Speakers

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 Senior Policy Service Professor at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement, 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. She 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 and an additional analysis of journalists’ experiences with 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 serves on the boards of directors for the Primary Care Development Corporation, Public Health Solutions, and Margaretville Hospital (part of the Westchester Medical Health Network). She was the only nurse serving on the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s committee and report on Integrating Social Care into the Delivery of Health Care. She is the recipient of numerous awards for policy, leadership, dissemination of science, writing, education, public health, media and advocacy; most recently the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Health Policy by the New York Academy of Medicine in 2019 and the Archon Award for Leadership from Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honorary Society and the Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University Transformational Leadership Award in 2021. Dr. Mason received a BSN from West Virginia University, MSN from St. Louis University, and PhD from New York University; and holds an honorary doctorate of science degree from West Virginia University and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Long Island University.

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—and 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. She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and daughters whom she hopes to build a better world for.

Lois James, PhD

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


Lois James is the Assistant Dean of Research and an Associate Professor in the Washington State University (WSU) 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. During her time at WSU, James has brought in approximately $6,000,000 of extramural funding, making her an important contributor to WSU’s “Drive to 25” goal of being recognized as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities, preeminent in research and discovery, teaching, and engagement by 2030.

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.

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.

Patti Timbers, MBA, RN-BC

Certified coach, speaker, and trainer


Patti Timbers moved to WA state in 2004 as a travel nurse. After meeting her husband, she grew roots in lieu of moving on. She now lives in Yelm, WA with her teenage son, husband, and mother-in-law.

Her, just shy of 30-year career, started on a Medical Oncology unit. Since then, Patti has worked in ICU, PACU, home infusion, as a consultant for an IV pump company, as well as on Informatics and Education teams. She currently works at Northwest Kidney Centers as the Director of Informatics and Education.

Although that has been a fulfilling career, it was only after engaging in depth personal growth and learning in 2017 and earning an MBA in 2019, when she understood that growing people is the passion that drives her in life.

Patti continued her self-discovery and growth in 2020 becoming a certified coach, speaker, and trainer. She entered the world of entrepreneurship in 2021 and started Growing with Timbers. 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.

Ronda Conger

Business woman, professional speaker, and author


Some say she was raised by wolves, others claim truckers. No matter what her upbringing, this superwoman has flourished in a male dominated industry for 30 years. As Vice President of CBH Homes, Idaho’s largest homebuilder, Ronda leads the CBH troops daily, and has overseen all areas of the company for the past 20 years.

Her most recent accomplishment that tops Ronda’s list is being named 2021 NAHB Woman of the Year by the National Association of Home Builders.

Serving others is important to Ronda. As a business woman, professional speaker, and author, Ronda is on a mission to spread a movement with her four books: Better Human, Better Thinking, You Go First and her latest book Leading Through Extraordinary Times.

It’s been rumored her high energy and passion come from shotgunning red bulls daily, but she’ll tell you it comes from her incredibly hot husband, Jim Conger ( just ask her) and her two sons.

She thanks the heavens each day for this incredible journey and is so very grateful for the opportunity to serve and love all those that she comes in contact with.