Leader of Sisters of Providence community to address Saint Martin’s 2014 graduates

April 23, 2014

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LACEY, Wash. – Sister Karin Dufault, S.P., R.N., Ph.D., congregational leader of the Sisters of Providence religious community, will deliver the 2014 commencement address at Saint Martin’s University on Saturday, May 10, at 2 p.m. in the Marcus Pavilion on the Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way S.E. Dufault will also receive an honorary degree in humane letters from the University.

Sisters of Providence is an international, Catholic religious community that was founded in 1843 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, by Emilie Travernier-Gamelin in response to the needs of the poor, the sick and the marginalized. With its Generalate Offices in Montreal, the approximately 595 professed sisters of the community serve in nine countries: Canada, U.S., Chile, Argentina, El Salvador, Haiti, Cameroon, Egypt and Philippines.

Dufault, who was born and raised in Yakima, most recently served as the provincial superior of Mother Joseph Province in Renton, Washington, from 2010 until beginning her term as congregational leader in 2012. She is former executive director of the Supportive Care Coalition: Pursuing Excellence in Palliative Care (2005 – 2009). Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, the coalition is sponsored by 21 Catholic health organizations located throughout the nation to advance excellence in the care of persons with life-threatening illnesses through knowledge transfer, advocacy and partnerships.

Dufault has presented lectures and workshops in the U.S. and Canada on such topics as hope, compassionate care for the dying and bereaved, care of elders, pain management, cancer care, nursing and healthcare ethics, issues surrounding healthcare access, healthcare reform, healthcare governance, nursing research, spirituality, mission and values in healthcare, and transformational leadership. She has also published articles on similar topics.

“Sister Karin has been a champion of the sick and dying through her tireless devotion to healthcare ministry,” says Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., president of Saint Martin’s University. “She most certainly serves as the quintessential model of what it means to be of service to others in such a critical area as our physical and emotional wellbeing. She is a remarkable inspiration for our graduating students, as well as for the rest of the Saint Martin’s and surrounding communities. We are very honored to have her join us for Commencement.”

Dufault served from 2002 to 2005 as vice president of mission leadership for the Providence Health System, now known as Providence Health and Services, a non-profit health ministry that extends across five states -- Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana and Southern California. Her other previous roles at Providence include working as a full-time chairperson of the organization’s board of directors, from 1991 through 2002, and as acting president and chief executive officer, from 1996 to 1997.

Dufault served as administrator of the St. Elizabeth Medical Center, in Yakima, from 1987 to 1991. She was assistant administrator for Patient Care Services at Providence Medical Center in Portland, where she was also responsible for the oncology and gerontology program development, including hospice services. Other professional roles include serving as a clinical faculty member at the University of Portland School of Nursing and the Oregon Health Services University School of Nursing. Dufault also was the first nursing practice consultant for the Oregon State Board of Nursing.

She completed high school at St. Joseph Academy in Yakima. Her undergraduate degrees in social science (Bachelor of Arts) and nursing (Bachelor of Science) were earned at Seattle University, in Seattle. She earned a Master of Science degree in medical/surgical nursing, as well as a doctorate (gerontology focus) from Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland, Ohio. Her dissertation, entitled, “Hope and Elderly Cancer Patients,” involved a participation observation study in which she spent two years caring for 35 advanced cancer patients as a clinical nurse specialist until their deaths. She completed the Fellows Program in Management for Nurse Executives at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in 1985.

Dufault has received numerous awards and citations, including an Honorary Doctorate in Public Service from the University of Portland (2005); Seattle University Outstanding Alumni Award (2002); Case Western Reserve University Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing 1995 Professional Achievement Award; Yakima Valley Community College Distinguished Service Award (1991); Seattle University School of Nursing Outstanding Alumni Award (1991); and the Yakima YWCA Woman of Achievement in Business Award (1989).

For more information, visit www.stmartin.edu/Commencement2014/.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at www.stmartin.edu.

For additional information:

Jennifer Fellinger
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
360-438-4332; jfellinger@stmartin.edu

Meg Nugent Dwyer
Media relations manager
360-412-6126; MDwyer@stmartin.edu