Inside Syllabus - Q&A with John Jonas, Founder and CEO of the Jonas Group, and Lendri Purcell, Co-President of Jonas Philanthropies

Inside this Syllabus Edition:

  • Q&A with John Jonas and Lendri Purcell
  • Spotlight on Dr. Jean Giddens, new Chair of the AACN Board of Directors
  • Call for Awards and Nominations
  • Announcement of Jonas Nursing Call for Applications
  • Highlights from the Dean's Annual Meeting and Vendor Showcase

Read the full Syllabus Newsletter here

John JonasAbout John Jonas, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Joans Group

John Jonas is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Jonas Group, a leading retained executive search firm that specializes in retail and wholesale fashion and the number-one search firm for the footwear industry. He is a prominent and active member of the Advisory Board of Jonas Philanthropies since its inception and has been a key player in the growth and development of the organization over the last 10 years. He is the son of Barbara and Donald Jonas, the founders of Jonas Philanthropies.

Lendri PurcellAbout Lendri Purcell, Co-Presiedent of Jonas Philanthropies

Lendri Purcell is Co-President of Jonas Philanthropies and Founder, FACTS (Families Advocating for Chemical and Toxics Safety). She uses her skills as a children’s rights advocate, a community organizer, and a seasoned funder to drive the work of the Jonas Program for Children’s Environmental Health. Ms. Purcell began formally advocating for children while participating in the renowned teacher training and leadership program, Teach for America. While teaching children with special learning and emotional challenges in an underresourced school, she earned a master’s degree in Learning and Instruction and advanced certifications in educational therapy and childhood trauma. In addition to teaching, Ms. Purcell created enrichment programs to address obstacles to student learning outside of the classroom, including an outdoor education program. She is the granddaughter of Barbara and Donald Jonas.

Q&A with John Jonas

What was the impetus behind the creation of Jonas Philanthropies by your parents Donald and Barbara Jonas?

My parents did many things extraordinarily well; they really lived the American dream. Having succeeded in business, art, and socially, at a certain point Donald felt the acute desire to focus on his/their next big thing. Even though they had always been very charitable, he wanted to devote a huge portion of his assets and most of his time to what became Jonas Philanthropies. He said and believed “If you die rich, you die poor.” He/they wanted to do major things in philanthropy while they were alive and wanted it to be a family thing. At the same time, he brilliantly identified nursing as his first and signature impact area. He learned of the tremendous shortage in nursing and also liked the idea of playing in an uncrowded beach.

What are the goals of the Jonas Scholars Program?

The initial goal of the Jonas Scholar Program was to address the national nursing shortage as well as to strengthen the profession overall. The genius of the Jonas Scholar Program’s idea was to implement the ripple down effect; helping to enable existing nurses to become teachers of nurses and thereby creating a pyramid effect of so many more nurses.

How successful has the program been?

We have had 1,600+ Jonas Scholars to date with more on the way. Many of them have been teaching and fulfilling the initial goal and others have gone into clinical practice and research making other notable contributions to the field and American health care. In our coming cohort we are specifically targeting nurses committed to teaching and further incentivizing them with an additional 1/3 of financial support as they do teach.

Why did Jonas Philanthropies select AACN as the home base for its nursing programs?

We chose AACN because of their leadership in the field, because they were already implementing much of our program, and because we felt they could save us significant overhead costs that could better go to programing.

What can AACN member schools do to better prepare future nurse faculty?

With the scholars that have completed the Jonas Scholars program, we have asked the students to evaluate the successes and challenges they have encountered both during their program and as they transition to faculty roles. One theme that continuously appears during our evaluation process is the significant impact of mentorship. Students with strong mentorship can successfully navigate their doctoral program but also successfully navigate the transition into a faculty role. Ensuring that doctoral students, are paired with strong faculty mentors will help expose them to the ins and outs of the faculty role and better prepare them for that critical first year of teaching. In addition, being involved in professional organizations at the national level will also give them the opportunities to explore professional development geared towards faculty. Given AACN’s role in academic nursing and their many opportunities for faculty development, schools can encourage their faculty to participate in the many offerings to help gain new knowledge but also develop a larger community of support with other faculty across the country.

Q&A with Lendri Purcell

Why is it important for Jonas Philanthropies to invest in nursing?

If nurses were in charge, the healthcare system would be a real system because they work together and care about the patients. Nurses see patients across the lifespan. They don’t just see the individual, they look at the person in the context of their family and community. It is a system perspective, and we need a true healthcare “system.” The shortage isn’t going to go away as long as nurses keep leaving and self care isn’t going to solve the issue. We need to help heal the community of nurses and the profession, and this starts with better state and federal policies, philanthropy stepping up in a much bigger way, and so much system change.

What other programs are supported by Jonas Philanthropies?

Jonas Philanthropies funds research on low-vision and blindness and expanding access to vision care for under-resourced children. Jonas Philanthropies also funds research and education in environmental health as it relates to children’s health and population health. In addition, Jonas Philanthropies funds nature-based climate solutions including reforestation with a focus on projects that are community driven, which have cascading benefits and put indigenous leaders and women at the center.

What is the mission of Jonas Nursing?

The mission of Jonas Nursing is to enhance the nursing profession by developing nurse leaders who will address the nursing shortage by educating the future nursing workforce and by investing in the health and well-being of our most underserved communities.

What advice do you have for nurses who aspire to faculty positions?

Find a faculty mentor that you admire and want to work with. Seek out opportunities to be a teaching assistant. Stay on top of the current literature. If you are looking at a specific school, follow the school and the faculty on Linkedln and comment on their papers so your name becomes known.

How would you like to see health care change as a result of your philanthropy?

I would like to see a national standard of advanced care nurses working to the full scope of their licenses, which would improve quality and lower costs. I would like to see a focus on disease prevention. I would like to see more nurses in CEO positions and on hospital boards and political committees writing the policies that shape our health care system and delivery. I would like to see environmental exposures become a routine part of screening and a focus on preventing these exposures particularly to the most impacted groups. I would also like to see more nurses reflecting the communities they serve and more nurses from underrepresented groups in leadership positions in academia and beyond.

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