The VOICE of UPMC Shadyside Winter 2019–2020

Endowed With Love

A special wedding anniversary prompted Joseph and Joan Pranis Kenney to make a generous gift for nursing education

Joe Kenney was a bachelor in his mid-40s, working as a nuclear engineer at Westinghouse. Joan Pranis was a nurse educator at the Shadyside Hospital School of Nursing, her alma mater.

“This was in the 1960s,” Joan remembers. “Often on Friday, a group of nurses from Shadyside would meet for a TGIF party. I knew Joe, because I had seen him at parties before. He was always friendly, but quiet. Well, one Friday we were having a party for a nurse from the emergency room. Joe asked me out to dinner after the party. We talked until 2 a.m. The next day we went to the Allegheny County Fair and talked all day. Then we went out for pizza and talked some more. And every night after that we went out.”

The two married in 1967, exchanging crowns at a traditional Greek Orthodox ceremony. They began a successful life partnership filled with hard work, many friends, happiness, but also their sadness of not having children.

Joan continued to teach at Shadyside and earned her bachelor’s degree in education while she helped Joe with real estate ventures. Recruited as an undergraduate academic advisor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, she also was active in national professional nursing organizations.

Joe left Westinghouse and bought a work-glove distribution business, expanding it, with Joan’s involvement, into the distribution of additional products for industrial safety and occupational health.

Throughout this busy life, Joan always supported Shadyside Hospital, serving as a leader in the UPMC Shadyside Auxiliary for decades. When she and Joe began spending more time at their home in Florida, she recruited Suzanne Karlovich to serve with her as co-president of the Auxiliary, which assists the hospital and its patients and staff.

“I know talent,” Joan says. “I could see how much talent and ability Suzanne has. I’m very proud of recruiting her.”

“The Kenneys are such a loving and generous couple. Their gift is a tribute to Joan’s dedication to nursing.”
- Louise Brown
Giving Back

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, the Kenneys decided to make the occasion even more meaningful by giving back to places and institutions that shaped their lives. They presented the Shadyside Hospital Foundation with $100,000 to create an endowment that will assure the ongoing development of faculty for the region’s schools of nursing. Named the Joseph and Joan Pranis Kenney Endowed Conference for Excellence in Nursing Education, the gift honors Joan’s lifelong commitment to the highest quality in nursing education.

“The Kenneys are such a loving and generous couple,” says Louise Brown, executive director of the Shadyside Hospital Foundation. “Their gift is a tribute to Joan’s dedication to nursing. They wanted to see their donation make an immediate impact on nursing education.”

In addition to the $100,000, Joan Kenney provided additional funding to secure a national speaker for the 2019 faculty development conference, an annual daylong program open to nursing faculty throughout the region.

Linda Kmetz, PhD, director of the UPMC Schools of Nursing, is particularly grateful to the Kenneys. “At a time of critical need, we will be able to offer faculty a quality program that will make a difference,” she says.

Today, shortages of nursing school faculty across the country have limited student enrollment while the need for professional registered nurses continues to grow. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), more than 1,700 faculty positions remain vacant nationwide, with even more educators needed to meet the demand.

“What Joe and Joan have created is a legacy of education for nurses into the future,” Dr. Kmetz says appreciatively.