For many health care professionals, the last several years have been particularly challenging. Now, more than ever, nurses need acknowledgment and support for their incredible, lifesaving work. To honor nurses, the Simms/Mann Family Foundation created Off the Chart: Rewarding Nursing Greatness, a first-of-its-kind gift recognizing extraordinary nurses for their leadership, ingenuity and expertise in caring for patients.
In 2023, its inaugural year, the campaign is recognizing 30 remarkable nurses from three leading Los Angeles-area health systems — City of Hope, UCLA Health and Keck Medicine of USC — thanking each nurse with an unrestricted financial gift of $10,000.
“Oncology nurses are superstars! The 10 nurse recipients from City of Hope demonstrate nursing greatness that is sometimes not visible or celebrated by traditional metrics. Despite the challenges these nurses face on a daily basis, they continue to showcase extraordinary courage, ingenuity and expertise in caring for individuals and communities affected by cancer,” said Victoria Mann Simms, Ph.D., president of the Simms/Mann Family Foundation.
To be selected as an Off the Chart recipient, honorees must embody a bias toward action; a capacity for self-direction, originality and creative instincts; courageous and bold thinking; and the potential to achieve even more. City of Hope is thrilled to have 10 amazing nurses who meet these high standards and are recipients of the first ever Off the Chart: Rewarding Nursing Greatness honor.
“This is such a generous and motivating acknowledgement from the Simms/Mann Family Foundation, and I know I speak for all of our nursing staff, and certainly those honored by this recognition and gift, in expressing City of Hope’s appreciation and gratitude,” said City of Hope Senior Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Susan Brown, Ph.D., R.N., CENP. “Nurses often give of themselves unconditionally to our patients to ensure they have the best care experience possible, and that can be especially challenging with our unique population at City of Hope of patients with cancer. And in these last years of the pandemic, nurses have faced unprecedented times. The support, endorsement and benevolence of the Simms/Mann Family Foundation affirms the commitment of City of Hope’s nurses to their profession and is a testament to the foundation’s belief in the compassionate and caring work nurses do.”
All of the nurses were feted at a gala on May 22 hosted by the Simms/Mann Foundation at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Read more about City of Hope's honorees below.
Salena Agadier, M.S.N., R.N., BMTCN, CPHON
Salena Agadier, a pediatric oncology nurse, is committed to ensuring her young patients experience the fun parts of childhood, even when battling cancer. Whether painting their nails, discussing makeup application or watching their favorite TV shows, she goes out of her way to make her patients feel special. The bond Agadier develops with her patients and their families has made her a beloved and trusted member of City of Hope’s nursing team. As a leader, Agadier intentionally focuses on the positives to encourage and uplift her colleagues.
Carrie Clark Kunnath, B.S.N., R.N., BMTCN, OCN
Not only is Carrie Clark Kunnath a stem cell and bone marrow transplant nurse, but she is also a subject matter expert in Epic, the electronic health record system. In addition to being a dedicated and supportive advocate for her patients, Kunnath prioritizes creating a work environment that facilitates safe practice. She has been instrumental in creating documentation enhancements with the Nursing Informatics Council, training and educating her nursing colleagues on allogeneic transplants, and developing policies and procedures to improve workflows and prevent errors.
Catherine (Kate) Gonzales, B.S.N., R.N., CCRN
As an ICU nurse, Kate Gonzales is a constant source of strength, support and comfort for her patients. Whether she is tending to an emergency, planning a celebration for a special event or sitting with a family while they watch their child take his or her last breath, Gonzales always puts the needs and wishes of her patients first. She is also an exceptional leader dedicated to supporting her colleagues and community.
Heidi Jakob, B.S.N., R.N., OCN
Collaboration is at the heart of everything City of Hope does, and Heidi Jakob, an ambulatory infusion nurse, is a master collaborator with decades of experience. This experience has led her to develop a deep understanding of her patients' varied physical, emotional and psychological needs. A generous and thoughtful colleague, Jakob creates a welcoming and positive atmosphere for everyone she works with.
Anna Jimenez, M.S.N., R.N., CCRN-K, CNML, CPHQ
As a nurse manager, Anna Jimenez prides herself on creating a positive, collaborative, supportive work environment. She is committed to the happiness and well-being of her team, and she strives to make all her colleagues feel valued and appreciated. Jimenez is a solution-oriented problem-solver who has a gift for finding effective solutions to complex problems. She is also committed to the fight against women’s cancers, raising thousands of dollars for City of Hope’s annual Ride for Hope event.
Kristen Krayer-White, M.S.N., R.N., CCRN
Kristen Krayer-White joined City of Hope’s rapid response team in 2019, quickly becoming a trusted leader. Recognizing that many episodes of cardiorespiratory collapse occur outside of the ICU, Krayer-White educated all nurses on signs of patient deterioration, when to call a rapid response and how to keep patients safe. She also led an initiative for every nurse to have access to training on a crash cart. Krayer-White played a key role in developing the virtual crash cart, which features on-demand, computerized simulations. She is the author of the Rapid Response Monthly Newsletter, which is dedicated to sharing and accelerating improvements to rapid response. At the 2023 Association of California Nurse Leaders Conference, she shared her work, “Implementing a Standard Protocol for the Rapid Response Team in an Oncology Setting.”
Mary Smith, B.S.N., R.N., OCN
A nurse supervisor at City of Hope Orange County, Mary Smith finds a way to remain calm in every storm. When certain communities and clinics were especially hard-hit and lacked consistent staffing due to the pandemic and an acquisition, Smith stepped up, dedicating her time and skills to support her colleagues and patients when needed. No matter what challenges she faces, Smith always makes the time to connect with her peers, giving them a sense of trust, stability and hope.
Linda Tibi, A.D.N., R.N., BMTCN
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, triage nurse Linda Tibi quickly volunteered to become a COVID-19 safety champion, working with a team to build a COVID-19 Testing Drive-Thru from the ground up. For weeks, Tibi worked outside, in full PPE, enduring heat that soared above 120 degrees. During this difficult and uncertain time, her commitment to her patients never wavered, and she worked tirelessly to refine testing processes to improve care.
Hung Wang, B.S.N., R.N., GN-BC
An advocate for inclusivity and diversity, clinical nurse Hung Wang strives to make the workplace better for all. Stirred to action by the spike in assaults against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wang took the initiative to diffuse tensions, increase understanding, improve relationships and find connection by creating the first professional governance-sponsored “Healing for the Heart” event. He also facilitated connection through the “Faces of Hope” project, where nurses were invited to affix a headshot to their badge so that patients could see the faces of their nurses even when they were wearing masks.
Yi-Ping Wen, M.S.N., R.N., FNP-C
Nurse practitioner Yi-Ping Wen seeks to find better patient survivorship outcomes by working on comprehensive survivorship interventions through literature reviews. Coming to the U.S. from Taiwan with a dream of becoming a scientist whose work can change lives, Wen plans to pursue her doctoral degree and conduct nursing research. Wen works in the highly specialized field of hematology, and her spirit of curiosity and love of novel thought and action have made her an integral member of City of Hope’s nursing team.
Main photo: Pictured at the May 22 awards gala are, from left, City of Hope Vice President of Transformative Philanthropy Will Davis; award recipients Kunnuth, Tibi, Wang, Smith, Wen, Jimenez and Krayer-White; City of Hope Provost and Chief Scientific Officer Steven T. Rosen, M.D.; and Eva and Ming Hsieh Family Director’s Chair of the Center for Precision Medicine and Vice President of City of Hope National Medical Center Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.