George Family Foundation Invests in Nursing Leadership

Contact: Jennifer Syltie Johnson

$556,000 gift to the University of Minnesota will support Nursing fellows to obtain  integrative health and healing education through 2015 

MINNEAPOLIS (Aug. 3, 2010)—The George Family Foundation today announced that it has awarded a grant of $556,000 to the Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota to create a fellowship and co-curricular program that will prepare nurse leaders in integrative health and healing.

Over the next six years, the fellowship program will provide unprecedented clinical and professional development opportunities – both nationally and abroad – to more than 40 nurse fellows. The accompanying co-curricular program will bring pioneering thought leaders to Minnesota to conduct forums, intensive workshops and other activities that will facilitate dialogue and strategic learning around issues associated with nursing leadership in integrative health. These activities will impact hundreds more nurses who will be invited to participate.

“The George Family Foundation is honored to partner with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality & Healing and School of Nursing to help prepare doctoral level nurses for leadership positions in integrative health,” said Penny George, president of the George Family Foundation. “For healthcare to shift its focus from disease to health, healing and optimal wellness, nurses need to be empowered with greater skills in leadership and collaboration. We hope the nurses who emerge from this esteemed program will be prepared to lead healthy lives themselves and will collaborate with medical leaders, administrators and allied health professionals to bring about the transformation of our healthcare system that is so desperately needed.”

In addition to the Center and the School of Nursing, the grant integrally involves Allina Hospitals & Clinics—home of the nation’s largest hospital-based integrative health program, the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing. Allina’s nurse leaders including Lori Knutson, RN, BSN, HN-BC, executive director of the George Institute, and the George Institute’s nurse clinicians will help design the initiative’s co-curricular component. Nurses interested in advancing their careers in integrative health will be encouraged to enroll in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in order to take advantage of several fellowship opportunities designated for Allina staff.

Since 2002, the George Family Foundation’s philanthropic support of Allina’s George Institute has totaled more than $3.5 million. “The George Family Foundation’s support to advance nurse leaders in the field of integrative health demonstrates a commitment to transform healthcare,” said Knutson. “Nursing is the largest healthcare profession in the country with the potential for the greatest direct impact on patients’ health. This financial support also speaks to the commitment to bridge the gap between academia and the clinical practice environment."As consumers increasingly demand healthcare that is more integrated and holistic, the nursing profession is well positioned to bring leadership in more comprehensive approaches to care. “This bold grant will prepare a new generation of nurse leaders with background in integrative health and healing, and effectively launch the George Fellowship and Co-Curricular Program in Nursing Leadership,” said Center director, Mary Jo Kreitzer, PhD, RN, FAAN. “We are so grateful to Penny and Bill George for their thoughtful, creative leadership in this field, and for being agents of bold changes in healthcare.”

In a move to meet growing interest in integrative health, the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing, in collaboration with the Center for Spirituality & Healing, now offers an advanced degree program that specializes in integrative health and healing, called the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). The DNP program has 14 specialty areas, one of which is Integrative Health and Healing (IHH). The U of MN’s DNP/IHH is the first of its kind in the country. It prepares nurse leaders to work with individuals, families, communities and health systems on ways to improve health by focusing on health promotion, disease prevention and chronic disease management, with a special emphasis on managing lifestyle changes and incorporating use of complementary therapies. Nurses will be prepared to apply a new set of perspectives and skills in many different settings including hospitals, outpatient facilities, health plans, corporate and community organizations, as well as in private practice.

“This program will allow our students to expand their horizons well beyond the University of Minnesota. It is consistent with our belief that learning is significantly enhanced when students attain national and international experience, complementing their academic coursework,” said School of Nursing dean Connie Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN. “This award is a testament to the George’s intimate knowledge of – and appreciation for – nursing leadership in revamping our health care system.”

About the George Family Foundation

The George Family Foundation fosters wholeness in mind, body, spirit and community by furthering the work of authentic leaders and transformative programs serving the common good. Based in Minneapolis, the Foundation supports and invests in nonprofit organizations and initiatives in four giving key areas: integrative health and healing, developing authentic leaders, spirituality, and helping to build the communities in which the directors live. For more information, visit

About the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing

Founded in 2003 at Allina’s Abbott Northwestern Hospital, the Penny George Institute for Health and Healing has created a national model of patient care built on the foundation of integrative health and is the nation’s largest hospital-based integrative health program. Through its range of inpatient services, Outpatient Clinic, LiveWell Fitness Center, Integrative Health Research Center, and community and professional education programs, the George Institute seeks to transform health care by blending the art of healing and the science of curing to optimize the health of the whole person—mind, body and spirit. For more information, visit

About the Center for Spirituality & Healing

Recognized nationally as a resource and leader in integrated health, the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality & Healing's goal is to transform healthcare by educating health professionals and students about complementary therapies and healing practices, conduct rigorous scientific research into complementary and non-pharmacological interventions, provide meaningful outreach programs, and work with partners to develop integrative clinical services. The inspiration behind the Center’s work is the knowledge that health and well-being are enhanced when the best of complementary and conventional care are integrated.

About the School of Nursing

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing is ranked among the nation’s top nursing schools. It is a leader in nursing research and has a combined undergraduate and graduate enrollment of approximately 850 students. The school produces 55 percent of the faculty in Minnesota’s public and private nursing schools, advanced practice nurses and nurses who can assume leadership positions. It is the oldest continuously-operated, university-based school of nursing. The School of Nursing is one of six schools and colleges in the Academic Health Center, one of the most comprehensive facilities for health professionals in the nation, fostering interdisciplinary study, research and education. For more information, visit