Center for Practical Bioethics
Harzfeld Building, Suite 500
1111 Main
Kansas City MO 64105-2116
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 221-1100
Fax 816- 221-2002
Mission Statement
Mission:  To raise and respond to ethical issues in health and healthcare.
Vision:  Ethical discourse and action advance the health and dignity of all persons. 
The Center for Practical Bioethics is a nonprofit, free-standing and independent organization nationally recognized for its work in practical bioethics. For more than 30 years, the Center has helped patients and their families, healthcare professionals, policymakers and corporate leaders grapple with difficult issues in healthcare and research involving patients. The Center does not wait to be called upon. Our vision and mission require us to be proactive — to call attention to ethical issues and to develop programs, policies and publications that address them. Through this unique approach, the Center puts “practical bioethics” into action. That’s why our motto is “Real Life. Real Issues. Real Time.”
The results? Reasoned, real-world responses to ethically complex situations and, ultimately, the greatest peace of mind possible for those who must decide. A dedicated Board of Directors and staff representing multiple disciplines and fields of expertise, as well as individuals and organizations throughout the nation committed to advancing ethical practices and policies in health and healthcare, support the Center.
The Center’s unique practical approach makes a difference by:
  1. Using the tools of ethics based on principles of philosophy and ethics developed over centuries.
  2. Seizing opportunities to advance awareness of issues and causes.
  3. Bringing diverse, multi-disciplinary groups together to work collaboratively.
  4. Finding common ground through public and professional education, consumer and clinical consultation, research, publications, public engagement and advocacy.
CEO/Executive Director John G. Carney MEd
Board Chair John D. Yeast MD, MSPH
Board Chair Company Affiliation Saint Luke's Hospital
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1984
Former Names
Midwest Bioethics Center
Volunteer Opportunities
Ways to donate, support, or volunteer The Center is grateful for all types of giving and welcomes inquiries regarding volunteer opportunities. 
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement
Mission:  To raise and respond to ethical issues in health and healthcare.
Vision:  Ethical discourse and action advance the health and dignity of all persons. 
The Center for Practical Bioethics is a nonprofit, free-standing and independent organization nationally recognized for its work in practical bioethics. For more than 30 years, the Center has helped patients and their families, healthcare professionals, policymakers and corporate leaders grapple with difficult issues in healthcare and research involving patients. The Center does not wait to be called upon. Our vision and mission require us to be proactive — to call attention to ethical issues and to develop programs, policies and publications that address them. Through this unique approach, the Center puts “practical bioethics” into action. That’s why our motto is “Real Life. Real Issues. Real Time.”
The results? Reasoned, real-world responses to ethically complex situations and, ultimately, the greatest peace of mind possible for those who must decide. A dedicated Board of Directors and staff representing multiple disciplines and fields of expertise, as well as individuals and organizations throughout the nation committed to advancing ethical practices and policies in health and healthcare, support the Center.
The Center’s unique practical approach makes a difference by:
  1. Using the tools of ethics based on principles of philosophy and ethics developed over centuries.
  2. Seizing opportunities to advance awareness of issues and causes.
  3. Bringing diverse, multi-disciplinary groups together to work collaboratively.
  4. Finding common ground through public and professional education, consumer and clinical consultation, research, publications, public engagement and advocacy.
Background Statement

The concept of bioethics was relatively new in 1984 when Mary Beth Blake, an in-house attorney at the University of Kansas Medical Center, Dr. Karen Ritchie, a family practice physician and psychiatrist, and Dr. Hans Uffelmann, a philosophy professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, founded the Midwest Bioethics Center, now the Center for Practical Bioethics. 

At that time, most of the half dozen existing ethics centers were based in academia and focused on theoretical issues. At the same time, ethical dilemmas presented by accelerating advances in medicine and technology increasingly galvanized public attention and professional concern:

  • The horrors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, which began in 1932 and were exposed in 1972, prompted the creation of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects in 1974.
  • In 1976, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of removal of a ventilator at the request of the parents of Karen Ann Quinlan who had lapsed into a persistent vegetative state.
  • The President’s Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research published the Belmont Report in 1978, which led to the requirement that any research institution funded by federal dollars have an Institutional Review Board to ensure that “beneficence, respect and justice” govern research involving human subjects.
  • In 1978, the first “test-tube” baby was born through in vitro fertilization.
  • In the early 1980s, a number of Baby Doe cases established precedents for the obligations of healthcare professionals in the care and treatment of seriously disabled newborns.

Hans, Mary Beth and Karen knew that bioethics should be brought to the bedside and believed also that bioethics could provide valuable tools and resources to help those making the most ethically complex life and death decisions.

In founding the Center, they adopted three bedrock principles:  
  • Bringing diverse, multidisciplinary groups together to work collaboratively
  • Focus on the practical and theoretical, with emphasis on the practical.
  • Remain independent, free-standing and unfettered by special interests.

For 34 years, the Center has led the way in making bioethics meaningful to patients and families from all walks of life, as well as their clinicians and institutions. The Center brings diverse groups together to address difficult issues and achieve common ground, ensuring always that the patient voice is heard.

Impact Statement
ADVANCE CARE PLANNING (ACP) -- Caring Conversations workbook reaches 10,000+ people annually. Published Spanish Caring Conversations. Presented workshops/health fairs for Hallmark, KCP&L & North KC Hospital. Held Transportable Physician Orders for Patients Preferences (TPOPP) training in St. Louis, KC, Lawrence & Rolla. Secured funding to implement ACP in African American faith communities.
AGING IN PLACE -- Secured funding to address elder abuse and unmet needs of community-dwelling seniors.
BIOETHICS EDUCATION & CONSULTATION -- Provided 100 KU Hospital ethics consults and taught 1,000+ medical KCU/KUMC students. Directed KCU’s DO/MA Bioethics degree program (including Joplin). Launched Bioethics Film Series. Responded to scores of consumer calls. Served on 5 hospital ethics committees. Increased website page views from 182,841 to 291,056.
EMERGING ISSUES -- Transitioned the PAINS Project to Academy of Integrated Pain Management. Developing response to maternal health crisis, concussion in sports and artificial intelligence. Supported advocacy on health policy issues (400+ hours of consultation, research, background, testimony).
  1. Increase ACP participation with emphasis on minority communities.
  2. Continue work with local community-based organizations, healthcare providers and health plans to improve integrated care delivery to older adults. Establish agreements to establish MO/KS elder abuse shelters.
  3. Implement curriculum for hospital ethics committee members to increase engagement in issues affecting their institutions.
  4. Increase enrollment in KCU DO/MA Bioethics program, especially new Joplin campus, and develop metrics to assess student professionalism.
  5. Complete Tier 3 PCORI Pipeline to Proposal engaging physicians and patients in active listening training to improve communication.
  6. Increase awareness of website resources for teachers and students.
Needs Statement

ADVANCE CARE PLANNING -  Converting Caring Conversations training to video to accommodate corporations with distant employees ($10K). Disseminate Caring Conversations resources in Spanish ($5K)
PAINS KC – Maintain Citizen Leaders Group. $20K
BIOETHICS LEADERSHIP FUND – Provide scholarships and internships for Master’s students enrolled bioethics study at UMKC, KUMC and KCU ($20K)
WEBSITE/TECHNOLOGY ENHANCEMENTS - Continue to build on successful expansion of web presence ($15K) and meet new technology needs ($10K)
POLICY & ADVOCACY - Staff support for consumer and KC/MO policymaker consultations ($25K)
Service Categories
Research Institutes & Public Policy Analysis
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Clay County
MO - Platte County
KS - Wyandotte County
KS - Johnson County
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
Geographic Area Served Narrative

Many of our programs (teaching KU/KCU med students, ethics consultations, community lectures) serve GKC and MO/KS. Others have broader reach. Year one of Advance Care Planning for African American Faith Communities will touch congregants nationwide. Of our website’s 291,056 pageviews in 2017, 3.5% were from KC. Over 71% of online visitors were from across the US (primarily colleges/universities). Other countries worldwide, such as Canada, Australia and the UK, downloaded free resources.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement

Our website includes stories reflecting on supporters' involvement with the Center ( Here, our former board chair, James Spigarelli, PhD, explains the evolution of his passion for the Center:

As CEO of Midwest Research Institute (now MRIGlobal), I was aware of the excellent work of the Center. But after experiencing the death of my daughter from cancer, the Center’s long history of helping families with the most difficult medical decisions became personal, and I began to learn more about its accomplishments and impact locally and nationally.
Early on, the Center published the first voluntary community HIV standards in the US and counseled both sides in Nancy Cruzan vs. Director, Mo. Dept. of Health, the first “right to die” case reviewed by the Supreme Court. Sen. John Danforth asked for the Center's help in developing the Patient Self-Determination Act.
By the 1990s, national groups sought out the Center for assistance. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation chose it to direct an $11.25 million program on community-state partnerships to improve end-of-life care.
The Center has published numerous policy briefs and curricula (e.g., an 8-year series on "State Initiatives to Improve End-of-Life Care; recommendations to DHHS for federal protections for subjects with diminished capacity; an end-of-life curriculum piloted for the CDC; a report on advance care planning presented to Congress).
The 2000s brought new efforts to ensure that loved ones get the care they need and want. Caring Conversations®, which guides family and friends through the advance care planning process, has reached hundreds of thousands. The Center leads a bi-state effort to achieve provider adoption of Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP). Our KC Regional Hospital Ethics Committee Consortium remains the longest running consortium of its kind in the nation. Each year, we attract hundreds to symposia. The Center has also been a pioneer in chronic pain.
Looking back at my personal experience as father and caregiver to our daughter, I appreciate the Center’s work at every stage of her struggle with cancer – from diagnosis, to levels of treatment,  hospice care and death at age 45. Each stage presents the patient, family and caregivers with complex decisions for which they are ill prepared and inadequately supported by our current healthcare system. The Center truly makes a difference. 
ADVANCE CARE PLANNING (ACP) - CPB pioneered ACP to help people ensure that the care they want is the care they receive. We focus on increasing participation in ACP, including online at by the American public (30%), by companies for their employees, and in minority communities (less than 16%). For patients with serious advanced illness, we continue to build coalitions and train providers across MO/KS in documenting patients’ goals of care as physician orders that follow patients through different care settings.
OLDER ADULTS -- One in 10 older adults have experienced some form of abuse: financial, physical, sexual, emotional, abandonment or self-neglect. CPB is identifying nursing home partners for elder abuse shelters in MO/KS and raising awareness through presentations nationwide. CPB is also working with MARC to develop Managed Services Network to improve capacity for community-based organizations to be reimbursed for older adult services.
Category Health Care, General/Other Bioethics & Medical Ethics
Population Served People/Families of People with Health Conditions, At-Risk Populations, General/Unspecified
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success

ADVANCE CARE PLANNING: In 2019, Caring Conversations® will reach 10,000 people via downloads, bulk purchases and workshops, and Caring Conversations (including Spanish). CPB will hold 4 educational programs each for Hallmark, KCP&L & North KC Hospital employees and reach 1,000 additional employees at health fairs. CPB will increase participation in MyDirectives traceable to CPB. CPB will address needs of those living with advanced illness through Transportable Physician Orders for Patient Preferences (TPOPP) with focus on training and support for coalitions developing in KC, St. Louis and rural areas.

OLDER ADULTS – CPB will identify potential nursing home partners for elder abuse shelters in MO/KS and make at least 8 presentations, publish articles and blog posts to educate professionals and lay audiences about elder abuse. Community-based organizations will improve capacity to be reimbursed for services. More older adults, especially low-income, will be served.

Long-Term Success

ADVANCE CARE PLANNING – More people will have their end-of-life preferences respected and be satisfied with their care. More families will have peace of mind about their loved ones’ last days. Clinicians will experience less moral distress. Costs for non-beneficial care will be reduced.

OLDER ADULTS -- More people from law enforcement, healthcare and social services will be aware of how to screen for and respond to elder abuse. More victims in MO/KS will be cared for and future abuse prevented.

Healthcare providers, insurers and community organizations will better coordinate and integrate delivery of evidence-based health services to support older adults living in the community.

Program Success Monitored By

ADVANCE CARE PLANNING – We will track (a) Caring Conversations® downloads, bulk purchases and distribution at workshops; (b) workplace programs/attendance; (c) MyDirectives signup response by workplace program employees; d) progress of TPOPP implementation in KC, St. Louis and rural areas.

OLDER ADULTS – We will monitor progress toward establishing shelter partnerships with nursing home providers and number of presentations on elder abuse. We will work with community partners to pilot programs that integrate healthcare with social services.

Examples of Program Success

Disseminated 10,000+ Caring Conversations (CC) in 2017 plus 5,000 Jan-June 2018. Implemented Harman Foundation project to increase ACP in African American faith communities. Presented 5 TPOPP training workshops, Jan 2017-June 2018. Presented CC in the Workplace workshops and at health fairs. Testimonial: “I wanted to send a huge thank you to all of you for helping make Hallmark Leavenworth’s Health Fair a successful one this year. Your time, devotion and interaction with the employees who attended was amazing and so appreciated by all. I have received many positive comments from the employees….so well done! It’s the information presented at these fairs that can be life-changing for some. I also had many come in with follow-up questions regarding many of the topics that were presented.”


ETHICS EDUCATION–CPB directs the Master’s in Bioethics program at KCU of Medicine and Biosciences, the largest medicine/bioethics program and 1 of the largest bioethics programs worldwide. Tarris Rosell, PhD, DMin is a full professor at KU School of Medicine. CPB leads the KC Regional Hospital Ethics Committee Consortium. We present community programs for professional & lay audiences (e.g., Berkley Symposium, Flanigan Lecture , KCU Current Issues Lecture Series) and Bioethics Film Series with Tivoli Cinema. Our bioethics library contains 3,000+ reports, guidelines, policy briefs, audio/video recordings from the late 1980s to present.

ETHICS CONSULTATION–Rosell directs The University of Kansas Health Service (TUKHS) ethics consultation service. CPB responds to calls from families and healthcare professionals for guidance (end of life, decision-making capacity, transplantation, etc) and provides in-depth assistance to employees of companies that offer the ACP benefit.

Category Health Care, General/Other Bioethics & Medical Ethics
Population Served General/Unspecified, At-Risk Populations,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success

ETHICS EDUCATION – Teach 860 KCU med students (KC & Joplin) and continue to lead its dual degree program enrolling 130 students in 2019. Teach ~350 University of Kansas Health System clinicians and students. Serve on 5 hospital ethics committees. Plan or convene at least 7 actual and/or virtual Ethics Consortium meetings to discuss difficult cases and learn new approaches to resolving dilemmas. Present 4 Current Issues in Bioethics lectures with KCU attended by 432+ med students plus average 200+ on Facebook. Produce Bioethics Film Series. Present other lectures/events (Annual Dinner, Berkley Symposium, Flanigan Lecture). Continue to build bioethics web library and increase pageviews from 291,056 in 2017 to 325,000 by the end of 2019.

ETHICS CONSULTATION - Oversee 100+ ethics consultations for The University of Kansas Health System. Respond to 100+ consumer calls for help.

Long-Term Success

Patients and families will be less likely to experience mental stress and potentially adverse outcomes from treatment. Bioethicists, clinicians, students and ethics committee members will deepen understanding of high-level issues. The general public will deepen understanding of popular bioethics issues. Online resources will support educational goals of users worldwide. The Ethics Committee Consortium will continue to improve healthcare institutions’ ability to resolve ethical issues satisfactorily.

Program Success Monitored By

ETHICS EDUCATION – At KCU, we monitor total number of students enrolled and number in dual degree program. At TUKHS, we monitor total number of clinicians and med students taught/supervised. We monitor frequency and attendance at hospital ethics committee meetings. We track attendance at lectures and community engagement programs, such as the Bioethics Film Series. We track web resources views/downloads. We track attendance and fundraising goals for the Annual Dinner.

ETHICS CONSULTATION – We track number of TUKHS ethics consultations provided and CPB staff hours devoted to responding to consumer calls for guidance.

Examples of Program Success

In 2017-18: CPB guided preparation and implementation of bioethics curriculum and faculty development on newly opened KCU Joplin campus. Also at KCU, we oversaw bioethics education of nearly 500 med students. At TUKHS, we interacted with 350+ med students/clinicians and directed its consultation service. We presented the first Bioethics Film Series, 24th Annual Flanigan Lecture, 11th Annual Berkley Symposium and Annual Dinner attended by 600+. Staff served on 5 hospital ethics committees, presented 40 local, regional and nationally invited lectures, and responded to 100+ consumer calls for guidance. In 2017, 71,075 website users accessed our free resources with 291,056 pageviews, up 59% from 183,000 in 2016.


EMERGING ISSUES - New bioethical issues are constantly emerging and affecting healthcare delivery at an accelerating pace. CPB stays abreast of these issues to proactively call attention to them, provide guidance and develop programs, policies and publications to address them. We are focusing on three issues in 2018-19: Maternal Health and Birth Justice, Concussion and Brain Injury in sports, and Ethics of Artificial Intelligence.

HEALTH POLICY – Local, state and national legislators, regulators and institutional leaders have an “open line” to CPB senior staff, who provide hours of background, guidance and testimony on healthcare policy issues.

CHRONIC PAIN – The Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy (PAINS), which began in 2010, transitioned mid-2018 to the Academy of Integrative Pain Management. The Center retains PAINS-KC with a focus on patient engagement and active listening.

Category Health Care, General/Other Health Care Issues
Population Served At-Risk Populations, Other Named Groups,
Program is linked to organization's mssion Yes
Program Frequently Assessed Yes
Short-Term Success

EMERGING ISSUES – CPB, in collaboration with other stakeholders, will develop collective impact strategy to address disparities in maternal/infant health outcomes for African Americans; develop new informed consent/assent model for parents/youth, and create interdisciplinary R&D consortium on responsible solutions for AI in healthcare.

HEALTH POLICY – By providing timely consultation, legislators and policymakers will have practical knowledge and better understanding of implications of legislation and regulation and be better equipped to make informed recommendations and decisions, with fewer unintended consequences.

CHRONIC PAIN – Active listening will improve relationships and patient-centered outcomes. More than 25 Citizen Leaders will attend bi-monthly meetings.
Long-Term Success

EMERGING ISSUES – Reduced disparities in maternal/infant outcomes for African Americans. Fewer concussions and brain injuries from youth sports. Workable framework for avoiding unintended consequences from AI in healthcare.

HEALTH POLICY – Better legislation, regulation and policies improves people’s lives.

CHRONIC PAIN – Increased access to comprehensive pain care improves lives, saves dollars and reduces opioid prescribing.
Program Success Monitored By

EMERGING ISSUES – We identify ethical dilemmas and implement strategies to address them. Once identified, we collaborate with stakeholders to build consensus and workable solutions.

HEALTH POLICY – CPB staff track number of hours devoted to institutional consultation, research, background and testimony.

CHRONIC PAIN – We monitor PAINS-KC by number of Citizen Leaders who participate in monthly meetings and providers who participate in active listening training and anecdotal reports from patient partners of improved communication with healthcare providers.
Examples of Program Success

In 2017-18: Funding from the national Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute provided insights on aligning chronic pain research with patient needs, and we were awarded additional funding to test active listening education for patients and providers. We provided 400+ hours of institutional consultation, research, background and testimony for local, state and national lawmakers and policymakers. We completed work on a grant funded by Pew Charitable Trusts to examine diverse views on palliative care and advance care planning among Catholics. 

CEO Comments
Because the Center's mission is to raise and respond to ethical issues in health and healthcare, we have a combination of continuing programs such as our education, consultation and resource efforts, as well as programs that develop around a specific need or emerging issue.
Such issues present themselves every day, across the country, affecting millions. What is brain death? When is artificial hydration and nutrition appropriate? What about resuscitation? Genomic testing? The issues are endless.
Our mission requires the Center to be knowledgeable on a vast range of subjects, as well as capable of responding quickly, practically and effectively. Indeed, virtually all of our programs – from developing one of the nation’s earliest standards of treatment for HIV/AIDS in 1987 to developing an ethical framework for Learning Health Systems – have sprung from real-life issues and problems that have arisen in communities and bedsides across the country. The under-treatment of pain, for example, has been a focus of the Center for more than a decade, but when the Institute of Medicine issued a report on this important topic in 2011, it was elevated to the national stage. The Center is experienced at seizing opportunities to advance a cause when public attention is focused there.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director John G. Carney MEd
Term Start Dec 2011

In December 2011, John G. Carney, MEd, became the second President and CEO of the Center for Practical Bioethics, succeeding the founding director who had held the position since the organization’s inception in 1984. His previous commitment to the Center’s work was well established having served as Vice President of the organization from mid-2004 to late 2010, focusing his work primarily on improving shared decision making for patients and families and care for those in the final chapters of life. 

John’s dedication to those on the edges of life spans three decades. He devoted his early career in the 1980s-2000s to the development of hospice and palliative care in Kansas and throughout the Midwest, serving in executive positions at the provider and state association levels. His policy and advocacy work in the areas of aging, advanced illness and advance care planning includes executive leadership positions at the state and national association levels as well. His passionate voice advocating for families facing difficult healthcare decisions has been heard in rural communities, town halls and national forums from coast to coast.

In 2008, John co-authored a report to Congress on Advance Care Planning and worked with the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health on improving end-of-life care for all Americans. During the early 2000s, he served in leadership roles at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and directed education programs for America’s Health Insurance. He has also been recognized for his leadership in executive management of small healthcare organizations. In 2017, he coordinated a year-long project examining perspectives on advance care planning, palliative care and end of life among Catholics in the U.S with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts. 

He holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from Newman University (Wichita, KS) and a Master’s from Wichita State University.

Former CEOs
Myra Christopher 1985 - Dec 2011
Senior Staff
Title Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer
Linda Ward joined the Center in 2004 after serving on the board. Previously, she was executive vice-president of corporate relations and strategic planning for Health Midwest and was part of the team that led Health Midwest through its sale to HCA. 

At the Center, she has responsibility for finance/audit, planning, governance, resource development including endowment and planned giving as well as operations and program funding, membership, human resources. She also works with area benefits leaders to provide corporate programs offering employee education in advance care planning as well as coaching and advocacy when dealing with advanced illness.

She served on the board of MetroCare/NorthlandCare from inception in 2006 until 2016, a program incubated at the Center that provides specialty care for people without access to care, and as board chair in 2013-14. She is also a member of KU Med Center’s Institute for Neurological Disorders Advisory Council, the advisory board of the National Research Network of the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Central Exchange. She has participated in Frontiers Leadership Team, a regional consortium managing a $20 million CTSA – Clinical and Translational Science Award.

She served on the board for the United Way of GKC and chaired its Health Impact Council. She was the first woman to chair the Westminster College board of trustees, She was a director of Lawson Bank from 1999-2017. Linda is an active participant in the Women’s Public Service Network and co-founded the Northland Giving Circle. She is past chair of the Port Authority of KCMO. She served on the Northland Community Foundation founding board and continued on it for 21 years, She is a past chair of the Boys & Girls Clubs of GKC, Missouri Children’s Trust Fund, Harvest Ball Society and Women’s Foundation of GKC. and past vice-chair of the Partnership for Children and Crittenden.

Title Senior Health Policy Advisor

Kathy Greenlee, JD, joined the Center in November 2016 to work on issues that impact older adults and people with disabilities, with an emphasis on advanced illness and end-of-life care. Kathy is interested in improving transitions of care by creating systems that build relationships between healthcare providers and community-based organizations. She is a passionate advocate on issues relating to elder abuse and provides local and national leadership in the areas of elder abuse prevention and response. As Assistant Secretary for Aging in the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 2009 to 2016, Greenlee was responsible for leadership and management of the Administration on Aging and program implementation of the Older Americans Act. Greenlee led an effort to create the Administration for Community Living (ACL), an agency the administers a broad range of aging and disability programs. Prior to leaving for Washington, Kathy spent 18 years in Kansas state government. She served as Secretary for Aging for Governor Kathleen Sebelius and she is a former Kansas State Long Term Care Ombudsman. A lawyer by training, Greenlee was also General Counsel of the Kansas Insurance Department and an Assistant Attorney General for Attorney General Bob Stephan.

Title John B. Francis Chair

Dr. Richard Payne directs projects focusing on how access to care and health decision-making among underserved Americans impacts care delivery and patient outcomes, especially among African Americans and other minorities. He received his BA in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University (1973) and his MD from Harvard Medical School (1977). He completed his post-graduate training in medicine at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, MA, in neurology at the Cornell Campus of the New York Presbyterian Hospital; and fellowship in neuro-oncology and pain medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Title Rosemary Flanigan Chair

As Rosemary Flanigan Chair and contractually on behalf of the Center, Dr. Terry Rosell provides bioethics education and consultation at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (Chair, Department of Bioethics) and the University of Kansas Medical Center (Clinical Professor, School of Medicine). He is also a Professor of Pastoral Theology (Ethics and Ministry Praxis) at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Shawnee, Kansas. He completed a fellowship in clinical ethics at Vanderbilt University and earned the PhD there in Ethics and Society from the graduate department of religion. His first doctorate is in Pastoral Theology from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School.

Paid Full-Time Staff 8
Paid Contractors 2
Volunteers 106
Retention Rate 100%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
African American/Black 2
Caucasian 8
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Female 6
Male 4
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Yes
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy No
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes

The Center maintains a variety of formal and informal relationships with academic institutions, healthcare organizations, patient advocacy groups, community and state-based coalitions and national organizations. Examples of local organizations with which we collaborate include Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, all three Kansas City regional schools of medicine (Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, the University of Kansas School of Medicine and the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine), as well as Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Saint Luke's Health Systems, HCA Midwest, and other hospitals and medical centers.

Nationally, the Center collaborates with the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging, National POLST Paradigm, and several conferences of black churches, including the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference.

President's AwardNational Association of Attorneys General2003
Marion Gray-Secundy Sankofa AwardLast Miles of the Way Home Conference - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation2004
Non-Profit Executive of the Year AwardNonprofit Connect2006
William F. Yates Medallion for Distinguished ServiceWilliam Jewell College2008
Head and Heart AwardAmerican Association ofPain Management2009
Consumer Advocacy AwardAmerican Academy of Pain Medicine2010
President's AwardAmerican Academy of Palliative Medicine2012
Interagency Pain Research Coordinating CommitteeNational Institutes of Health2014
Pioneer AwardHealth Care Chaplaincy Network2014
Starr Women's Hall of Fame (Myra Christopher)University of Missouri-Kansas City2015
Volunteer of the YearNonprofit Connect2017
Arthur S. Flemming AwardNational Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities2017
Starr Women's Hall of Fame (Rosemary Flanigan)University of Missouri-Kansas City2017
Lifetime Achievement Award (Myra Christopher)American Society for Bioethics & Humanities2017
Health Hero Award (John Carney)Black Health Care Coalition2018
Health Sciences Policy Board (Richard Payne)National Academy of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine 2018
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments

Taking on some of the most difficult and complex healthcare issues of the day can be challenging for a small, independent nonprofit, especially when those issues involve large multibillion dollar corporations employing vast numbers of employees serving millions of patients a year. Still, the Center has managed to provide not only a prophetic but authentic voice for patients and families who face the most difficult challenges imaginable in an often fragmented health system.

The Center’s 34-year history of listening to patients and families and translating what we’ve learned from those intimate and often critical expressions into action is the core of the Center’s work. Our programs, projects, policy documents, guidelines and preferred practices have proven valuable to the providers who have participated with us and have contributed to the important work of resolving differences and deficiencies.

The Center’s success can be attributed to the professionalism of its members and collaborators and the commitment of a tireless group of patients, families and advocates. The staff and volunteers at the Center commit daily to the task of improving patient outcomes and finding common ground among those who struggle with genuine differences while respectfully disagreeing. Our work is to clarify the facts, identify the “oughts,” attend to the safe and respectful conduct of science and research while never losing sight of what “good health” and “good healthcare” mean. The Center’s reliance on the generosity of its community of donors and benefactors keeps us true to the pledge that we will pursue our goals with integrity and passion and that we will remain grateful to many yet beholden to none.

Board Chair
Board Chair John Yeast MD, MSPH
Company Affiliation Saint Luke's Hospital
Term Jan 2017 to Dec 2018
Board Members
Abiodun Akinwuntan PhD, MPH, MBAKU School of Health Professions
Drew Billingsley American Century Investments
Mary Beth Blake JDRetired Attorney (Polsinelli)
Nancy Cohn Community Volunteer
Darrin D'Agostino DO, MPH, MBAKansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences
Alan Edelman Retired
Sukumar Ethirajan MDDr. E.T.'s Concierge Care
Eva Karp RN-C, MBA, FACHECerner Corporation
Jane Lombard MDPalo Alto Medical Foundation
Karen L. Miller PhD, RNUniversity of Kansas Medical Center
Jan Murray JDSaint Luke's Health System
Stephen Salanski MDPartners in Primary Care Clinics & Transcend Population Health Mgt.
Sandra R. Stites MDKansas City Women's Clinic
Liza Townsend JD, MSWCommunity Volunteer
Peter M. Wilkinson Rx Savings Solutions
John D. Yeast MD, MSPHSaint Luke's Hospital
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 2
Caucasian 12
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 8
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 81%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
CEO Comments

The Center for Practical Bioethics maintains a unique position among bioethics centers in the country serving as the only independent, community based not-for-profit entity specifically devoted to serving the practical needs of patients and families involved in real life situations. Although we tackle some of the most complex issues confronting our society in health and healthcare through research, consultation, scholarly publications, conferences and teaching, we do so in an applied fashion. One of the most valuable contributions the Center makes is addressing the ethical concerns raised by patients, families, healthcare professionals and policy makers in real-life situations.

We often convene groups of diverse stakeholders to clarify ethical issues, identify common ground, and to develop programs, institutional policies, and public health strategies that can be defended ethically and implemented in the "real world." Several examples are provided below:

  1. In partnership with VITAS Healthcare, we recruited 9 African American churches in 6 cities to train ambassadors to teach and advocate for advance care planning in their congregations, reaching 700+ people.
  2. Upon invitation by The Pew Charitable Trusts, we were awarded and completed work to examine the diverse views on palliative care and advance care planning among US Catholics. The results are being shared locally, regionally and nationally in academic, ecclesial and healthcare systems settings. Two national organizations representing both ends of the progressive/conservative spectrum will publish the report.
  3. Furthering our commitment to expand comprehensive and integrative treatment for those living with chronic pain with approximately 10 other organizations and more than 100 collaborators, the Center co-sponsored a conference in June 2015 to address the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee’s National Pain Strategy published by HHS. The Center continues bringing the PAINS-KC Citizen Leaders group together to give voice to those who live with chronic pain.
  4. The Center’s leadership in coordinating TPOPP to ensure that the expressed wishes of patients living with advanced disease are honored across settings and among different healthcare providers in multiple communities across Kansas and Missouri demonstrates the trust and confidence many large and small healthcare providers have in the Center’s efforts at advancing improved patient outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable patient populations.


Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2018
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2018
Projected Revenue $1,994,749
Projected Expenses $1,902,894
Endowment Value $6,214,854
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage 5
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2017, 2016, 2015: Financial data reported using the IRS Form 990.
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals. 
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201720162015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions------
Investment Income, Net of Losses$90,858$96,373$95,250
Membership Dues$98,760$114,200$95,150
Special Events$179,701$205,812$227,647
Revenue In-Kind--$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$1,597,776$1,387,238$1,252,744
Administration Expense$288,555$194,498$219,224
Fundraising Expense$272,907$306,476$290,458
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.571.030.64
Program Expense/Total Expenses74%73%71%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue37%21%41%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$7,092,665$4,246,546$3,909,799
Current Assets$3,703,448$884,043$549,459
Long-Term Liabilities$535,677$277,599$208,351
Current Liabilities$198,613$226,767$240,579
Total Net Assets$6,358,375$3,742,180$3,460,869
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities18.653.902.28
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets8%7%5%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountUnited States Cancer Pain Relief Committee $150,000Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation $150,000Francis Family Foundation $142,420
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountMilbank Foundation $150,000United States Cancer Pain Relief Committee $150,000Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation $100,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountFrancis Family Foundation $146,247Francis Family Foundation $145,691John & Wauna Harman Foundation $62,337
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years Yes
Organization Comments
From a first budget of $7,000 in 1984, the Center’s annual operating budget today averages approximately $1.7 million. In our most recently completed fiscal year, which ended Dec. 31, 2017, our overall net assets were $6,358,375. This increase over 34 years can be attributed to our board and staff building endowment to provide reliable support annually for a portion of our budget. We faced a significant timing challenge at the end of 2017 with confirmation of two large grants delayed until 2018. This was unexpected and resulted in an operating loss for the year 2017. 
Revenues come from program grants (27.1%), earned income (13.5%), donations/membership (13.5%), special events (13.6%), endowment (24.4%) and honoraria (1.0%), as well as the Bioethics Leadership Fund. We introduced the BLF in 2018 in support of the Myra J. Christopher Forum, practical responses to emerging issues, support for young scholars and to increase understanding of bioethics. We have three endowed chairs. The John B. Francis Chair in Bioethics, our first major endowed gift at $3 million (fund balance now close to $3.2M), was funded by the Francis Family Foundation in honor of John Francis, a former board member of the Center in 1995. The Rosemary Flanigan Chair stands at $2.2 million and the Kathleen M. Foley Chair at $961,000. The Francis funds are held on our behalf at the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation; the others are held in funds managed by the Center's board.  
The Center has expanded its efforts to increase earned income though consulting contracts and fee-based agreements with our members, health systems and investor-owned companies in the region. We continue to seek program grants from foundations in Kansas City and across the country, but there are virtually no foundations that indicate bioethics as their focus. The Center thrives because thoughtful foundation decision-makers recognize that the Center does unique and essential work that affects each one of us. We are grateful that so many have stepped up to support this worthy work. 
Other Documents
34 Years of Accomplishments2017View
Caring Conversations in Spanish2017View
Pathways to Convergence: Catholic Perspectives on Advance Care Planning, Palliative Care and End-of-Life Care2017View
Pain as a Fifth Vital Sign2017View
Advancing the Common Good through Public-Private Relationships for Biomedical Innovation2016View
Lost in Chaos: The State of Chronic Pain 20162016View
What Is Bio-psychosocial Pain Care?2015View
30th Anniversary Case Statement2014View
Kansas-Missouri TPOPP Coalition2014View
Impact Story: Bert and Joan Berkley2014View
Impact Story: Helen Emmott2014View
Impact Story: John Yeast, MD2014View
Never Only Opioids2014View
Caring Conversations Workbook2013View
Organization Name Center for Practical Bioethics
Address Harzfeld Building, Suite 500
1111 Main
Kansas City, MO 641052116
Primary Phone (816) 221-1100
CEO/Executive Director John G. Carney MEd
Board Chair John D. Yeast MD, MSPH
Board Chair Company Affiliation Saint Luke's Hospital
Year of Incorporation 1984
Former Names
Midwest Bioethics Center