About the Center

Advancing Innovation Leadership Through Creativity & Wisdom Work

Wisdom is the application of intelligence, creativity and knowledge to the common good by balancing intrapersonal (one’s own), interpersonal (other’s) and extra personal (institutional or other larger) interests over the long and short terms, through the mediation of values, so as to adapt to, shape, and select environments.—Robert Sternberg, 2004

Health care is undergoing unprecedented change. Financial and demographic pressures combined with exciting scientific advances are driving system-wide transformation in policy, practice, administration and evidence-based care. What does this this mean for the nation’s 3.5 million nurses? The changes bring opportunities for nurses to channel their experience, education, wisdom and patient-centered perspective to lead the way.

The Densford Center promotes the development of nursing leadership capacity through program offerings, coaching, consulting and organizational development services that enhance nurses’ knowledge, skills and abilities to navigate complexity and lead successfully in academic and health care organizations. The Densford Center is a resource, catalyst, and incubator for creativity, innovation and quality improvement in health care. Programs and services of the center are organized to assist health care leaders in achieving the triple aim of improving the patient experience, improving the health of populations and reducing the per capita cost of health care. In addition the Densford Center supports nurse leaders in effectively implementing the Affordable Care Act while driving toward innovation in nursing education, practice and research.

Strategic Direction

The vision of the Densford Center is to be valued for advancing nurse leadership and for serving as a catalyst in creating new knowledge and partnerships to improve health care.

To improve health care worldwide, the Center’s mission, through its members and partnerships, is to:

  • Expand capacity for innovative leadership;
  • Generate and disseminate new models of care delivery;
  • Provide open forums and collaborate with stakeholders to advance nursing knowledge and solutions;
  • Promote the role of nursing, particularly through health care reform.

The Center fosters nursing leadership and promotes the nursing profession through its core values of: Leadership ~ Collaboration ~ Creativity ~ Diversity

A range of programs support the Center's mission, including:

  • Creation of new academic courses and certificates that include leadership and innovation scholarship at all levels of degree programs.
  • International nursing conferences and community forums that examine pressing leadership and social issues through the eyes of leaders in the particular field.
  • Partnerships with healthcare organizations and advocates to advance the role and science of nursing.
  • Consultation and research in topics regarding leadership teams, quality and health interventions.

About Our Namesake

Katharine J. Densford, director of the University of Minnesota School of Nursing from 1930 to 1959, was an independent and visionary woman who changed the face of nursing in Minnesota and around the world. She held offices in almost every nursing organization of the time and, more importantly, she was an agent for social change. She believed those who aspire to a nursing career are dedicated to a purpose, and are imaginative, daring and possess initiative. She also believed nurses should make the very most of their abilities and talents. Through her influence, the School of Nursing at the University of Minnesota redefined how nursing influence and leadership could benefit patients, nursing and health care. In 1997 the Katharine J. Densford International Center for Nursing Leadership was created to honor the legacy of this pioneering heroine and to support nurses in addressing today’s challenges with the wisdom and generative and transformational leadership mindset that characterized Katharine Densford.

Today's Leadership

A Director and Program Associate comprise the full-time staff. The philosophy of leadership promoted by the School of Nursing and the Densford Center is based on innovation, creativity, curiosity, and challenge.