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Growing Leaders: Nature vs. Nurture

Posted in category Annual Report, Geriatric Nursing, Grant Programs, Leadership


2008 Hartford Foundation Annual Report

Hartford Foundation 2008 Annual Report

There are those who view leadership as an innate set of qualities that catapult individuals into positions of influence; they hold a belief that leaders are born into the role. Here at the John A. Hartford Foundation, we believe that leadership, while certainly requiring some level of natural talent, can and must be nurtured. Our 2008 Annual Report details personal accounts of achievement and suggests that formal training has been a critical factor in fostering national leaders in the field of geriatrics. Formal training is one of the four key pillars of any leadership program; the other three are mentoring, peer networking, and answering the call. Chart for Leadership1.1

Having served as Nursing Education Initiatives Director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing at New York University, the Hartford Foundation’s first investment in nursing, I saw and experienced the impact of the Foundation’s formal training initiatives.  In addition to the initiatives highlighted in the annual report, NYU ran a Hartford-funded Geriatric Nursing Research Summer Scholars Program, a boot camp of sorts to strengthen proposal submissions and careers of young researchers. The leadership training component of the program strengthened participants’ professional networks, presentation skills, and career planning.  This formal training has had a remarkable impact on the field.

Take, for example, Jean Lange, PhD, RN—a 2002 Geriatric Nursing Research Summer Scholars Program participant—who is now professor of nursing at Fairfield University. Jean’s participation in the Geriatric Nursing Research summer program fostered a set of professional relationships that directly affected Jean’s career and encouraged her to become a national voice for geriatric nursing. In 2008, Jean served on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s task force charged with revising the Baccalaureate Essentials document. The Essentials document is the framework for nursing program accreditation. Based on the recommendations of the task force, for the first time geriatric content is required in the baccalaureate curriculum. Jean’s leadership and the leadership of her colleagues will have a significant impact on the competence of our nation’s nursing workforce for years to come.

The Annual Report on leadership is more than a synopsis of funded initiatives; it demonstrates the continuum of leadership development. Kathy Wright, RN, MS, of Summa Healthcare—a participant of Sigma Theta Tau’s Geriatric Nursing Leadership Academy—demonstrates how formal programs can change a participant’s leadership trajectory. As a result of her participation in the leadership academy, Kathy is now enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of Utah’s Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence. I expect that Kathy will have a strong national impact, like Jean, in the not-too-distant future.


3 thoughts on “Growing Leaders: Nature vs. Nurture

  1. I have truly appreciated the encouragement that I have received through participation in GNLA and the University of Utah. The mentoring and support have been invaluable. My mentor for GNLA Rose Beeson, PhD (The University of Akron) and my GNLA faculty advisor Mary Rita Hurley have continued to promote my growth and development.
    I would strongly direct others to participate in the wonderful programs provided though the Hartford Foundation.
    Thank You
    Kathy Wright

  2. At a time when our country is facing significant challenges to meet the health care needs of an aging America these programs are invaluable for developing cohorts of leaders that can support and lead the changes that are needed. We at Summa Health System are so please to see that Kathy was accepted and pursuing these avenues. I believe through the support from John A. Hartford Foundation for these types of programs there will be a definite impact on the future of our country. Without leadership, vision, and support it will be very difficult to face and overcome the challenges that an aging America will face. I too am personally grateful to John A Hartford Foundation as well as the Atlantic Philanthropies for supporting the Practice Change Fellows Program that whose goal is to develop leaders in the field of aging across multiple disciplines. Thanks

    Kyle R. Allen DO, Chief Divsion of Geriatric Medicine, Summa Health System Akron Ohio

  3. I appreciate these kind words, and feel compelled to say how much the Hartford Foundation has influenced my professional growth. I first became acquainted with JAHF when our new Dean, Jeanne Novotny, offered me (then junior faculty) the opportunity to write a proposal for the geriatric nursing education enhancement project. Our team’s success launched my career and refocused the scholarship of Fairfield University faculty in a new direction.

    This first grant initiative led to my participation in the Hartford Scholars program, through which renowned nursing leaders helped scholars shape fundable proposals. These early beginnings have led to many publications, presentations, receipt of subsequent grants and recently, the invitation to serve on the AACN Task Force to help shape the Baccalaureate Essentials. It was my chance to advocate for older adults, and truly an honor.

    The resources made possible by the JAHF seem always to interweave into whatever I am doing. I just completed, with faculty colleague Philip Greiner, a 3-year ELDER Project funded by HRSA to educate nurses and aides in long term, clinic, and home care settings about best practices in caring for older adults. The curricular efforts of the Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing at NYU were the basis for our work.

    The JAHF has truly been instrumental in shaping my career, and has changed the face of health care for older adults globally.

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