Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Four Minnesota Organizations



April 16, 2014

For Immediate Release
Brian Lassiter, President
Performance Excellence Network
(Formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality)

Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Four Minnesota Organizations

2013 MN Performance Excellence Awards Presented at PENworks 2014 Conference;

Governor Celebrates Excellence in Minnesota


ST. PAUL, Minn., April 16, 2014 – The Performance Excellence Network (PEN), formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality, today honors four recipients of the 2013 Performance Excellence Award (formerly the MN Quality Award).  The Award is based on the Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management system.  Evaluation Criteria includes leadership, strategic planning, customer-focused processes, measurement systems, workforce engagement, and operations and recognizes organizations that are systematically improving results.


The organizations receiving the Award are: Cardinal of Minnesota (Rochester), Winona Health (Winona), both recognized at the Excellence Level; LifeSource (St. Paul) at the Achievement Level; and Austin Public Schools (Austin) at the Commitment Level.  These four organizations join 123 others recognized since 1991 for their systematic improvement efforts and superior outcomes.


In addition, PEN recognized seven organizations for successfully completing the Baldrige-based self-assessment, also designed for organizational improvement. These organizations are: Centennial Public Schools (Blaine); Dakota State University (Madison, SD); MACC Commonwealth (Minneapolis); Portico Benefit Services (Minneapolis); Seagate (Shakopee, Bloomington); South Dakota Small Business Development Center (Pierre, SD); and TADS (St. Paul).


These organizations were featured at PENworks 2014, April 14-15 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Center.  The Awards were presented during a luncheon yesterday.  The conference also featured six keynotes delivered by leaders from Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award recipient organizations: Larry Potterfield, CEO, MidwayUSA (MO, 2009); Rulon Stacey, CEO Fairview Health Services (formerly CEO of Poudre Valley Health System, CO, 2008); David Spong, president ret., Boeing Aerospace (CA, 2003); JoAnn Sternke, Superintendent, Pewaukee Public Schools (WI; 2013); Bryan Vaughn, president and Eric Franks, director, PRO-TEC (OH, 2007); and Janet Wagner, CEO, Sutter Davis Hospital (CA; 2013).


“If good is the enemy of great,” said Brian Lassiter, president of PEN, “then great is the enemy of excellent.  These organizations all have one thing in common: they are not satisfied with good enough, and are continuously striving to improve outcomes for their customers, workforce, and other stakeholders.”


“When lives are on the line, as they are with the life-saving work of organ and tissue donation, then excellence is not a choice; it is a responsibility,” shares LifeSource CEO Susan Gunderson. “We are thrilled to receive this recognition as part of our journey toward excellence, because we know it will translate to more lives saved and more meaningful support for the grieving families we serve.”


Rachelle Schultz, CEO of Winona Health, stated: “Excellence is never achieved by accident.  We have been deliberate in our improvement efforts for more than 10 years, and are proud that our outcomes benefit our patients and the community.”


The event also recognized the 2013 Board of Evaluators, a group of nearly 100 volunteers supporting PEN’s mission of advancing performance excellence in the region.  Evaluators include CEOs, business managers and professionals, physicians and surgeons, school superintendents and school teachers from throughout the Upper Midwest, each giving over 100 hours of volunteer service to help other organizations reach higher levels of performance.


Spencer Cronk, Commissioner of Administration for the State of Minnesota, offered remarks on behalf of Governor Dayton: “I congratulate the recipients of this year’s Performance Excellence Award.  Continuous improvement helps the State and the entire region prosper and achieve superior outcomes in health, education, and economic vitality.  We are proud of the commitment the State has made to continuous improvement and welcome the opportunity to support and partner with other champions of change.”



About Austin Public Schools

Based in Austin, MN, Austin Public Schools serves 4500 students through its 12 PK-12 facilities.  For more information, visit


About Cardinal of Minnesota

Based in Rochester, Cardinal of Minnesota was founded in 1995 by its current owner, Jack Priggen. After working for 20 years serving individuals with developmental disabilities, Jack wanted to develop services that were consistent with his philosophy and vision.  Cardinal now serves over 135 clients in nearly 40 homes in SE and NW Minnesota.  Cardinal of MN has been on the journey to excellence using Baldrige for 8 years, with this being their fourth application to the Performance Excellence Network.  For more information, visit


About LifeSource

Based in St. Paul, LifeSource is the non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives through organ and tissue donation in the Upper Midwest.  They serve more than 6 million people in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and portions of western Wisconsin.  For more information, visit


About Winona Health

Winona Health is a nonprofit healthcare system based in Winona, MN.  Winona Health operates a 99-bed hospital, a 140-bed nursing home, and 80 beds for assisted living and memory care.  With more than 1100 employees and 60 physicians and associate providers, Winona Health provides 13 specialties. For more information, visit


About Performance Excellence Network

The Performance Excellence Network was founded in 1987 by the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Rudy Perpich, and was spun off into a private 501(c)3 nonprofit two years later. PEN advances improvement and performance excellence within organizations, individuals and communities. It helps leaders identify strengths and improvement opportunities, and it builds networks that bring information, resources, knowledge and best practices to organizations desiring to improve. The network serves members and organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. For more information, go to



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