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Bill George

Harvard Business School Professor, former Medtronic CEO

Twin Cities Business: Former Medtronic CEO’s Nonprofit Donates $2.5M to Mind-Body-Soul Center at New Mpls YMCA

When she overcame her battle with cancer, Penny George, the wife of former Medtronic CEO Bill George, credited much of her recovery not just to the medical care she received, but to integrative health and healing (IHH) practices, such as yoga, acupuncture, aromatherapy and meditation.

Now, as a 22-year cancer survivor, Penny George and her husband’s Minneapolis-based nonprofit, the George Family Foundation, are looking to bring availability of the same mind-body-spirit practices she used to downtown Minneapolis.

Featured within the new YMCA in Gaviidae — set to open this month at Sixth Street on the Nicollet Mall — will be the George Wellbeing Center, a 35,000-square-foot space dedicated to evidence-based IHH practices.

YMCA members as well as nonmembers will have access to the center, located on the gym’s second floor. Among the amenities to available at the center will be lifestyle and nutritional counseling, massage therapy, aromatherapy, light therapy, meditation, tai chi, yoga, acupuncture, and even reiki, a form of alternative medicine developed in Japan involving “palm healing.”

“Since our first planning meeting in 2017, we’ve designed this groundbreaking center to help people take charge of their health through accessible, affordable tools and techniques,” said Penny George, a now-retired psychologist, in a statement. “This is an exciting new offering that will connect people with the integrative healing practices that can make a difference in their lives—and I know firsthand from my own health journey.”

The George Family Foundation will be providing $2.5 million to help cover the costs of the new center.

The donation is the latest in a string of IHH-related contributions from the nonprofit. Since 1994, the George Family Foundation has dedicated more than $17 million to programs promoting IHH.

The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities’ CEO Glen Gunderson said in a statement the fitness company was “thrilled” to receive the foundation’s support, adding that it would “advance integrative health and healing practices” use in the community.

On top of the George Family Foundation’s donation to the YMCA, it announced dozens more contributions totaling upwards of $2.5 million to organizations in and outside of the Twin Cities area:

  • The Minneapolis Foundation to support the Catalyst Initiative — $1.5 million
  • Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health to support the third year of the Consortium’s communications plan — $100,000
  • Women’s Foundation of Minnesota to support the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota — $100,000
  • Walking Mountains Science Center to support the Center’s community programs — $60,000
  • YWCA of Minneapolis to support the Girls Inc. program — $60,000
  • Everytown for Gun Safety to support general operations — $50,000
  • Marnita’s Table to support general operations — $50,000
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art to support the “Hearts of Our People: Native American Women Artists” exhibition — $50,000
  • Relationships First to support general operations — $50,000
  • Somali Success School to support general operations — $50,000
  • Penny George Institute Foundation to support the Art of Healing program and to provide funds for practitioner education and pilot projects — $37,500
  • VoteRunLead to support the Run As You Are program for women in Minnesota and Colorado — $30,000
  • Karuna-Shechen to support Shechen Clinics in Nepal — $25,000
  • Mayo Clinic to support the Healthy Living Program — $25,000
  • Mind and Life Institute to support the Mind and Life Dialogue with the Dalai Lama XXXIII: Dharamsala, India 2018 — $25,000
  • Destiny Arts Center to support general operations on behalf of the Next Generation Fund — $20,000
  • Fresh Lifelines for Youth to support its work incorporating mindfulness with staff and volunteers — $20,000
  • Lundstrum Performing Arts to support general operations on behalf of the Next Generation Fund — $20,000
  • Audubon California to support programs in the San Francisco Bay Area — $15,000
  • Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative to support Nicollet Square Supportive Services — $15,000
  • Children’s HeartLink to support general operations — $15,000
  • Eagle Valley Land Trust to support general operations — $15,000
  • Global Minnesota to support general operations — $15,000
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art to support the Annual Fund — $15,000
  • Minneapolis Pathways to support general operations — $15,000
  • Minnesota Orchestra in honor of the leadership of Marilyn Carlson Nelson and Paula DeCosse — $15,000
  • Minnesota Public Radio to support the Annual Fund — $15,000
  • National Parks Conservation Association to support NPCA’s Yellowstone work — $15,000
  • Twin Cities Public Television to support the Annual Fund — $15,000
  • Walk-In Counseling Center to support general operations — $15,000
  • Betty Ford Alpine Gardens to support general operations — $10,000
  • Big City Mountaineers to support scholarships for girls to attend BCM’s Minnesota programs — $10,000
  • Café Momentum to support general operations on behalf of the Next Generation Fund — $10,000
  • Family Wellness Dallas! to support general operations for Bonton Farms — $10,000
  • MacPhail Center for Music to support the North Minneapolis After-School Strings Program and the MacPhail Northside Youth Orchestra on behalf of the Next Generation Fund — $10,000
  • Mindful Life Project to support general operations on behalf of the Next Generation Fund — $10,000
  • Minneapolis College of Art and Design to provide scholarships for the Summer Youth Programs on behalf of the Next Generation Fund — $10,000

Bill and Penny George founded their philanthropic foundation in 1994, three years after Bill was named CEO of medical device maker Medtronic. His transformative work at the company, which was only a midsize heart device maker when he took over but is now the largest medtech corporation in the world, was most recently profiled last year, when Bill George was inducted into TCB’s Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.

This content was originally posted on tcbmag.com on 1/11/18.