WSNA honors nurses for leadership of bargaining units

WSNA would not be where it is today without the significant contributions of these award winners

This story was published in the Spring-Summer 2024 issue of The Washington Nurse.

WSNA’s Labor Executive Council recognized ten champions with Leadership Awards on April 29 at a gala dinner at the Union Leadership Conference in Chelan.

These awards recognize individuals and teams that have stepped forward to strengthen and guide their bargaining units

Award winners led the charge in protecting nurses’ rights, fighting for stellar contracts, growing membership, overcoming adversity, and inspiring, and guiding others. They are those that the other nurses look to for guidance and leadership. Our local bargaining units would not be where they are today without the significant contributions of these award winners.

Each recipient was nominated by members, and the winners were selected by WSNA’s Labor Executive Council.

Local Unit Chair


Kathleen Thompson
Providence Visiting Nurses Association Home Health

Kathleen has long been an efficient and effective local unit chair for Providence VNA. She relentlessly advocates for nurses, runs a wicked meeting, and is a consummate professional when addressing issues with management. She supports nurses through the grievance process and investigatory meetings, and she represents WSNA with skill and grace.

The murder of a coworker and friend, Doug Brant, in December 2022 required Kathleen to lead in new and difficult ways. She remained strong as WSNA chair of her unit and put her own grief aside to honor the family and support the nurses by planning and helping to carry out a candlelight vigil. Kathleen continues to advocate for safety when it comes to home visits, and the safety of all nurses remains one of her top priorities.

Kathleen’s nominator summed it up, calling her a “great nurse, a remarkable nurse advocate, and a dedicated and loyal friend.”

Local Unit Star


Kristin Malmo
PeaceHealth St. Joseph’s Medical Center

Kristin is approachable, a good listener, and willing to step up and file grievances if that is what’s needed to get nurses what they need.

Her nominator described her as a “thoughtful, respectful, and incredibly thorough” leader. She is always willing to stand by a member if representation is needed and has supported multiple nurses through the grievance process.

Kristin has advocated for better schedules and safe staffing to support her colleagues in the Labor & Delivery, Special Care Nursery, and Postpartum units. To build solidarity with the nurses, Kristin posts “fun facts” about the contract and facilitates meetups outside of the hospital.

As her nominator said, “She is inclusive and a wonderful representation of a WSNA nurse.”

Outstanding Grievance Officer

Twohig accept

Tristan Twohig
Providence Holy Family Hospital

Tristan lives the adage, “Knowledge is power.” He is a champion of the contract and thrives on making sure nurses are utilizing the protections in their contract to the fullest. Tristan goes out of his way to ensure that nurses at Providence Holy Family know their rights.

He also stays up to date on laws that affect nursing. This law and contract knowledge made Tristan a powerful asset at the negotiating table, where he helped Holy Family nurses secure a raise of 10.1% upon ratification, stronger workplace violence language, and groundbreaking float pool language.

Tristan continually presses for better staffing and safety in the hospital. He is always open to answering questions, whether in person or via the unit’s Facebook group.

As one of his nominators said, “He cares so deeply about keeping every member supported.”

Outstanding Grievance Officer

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Dawn Marick
PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center

At PeaceHealth Southwest, Dawn is known as a well-spoken and determined advocate for nurses. Dawn’s nominator, speaking to her own experience fighting a wrongful termination, said of Dawn: “Her professionalism, dedication, bravery, and confidence during my ordeal allowed me to keep faith in justice.”

Dawn’s determination to protect nurses goes well beyond one egregious case. She supports nurses throughout the hospital by spending hours reviewing records and policies, tracking down information the hospital fails to disclose, and working with nurses to ensure they are treated fairly.

While the confidential nature of grievances means other nurses will never know exactly how much she has worked to ensure justice, nurses do know that Dawn will be a fierce advocate for them whenever they need her to be.



Keith Templeton
MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital

When Jared Richardson left Good Samaritan to join the WSNA staff, he had a replacement in mind—someone he could count on to run new employee orientation meetings and grow membership. That person was Keith Templeton.

Coming out of the pandemic, Keith picked up the work to encourage new employees to join WSNA, leading twice-per-month new employee orientation meetings in which he shares key information, such as Weingarten Rights, the rights of unionized workers to have representation during investigatory interviews, the importance of filing assignment despite objectives (ADOs) to keep track of working conditions, how to reach local unit officers, and why joining WSNA is so important. Keith’s hard work is an important part of the reason membership compliance at Good Samaritan has increased from 84% to 91% in one year.

As his nominator said, Keith “has been so dedicated and so reliable and shows so much enthusiasm for WSNA, which rubs off on those he speaks to.”


Troyer accept

Emily Troyer
Providence Holy Family Hospital

Emily’s innovative approach to membership recruitment is exceptional. Under her visionary leadership, Holy Family’s membership soared from a modest 80% to an astounding 98%.

Due in large to Emily’s work, WSNA’s influence at Holy Family has expanded exponentially, reaching corners of the hospital previously untouched.

The local unit liaison onboarding class she developed fosters invaluable connections, and her PowerPoint presentations for new hires are organizing tools as much as they are informative.

Emily is also a nurturing force, cultivating a new generation of nursing leaders with wisdom, compassion, and unwavering support. As her nominator said, “Emily Troyer is more than an outstanding Membership Officer; she is a beacon of hope and excellence in nursing organizing.”



John Gustafson
Retired, St. Joseph Medical Center

John was a WSNA leader and force for good from just about the day he walked into St. Joseph’s Tacoma in 2010. He quickly realized that nurses needed representation and became a WSNA grievance officer, served on the negotiating team, and co-chaired the Staffing Committee. However, his advocacy didn’t stop at his local unit. He served on WSNA’s Cabinet on Economic and General Welfare (now the Labor Executive Council) and was a delegate to the American Nurses Association Membership Assembly and the AFT Convention.

When John accepted a job at a non-WSNA hospital, he joined WSNA as an individual member, and he is currently serving his second term on the WSNA Board of Directors. He also serves on the board of the WSNA Political Action Committee. John can always be counted on to show up and support nurses.

His retirement in 2021 didn’t stop his advocacy for nurses, workers, and WSNA.



Astria Toppenish Hospital RNs

Over the past two years, the nurses at Astria Toppenish Hospital have faced numerous challenges, but they have never given up.

In 2018, there were no elected local unit officers at Toppenish. Today, there is a full slate of officers and unit representatives. Their growing power helped win nurses record raises in 2022, making them among the highest-paid nurses in the region.

Then, right before Christmas in 2022, the hospital abruptly closed its Family Maternity Center, leaving a huge hole for the community. These nurses organized town hall and city council meetings and attended interviews with radio, TV, and newspaper reporters, and they were instrumental in getting a proposal on the ballot for a Public Health District in Toppenish so that services for mothers and babies could be restored. The ballot measure did not meet the required 60% threshold, but the fight is not over, and Toppenish nurses are up to the challenge.

Outstanding Negotiating Team


Virginia Mason Medical Center
Bargaining Team

Kim Adekoya, Sam Asencio, Martha Bermeo, Hannah Collins-Lewis, Art Laycock, Kaylyn Telfer, Jane Hill Littlejohn, Aaron Persinger, Michael Salters, Kimberly Travis-Carter, Donna Watts, Allison Wortman

In 2023, the Virginia Mason (VM) bargaining team faced, for the first time, the hospital’s new owner, CommonSpirit Health—the largest nonprofit hospital system in the United States. As they went into bargaining, three-quarters of the bargaining team had never negotiated before, and the unit had only two officers.

Against the odds, the 12 bargaining team members rallied their coworkers to carry off a wildly successful picket that was covered by all local (and some national) media and fundamentally changed the way that Management would look at the Union from then on.

Nurses at Virginia Mason forced management to agree to put weapons detectors in the Emergency Room—the first metal detectors in any of the 140 CommonSpirit hospitals and the first time that language about metal detectors would be embedded in a contract. Additionally, nurses will now climb the wage scale annually, instead of once they work a requisite number of hours.

VM nurses now have eight officers and a robust network of union representatives and activists throughout the hospital. This VM bargaining team has created a legacy to be proud of. They delivered a contract that was historic and approved by a unanimous vote.

Outstanding Negotiating Team


MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital Bargaining Team

Aaron Bradley, Erin Butler, Ashley Eubanks, Paul Grantham, Raeli Korzeniecki, Anne Landen, Atalia Lapkin, Dawn Morrell, Jared Richardson, Mindy Thornton

Good Samaritan was known as a somewhat sleepy unit that had not even held a picket before.

Not. Any. More.

The negotiating team of 10 nurses, who had never worked together before, woke up the bargaining unit and led their coworkers through an enormously effective picket. Nurses showed up en masse at a Pierce County Council meeting and took over a Department of Health hearing on whether MultiCare should be allowed to build another tower at Good Samaritan. Nurses informed DOH that the current hospital was so grossly understaffed that there was no way MultiCare could staff a new tower, and made it clear to Management that they weren’t afraid to stand up publicly.

Several nurses went on “field trips” in which they followed Good Samaritan and MultiCare to fundraising events and leafletted the attendees. When MultiCare called the police on its nurses, the officer told MultiCare that the nurses had a right to be there and then happily posed for photos.

Then, under a tent in the pouring rain, a huge number of nurses showed up to vote to authorize a strike. Hours after the announcement that 96% of the nurses had voted YES to strike, and after 19 bargaining sessions, management caved and agreed to add charge and flex nurse positions in certain units and to include groundbreaking meal and rest break language into the contract, which was ratified unanimously.