Vivian (V.) Tellis-Nayak, PhD and Mary Tellis-Nayak, RN, MSN, MPH

2020 Nursing Scholarship Winners in honor of Vivian and Mary Tellis-Nayak

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: The Illinois Pioneer Coalition Provides $11,000 in Nursing Scholarships for Nurses Choosing to Work with Illinois’s Aging Population.


Chicago, Il April 27, 2020 – The Illinois Pioneer Coalition, (IPC) advocates and facilitates deep system change and transformation in our culture of aging so that those aging in Illinois can ensure that they get the care and services that they need, want and deserve.  Pivotal in this mission are those nurses who provide care in long term care communities throughout the state.  This was the motivation for the IPC providing eleven $1,000 scholarships to Care Partners, RNs, and LPNs who are committed to furthering their own education and specialized practice working with older adults including long-term care communities and home health care services.


The scholarships were awarded in honor of Vivian and Mary Tellis-Nyak, who while they consider IL their home, have nationally challenged healthcare providers to critically look at how care is provided.   Mary, a nurse by trade and Vivian a renowned long-term care researcher,

Have spent decades considering the impact that the care provider has on people’s quality of life, with research showing that there is a direct correlation.  This holds true even more for those who consider nursing communities and assisted livings as their home because care in these entities have a tendency to be institutionally driven.


When staff embrace people for who they were and are, it benefits the elder, the families and the staff because relationships form.  Nurses committed to person centered care are at the heart of this transformational change.  It can be a struggle for staff who are committed to caring for our frail elders to find the financial resources to further their education.  The IPC has recognized this, which became the motivation to offering these $1,000  monetary awards to care providers who have expressed their person-centered commitment through the scholarship application and board interview process.


The IPC board of directors had intended to provide these awards in person, but at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, most elder care providers have had to maintain social distancing requirements to keep those that they care for safe.  The commitment of keeping elders safe that long-term care communities across the state have shown during this time, reinforces the awarding of these scholarships because many have given of their own safety to care for our vulnerable elders.


Those receiving the $1,000 scholarships are:

Elizabeth Cates, Makenna Ezell, Brianna Harden and Emily Whitt who are attending Rend Lake College in Ina, Meggan Boujnah who is attending Harry S. Truman College in Chicago, Ashley Miller attending Lakeview College of Nursing in Charleston, Christine Black attending Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Hallie Grenfell attending John A. Logan College in Carterville, Ashley Bequette attending Career Centers of Southern Illinois in Red Bud and Joelle Bachtold who will be attending Illinois State University in Normal.


The Illinois Pioneer Coalition is a 501-3c organization who 100% volunteer board.  For more information on the IPC, it’s mission or the scholarship, contact:

Illinois Pioneer Coalition

190 S. LaSalle St. Suite 3700, Chicago, IL 60603

Email: illinoispioneer@gmail.com

Phone: 847-250-7530

The Illinois Pioneer Coalition is proud to create the Vivian and Mary Tellis-Nayak nursing school scholarship opportunity

Mary, a nurse by trade, has focused the majority of her professional career on promoting the importance, of all the nursing roles in long-term care, with a focus on direct care givers. She authored several groundbreaking sets of standards for dementia care units, sub-acute care, and person-centered care. Vivian, a renowned long-term care researcher, quantitatively proved that Directors of Nursing (DONs) and Nursing Home Administrators (NHAs) are directly related to skilled nursing care center quality performance. He also provided the first quantitative proof that quality in skilled nursing centers has a positive impact on financial revenue and that DON and NHA turnover are the single best predictors of poor quality and revenues. Together, they authored “Return of Compassion to Health Care” and continue to advocate nationally promoting person centered care, performance improvement and challenging everyone to recognize the value of compassion in healthcare


The Pioneer Coalition advocates and facilitates deep system change and transformation in our culture of aging.

To achieve this, we
1. Create communication, networking, and learning opportunities;

2. Promote transformation in practices, services, public policy and research;

3. Provide access to resources and leadership.


The Pioneer Coalition is committed to an authentic person-centered model of care for all older adults.­

To this end, the Illinois Pioneer Coalition offers 2 scholarships to Care Partners, RNs, and LPNs who are committed to furthering their own education and specialized practice working with older adults in various communities including long-term care and home health.

The Pioneer Coalition offers two $1000.00 scholarships to individuals to further their education in care of the older adult. This offer includes Care Partners/CNAs with a desire to advance to LPN/RN or an LPN with a desire to advance to RN.


Applications for the 2019-2020 scholarships are now closed.  Check back soon for details on the next application period.


For more information, Contact:
Diane Heliker:  dheliker@utmb.edu
Leslie Pedtke: leslie.pedtke@kingmgt.com