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Opening Ceremonies Inform, Entertain, and Inspire

The official opening of the 79th Annual Meeting on Sunday, Aug. 5, blended tradition with high-energy fun and entertainment.  Attendees came together to celebrate their profession and honor individuals who have advanced it.

The meeting began with the traditional procession of state presidents, AANA Foundation Friends for Life, award recipients, past presidents, and finally the Board of Directors and AANA President Debra Malina, CRNA, DNSc, MBA.

Chaplain Tsung Yu Pan from the 352nd Combat Support Hospital delivered the Invocation. The audience stood at attention as the South Bay Recruiting Company Color guard presented the Colors of the United States and the a capella group The Coats sang the national anthem.

Introducing Distinguished Audience Members

Serving as master of ceremonies for the event, Malina began by honoring attendees who serve or have served in the military. “The nurse anesthesia profession is blessed and privileged to have so many dedicated men and women willing to put their personal lives on hold for the service of their country,” she said. “It takes an extraordinary person to leave the safety and comfort of home and family.  We are honored to have many members of the Armed Forces with us today.” 

Malina also introduced the following nursing organization representatives attending the AANA Annual Meeting: Robert Patterson, American Association for Men in Nursing; Susan Hohenhaus, Executive Director, Emergency Nurses Association; Gail Lenehan, President, Emergency Nurses Association; David Polner, President, Association of Veteran’s Affairs Nurse Anesthetists; Franklin Shaffer, Chief Officer, Commission on Graduates Foreign Nursing Schools; Sara Anne Fairchild, Treasurer, Association of periOperative Registered Nurses; Rear Admiral Margaret Rykowski, Deputy Director, Navy Nurse Corp, Reserve Component; and Xavier Lassalle, Referent and Coordinator of Anesthesia Services for Doctors without Borders.

Jackie Rowles, CRNA, MBA,MA, FAAPM, who is the United States country representative and first vice president of the International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists (IFNA) introduced the following IFNA country representatives attending the Annual Meeting:  Ingrid Andersson and May-Lena Farnert (Sweden), Elizabeth Reine and Morten Hoydahl (Norway), Moncef Jendoubi (Tunisia), Yaar Mohammed Awj (Canada), Marja-Liisa Ylitalo-Airo (Finland), Marjorie Staine and Keith Neal (Belize), Juergen Osterbrink (Germany), and Mai Taki (Japan). 

Moncef Jendoubi, chairman of the 2014 World Congress for Nurse Anesthetists Organizing Committee, spoke to the audience about his home country, Tunisia, and introduced a video depicting the sights and sounds of the city of Yasmine-Hammanet, the site of the 2014 World Congress.

The Opening Ceremonies is a time to honor individuals who have advanced the profession of nurse anesthesia. Malina presented the awards for Program Director of the Year, Clinical Instructor of the Year, and Didactic Instructor of the Year. Catherine Kinsey, RN, student representative to the AANA Public Relations Committee, presented the Public Relations Recognition Awards. AANA Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Bette Wildgust, CRNA, MS, MSN, presented the Foundation’s John F. Garde Researcher of the Year Award and the Rita L. LeBlanc Philanthropist of the Year Award. (See “Awards Presented at the Opening Ceremonies” in this issue for complete coverage of the Opening Ceremonies award winners.)

Wildgust also gave the audience an overview of Foundation activities and accomplishments, and announced the following new Friends for Life: Janice Drake, CRNA; Suzanne Dufek, CRNA, BSN; Cynthy  Hill, CRNA; Birgitta Johnasson, CRNA; Lynn  Reede, CRNA, MBA; Kay Sanders, CRNA, DNP; and Linda Summers, CRNA, MS.


The entertainment portions of the Opening Ceremonies featured musical selections to please nearly all age groups in the audience. The Coats, an a capella band that got its start on the street corners of Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, delighted the audience with innovative vocal arrangements and high-energy renditions of a diverse range of songs—everything from the Beatles, to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, to a rendition of Three Dog Night’s Joy to the World that had the audience on their feet. Lovefool, a popular Bay area cover band that performs throughout Northern California at nightclubs, festivals, and fairs rounded out the Opening Ceremonies with their own special take on music from the 80s 90s, and beyond. 

Steve Mund, CRNA, DNP, chair of the CRNA-PAC Committee, provided an update on a highly successful PAC fundraising period and recognized PAC donors in the audience. ”Since the beginning of the 2011-2012 election cycle, our ‘Care to be Counted’ campaign has raised a record $1.2 million from thousands of AANA member contributors,” he said. “That’s three-quarters of the way toward our two-year, $1.75 million goal. With national elections taking place just three months from now, we hope YOU will ‘Care to be Counted’ by contributing to our CRNA-PAC before leaving this Annual Meeting.”

Thanks and Farewell

As the Opening Ceremonies came to a close, Malina thanked the AANA’s corporate partners and urged attendees to take the opportunity to visit them in the Exhibit Hall. She also thanked the AANA members in the audience, telling them, “It is your strength and dedication to the profession that makes AANA such a strong organization.”

The event ended on a joyful note, as the audience poured into the aisles to dance to Lovefool’s rollicking rendition of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” and a medley of other dance tunes.