Northwest Organization of Nurse Leaders News

NWONL Leaders in Action October 2020

This month NWONL looked inwardly and interviewed Executive Director, Cindi M. Warburton, DNP, ARNP. We asked about the unique challenges that the organization faced this year and what the strategic planning going into 2021 will look like.  We captured how the organization was able to quickly adapt to remain relevant.

NWONL - Well, let’s start with the obvious question of “how is it really going at NWONL given the covid-19 crisis and ongoing impact?”
Cindi – I personally feel we are better off than many. At first, we were “steady as we go”, as did most every organization I’ve talked and worked with since March… that lasted, oh about 30 days and we (all) were in pandemic response mode. NWONL specifically was hit hard both as a small non-profit and also that most of our value to members was traditionally in the form of face to face events. We went from going from a non-profit “break even” strategy, to a “limit the damage” strategy. That’s why I say we are better off than many, we won’t break even this year, but our loss is manageable and could have been quite a bit more.
NWONL - I can only image how challenging that was (and still is). What has changed?
Cindi – Obviously we lost one of our primary revenue sources (events). Since we run on a very tight budget it meant we had to reposition quickly. We did take a PPP (federal Cares Act forgivable loan) to cover basic expenses through June. Then we were able, like most others, to find a way to start using the online space to continue reaching out to members and find new ways to create value. It’s been a challenge; we are going from long-standing face to face events to virtual events.
NWONL - Are you able to elaborate?
Cindi – Well, in-person events take a little more planning, but they are usually vibrant, engaging and fun (for everyone). When we first thought about changing to a virtual event, we were concerned about it feeling like “just another webinar”. It turns out that a virtual event can be fun, interactive and leave people feeling like they “attended” something. It is much more than just a recorded webinar…it is virtual-live and one is expected to actually be present in order to reap the benefit of the content and conversation. It is real people…talking and solving issues in real time. Virtual-live events will likely be our forte for the foreseeable future.
NWONL – Where are we (NWONL and Membership) at now going into Q4-2020?
Cindi – Our Board and Committees have been strong and supportive… We have trialed and launched virtual seminars, events and meetings and have seen greater attendance and participation. We’ve are continuing to map out 2021 through 2023 in light of the environment we are in (covid-19). This includes a plan to build an adaptive framework for our operations so that we can continue to bring value to members in the virtual space until we can return to in-person events.
NWONL – Given that reality, what can we look forward to in 2021 specifically?
Cindi – One of the values of NWONL membership is our ability to offer CE to our members as low to no cost. This is something we launched this year and we have offered over 10 events through virtual sessions and regional council meetings. Our Board and Committees serve as “thought leadership” for curating content that is relevant and meaningful for members. We have also extended the invitation to attend the events for non-members and with a small fee if they would like the CE credit. This allows nurse leaders to participate in NWONL before fully committing to membership. We will definitely continue the CNO /Dean Rounding calls every month with a focus on content specifically for this group of leaders. The Charge Nurse class in being re-worked into a virtual offering and we hope to launch a New Nurse Leader course that will be a virtual cohort model.
NWONL – Can you tell us more about the Virtual Summit event that was just held?
Cindi – We held a 3-day virtual-live session that was conducted for 2 hours on 3 different days. This gave us time to take a deeper look at some important issues facing Nurse Leaders today. Moe Carrick led the sessions around what it takes to lead today amidst a pandemic and uncertainty as well as the very timely topic on Nurse Leaders and Race. We pulled off a meeting of the membership and a vote on updating our By-laws along with a happy hour that gave us all a much-needed chance to connect. We look forward to offering more events like this in 2021.
NWONL – Any concerns about 2021 and beyond?
Cindi –The sentiment out there is that we are in this for the long-haul. It may be 2022-23 before we really understand what a “new normal” is for events. So, for at least the next year I think we will be sticking to virtual events, limited venues and therefore limited revenue for the organization. This is all coupled with the fact that many organizations have halted or dramatically decreased education funding that many of our members use for professional development and membership. We continue to be able to react and adjust in an adaptive agile way to keep the organization solvent and provide Nurse Leaders with a way to network and collaborate across the region.

NWONL –Before we close, anything you’d like to add?
Cindi – I am incredibly proud of the Nurse Leaders, this has been quite the year….and what a year to remember, learn and grow from…this, “Year of the Nurse”. This next year, we aim to do more celebrating and recognition with NWONL Awards and Scholarships. We also look forward to more work and support of closing the gap around diversity and inclusion in nursing leadership.  
The NWONL community resonates courage, grace and grit and I am humbled and grateful to be a part of it.
NWONL – Well said. Thanks Cindi, we appreciate the insight and candor and are looking forward to 2021…