Marla Weston, PhD, RN, FAAN, chief executive officer (CEO) of the American Nurses Association (ANA), is a distinguished and visionary leader for nursing, who has dedicated her career to improving the work and public policy environment for nurses and the quality of care for patients.
This focus has included leadership in a broad range of roles, including direct patient care in intensive care and medical-surgical units, nurse educator, clinical nurse specialist, director of patient care support, and nurse executive.
As executive director of the Arizona Nurses Association, Weston’s work to increase the legislative visibility and voice of Arizona nurses resulted in new whistleblower protection programs and legislation for advanced practice registered nurses.
While serving as deputy chief officer in the Veterans Affairs Workforce Management Office, she used data from the VA Nursing Outcomes Database to identify hospitals with high nursing satisfaction scores and obtained funding to help nurse leaders at these facilities pursue Magnet® Recognition.
Today, as CEO of the American Nurses Association and American Nurses Foundation, Weston is a powerful advocate for the nation’s 3.1 million registered nurses working to raise national awareness of nursing’s impact on health outcomes and support policy that enables nursing’s full participation in health care transformation.
Since becoming CEO in 2009, she has initiated programs to make vital nursing data available to scientists to build a compelling picture of nursing’s impact on quality and safety outcomes and to influence national health policy.
Under her leadership, the number of hospitals participating in ANA’s National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI) has increased by more than 30 percent with more than 1,900 hospitals currently participating. ANA’s annual National Quality Conference now attracts more than 1,000 participants.
Weston is currently involved in multiple performance measurement and public reporting initiatives and serves as ANA’s representative to the National Priorities Partnership (NPP), the Measures Application Partnership, the Hospital Quality Alliance, and the Nursing Alliance for Quality Care. Her leadership of the NPP’s Better Care Subcommittee resulted in close examination of the role of nurses in person- and family-centered care, communication and care coordination, and safety. On the Measure Application Partnership, Weston is ensuring that measure development considers the contribution of nurses across the continuum of care.
To ensure a strong national voice for nursing, Weston has helped forge partnerships among nursing groups and fostered effective working relationships between the Nursing Alliance for Quality Care, the American Academy of Nursing’s Expert Panel on Quality, and other groups working on national initiatives central to nursing, including care coordination, performance measurement, and patient- centered care.
She has also successfully advocated for adding nurses on national workgroups, such as the NPP Readmission Action Team and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Innovation Safety Roundtable.
Recognized as a Distinguished Alumni in 2012, Weston earned a bachelor’s of science in nursing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a master’s of science degree in nursing from Arizona State University and a doctoral degree at the University of Arizona. Her dissertation topic, “Antecedents to control over nursing practice,” addressed ways to increase the decision-making role of the hospital nurse – in short, nurse influence and power. In 2012, she was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.
As a committed and influential leader for nursing, Weston is not only helping to prepare and position nurses to improve the quality of health care in the United States, she is also making sure that policy makers understand and recognize the important contribution nurses make to quality health care.