Dana Woods, Chief Executive Officer

American Association
of Critical-Care Nurses


As chief executive officer of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), Dana Woods provides leadership and strategic vision to implement the work of AACN and AACN Certification Corporation, its credentialing arm.

Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., AACN is the world’s largest specialty nursing organization, joining together the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses. AACN’s mission recognizes that patients and their families rely on nurses at the most vulnerable times of their lives. Acute and critical care nurses rely on the association for expert knowledge and the influence to fulfill their promise to patients and their families. AACN drives excellence because nothing less is acceptable.

AACN Certification Corporation promotes and enhances consumer health and safety through seven specialty — CCRN, CCRN-E, CCNS, PCCN, ACNPC, ACNPC-AG, ACCNS — and two cardiac subspecialty — CMC and CSC — certifications for nurses who care for acutely and/or critically ill patients and their families.

Before becoming CEO Jan. 1, 2014, Woods served as a member of AACN’s senior staff leadership group for 14 years, leading the teams accountable for marketing, communications, membership, certification, information technology and organizational effectiveness. She spearheaded strategy development and played a key role in developing signature initiatives, including “AACN Standards for Establishing and Sustaining Healthy Work Environments” and AACN Clinical Scene Investigator Academy. She also directed planning and production of plenary sessions for the 6,000-plus attendees at AACN’s annual National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition.

In addition to conducting extensive market research for the association since joining AACN in 1999, Woods served as co-investigator and co-author of three collaborative national studies examining nurses’ perceptions of the health of their work environment. She served as co-investigator for two national studies on how health professionals’ communication skills influence patient safety. Woods also co-authored a landmark AACN white paper on certification. She authored or co-authored articles published in Critical Care Nurse and JONA: Journal of Nursing Administration, and the chapter on marketing for two editions of Huber’s “Leadership and Nursing Care Management.”

Before joining AACN’s national staff, Woods held leadership positions in healthcare and nonprofit organizations on the West Coast. She was public relations director for Seattle Goodwill, then director of marketing and community relations for Martin Luther Hospital Anaheim and La Palma Intercommunity Hospital; at the time, both were California affiliates of Catholic Healthcare West.

Woods holds an undergraduate degree in economics from Tufts University and a master’s in business administration with highest honors from University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society recognizing business excellence.


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