Nurses of Note 2023: The Interim Director and Nurse Development Leader


PerfectServe’s Nurses of Note awards program honors nurses who deserve recognition for their service, sacrifice, and devotion to their patients and colleagues. For the third year of the Nurses of Note program, PerfectServe is highlighting nurses who’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and whose resilience, creativity, and determination inspire others to do the same.

These honorees are outstanding representatives from the field of nursing, and the stories they share help paint a picture of the difference they make for their patients and communities every single day. Of the 200-plus winners from this year’s program, we’ve selected a handful to engage with more in-depth profiles that will be published throughout the year. These are their stories.

The Interim Director and Nurse Development Leader: Crystal Lawson | Marina Del Rey, CA

For many nurses, working at the bedside makes up the majority of their careers. For Dr. Crystal Lawson, DNP, RN, CENP, her career began this way but morphed into serving patients and fellow providers in a new way. Though she no longer serves at the bedside, her work has a big impact on both patients and the fellow nurses and nurse leaders she educates.

Crystal knew she wanted to be a nurse largely because caring for others had always been one of her passions. She obtained her BSN in 2006 and served clinically in both pulmonary and labor & delivery. She eventually transitioned into a leadership role in 2010 after discovering how much she valued the pursuit of education and development. As an expert clinician, she began counseling and training other nurses on how to be leaders in their field and continually develop their nursing skills.

As Crystal shared, she finds great joy in watching others move into their strengths and witnessing the impact they make. So in May of 2022, she started We Rise Up, LLC to provide leadership development to equip, inspire, and empower leaders through accessible, affordable, and customized programs. Crystal sees nurse leaders as the glue that holds many healthcare organizations together, but the traditional education they receive doesn’t always give them great leadership competencies. While some organizations offer leadership training to their nurses, many don’t have the financial resources to do so. We Rise Up, LLC provides leadership development workshops, keynote speaking, and consulting services for various leadership positions.

“Truly, I eat, sleep, and breathe leadership development; it is my passion,” Crystal said. “I believe a great leader will make you and a toxic one can break you. I believe that nurse leaders, especially the frontline leaders, are the backbone of their organizations.”

As a nurse educator, Crystal has held many different positions that’ve allowed her to offer her insight and training to nurses all over the country. She worked as the Director of Education at the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL) for four years, where she helped to provide training for individuals who were part of various fellowship programs. She made life-long friends and mentors in her time there and believes AONL equipped her with the skills to be an influential leader. She also worked as the Senior Director of Nurse Leader Development at Ascension National Nursing Center of Excellence. There, she worked to develop nurse leaders within the National Nursing Center of Excellence and facilitated leadership development workshops that build a succession plan for leaders across the nation. She’s also served as the Role Player for Developmental Leadership Exercise at the University of Tennessee Center for Career Development.

It’s easy to see how passionate Crystal is about leadership training and professional development! These days, she serves as the Interim Director at Cedars Sinai Marina Del Rey Hospital, providing direction and development for nurses at all levels while still providing consulting services. Crystal says she’s been blessed to have an incredible network of leaders that have been willing to encourage and mentor her along the journey.

Thank You

Crystal, your passion for supporting nurses all over the country is inspiring and uplifting. It reminds us that, no matter where we’re at in our careers, there’s always room to grow and learn. Thank you for the care you give to others and the continuous support and education you provide for so many of your fellow nurses. You’re a Nurse of Note, through and through!


In addition to learning about Crystal’s time as an Interim Director and Nurse Educator, we posed a few more questions to get to know her better.


Why did you choose to become a nurse?

I chose nursing as a profession when looking for a career that would allow me to care for others. It aligned well with my value of constant pursuit of development. In nursing, there are countless avenues to serve others—the possibilities are endless.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned while working in the nursing field during the pandemic?

During the onset of the pandemic, I personally struggled with the desire to lead from the frontlines. I felt helpless being sent to work remotely, and I felt I could make a bigger impact going back into the hospital. After some time, I was able to find the value in connecting leaders to one another as the surges happened in various parts of the country. I found purpose in holding space for the realities that leaders and their teams were experiencing. I experienced moral distress in the beginning. This experience solidified my love for working at a national scope and caring for those who care for others.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about working in the healthcare industry?

Be open to possibilities. Each step in the journey equips you to serve well along the way. Forget about titles and conditioned expectations. Have the courage to say yes! You never know where the journey will lead. Oh, and find joy along the way!

What do you do to relax after a stressful day?

I enjoy time by the water and running to balance myself after a stressful day. I also believe that laughter is the best medicine, and this usually directs me to connect with my boys and friends for a guaranteed laugh. I enjoy quiet time writing in my journal, and who doesn’t love a dance party?!

What changes would you like to see in the nursing field of the future?

I would love to see our profession learn to use our voices for efforts that matter. We are more than 4 million strong. I long to see the day we learn to articulate our value or make a change in patient outcomes with that same passion and impact.

If you had to pick one song that describes you, what would it be?

I would pick the song “Road Less Traveled” by Lauren Alaina.

Make sure to follow our blog as we publish profiles about more of our amazing Nurses of Note honorees throughout the year! For more about Nurses of Note 2023, check out the full list of winners.

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