Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine of the University of Virginia’s School of Nursing is the recipient of the Health System’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for 2015.
The award – presented annually to a School of Medicine, School of Nursing or Medical Center faculty or staff member who best embodies King’s values – recognizes exceptional abilities in areas of cultural competence, healthcare disparities, and/or fostering an environment of caring, diversity and inclusivity.
“This is a well-deserved recognition,” said Dr. Marcus Martin, Vice President and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, who presented the award at a Jan. 19 ceremony, “and Dorrie’s effort in support of diversity, equity and inclusion is greatly appreciated by the Health System, the University of Virginia as a whole and the greater Charlottesville community.”
Fontaine is the Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing and Associate Chief Nursing Officer for U.Va. Health System. Nominators called her commitment to and passion for diversity “manifold,” citing her personal advocacy and encouragement to nursing faculty at traditionally African-American Norfolk State University to advance their academic scholarship through U.Va.’s variety of doctoral programs. Nominators also cited her warm support of UVA’s LGBT Committee, a group she hosted at her Pavilion IX home with a first-ever LGBT faculty and staff welcome event during orientation in 2012, and continues to support today.
“Dean Fontaine’s delight in people of disparate backgrounds is palpable,” the nominators wrote, and she “demonstrates by example,” and “moves easily across groups of varying socioeconomic positions, religions, races, sexual orientations, ages, nationalities and cultures … (making) it clear that there is zero tolerance for intolerance.”
Fontaine – founder of the Compassionate Care Initiative, which supports nurses, doctors and students in teaching resilience and compassion in health care – was a long-time critical care nurse before her transition into academic leadership at the University of Maryland, Georgetown University, UCSF School of Nursing and, in 2008, U.Va. School of Nursing. She established an Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence at the School of Nursing in 2014, and has launched programs to support African-Americans at the end-of-life, the elderly, as board chair of Blue Ridge PACE, and recently, through the School’s Center for ASPIRE, supported research related to the health, wellness and care of veterans.
Also a staunch supporter of men in nursing, Fontaine has been successful in recruiting and promoting men to leadership positions within the School.
A tireless champion of healthy work environments, resilience and interprofessional education, Fontaine publishes and presents widely on nurturing resilience, teaching compassion, and augmenting wisdom among health care providers and leaders.
Fontaine earned a BSN from Villanova, an MS from the University of Maryland, and a PhD from the Catholic University of America. Inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing in 1995, she received the Presidential Citation from the Society of Critical Care Medicine in 1999, the same year Villanova honored her with a Medallion for Contributions to the Profession. In 2012, Fontaine received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Maryland, and in 2013 and 2014, was repeatedly lauded for her work and leadership, with awards from the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Sigma Theta Tau International, and the Society of Trauma Nurses.
Fontaine is the third recipient of the U.Va. Health System’s MLK Award. Dr. Pamela Ross, professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, received the award in 2013, while Dr. Michael Moxley, Associate Dean for Diversity and Medical Education, received the award in 2014.
Fontaine lives in Pavilion IX, on the University of Virginia’s historic Lawn, with her husband Barry.