UCLA nurses selected for Simms/Foundation honorrees

Ten UCLA Health nurses, including a current and a former UCLA School of Nursing student, are among 40 honored by the Simms/Mann Family Foundation in the second year of a campaign to recognize extraordinary nurses in Los Angeles. The foundation, through Off the Chart: Rewarding Nursing Greatness, recognized 40 nurses working at four medical centers in the Los Angeles area. The honor is intended to highlight the outstanding, humanistic care nurses provide in a variety of community settings—particularly focusing on nursing greatness that has limited visibility, goes uncelebrated, or is unacknowledged by traditional metrics.

Billal Khan, RN, BSN, a current MSN-APRN student, Sarah Wagstaff, RN, MSN, a 2022 graduate of the UCLA School of Nursing MSN-Entry program, and Jai I. Chung, FNP-BC, a 2012 graduate of UCLA's MSN-APRN program, are part of this year's cohort of honorees. 

Each nurse will receive a gift of $10,000 from the foundation. The unrestricted funds are an expression of gratitude for leadership, ingenuity, and expertise in caring for fellow human beings.

The gifts recognize nurses across disciplines, in inpatient and outpatient settings, and at various stages of their careers. The selection criteria were focused on nurses with “a bias toward action; a capacity for self-direction; originality and creative instincts; courageous and bold thinking; and the potential to achieve even more.”

According to Victoria Mann Simms, PhD, president, Simms/Mann Family Foundation, the recognition seeks to make the expertise of these nurses visible on a national scale, encourage professional growth, and empower self-advocacy, as well as to broaden public awareness of the crucial role nurses play. The foundation created the Off the Chart: Rewarding Nursing Greatness campaign to serve as an urgent call-to-action to reverse the alarming numbers and trend of nurses leaving the profession.

"We appreciate UCLA Health’s partnership to recognize ten extraordinary UCLA nurses,” Mann Simms said. “Their expertise, dedication, creativity and courage set an example for the nursing profession during this national nursing care crisis, and we hope it inspires others to make the investment in the nurses this nation so desperately needs.”

The Simms/Mann family and their foundation have supported clinical care at UCLA for more than 30 years. UCLA Health is home to the Simms/Mann Center for Integrative Oncology, which provides holistic mind/body/spirit support for patients and families facing a cancer diagnosis. In 2019, the Simms/Mann Family Foundation made a new $18-million commitment to ensure these supportive services remain free to patients.

“I salute Vicki and Ron Simms and the Simms/Mann Family Foundation for building on their philanthropy in such a wonderful way,” said UCLA Health President Johnese Spisso. “The Off the Chart: Rewarding Nursing Greatness campaign highlights the vital role of nurses and lets them know their care and compassion are appreciated.”

"As we proudly welcome the second cohort of our Off the Chart awardees, I want to express my gratitude to the Simms/Mann Family Foundation for their continued partnership and generous support," said Karen Grimley, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, chief nursing executive of UCLA Health and assistant dean of the UCLA School of Nursing. "This initiative not only honors the exceptional commitment and innovative spirit of our nurses but also strengthens our collective efforts to address the urgent challenges facing the nursing profession. Together, we are making a meaningful difference in the lives of those who dedicate themselves to caring for our communities."

“It has been deeply gratifying to witness over the past year how the UCLA Health nurse recipients from our inaugural 2023 class of Off the Chart: Rewarding Nursing Greatness have catalyzed change within and outside their organizations to enhance the safety and well-being of their colleagues and the communities they care for,” continued Mann Simms. "The 2024 Off the Chart recipients have already demonstrated their boldness and creativity in the many innovative ways they provide care and improve the patient experience. We are honored to celebrate their nursing greatness, and we know that they too will continue to achieve even more through their leadership and ingenuity in caring for their fellow humans and future generations.”

UCLA Health’s 2024 Off the Chart honorees are:

  • Stacey Carew, RN, MSD-Ed, RN-BC, Clinical Nurse, Nursing System Float Team-Medical Surgical/Telemetry, UCLA Health
  • Ana Liezl Cruz Meyer, RN, NC-BC, BSN, Clinical Nurse, Float Team, UCLA Health and Reigniting the Spirit of Caring Facilitator
  • Mary Gay C. Dacquel, RN, BSN, MEDSURG-BC, Administrative Nurse, Medical-Surgical Unit, UCLA Health
  • Christine Haddad, RN, BSN, Transport Nurse, UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital
  • Billal Khan, RN, BSN, Clinical Nurse, Float Team, UCLA Health
  • Lynn Mayer, MSN, RN-BC, Nurse Informaticist, UCLA Health
  • Jan Xavienne Nunez, RN, BSN, Clinical Nurse, Medical-Surgical Unit, UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center 
  • Adrienne Puglisi, RN, BSN, Lead Nurse, Pediatric Floor, UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center
  • Jesica Suarez, RN, BSN, RN Practice Coordinator, Pediatrics, Ambulatory Nursing, and Global Health, UCLA Health
  • Sarah Wagstaff, RN, MSN, Clinical Nurse, Neonatal ICU, UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center