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Have To Say!

“For me the biggest takeaway was realizing I was not alone. Everyone in leadership always seemed so together and confident but through multiple sessions I learned everyone felt insecure at some point. Knowing that they had overcome gave me the confidence to continue forward and evolve into a better leader.”

“I have been coming to Synova conferences for 20 years. When I first started to come, I was a really young leader.  I don’t even know if I considered myself a leader and I grew so much as a leader during those y ears and I have to credit so much of that to the Synova conferences.”

“Sometimes as a leader you have to dig really deep to support your team and I really believe that the NICU Leadership Forum and the mentors I have gained through this community have made me a better leader. Even though it’s hard right now we have to keep growing together.”

“The forum of people is such a great group that I have gotten to know over the years that gives you an incredible amount of support not just at the conference but all year long.”

COVID-19 Policy

At Synova, we believe in the importance of science, leaders leading by example, and maximizing the health and safety of our participants who will return home to families, colleagues, and the babies and families they serve. For more information on our Health and Safety plan, see the COVID-19 Health and Safety Information page.

The Path to Recovery: Leading Your Team with Resolve and Respect


FearLESS: Choosing to Lead with Courage

The great Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” The NICU environment requires strong nurse leaders to be vigilant on patient safety, staff safety and the overall well-being of those on their teams. Choosing to lead fearlessly allows nurse leaders to return to an intentional leadership approach, conquering fear that can hold them back.

At the 2023 NICU Leadership Forum, we will:

  • Experience a musical event to cultivate courage and joy
  • Discover how to construct a culture that emphasizes belonging
  • Share stories of success and find new ways to lead with purpose
  • Develop lasting strategies to improve the psychological safety of all team members

Call For Abstracts

Are you interested in submitting an abstract for a 60 or 20 minute speaking spot, or poster?


Speaker Lineup

Tad Worku, FNP, RN

Keynote Speaker

Tad Worku, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, CEN

Musician | Songwriter | Speaker | Nurse Practitioner

The Courage to See Hope

Tadele (Tad) Adugnaw Worku is a Family Nurse Practitioner, an educator, a musician, and most recently, a mission coach in the Inland Empire, lending his efforts to supporting clinician well-being for providers in the inland empire region of Southern California. Worku, at his core, is committed to purpose and serving those around him.

Worku is a Daisy award winner, the Vanderbilt outstanding student of the year, the Loma Linda University Health Nurse of the Year, the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Child Life Hero’s award, and more. Worku describes every recognition as a blessing and affirmation that he is doing purposeful work.

In 2012, Tad was set to embark on an international tour and release his debut pop album which he received funding for from a grant. Instead, Tad chose to cancel his tour, return his funding, and step away from music completely in search of the deeper calling that he had not yet found. Despite the benefits of performing, Worku said without a connection to purpose, he did not feel at peace. More than a decade later, Worku describes this decision as the best he’s ever made.

Worku spent six years working for a level one trauma center in Southern California, released a new album that captured his experiences as a healthcare provider, and toured the world, sharing his music and story with thousands of people.

Featured Speakers

Louis J. Alloro, M.Ed., MAPP

Louis J. Alloro, M.Ed., MAPP

Change Consultant, The Wellbeing Lab

Creating Psychological Safety at Work

Elizabeth Rudolph, JD, MSN, RN

Attorney and CEO, JurexNurse.com

RaDonda Vaught: Lessons Learned from the Criminal Case Against a Nurse

Pattie Bondurant, DNP, RN

Chief Transformation and Quality Officer Transform, Healthcare Consulting LLC

Exploring the Future of Nurse Leadership

Luanne Smedley MHA, BSN, RN, NEA-BC

Executive Director & Associate Chief Nursing Officer Stanford Medicine Children’s Health

‘We’ Always Wins in the ‘Us versus Them’ Competition

Michelle Pratt

Michelle Pratt, RNC-MNN, C-ONQS

Unit Director, Emory Decatur Hospital

Reducing Nurse Leader Burden: A Data-Driven Approach Using Lean Methodology

Michelle Kitchens

Michelle Kitchens, BSN, RN, CNML

NICU Director, Emory Decatur Hospital

Reducing Nurse Leader Burden: A Data-Driven Approach Using Lean Methodology

Diane Rogers

Diane Rogers, PCC, CPXP

President, Contagious Change

Featured Panel: Fatigue to Fearless: Nurse Leaders’ Journey to Wellbeing

Janet Wirt


NICU Manager, Rady Children’s Hospital at Scripps La Jolla and Encinitas

Featured Panel: Fatigue to Fearless: Nurse Leaders’ Journey to Wellbeing

Luann Jones

Luann Jones, DNP, APRN, NNP-BC, NE-BC

Director of Customer Success & Project Management, AngelEye Health

Featured Panel: Fatigue to Fearless: Nurse Leaders’ Journey to Wellbeing

Melissa More

Melissa Mora, BSN, RNC-OB

Clinical Content Coordinator, Synova Associates LLC

Featured Panel: Fatigue to Fearless: Nurse Leaders’ Journey to Wellbeing


Pre-Conference Events

Quality & Safety: A Workshop to Design and Execute Your QI Projects (HALF DAY PM)

In today’s ever-changing healthcare landscape, leaders are tasked with setting an environment with an emphasis on quality and safety. Quality improvement is dependent upon strong multidisciplinary relationships as well as engaging frontline staff in a shared mental model and accountability to patient safety. In this preconference, we will review the foundations of quality and safety, how to display metrics in a meaningful way for all team members as well as how to choose the improvement initiative to focus on. We will also assess your current culture of safety and review how to apply systems thinking and utilize tools to identify meaningful solutions through case studies.


Pattie Bondurant, DNP, RN, Chief Transformation and Quality Officer, Transform Healthcare Consulting LLC
Samantha Alessi, MSN, RNC-NIC, CLC, ACCNS-N, Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone


$175 USD


Knowing how to create a budget to maximize your staffing and unit’s needs is an essential skill for all nurse leaders. In this half day preconference, we will delve into updates on nursing economics, staffing, line-by-line budget explanation, and strategies to make the case to senior leadership to get what you need. Case studies, breakout discussions and role play activities will hone your skills to advocate for funding and provide new strategies to improve the management of your unit.


$175 USD

NICU Leadership Forum 2023


Brochure & Agenda


Take a look at our NICU Leadership Forum brochure for an overview of the 2023 NICU Leadership Forum Event.


Our agenda is ever expanding. Take a look to see what we’ll be talking about at this year’s event.




$799 USD Early Bird Registration (Ending December 9th, 2022)
$899 USD Regular Registration
$949 USD Late Registration (After February 10th, 2023, If Available)


Quality & Safety: A Workshop to Design and Execute Your QI Projects (Half Day PM) – $175

Synova Event Scholarship


Conference Scholarship

Synova will be granting tuition scholarship for NICU nurse leaders to attend the 2023 NICU Leadership Forum. Scholarship application deadline is November 15th. Notifications will begin in early December. If accepted, you commit to attend the event.



Conference Details

  • Who Should Attend?

    • NICU Directors, Managers, Supervisors, and members of their leadership teams
    • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Supervisors
    • Executive Directors of Women’s Services
  • When & Where

    2023 NICU Leadership Forum will be held at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, AZ on March 19 – 23, 2023. Pre-Conferences are on March 19th and the General Sessions will run March 20 – 23, 2023.

  • Program Changes

    Synova reserves the right to make necessary changes in speakers, topics, or schedule. The most up-to-date agenda is online.


    The NICU Leadership Forum will be awarded contact hours depending on the length of the program through Abbott Nutrition Health Institute. The pre-conferences will be awarded contact hours depending on the length of the program.


    The 2023 NICU Leadership Forum will be held at the Westin La Paloma.

    Westin La Paloma Resort
    3800 East Sunrise Drive
    Tucson, AZ 85718

    The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa is a AAA Four-Diamond hotel in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. With staggering views of the Santa Catalina Mountains, activate your sense of adventure with a stroll through Sabino Canyon. The resort balances activity with leisure, offering dynamic workspaces at our full-service business center and five outdoor pools with cabanas, chaise lounge chairs and shimmering waterfalls. The Westin La Paloma will complete a $15 million dollar renovation in February 2023, including 65” in plasma vs in all standard rooms.

    A limited block of rooms is being held at a special group rate of $209 per night (plus tax). Reservations must be made prior to March 2, 2023; rooms will be available as space allows. The normal daily resort service charge of $29 is complimentary for this event. Please note that it will show as $29 on your confirmation letter as well as on the total as you are finishing your reservation. This will be corrected on your final bill. Should you need to cancel your reservation, please ensure that you do so at least 7 days prior to arrival to prevent a cancellation fee of one night’s room and tax.

    Book your room today!


    Tucson International Airport is the closest airport to the conference center. Super shuttle, rental cars, taxis, and Ubers are available

    View the Cancellation Policy