CNL Visionary Leader and Vanguard Awards

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AACN presents the annual CNL Visionary Award to recognize a leader in advancing the CNL role. AACN and the Commission of Nurse Certification (CNC) presents the Vanguard Award annually to recognize a certified CNL for innovative and outstanding professional performance and advocacy of the CNL role. In addition, these awards promote the contributions of the CNL in transforming healthcare.

eligibility criteria

  • The candidate must be nominated by a nursing colleague/co-worker, nursing supervisor, or CNL student. The candidate must meet the following criteria:
  • Hold CNL certification from the CNC
  • Employed in a CNL role or as a CNL educator for a minimum of two years
  • Demonstrate innovation in transforming patient care with sustainable outcomes (specific examples of outcomes should be included)
  • Demonstrate clinical leadership or professional leadership in developing the CNL role through innovative education or academic-practice partnerships
  • Serve as a role model of professional practice contributing positively to the professional environment
  • Promote change or collaboration within the system to improve quality of patient care
  • Advocate for the CNL role at the local, state or national levels

Submission requirements

The application must include a criteria statement/narrative (not to exceed two pages in length) that explains how the candidate demonstrates the eligibility criteria and two letters of support from individuals other than the individual submitting the application. These individuals may be from academia or practice and should describe the relationship with the CNL, length of time known, and how the CNL nominee embodies the award criteria. The criteria statement/narrative and two letters of support may be submitted as an attachment.

Application Deadline and Review: Applications must be received by CNC by October 14, 2013.

The application for the 2013 CNL Vanguard Award must include the completed application form, criteria statement/narrative and two letters of support. All materials must be submitted together. The completed application and letters of support should be submitted electronically to Tracy Lofty, CNC’s Director, at or mailed to CNC, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036.

Selection of Award Winners

An expert review panel (two members of AACN’s CNL Steering Committee and one member of the CNC’s Board of Commissioners) will consider all completed applications received by the deadline (October 14, 2013 COB ET). The recipient will be selected based upon the information submitted describing how the nominee meets the eligibility criteria; preference will be given to the applicant who has demonstrated innovative and effective change for care delivery. The recipient will be notified by Friday, November 15, 2013.

View 2012 Award Winners

(By submitting the application, all parties consent and authorize use of the narratives as well as future photos for promotional purposes. Excerpts from the application will be read during the award presentation at the CNL Summit. Descriptions may be included in a future database of CNL best practices. It is the responsibility of the individual submitting the application to obtain permission from the nominee prior to submitting the application.)

Award Presentation and Promotion

  • If selected, the recipient must be available to attend the 2014 CNL Summit and present a 15-20 minute presentation highlighting his/her experiences, actions, and outcomes implementing and advancing the CNL.
  • The CNL Vanguard Award recipient will receive a complimentary registration, $500 travel stipend to attend the 2014 CNL Summit and Research Symposium, a commemorative award, and a CNL lapel pin.

Contact Information

Questions? Tracy Lofty, CNC’s Director, at or Joan Stanley, AACN’s
Senior Director, Education Policy, at; telephone: (202) 463-6930.