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Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Three Organizations

2017 Performance Excellence Awards Presented at PENworks 2018 Conference

SAINT PAUL, Minn., May 7, 2018 – The Performance Excellence Network (PEN), formerly the Minnesota Council for Quality, today honors three recipients of the 2017 Performance Excellence Award (formerly the MN Quality Award). The Award is based on the Baldrige Framework and is the culmination of a rigorous evaluation of an organization’s management and performance system. The evaluation criteria consider leadership, strategic planning, customer-related processes, measurement and knowledge management, workforce, and operations, and recognize organizations that are systematically improving results.

The organizations receiving the Award are: Cardinal of Minnesota (Rochester), LifeSource (Minneapolis), and the South Dakota Department of Transportation (Pierre). Cardinal and LifeSource receive the “Excellence Level” of recognition, the highest level of recognition given by PEN, indicating mature, well-aligned organizational processes, systematic evaluation and improvement, and strong organizational results with some leading the industry. The SDDOT receives the “Advancement Level” of recognition, which is the second of four levels. There have been 138 organizations recognized since 1991 by this program.

These organizations were featured at PENworks 2018, a conference held last Thursday and Friday at the Earle Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Center. The Awards were presented during a luncheon Friday, attended by MPCA Commissioner John Stein on behalf of Governor Dayton.

“These organizations represent exactly the philosophy that Governor Dayton has for the State and region,” said Commissioner Stein. “They are serious about improvement and are trying to make Minnesota and the region better for everyone. The efforts of these three organizations – along with dozens of others in Minnesota and the Dakotas – are improving the quality of our businesses, hospitals and senior care systems, schools, and nonprofits.”

Said Brian Lassiter, president/CEO of the Performance Excellence Network: “Achieving and sustaining excellence – in our organizations and in ourselves – takes hard work It takes a commitment of time, of resource, of energy. It takes focus, persistence, patience, and practice.”

Susan Gunderson, CEO of LifeSource, the region’s organ and tissue non-profit donation agency, said: “Our mission is to save lives and offer hope and healing through excellence in organ and tissue donation. The intentional use of the word excellence in our mission statement reflects our responsibility to hardwire systems and processes to save and heal as many lives as possible. Our commitment to the Baldrige framework has resulted in meaningful change for the people we serve, and we are so proud of this tremendous recognition.”

The conference featured 32 local, regional, and national speakers from all types of organizations, each sharing best practices and methods to improve leadership, customer focus, workforce engagement and capability, and operational effectiveness. In addition to the three organizations receiving recognition, some of the organizations presenting included IBM, Wayzata Public Schools, Mayo Clinic, Olmsted County, Cirrus Aircraft, State of Minnesota, and Normandale Community College.

Seven of the speakers were keynotes, four representing current 2017 Baldrige Award recipient organizations, the nation’s highest performing organizations: Mike Browder, CEO of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (Bristol, TN); Karen McIntyre, Director of Human Resources, Southcentral Foundation (Anchorage, AK); Patrick Logsdon, Vice President, Stellar Solutions (Palo Alto, CA); and Jeff Mihelich, Asst. City Manager, City of Ft. Collins CO. The other three keynotes each shared methods for leaders to systematically remain positive, for the benefit of their teams and organizations: Michael Gold (Twin Cities, New York), Brandon Johnson (Twin Cities), and Terry Watson (Chicago).


About Performance Excellence Network
The Performance Excellence Network was founded in 1987 by the Minnesota Legislature and Governor Rudy Perpich, and was spun off into a private 501(c)3 nonprofit two years later. PEN advances improvement and performance excellence within organizations, individuals and communities. It helps leaders identify strengths and improvement opportunities, and it builds networks that bring information, resources, knowledge and best practices to organizations desiring to improve. PEN serves over 250 members and organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. For more information:

About Cardinal of Minnesota
Based in Rochester, Cardinal of Minnesota provides residential and support services for individuals with developmental disabilities. With a staff of over 450 dedicated employees, Cardinal serves nearly 250 clients in 44 homes in SE and NW Minnesota. Cardinal’s vision is to delight all their customers by providing innovative, quality services through a continuous focus on excellence. For more information:

About SD Department of Transportation
The SDDOT is a state agency responsible for the maintenance and operation of the South Dakota’s public transportation system for approximately 835,000 citizens as well as the traveling public. The public transportation system includes the state highway system, railroads, public transit, aeronautics, and the local road system. The DOT employs over 1000 permanent staff plus another 300 temporary and seasonal workers. For more information: