Purpose, vision and the people of the Compassionate Care Initiative at the University of Virginia


The purpose is to cultivate a resilient and compassionate healthcare workforce—locally, regionally, and nationally— through innovative educational and experiential programs. Our vision is to have safe and high functioning healthcare environments with healthy and happy healthcare professionals and where heart and humanness are valued and embodied.

What is compassionate care at UVA?

Can compassion be taught? UVa Nursing's all volunteer army of nurses, physicians, administrators, professors and students are learning concrete ways to insert compassion into every patient interaction -- and they're bolstering their own resilience in the process.


Dorrie Fontaine, Interim DirectorDorrie Fontaine

Dean Dorrie K. Fontaine, RN, PhD, FAAN – a long-time clinician, academic and administrator with a lengthy and distinguished record serving at many of the nation’s top nursing schools – became dean at the University of Virginia School of Nursing in 2008.‌

After attending Upaya’s end-of-life program “Being with Dying” early in her UVA tenure, Fontaine established the School’s Compassionate Care Initiative in 2009 which today offers programs, retreats and workshops centered on mindfulness and resilience most weeks throughout the year. Understanding that nursing is more than a skills-based profession, Fontaine asserts that purposeful instruction in compassion is critical to nurturing strong and empathic clinicians who are less error-prone, less likely to experience burnout and more deeply in tune with their patients. As CCI’s message spreads and practices like “The Pause” take root in hospitals and clinics around the US, Fontaine continues to publish widely and has become a sought-after speaker on why resilience augments the care, well-being and professional longevity of clinicians and others.

Six years after its beginning, CCI’s wide range of programs today attract hundreds of nursing students, faculty, clinicians and staff – along with a range of individuals across Grounds and from the community – each year.

A tireless champion of healthy work environments, diversity and inclusion and interprofessional education, Fontaine earned a BSN from Villanova, an MS from the University of Maryland, and a PhD from the Catholic University of America, and was inducted as an American Academy of Nursing Fellow in 1995. 

Recipient of the Society of Critical Care Medicine’s Presidential Citation in 1999, Fontaine also received the American Association of Critical Care Nurses’ Lifetime Member award in 2004 and the Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Silver Hope Award in 2013. During 2014, she was recognized by UVA’s Seven Society for “exemplary leadership” and inducted into the Raven Society, UVA’s oldest honor society, and the following year UVA Health System honored her with the Martin Luther King Jr. Award.

Fontaine lives in Pavilion IX, on the University of Virginia’s historic Lawn, with her husband Barry.


Hannah Crosby, Program Coordinator

Hannah Crosby began her role as Program Coordinator for the Compassionate Care Initiative in February 2013; however, she is not new to the School of Nursing. After graduating from the College of Wooster in 2008 with her B.A. in Communication Studies, Hannah started her career as a Communications Intern, which led to a full-time position in October 2009, as the Project Manager of a three-year, $1.2 million HRSA grant. During that time, Hannah also provided administrative support for two other grants, as well as for the School of Nursing's Global Initiatives Office.

In 2012, Hannah received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Innovation for her work on the Healthy Work Environment Taskforce, which was initiated by the staff at the School of Nursing in 2011, and now includes faculty representation. Through this effort and dialogue with her colleagues, Hannah has become even more mindful of the importance of balance and self-care in day-to-day life, in order to thrive and be able to be truly present for others.



Jane Muir, Program AssistantJane Muir

Jane Muir is a third year nursing student double-majoring in Spanish at the University. Her involvement with the Compassionate Care Initiative began in her second year of study in the School of Nursing after taking an academic Mindfulness course led by Dr. Susan Bauer-Wu and Dr. Sam Green. Jane currently serves as the Student Representative of the Contemplative Sciences Center, the Nursing student representative for UVa Student Council and a Trustee for her class.

She incorporates mind-body practices in the academic setting, as well as in the leadership organizations she is involved in. In her free time, Jane enjoys teaching exercise classes at the gym, dancing, reading, playing sports, travelling and learning new languages. Jane co-facilitates Wednesday Mindful Lunches (12:15 p.m.-12:45 p.m) and Friday Guided Meditations (11:00 a.m.-11:40 a.m).





Dallas Ducar, Research and Program Assistant DallasDucar

Dallas Ducar has a vivacious thirst for inquiry solely tempered by contemplative analysis. He graduated from the University of Virginia in  ‌2014 with a BA in Cognitive Science, concentrating in Neuroscience, and a secondary BA in Philosophy, along with a minor in Bioethics. Dallas currently is enrolled in the University pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing. He also dedicates his time as Program and Research Assistant with the UVA Compassionate Care Initiative while also conducting research at the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, and volunteering a the local Charlottesville-Albermarle Rescue Squad.

Initially beginning his contemplative training within the Jesuit tradition, Dallas soon became passionately interested in Eastern contemplative methodology and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Dallas is particularly fascinated by current research in the cognitive sciences and the implications that such findings can have on subjective well-being. He also commonly explores ethics and the impact contemplative practices can have on moral behavior while writing for the publication Voices in Bioethics. 

Dallas finds meaning and passion in his daily life by spending time with his part coyote-dog, exploring the wilderness, and spending time with his loving family and friends.  



Esther Golda Lozano, Program FacilitatorEsther Golda Lozano

While practicing Alexander Technique, Esther Golda Lozano first came to recognize movement as a form of awareness in 2004. She soon expanded her practice and curiosities toward yoga and meditation. Registered with Yoga Alliance since 2009, Esther received her RYT from the Charlottesville Yoga School. Esther incorporates mindfulness-based elements throughout every class, which is the foundation of her practice and lifestyle. Her teaching style explores the body and breath with curiosity and emphasizes compassion through movement, allowing for a natural unfolding of emotions, thoughts and sensations.

Esther received her BA in Art History from the University of Virginia. Currently, she is a nursing student at Piedmont Virginia Community College. As a part of University of Virginia’s Compassionate Care Initiative, she believes in consciously spreading an emphasis toward intentional living and awareness and does so through teaching weekly drop-in yoga sessions (Mondays at 7:30 a.m. and Fridays at 5:15 p.m.) and co-facilitating student resiliency retreats.




Jonathan Bartels, Program FacilitatorJonathan Bartels

Jonathan has over 25 years of professional experience in health care along with varied personal and academic training in contemplative practices. He received a BA in Psychology in 1990 from Canisius College followed by a BSN from D’Youville College in 1997. He has been a registered nurse specializing in trauma and emergency care and palliative care and currently works as a palliative care nurse liaison at UVA Medical Center. He has also completed graduate coursework in Eastern Philosophy and Western Mysticism at Western Michigan University (1991-1993).

His initial contemplative training was with Jesuit Contemplation and later participated in training at the Himalayan Institute and in Tibetan Buddhist meditation and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. He is passionate about promoting resilience in health care and was involved in co-facilitating (with Maria Tussi Kluge) the first resiliency retreats at the UVA School of Nursing, beginning in 2009. Currently, for the Compassionate Care Initiative, Jonathan leads weekly Wednesday morning (6:00 a.m.) meditation sessions and co-facilitates nursing student retreats.

Read more about the campaign Jonathan is promoting, to pause after a traumatic death, here, and here.




Linda Kobert, Program FacilitatorLinda Colbert

Linda Kobert, MSN, MFA is a Charlottesville-based freelance writer, editor, and educator. Her features, profiles, travel articles, personal essays, and reports of local events regularly appear in print and on-line publications, including many University of Virginia publications. She also leads a writing workshop for homeless people through Charlottesville’s emergency homeless shelter PACEM, co-facilitates a Writing as Spiritual Practice group, and is working on a novel and a collection of essays about her experiences as a nurse.

Linda started her career as a registered nurse in Pittsburgh where she spent twenty years working and teaching in a variety of settings, including an out-of-hospital birthing center with nurse midwives. She earned her nursing diploma at St. Margaret Memorial Hospital, her BSN at La Roche College, and her MSN at the University of Pittsburgh. Linda recently earned her MFA at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing program.




Sam Green, Program FacilitatorSam Green

Sam is an Associate Professor of Nursing. He came to UVa to do research in cell biology at the medical school. Two years later, he signed up for a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) class, hoping to learn to cope with job stress. It helped, so he began exploring mindfulness in greater depth, participating in additional classes, practice groups and retreats.

In 2005 Sam began teaching MBSR classes through the UVa Mindfulness Center. He has been teaching mindfulness classes for undergraduates since 2009, and has recently resigned from teaching at the medical school to devote more time and energy to the undergraduate class. Sam also gives short introductory presentations in many venues, including a weekly educational group for patients in the psychiatric ward, and hosts a weekly meditation group (Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m.) for the Compassionate Care Initiative.





Betty Mooney, Program FacilitatorBetty Mooney

Betty graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Dance and German.  An injury while dancing led to her first massage where she realized how much tension she was holding in her body.  The massage improved not only her ability to move but her outlook on life.  Betty decided to combine dance and massage as dual careers and studied at the Detroit School of Swedish Massage.  She also went on to receive training as a Dance Therapist and worked in a Michigan Hospital with the elderly and then at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia with the adolescent population. 

After moving to Virginia in 1972, Betty helped found the McGuffey Art Center where she taught modern dance and the Alexander Technique, having received her training from Majorie Barstow, a student of Alexander. She has been practicing Massage Therapy for 42 years.

Through her work, Betty has helped clients gain improved body awareness and proper use of the body in movement. "It is my belief that if we learn to move in proper alignment many injuries and future health problems can be prevented and we can have a heightened awareness and enjoyment of our world", Betty says. 



Lauren Catlett, Program FacilitatorLauren Catlett

Lauren Catlett is an artist, writer, and editor of the book Shared Doings and Sayings, a collection of stories and artwork by persons with dementia. In her work, she explores the role of the arts in healthcare settings and supports creative expression for persons of all ages and backgrounds.

She is currently a graduate student in the UVa Clinical Nurse Leader program and Creative Arts Manager with the Alzheimer’s Association CWVA Arts Fusion program.





Hiromi Johnson‌

Hiromi Johnson

Hiromi was born in Tokyo, Japan. She started her practice of T’ai Chi and Ch’i Kung in 1980 to rehabilitate her knees after surgery. She studied under two Masters of the Cheng-Ming School in Tokyo in 1988 and continued practice after she moved to Charlottesville in 1998.

In 2002, she started to study under Grandmaster Wang Fu-Lai, the lineage holder of Cheng-Ming School in Taiwan. She was certified as an International Cheng-Ming Instructor for T’ai Chi and Ch’i Kung in 2008 and Hsing-I in 2010, and was inducted as the last indoor student of Grandmaster Wang.

Hiromi believes that one of her missions is to help increase awareness of the health benefits of T’ai Chi and Ch’i Kung. In 2004, she founded a non-profit educational organization, the Charlottesville T’ai Chi Center, to reach out to the community. Besides her regular classes at her downtown studio and UVA, she actively teaches at senior communities, Worksource Enterprises, Charlottesville Parks & Recreation, and gives workshops and presentations. To observe the Japanese national holiday, she started a “Respect the Elderly Week” program three years ago. She visits local assisted living care centers to give free T’ai Chi presentations for seniors.

Hiromi has been practicing Japanese Tea Ceremony and Vipassana Meditation since 1978. She finds these practices complement the practice of Internal Martial Arts. She believes that integrating T’ai Chi practice with her daily life benefits not only her wellbeing but also her teaching. Her teaching focuses equally on the martial applications, health benefits, and meditation aspects of the Internal Martial Arts.


Julie ConnellyJulie Connelly

Julia (Julie) Connelly, M.D., is Professor emeritus of the Department of Medicine and the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Virginia.  She joined the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1983 working the Division of General Medicine/Geriatrics/Hospice and Palliative Care. She was co-director of the Program of the Humanities in Medicine for ten years, then joined the Center for Bioethics and Humanities offering electives and assisting with Medical Center Hour.  She served as President of the Society for Health and Human Values (now the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities).  Her academic writing is in the field of primary care ethics, narrative ethics, mindfulness, and the patient-physician relationship.  She helped establish University Physicians in Orange, VA, and worked there as a general internist and educator for primary care residents.  She served as medical director of Dogwood Village Health and Rehabilitation Center in Orange, VA for 21 years.  After retiring from UVA in 2011, she served as medical director of the Hospice of the Rapidan (now part of Hospice of the Piedmont) for two years.

With others from the SON, she attended Upaya Zen Center’s Being with Dying Course, and in 2013 graduated from their Buddhist Chaplaincy Program. There she developed a volunteer program, “Reconnect with Nature: Bringing Nature Home to Long-term Care.” The program was implemented by Old Rag Master Naturalists volunteers at Dogwood Village in 2012.  In August 2014, the program was awarded the “group volunteer” annual award from the Virginia Health Care Association.

She has been engaged in contemplative practice for almost 20 years with Hameed Ali and Karen Johnson, founders of the Diamond Approach, an inquiry-based contemplative practice of western psychology and eastern religious traditions.  She studied MBSR at Omega and taught for many years at UVA.  She has taught meditation in many venues, including the SOM and SON.   She enjoys hiking, participating in Old Rag Master Naturalist program and as a volunteer in Shenandoah National Park, nature photography, and traveling with friends and family.


Michael Swanberg
Michael Swanberg

What does it means to have a socially-engaged contemplative practice? This might include ways of applying mindfulness principles and practices to areas of suffering such as addiction, health disparities, or end-of-life care. It could also involve ways that we can take an engaged and compassionate stand on social justice issues of gender equality, environmental degradation, inhumane incarceration, or war. Nothing is outside of our mindfulness practice, including our relationship to the political issues in our lives.

Currently a PhD student in the School of Nursing, Michael’s research is focused on health disparities and structural justice. Through the department of health, he is piloting interventions to improve racial disparities in maternal/child health outcomes. Since 2012, he has facilitated weekly meditation classes at the maximum security women’s prison in Fluvanna County as a member of the Blue Ridge Prison Project.






Dorothe BachDorothe Bach

Dorothe Bach, PhD, RYT, is Associate Professor and Associate Director at UVa’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). She designs and directs educational development programs, including CTE’s Ignite Program that prepares the next generation of UVa faculty for teaching excellence.  In collaboration with undergraduate students, she initiated Co-Create UVA, platform for students and faculty to collaborate on designing courses and curricula and re-envision higher education together. Dorothe regularly presents nationally and internationally interactive teaching workshops and has published on the challenges of retaining diverse faculty and a variety of teaching issues such as course design, using social media for learning, contemplative pedagogy and learning portfolios. In the past years, she has sought different avenues for bringing contemplation into her work with faculty and students. With John Alexander, she created the Contemplative Pedagogy Program for instructors seeking to integrate contemplation into their classrooms. With Susan Bauer-Wu, she co-teaches “Mindfulness and Compassion: Living Fully Personally and Professionally” in which undergraduate students experientially and academically explore secular contemplative practices that cultivate self-awareness, compassion, generosity and gratitude. In the Compassionate Care Initiative and the wider Charlottesville community, Dorothe teaches meditative yoga classes that invite participants to listen to the body’s wisdom.



Octavia WinfieldOctavia Winfield

Octavia Winfield has been a certified massage therapist for over 15 years. She has worked with sports medicine physicians and doctors of chiropractic medicine while maintaining a private practice in Richmond, Virginia.  Drawing on this diverse clinical experience Octavia practices therapeutic massage with individuals to solve physical ailments while inviting awareness for wellness on a deeper level. In addition to relaxation massage she is certified in manual lymph drainage and neuromuscular therapy.

Through her volunteer experience most recently with Hospice of Virginia she has discovered the profound significance and fulfillment of working with elderly sick and dying patients. Her love of the clinical aspects of massage therapy instigated her pursuit of a masters in nursing through UVA’s Clinical Nurse Leader program. She is most intrigued by the endless possibilities and profound outcomes achieved when healthcare encompasses the whole person. She finds the challenge of integrating holistic approaches into the traditional setting of medicine and healthcare exciting and promising.  



Clinical Ambassadors

The Clinical Ambassadors are a group of over twenty clinicians from various disciplines and departments at the University of Virginia Medical Center. Champions of the Compassionate Care Initiative's mission, Clinical Ambassadors implement small changes in their respective areas to have a profound and positive impact on the University of Virginia Health System's culture. The group meets monthly to share ideas and successes with each other, as well as to provide a supportive environment as challenges are faced.

Find out who is a Clinical Ambassador, here.

Faculty Ambassadors

The Faculty Ambassadors are a group of about twenty faculty from the University of Virginia School of Nursing. Champions of the Compassionate Care Initiative's mission, Faculty Ambassadors integrate compassionate care principles in the learning environment and in their daily interactions with students and colleagues to cultivate wellness and community. The group meets monthly to expand upon what is already being done at the UVA School of Nursing, share ideas, and support and empower each other.

Find out who is a Faculty Ambassador, here

Student Ambassadors

The Student Ambassadors are a group of more than twenty undergraduate and graduate nursing students at the University of Virginia School of Nursing. Champions of the Compassionate Care Initiative's mission, Student Ambassadors strive to model compassionate care principles in the learning environment and in their daily interactions with peers and faculty, staff, and preceptors, to cultivate wellness and community. The group meets twice a month to share ideas and to support and empower each other.

Find out who is a Student Ambassador, here


The seeds for the Compassionate Care Initiative (CCI) were planted in 2009. It has evolved and grown into a comprehensive program far greater than the original vision. Funded by a generous benefactor in 2009, an initial interprofessional group of ten University of Virginia (UVA) healthcare providers attended an eight-day contemplative retreat in New Mexico that focused on end-of-life care. As Dean of the UVA School of Nursing who participated in this program, Dorrie Fontaine experienced firsthand the value of contemplation and its role in resilience. It was also there that Dorrie Fontaine had the opportunity to meet Susan Bauer-Wu, the first and current director of the CCI.

From 2009 through 2012, two consultants, Cynda Rushton (nurse ethicist at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing) and Monica Sharma (physician and former United Nations director of Leadership and Capacity Development) led a series of workshops over two and a half years. Multiple clinicians, faculty and staff across the health system and Schools of Nursing and Medicine and other University schools were introduced to Dr. Sharma’s model, the Conscious Full-Spectrum model. This process helped to engage UVA clinicians in unit-based projects related to end-of-life care in different clinical areas, including pediatrics, palliative care, emergency medicine, and oncology.

video, created in 2012, showcased UVA faculty and clinicians implementing the early CCI work. The video described The Pause, a 45-second pause following unsuccessful resuscitation in the UVA Emergency Department to honor the patient and the hard work of the clinicians involved in the code; The Pause was formalized by Jonathan Bartels, RN in response to feedback by a student chaplain. One of the key features of the video is the voices of the clinicians, faculty, and chaplains speaking of how they themselves were changed and learned to “show up differently” in leading the institution towards a more compassionate environment. 

The early years set the foundation for CCI and the recruitment of Susan Bauer-Wu who began in this role of Director in January 2013, and hiring of Hannah Walker, CCI program coordinator.

Now, CCI is a highly integrated program that touches students, faculty, and staff across UVA, the broader community, and beyond. CCI promotes clinician (and student-clinician) wellness and high-quality, compassionate clinical care through a variety of educational offerings (locally, regionally, and nationally) and supporting Compassionate Care Ambassadors to be role models and champions in their respective settings.