Urban Zen at the Clinton Global Initiative

Jenna Bond-Louden, Director of Development, shares reflections from this year’s Clinton Global Initiative American meeting.


By Jenna Bond-Louden

Last week, former president Bill Clinton convened the inaugural CGI America meeting in Chicago where the message was clear: we each have the power to respond to and overturn the challenges of the economy.

The theme of the summit was creating domestic jobs, attracting over 600 individuals from the private and public sectors committed to making it easier for more Americans to find work.  From engaging returning veterans in the workforce to attracting more candidates to teaching careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, the event was a productive two days leading to commitments designed to bring more Americans to employment.  Women were leading the charge, including our friend Tina Brown of the Newsweek Daily Beast Company and Jennifer Granholm, former Governor of Michigan, who led a conversation on American success stories.

For Urban Zen, this event was a special opportunity to connect our work to train nurses in integrative therapies to the larger community focused on supporting the healthcare workforce.  Our Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program has reached from our longtime collaboration with Beth Israel Medical Center in NYC to our most recent partnership with the Johnson & Johnson Campaign for Nursing’s Future.

Motivated by our founder Donna Karan’s dedication to caring for the caregiver, we have reached nurses at the beginning of their careers (as accomplished with our work with Kent State University) and at the middle.  The UZIT training helps caregivers learn practices that help them experience less burnout and better manage the stress of the tireless work that is nursing.  In fact, as CGI America reported an expected shortage of up to 250,000 nurses by 2025, the event was a reminder of just how necessary our effort to retrain and retain nurses is.

We were grateful for the opportunity to learn about the need for better access to training for community health workers, in addition to registered nurses, and about the efforts being made to make sure the marketplace for such talent is efficient.  The mayors of Tacoma and Seattle, Washington shared their efforts to make sure that immigrants with healthcare training are being integrated into the workforce, while also better serving our students beginning in high school and community college who seek healthcare jobs.  The conversation also hit upon better supporting access to healthcare for those in rural communities.

We are very grateful for President Clinton’s devotion to pushing each of us to be the heroes of our time, planting us together so that we can realize our strengths and activate.  Visit www.cgiamerica.org to experience the program first hand.