Skip to main content

Rounds with Leadership: In Memory of Donald Jonas: Nursing Advocate, Leader, and Friend

Published August 31, 2022

Welcome to Rounds with Leadership, a forum for AACN’s Board Chair and President/CEO to offer commentary on issues and trends impacting academic nursing.

August 31, 2022 - In Memory of Donald Jonas: Nursing Advocate, Leader, and Friend

“Nurses are the backbone of the American healthcare system who are essential to sustaining the nation’s health, especially in times of crisis. I believe that it is essential to support nurses and the vital role they play in our hospitals, schools, clinics, nursing homes, and on the battlefield.”

Donald Jonas, June 2020

On July 23, the academic nursing community was saddened by the news of the passing of Donald Jonas at the age of 92. As the co-founder of Jonas Philanthropies along with his wife Barbara, Mr. Jonas was a leading champion for nursing education who truly understood the strong connection between higher education and quality health care. The impact of his philanthropic work on reshaping nursing practice, education, and research will be felt for generations to come.

AACN’s connection to Mr. Jonas and the work of the foundation spans over ten years. Since 2012, AACN has partnered with Jonas Philanthropies to enhance the nation’s supply of doctorally prepared nurses available to serve in faculty roles and as advanced practice registered nurses. This signature collaboration, called the Jonas Nurse Scholars program, has served as one of the nation’s leading sources of support for nursing students in PhD and DNP programs. To date, the Scholars program has disbursed more than $10 million in support to nearly 1,400 doctoral students at 157 schools of nursing across all 50 states.Photo of Donald Jonas with AACN leadership

In addition, Jonas Philanthropies was the inaugural sponsor for both the AACN-Wharton Executive Leadership Program and the Student Policy Summit. Both programs continue to thrive after more than a decade in operation. The foundation also supported the collaborative work led by AACN and the Khan Academy (2013-2015) to develop NCLEX-RN test preparation materials and contributed generously to the COVID-19 Nursing Student Support Fund launched by AACN’s Foundation for Academic Nursing

AACN members are forever grateful to Donald Jonas for his compassion and benevolence. He was a familiar face at AACN’s conferences, who enjoyed mingling with deans and faculty to learn more about how he could make a meaningful difference. His desire to help was sincere, and the impact that his philanthropic work will have on the future of academic nursing is far-reaching.

We at AACN send our deepest sympathies to the Jonas family, including Lendri Purcell and John Jonas, who serve as co-presidents of Jonas Philanthropies. We appreciate their commitment to magnifying the impact of the foundation in the areas of nursing and veterans health, children’s environmental and climate health, and vision care.

Those wishing to send donations in memory of Donald Jonas should direct their gifts to Jonas Philanthropies Inc., P.O. Box 705, New York, NY 10032, or via the online donation center.

Related Articles