Photo of Kris Engelstad accepting her award.

National Program Spotlight

CommonSpirit Health Philanthropy recognizes Kris Engelstad as Philanthropist of the Year

Chicago, Ill. (February 17, 2023) – Nevada’s Kris Engelstad was recognized at the CommonSpirit Health 2023 Philanthropy Education Summit Phillies Awards with the Philanthropist of the Year award.

“Kris has truly dedicated her life to helping others and to making transformative gifts throughout the valley,” said Charlie Guida, Vice President of Philanthropy for the Southwest Division, who introduced the award. 

Engelstad was nominated by Henderson, Nevada’s St. Rose Dominican Health Foundation where she and the Engelstad Foundation have generously contributed more than $21.5 million since 2011. Their support has driven seven major initiates across St. Rose Foundation and the hospitals and communities it serves.

CommonSpirit’s Philanthropist of the Year award honors an individual, household, family or organization who has given generously of their time, resources, efforts, recruitment and advocacy to support their foundation in a meaningful way over a sustained period of time. The award celebrates a donor who gives of themselves to further philanthropy’s impact. Nominations were submitted by foundations across CommonSpirit’s 21-state ministry and were reviewed by an interdisciplinary selection committee.

“I feel so fortunate to have known Kris Engelstad and her family for many years and to be able to see the impact they have made in our community,“ noted Guida. “Through her leadership, and based on her own life’s experiences, Kris and the Engelstad Foundation have become some of the most impactful philanthropists in all of Nevada and beyond. No one has been more generous to St. Rose Dominican Health Foundation.”

One of the foundation’s most significant gifts to St. Rose was a $10 million endowment to support the Engelstad Foundation R.E.D Rose Program. The program provides free breast health services to people who are uninsured or underinsured; outreach, information, referrals, and health insurance enrollment; and financial assistance to those undergoing breast cancer treatment. In fiscal year ‘22, through the R.E.D. Rose program, St. Rose received 2,136 calls of interest, and served 209 clients with 171 clinical breast exams, 204 mammograms and 196 ultrasounds. Twelve women were diagnosed and treated for breast cancer and 22 clients undergoing treatment received $73,691 to cover rent, utilities, groceries and transportation.

“In 2010, during my regular annual mammogram, they found a mass in my breast. I became part of the club,” says Engelstad, Trustee and Chief Executive Officer of the Engelstad Foundation. “I realized that I wasn’t breast cancer … breast cancer was something I had. I also realized that I was really, really lucky. I was able to find the doctors I wanted and to travel where I wanted to get the reconstructive surgery I wanted. That’s not true for everybody and it should be. When [the R.E.D. Rose Program] came up, it was fairly easy for me to buy-in completely because it's just a set of circumstances that separates me from everyone else.

“It’s nice to be honored, but I know I didn’t do any of the heavy lifting. This honor is for the doctors, nurses and support staff who do this work every single day and make sure these women are taken care of. Mostly, however, I would like to honor the women … the women who have gone through the program, the women who are currently in the program, and unfortunately, the women who are going to need the program.”

The Engelstad Foundation was created in 2002 by Ralph & Betty Engelstad for the purpose of partnering to create solutions in medical research, improving day to day living for people with disabilities and raising the possibilities for high risk individuals. Today, Betty and her daughter Kris have grown the Engelstad Foundation’s presence by focusing on education, health care and childhood issues. The foundation has endowed more than $300 million in scholarships and grants and is a major benefactor to nearly 200 organizations in the states of North Dakota, Mississippi, Utah and Nevada.

CommonSpirit Health is grateful for the passion, dedication and advocacy of donors like Kris Engelstad and the Engelstad Foundation. In every community we serve, individuals like the Engelstads foster innovation and advance patient care and outcomes.