Ep 71: Courage to Lead: Former AANA President Jackie Rowles, MBA, CRNA, ANP-BC, FAAN

Our presidential leadership series rolls along with a visit from Jackie Rowles, MBA, CRNA, ANP-BC, FAAN, who served as AANA President in 2009-10. She brought a background in pain management to the position and led the organization through a transitional period for the board. Not only has she made a significant impact on the profession, but she continues to be a leader at the International level. 

Click the timestamps below to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

On This Episode:

After looking back to the 80s and 90s in previous episodes of our presidential series, we move into last decade and spend some time interviewing Jackie Rowles, MBA, CRNA, ANP-BC, FAAN.

This is the latest installment of our ‘Courage to Lead’ series on Beyond the Mask, which focuses on the individuals that held important leadership roles in nurse anesthesia and helped guide us through a certain period of time. 

You might have heard Rowles on the podcast before when she took part in CRNA conversations, but we wanted to spotlight her career and the impact she’s made on the profession. Rowles served as the president of the AANA during the 2009 fiscal year (2009-10) and made history by becoming the first person from the state of Indiana to serve in that role. 

She was working in pain management when an incredible opportunity became available to her and it seemed to be the universe’s way of positioning her for that role with the CRNA. It provided her many chances to work with the organization and get to know many people already serving, and that put her in a position to become president in 2009. 

We spend time going through her career and what she remembers most about her time serving. And It was a unique year as well. She had to replace the executive director position before ultimately serving as the interim for the final three weeks of her presidency. As you can imagine, it was a difficult and exhausting period but it speaks to her strength as a leader. 

Some of the other highlights of her year include dealing with asbestos in the organization’s building, replacing key board positions, and changing meeting structures. Plus, she was fortunate enough to be in that position during an election year, which meant she got to represent the AANA at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions and spent significant time with CRNAs in Washington D.C.

We’ll let you listen to her perspective on the journey and what lessons she learned along the way, but make sure you stay around for the end. She explains why being a CRNA is the best profession to be in and sends a message to the newest people in the field on how to be involved and keep it strong.

We want to that this former president and our friend for taking the time out of her schedule to spend 40 minutes with us. And we also want to thank her for everything she’s meant to the profession.

Check it out at the top of the page and use the timestamps to help you navigate through the many topics we discussed.

2:47 – Welcome in our guest Jackie Rowles, who gives us a quick overview of her career. 

3:42 – Jackie’s dad was an amazing person and took such an interest in nurse anesthesia.

7:08 – How she had been recruited into a pain management practice before becoming president. 

9:12 – In October of 2008, they had their first AANA sponsored pain management education and the timing worked out for her.

10:14 – Pain management has come full circle and has been legitimized and appreciated today. But it took 15 years.

11:11 – The VA Pain Act was signed. 

12:49 – What were some of the internal issues she dealt with during her presidency?

15:34 – Why it was different working with John Garde.

17:04 – John Garde made the change of Executive Director smooth but he got diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

21:08 – After John’s funeral, Jackie became interim Executive Director during the final weeks of her presidency. 

22:33 – Sharon shares her memory of Jackie during that time and the story about a cruise they were taking together.  

25:15 – A couple more highlights that Jackie wants to document. 

31:13 – The most valuable leadership lessons she learned. 

36:05 – What message would you give new CRNAs?

37:25 – If she could pick any other profession, what would it be?

39:07 – Jackie’s final message to everyone.


“As former presidents, I feel like our role is to support. Support the board and make the organization as strong as it can be. It doesn’t mean we agree with everything but that is your role.”

-Jackie Rowles, DNP CRNA

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