Omaha couple, advocate for education/patient safety to receive UNMC awards

by Kalani Simpson
May 03, 2018

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An Omaha couple that have been longtime community leaders and philanthropists, and a national leader in health-professionals education and patient safety, will be honored at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s May 5 commencement ceremony at Baxter Arena.

Mike Yanney and Dr. Gail Walling Yanney each have achieved remarkable success in their chosen professions. But they since have become best known as a powerhouse team dedicated to giving back to their community, city and state. The Yanneys will be honored with the J.G. Elliott Award for their decades of service to their fellow Nebraskans - notably, contributions to medicine and health programs for the state of Nebraska and for UNMC.

Lois Margaret Nora, M.D., J.D., M.B.A., will be honored with an Honorary Doctorate of Science for national achievement in the advancement of science and service in the health sciences fields. Dr. Nora is president emerita and dean of medicine emerita at Northeast Ohio Medical University, and a fellow in the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University. She recently served as president and CEO of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

Dr. Nora received her medical degree from Rush Medical College in Chicago, a law degree and certificate in clinical medical ethics from the University of Chicago, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Nora’s scholarly work focuses on issues in medical education, particularly in the student environment, and is passionate about enhancing health professionals’ education in order to improve the care of patients and our communities.

The Yanneys’ leadership was instrumental in the public-private partnership that resulted in the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center and in creating the medical center’s Healing Arts Program. The Yanneys also were key players in establishing the chancellor’s "kitchen cabinet," bringing Omaha’s most powerful business leaders into the UNMC fold.

"I can't thank them enough for what they have done for us," said Dr. Kenneth Cowan, director of the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. "When you have the Yanney name behind a project, I don't think you can do much better than that. It is good as gold."

The Yanneys are proud University of Nebraska alumni and have individually served on numerous boards and been honored with hosts of honors. Mike Yanney has worked in business and investment industries for more than 58 years and founded Burlington Capital in 1984 - he currently serves as chairman emeritus. Dr. Walling Yanney is a graduate of the UNMC College of Medicine and served as a clinical instructor for UNMC while practicing as an anesthesiologist at Bishop Clarkson Memorial Hospital. She retired from practice in 1986.

Together, they have chaired numerous local and national charitable drives and have jointly earned several prestigious honors.

The J.G. Elliott Award is given in memory of Jack Elliott, a former Scottsbluff resident, who served on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents for 20 years, until his death in 1974.

We are Nebraska Medicine and UNMC. Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care.

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