Speakers

2023 speaker

Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN

Senior Policy Service Professor at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, George Washington University School of Nursing


Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, is a senior policy service professor at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at the George Washington University School of Nursing and professor emerita at Hunter College, where she held the Rudin Endowed Chair and founded the Center for Health, Media & Policy.

Dr. Mason is the programme director for the International Council of Nurses’ Global Nursing Leadership Institute, a past president of the American Academy of Nursing, and former editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Nursing.

She has produced and hosted radio programs on health and health policy since 1985 and currently hosts HealthCetera in the Catskills on WIOX Radio.

She has served as the only health professional on the National Advisory Committee for Kaiser Health News since its inception in 2009.

Dr. Mason is the lead editor of the book Policy and Politics in Nursing and Health Care and blogs on policy for JAMA Health Forum. She is the principal investigator on a 2017 replication of the 1997 Woodhull Study on Nurses and the Media published in 2018 in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship. She did an additional analysis of journalists’ experiences using nurses as sources in health news stories published in the American Journal of Nursing.

She is chair of the National Advisory Board for the Rush Center Health and Social Care Integration and of the Steering Committee for the Catskills Addiction Coalition.

She is the recipient of numerous awards for policy, leadership, dissemination of science, writing, education, public health, media, and advocacy, including the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Health Policy by the New York Academy of Medicine in 2019.

Dr. Mason received a BSN from West Virginia University, MSN from St. Louis University, and PhD from New York University.

She will speak on elevating your power.

2023 speaker

Elsa Sjunneson

Author and advocate


Elsa Sjunneson is an internationally published author on the subject of disability and ableism. As a deafblind activist, she has worked to dismantle structural ableism. As an author, she’s written her memoir, Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism, reported for Radiolab on “The Helen Keller Exorcism,” and been the subject of a PBS American Masters Short Documentary. Being Seen was nominated for a 2022 Hugo Award and won for best biography/memoir in the 2022 Washington State Book Awards.

Sjunneson lives at the crossroads of blindness and sight. Sjunneson has partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids. She cannot see well enough without a guide dog or cane, but she can see people react to her disability and often hears what they say.

Sjunneson will address ending ableism against people with disabilities in the healthcare system.

2023 speaker

Lois James, PhD

Assistant Dean of Research and Associate Professor, Washington State University College of Nursing


Lois James, PhD, is an assistant dean of research and an associate professor in the Washington State University College of Nursing, where she focuses on the impact of sleep loss, fatigue, stress, and bias on performance and safety in shift workers such as nurses, police officers, firefighters, and military personnel. She has received multiple honors and awards for her work and is internationally recognized as a leading expert in her field. She is the founding director of Counter Bias Training Simulation (CBTsim), a novel and innovative simulation-based implicit bias training program that has been featured in National Geographic and the feature-length documentary “bias.” Dr. James’s work has been published extensively in academic journals, practitioner magazines, and mainstream media such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

She will speak on her latest research on the effects of fatigue among nurses.

2023 speaker

Lynnette Vehrs, MN, RN

President, Washington State Nurses Association


Lynnette Vehrs, RN, MN has served as president of WSNA for the past two years. She is a registered nurse who has worked in a broad variety of health care capacities, including at Providence Visiting Nurses in Spokane; Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane; Providence Medical Center in Seattle; in an intensive care unit in Lillehammer, Norway; and in psychiatric nursing in Tacoma.

Lynette went on to teach classes at& the Washington State University (WSU) College of Nursing prior to her retirement from the workforce.

Lynette obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, as well as her certification as a nurse educator, at WSU.

2023 speaker

Meghan Eagen-Torkko, PhD, CNM, ARNP, FACNM

Associate Professor and Director of Nursing, University of Washington Bothell School of Nursing & Health Studies


Meghan Eagen-Torkko, PhD, CNM, ARNP, FACNM is Associate Professor and Director of Nursing at the University of Washington Bothell School of Nursing & Health Studies and maintains a clinical practice in sexual and reproductive health at Public Health Seattle-King County. She has practiced as an RN since 2001 and as a CNM/ARNP since 2009. She completed her BSN (2001) and MN (2009) at the University of Washington, and her PhD (2015) at the University of Michigan. Dr. Eagen-Torkko’s research is centered on the effects of structural power and equity on sexual and reproductive health outcomes, with a particular focus on nurses in abortion care and LGBTQIA+ health. She has published widely on ethical issues related to abortion and nursing, on the effects of racism on birthing families during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the impacts of trauma on both patients and nurses. She currently serves on the Ethics Committee and the Gender Equity Task Force for the American College of Nurse-Midwives, and previously served on the Truth & Reconciliation and Scope of Practice Task Forces. She also currently serves on the Board of Nurses for Sexual and Reproductive Health, as well as the Enduring Guidelines Cervical Cancer Task Force (NIH/NCI), and as a DEI Advocate in the University of Washington School of Nursing. She has been a member of WSNA since 2013.

2023 speaker

Patti Timbers, MBA, RN-BC

Certified coach, speaker, and trainer


Patti Timbers, MBA, BSN, has been a nurse for over 25 years with a passion for helping people and their growth. Along with being director of informatics at Northwest Kidney Centers, Timbers is a life coach helping nurses become the best versions of themselves. Her mission is to help individuals and groups find their passion, let go of their past hurts, and become the truest version of themselves to improve the world around them.

She will speak on personal change, motivation, and growth. Her talk will also discuss how to find your passion and let go of what doesn’t work, while refining what you want to carry forward.

2023 speaker

Ronda Conger

Business woman, professional speaker, and author


Ronda Conger has flourished in a male-dominated industry for 30 years. As vice president of Idaho’s largest homebuilder, CBH Homes, she leads the troops daily and has overseen all areas of the company for the past 20 years. Her most recent accomplishment is being named 2021 Woman of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders.

Serving is important to Conger. Her mission is to spread movements with her books: Better Human, Better Thinking, You Go First, and the latest book, Leading Through Extraordinary Times.

The award-winning author and highly acclaimed national speaker will talk on inspirational leadership through extraordinary times.

2023 speaker

Sara Kim, PhD

Associate Dean for Educational Quality Improvement, School of Medicine, University of Washington


Dr. Sara Kim, Research Professor of Surgery, received her PhD in Education in 1999 from University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Currently, she serves as Associate Dean for Educational Quality Improvement, School of Medicine, University of Washington. She is the LCME (Liaison Committee on Medical Education) Faculty Accreditation Lead, overseeing the medical school’s continuous quality improvement covering both operational and educational content areas.

Dr. Kim is the inaugural holder of the George G. B. Bilsten Professorship in the Art of Communication with Peers and Patients. She actively leads research programs in conflict management and collaborates with a wide range of clinical, administrative and educational stakeholders across UW Medicine. Since 2014, she has developed training programs and taught over 3,000 healthcare professionals communication skills associated with conflict management and resolution. Her work has been primarily supported through the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine grants as well as the UW Medicine Patient Safety Innovation Programs (PSIP).

She has numerous peer-reviewed publications in leading medical education and medical specialty journals, covering topics of physician communication skills, assessment, teaching and learning practices. Previously, Dr. Kim served on the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) Research in Medical Education (RIME) Committee and is currently a review board member for the journal, Teaching and Learning in Medicine.