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2024 Leadership Award Recipients Share Keys to Success

2024 National Leadership Award Recipients Member Spotlight

Meet Towers Pinnacle Award Recipient Kahlil Demonbreun and Sharp Cutting Edge Award Recipient Angela Golden.

On April 5, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) announced the winners of the 2024 National Leadership Awards. These recipients “are exemplary leaders who have made significant contributions to advancing the nurse practitioner (NP) role nationally or internationally,” and AANP recently had the honor of speaking with both. Kahlil Demonbreun, DNP, RNC-OB, WHNP-BC, ANP-BC, FAANP, FAAN, and Angela Golden, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, FOMA, shared their thoughts on technology and social media, how they became NPs specializing in women’s health and obesity (respectively) and what advice they would give to NPs just starting out.

Angela Golden: AANP Past President Speaks on Obesity and “Gee-Whiz” Technology

Depending on your specialty or interests as an NP, there’s a good chance you may know or know of Angela Golden. Both a past president of AANP and a founding co-chair of the Obesity AANP Community, Golden is an NP advocate who has written on a number of subjects, including the connection between health care and technology, as well as the “chronic disease of obesity.” What makes Golden’s NP journey unique is that her involvement with AANP as the Region 9 director and later as president spurred her into her current focus, whereas many NPs begin with a specialty first and then find their way into leadership roles.

“During my tenure as president, AANP was invited to participate in the 2013 guidelines for obesity. I had treated obesity in my primary care, but as my four-year term as president-elect, president and then immediate past president was coming to an end, I was trying to decide what I was going to do as a NP,” she explains. “Obesity was also coming to the forefront as a recognized disease from the American Medical Association (AMA), and AANP got more and more invitations to be involved.” As she learned more about obesity, Golden saw an opportunity for a practice devoted to the chronic disease — and one that would allow patients to affordably receive treatment through their insurance.

“I became immersed in all of these things that were happening in the world of the chronic disease of obesity, and so decided I would open a practice specifically geared toward the treatment of obesity,” she says. “It would be insurance-based so that it would be treated like every other chronic disease, and hopefully patients would be able to use their insurance. At that time, probably the vast majority of practices were cash-based, because not that many insurers were paying for the treatment of obesity. I opened my obesity practice and just became immersed in that world— not only seeing patients but then, after a couple of years, starting to participate in research and speaking about the chronic disease and how to treat it in primary care.” In the announcement naming Golden as the Sharp Cutting Edge Award recipient, AANP praised her “obesity intervention and treatment clinic in rural Arizona utilizing innovative, integrated technology for advancing care, modeled by other practices across the country.” Golden agrees that “technology does play a pretty big role around obesity because there’s so much great technology that can make it easier for the patient, for instance, to track their food — because learning how to have a different relationship with food is part of what we’re doing as we treat the chronic disease. That said — I’m always really careful because sometimes technology can be a hindrance. I think if there’s too much technology, patients can feel overwhelmed [...] There’s a lot of really cool technologies — they’re ‘gee-whiz.’ They don’t really have the ability to impact how the patient is treated for obesity. That’s the way I look at technology all the time: is it something that is going to benefit the patient, and is it something they’re interested in? Because again, everything about my obesity practice has my patient at the center. They’re the ones who are moving this journey forward. I’m there as a support factor.”

Kahlil Demonbreun: Health Policy and Women’s Health Champion

2,035 miles almost directly due east of Golden’s practice in rural Munds Park, Arizona, is where Kahlil Demonbreun is based in the (relatively) big community of Charleston, South Carolina, as a women’s health NP and as the women’s health medical director at the Columbia VA Health Care System. “For some reason as a young person — probably about 15 — I knew that what I wanted to do was what I later learned was the NP role,” he says. Regarding his specialty, he says the same thing: “I felt comfortable with the population of women as opposed to men and children...I just knew I should be a women’s health NP.”

One of Demonbreun’s many contributions to the NP role has been his “ten-year sustained participation on the AANP Health Policy Committee,” which “has resulted in summaries of more than 75 articles of federal and state legislation to advance NP practice.” Demonbreun shares that “what I really learned while I was on the AANP Health Policy Committee was that it does take an effort of multiple perspectives. When we look at a particular piece of legislation, it’s not just my personal opinion or my personal perspective, but how this contribution impacts the profession and individual members of the profession. I think working with Tay (Kopanos, vice president of state government affairs for AANP) and MaryAnne (Sapio, vice president of federal government affairs at AANP) is what I really felt proud of — being able to work with the committee itself and move the needle forward for the 385,000 NPs in the nation.”

Demonbreun’s bio on the announcement of his Towers Pinnacle Award also notes that “he holds a visible presence on social media and in the political arena where he continues to advocate for advancement of the NP role.” He first began a foray into social media by posting on Facebook, specifically writing posts about the NP role in stanzas — “so that you wouldn’t get lost by what I was saying,” he explains — but also made sure to “write my Facebook post in prose, and then I would cite it with an American Psychological Association (APA) citation...and writing in prose, I had this kind of mass, worldwide audience.” Cautious about blurring the line between his practice and personal life, Demonbreun clarifies that “I just wanted to be the NP guy named Kahlil [...] it wasn’t really about me, it was about the profession, and maybe if [my audience] had a misunderstanding of what full practice authority (FPA) was, they might gather more information and enlightenment about FPA, and that it translates to improved health care options for the populations that we serve.”

A Shared Commitment to Service

Both Demonbreun and Golden were asked what advice they had for NPs starting out and looking to succeed. “I think for any new NP, what I tell them is: get comfortable in your role first,” says Golden. “Get comfortable in taking care of the patient in front of you. Once you’ve gotten into that, and you’re starting to feel that comfort, then start to look: what are other opportunities that I might be interested in? Do I want to be a speaker? If so, find a mentor.”

“It’s no secret that I served as the chair for the Fellows selection committee,” says Demonbreun. “Often in those six years I have had folks that will come up and say, ‘How do I become a Fellow?’ And I would always look at them and say, ‘That’s not what you really want to do...what you really want to do is to contribute to the profession.’ A Fellow to me is a mindset of contribution to the profession; once you become inducted, that’s when the work really begins. Don’t focus on being a Fellow, but focus on being the best professional NP you can be.”

Concludes Golden: “All these other things that I’ve done, the volunteering, the advocacy — they’ve been at the periphery of what my central role is, and that’s to take care of the people that are in my community and in my practice. As much as I’ve loved all the other roles, that’s the role that has to be the most important, if you’re a clinician.”

Join the 2024 Leadership Award Recipients at National Conference

Demonbreun and Golden will be honored and officially receive their awards at the 2024 AANP National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, at the Opening General Session on Wednesday, June 26. Register by May 13 to take advantage of early bird savings, and remember that AANP members enjoy significant discounts (up to $200) on conference registration.

Register Now