Kaiser contract covering 22,000 nurses in northern and southern California was an historic accomplishment for our union. Not only did we win some of the highest standards for nurses in the nation, we also took a significant step forward in the fight for health equity and justice. It was no small feat to get a health care giant to acknowledge in our contracts that health care is a human right and agree to work with NNU nurses to end racial and ethnic disparities in health care outcomes and expand the diversity of our health care workforce. Our union is a leading voice for justice and the Kaiser contract sets a strong precedent to make progress toward racial justice in future bargaining and organizing campaigns across the country.”

Kathy Dennis
“During the past three years, our union continued to be strong advocates in the fight for safe working conditions for our members at the bedside. Our strong advocacy for all nurses shed light on the greed of the hospital industry and encouraged non-union nurses to seek out our help to organize their facilities. Our union nurses have become more powerful and more engaged in the fight for patient safety and the protection of our profession. Their resilience continues to make me hopeful for the future of patient care and the nursing profession.”

Maureen Dugan  
“I am proud that we fought to protect nurses and patients at every level during the COVID 19 pandemic. Our public health leaders failed us, but nurses are always on the job to protect the public.”

Amy Erb
“I'm so proud to be part of an organization full of nurse leaders who took on a greedy health care industry that was shamefully unprepared for the COVID pandemic. We unapologetically demanded PPE and safe staffing when our employers were putting us at risk by withholding these lifesaving protections.  We were exhausted and scared like everyone else, but we stood strong for the safety of all health care workers and our communities.”

Cokie Giles
“The collective leadership that this union’s members and staff demonstrated during Covid-19 is a great source of pride for me. We did not shy away – and we’re still not shying away – from holding those in power accountable, including public health agencies like the CDC and hospital executives across the industry. Armed with the latest information from NNU’s health and safety, education, and research departments, nurses were able to save many lives and support each other.”

Michelle Gutierrez-Vo
“I am most proud of our collective strength, focus, compassion, and resilience as well as our relentless unapologetic principles to always put patients first. We don’t stop until we win. We won better personal protective equipment; we won the Covid-19 OSHA emergency temporary standard for health care workers; and we won safer workflows and guidelines for all nurses and health care workers during Covid, especially in the Kaiser Permanente system.”

Jennifer Holm
“In the midst of a poly-crisis of a global pandemic, deep political division, and economic uncertainty, our organization held the line for the highest standards of patient care and working conditions. I have a sense of profound pride in being part of this work. That pride is twinned with humility in the knowledge that this work ultimately serves the world community.”

Mawata Kamara
“I am proud to be part of a union of nurses who came together to fight for our patients and each other during the Covid-19 pandemic. I am also proud of the strides taken towards passing Cal-Care and getting a Covid-19 OSHA permanent standard for health care workers. I look forward to winning more fights for things that nurses value.”

Cathy Kennedy
“The ongoing organizing of RNs across the United States over these past three years has been an incredible accomplishment of our organization and leadership. The tenacity of our government relations and legislative staff with the nurses lobbying our state legislators, finally culminating with the California governor signing into law - AB 2537 (three-month PPE stockpile) and SB 1334 (Meal/Break relief for public sector nurses) was a huge victory, to name a few.”

Marth Kuhl
“I am most proud of: Working with the board of directors on protecting nurses throughout the pandemic. Our employers’ just-in-time planning is emblematic of the unjust market environment in health care. Working with the board of directors on our Medicare for All and Cal Care campaigns. This is a first step in eliminating the financial barriers to care for all of us. And working to encourage a deeper understanding that the fight against racism and for economic justice are two sides of the same struggle. We will never win economic justice without racial justice.”

Marissa Lee
“I am most proud about the unification of nurses and how we came together to fight for our patients and for ourselves. We stood up for safe patient care and for nurses to get the highest level of protections for Covid. The voices of nurses have now been heard throughout the country.”

Virginia Licerio
“My proudest accomplishments during my term as a board member is CNA/NNOC demanding and securing appropriate and adequate PPE for nurses and all health care workers. Also demanding the health care facilities have at minimum a three months’ supply of PPE to ensure that nurses and health care workers can safely care for our patients and safely go home to our families.”

Paula Lyn
“I am proud of the education I received with regards to the relevant health and political issues which have made me a stronger and more informed leader. The solidarity is a plus with such a dynamic leader as Bonnie Castillo.”

Gina Macalino
“I was part of getting PPE for my nurses and patients to provide safety for our community and our patients. Our hospital didn't think masking was important when the pandemic started. I was traumatized and went to CNA and said, ‘We need N95s.’ We held actions in front of our hospital, Kaiser Vacaville. We got the masks approved by our CEO. The second one is assisting in getting more members to become part of our union, even though we couldn’t travel because of Covid. Finally, winning the Kaiser contract and getting it ratified because it’s a really strong contract.”

Diane McClure
“Over the last three years as a board member, I am most proud of the fights I have helped lead during the Covid pandemic. We were able to massively improve patient care and working conditions for all workers. As a result, thousands of nurses have seen the benefit of union membership and have joined our union!”

Sandy Reding
“Being a nurse in the trenches, one of the things I'm most proud of is our fighting back against the CDC, the WHO, the president, the governor, the California Department of Public Health, OSHA, and having the opportunity to testify as such as president of CNA, but more importantly as a staff nurse. That's one of them, and the other is welcoming NYSNA nurses and all the other nurses that are new to CNA/NNOC/NNU with open arms and continuing the fight we all share for safe staffing and protecting our patients and our profession.”

Katy Roemer
“I am proud of my grassroots organizing within the large health care division I work for, identifying and developing new union leaders and preparing for what turned out to be a successful contract for over 21,000 Kaiser nurses. I am also proud of spending time supporting the Alta Bates/Summit nurses on their strike lines, building inter-facility solidarity that creates a foundation for successful action throughout CNA. I have also worked to educate nurses about campaigns supporting single payer health care and against health care corporations’ deadly restructuring policies, which so many of us are facing, because they put profits before patients and risk people’s health while destroying health care.”

Jane Sandoval
“I stepped away from the bedside in the throes of the pandemic and voluntarily continued as a bargaining team member in my facility for a notoriously difficult employer and finalized my last contract. What humbles me is knowing that, even after stepping aside, I have taught my counterparts the importance of an ironclad contract, especially in these challenging times, and the value of our voice and collective good. As time progresses, I believe that many will remember not just my name, but my story and our struggle. I am proud to have made a difference and have inspired others to believe that their voices matter.”

Allysha Shin
“My proudest accomplishment as a board member is holding up mask mandates and fighting against California’s ratio waivers during the height of the pandemic. CNA set the example of workplace protections and fought for PPE.”

Pamela Stowe
“My proudest moment as a Board member and Chief Nurse Rep was talking to the media about my hospital stockpiling N95 masks at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 while telling us nurses they were short of them, so we had to reuse masks. I’m also proud of standing on the strike line at Shasta Regional in Redding because, even though it’s not the hospital I worked at, I represent them as a board member and solidarity across facilities is important.”

Dahlia Tayag
“Our unwavering advocacy to protect the nurses, patients, and communities we serve is my proudest achievement. Covid exposed how under prepared our government and health care system were to handle a global pandemic. There were bad decisions, a lack of guidance by those in power, and employers who failed to adequately protect their workers. Our relentless fights through collective actions were highly impactful in securing health and safety for all.”

Dolores Trujillo
“I am the most proud of being on the Board of Registered Nursing for the state of California, and the Board President for two years.  In this position I am not only involved with the regulatory side of the board but also legislation that can affect registered nurses throughout the state. I am also proud of representing and advocating for nurses at my facility Kaiser Roseville and holding managers accountable to the terms and language of our collective bargaining agreement.”

Valerie Verity-Mock
“To say I am affiliated and a board member of this union is the proudest thing of my life (other than my children). When I represent our union in meetings outside the organization, people always ask, “Well, what does CNA say about this?” We are looked upon by people around the country, and around the world, as the gold standard. At my facility, I’m really proud of developing strong nurses at my hospital. During Covid, my hospital tried to get us to put N95s in a brown bag to autoclave them and make us wear them again. Well, I printed out a statement from 3M saying they can’t vouch for this, and so nobody did it. We all just threw them away, like we were supposed to.”

Rida Villanueva
“The last three years of Covid have been hard, but I am so proud to have been able to be on the board and use my leadership position to mentor really strong nurses. The nurses at my facility, Kaiser Vallejo, are just awesome. Our hospital and one of my nurse leaders were one of the first to take care of Covid patients. We had to really fight. I remember we barged in during some kind of town hall and one of my leaders challenged the executives by asking, “Would you wear used underwear from a paper bag?” And we were successful. We were the first of all Kaisers to go 100 percent all PAPRs, we were united against anti-Asian violence, we fought to guarantee proper orientation before taking assignments in other units.”

Estela Villegas
“I am happy to be a member of CNA/NNOC for the last 10 years and more recently to be able to sit as a board member. These last few years I am most proud of CNA/NNOC’s continued mission to unionize hospitals not only in California but throughout the country, such as Mission Hospital in North Carolina and Maine Medical Center. CNA was able to negotiate a strong and fair contract at my hospital in record time. I believe this is a testament to the strength of the nurses and CNA/NNOC. It is very important to me that CNA/NNOC is involved politically in order to advocate for causes that are important to nurses. I was extremely proud of the stance we took in 2020 and 2021: supporting Black Lives Matter and condemning the violence in Palestine.”

Brandy Welch
“I am proudest of how we were able to keep going as a board and found other ways to move our trajectory for impact. Doing the virtual thing was not easy, but we made it work. We had so many fights and it’s absolutely amazing how we were able to accomplish so much during lockdown. We still got bills passed! And we didn’t just survive, we grew our membership because nurses saw how important it was to have a union. And I have learned so much being on the board, and I take that education back to my nurses. There’s still so much work to do, but I’m ready for the work.”

Irma Westmoreland
“VA nurses have been fighting for decades for our union rights, so I am proudest of being able to get us the closest we’ve ever been to making that reality by passing the VA Employee Fairness Act in the House of Representatives. It was a great opportunity to testify before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on VA nurse issues and veterans care. I was also very glad to represent our union on the Department of Labor OSHA advisory board, and to help move the process of making our OSHA emergency temporary standard on Covid permanent.”

Amber Wiehl
“When Covid first hit, I’m not going to lie: I would say that my passion for the profession was at a low. I was really upset about how corporations were ruining nursing and putting us at risk on the regular. I was so worried about taking Covid home to my family. But being on the board has helped me reignite my passion for nursing because I saw how I was helping to improve things for the nursing profession as a whole. Being able to work with and learn from all these amazing women has been wonderful. It’s shown me that things may not happen as quick as we want, but with wins like the PPE stockpile bill, we’re making major changes that are forcing the health care industry to do what they should have been doing all along.”

Kimber Wooten
“Over the past three years I have been honored to be part of CNA and our advocacy around Covid protective equipment. Hospitals and outpatient clinics failed bedside nurses miserably and treated our lives as dispensable. Advocating at the federal level for an OSHA standard related to airborne diseases, from equipment to workplace standards, proved that agencies heard working nurses’ struggles with the pandemic.”