Performance Excellence Network Recognizes Four with Award

April 21, 2024

2023 MN Performance Excellence Awards Presented at igniteEX 2024 Conference

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 19, 2024 – The Performance Excellence Network (PEN) honors four recipients of the 2023 Minnesota Performance Excellence 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.

Recipients of the Award include University of Minnesota School of Nursing (Minneapolis, Commitment Level), Region 5 Community Bridgemakers (Staples, Commitment Level), State of Minnesota, Department of Human Services Direct Care & Treatment Administration (St. Paul, Advancement Level), and Episcopal Homes of Minnesota (St. Paul, Advancement Level). There have been 163 organizations and communities by this program recognized since 1991.

“Congratulations to the four Performance Excellence Award recipients.” said Governor Tim Walz.  “You demonstrate the best of Minnesota.  My advice: lead with optimism, lay out a vision, and trust those around you.  Together, we’ll keep getting big things done.”

The Performance Excellence Award was given at a conference today called igniteEX 2024, hosted at Mystic Lake Conference Center and livestreamed throughout the region.  Nearly 300 leaders from all sectors and industries attended, primarily from a five-state region. The conference featured over 20 local, regional, and national speakers from all types of organizations, each sharing best practices and methods to improve leadership, innovation, workforce engagement and staffing issues, resilience, and other drivers of excellence.

Said Brian Lassiter, president/CEO of the Performance Excellence Network: “These four Award recipients demonstrate true commitment to continuous improvement and performance excellence: they have visionary leaders, a capable and engaged workforce, and a desire to get better for those they serve.  Not only do we celebrate achievement of these four Award recipients, but we celebrate all leaders, teams, organizations, and communities on the journey to excellence.”

Marshall Smith, CEO of Direct Care and Treatment (DCT), a state agency within the Department of Human Services: “I am proud to tell you that all of us in DCT are committed to the rigorous self-examination and continuous improvement at every level of our organization.  The Award is very nice, but it’s about consistently providing high quality and safe delivery of care and outcomes for those we serve.”


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 nearly 200 members and organizations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. The Performance Excellence Award is given in four levels: Commitment, Advancement, Achievement, and Excellence. For more information, go to

About Episcopal Homes of Minnesota

Based in St. Paul, Episcopal Homes provides senior housing & care services, memory care, assisted living, a skilled nursing home, transitional care and independent living options for seniors.  Founded in 1894, Episcopal Homes serves nearly 1500 residents and customers with a staff of about 600.  For more information:

About Region 5 Community Changemakers

Operating under brand name Region 5 Community Bridgemakers, this collaborative effort is supported by Sourcewell, the Initiative Foundation, and the Region 5 Development Commission.  Community Bridgemakers serves five Minnesota counties: Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena, and the community also contains a sovereign tribal nation and a National Guard training facility.  For more information: .

About State of MN, Department of Human Services, Direct Care & Treatment

DCT is a complex behavioral health care system, operating psychiatric hospitals and other inpatient mental health treatment facilities; inpatient substance abuse treatment facilities; dental clinics, residential group homes and vocational programming for people with disabilities; and the nation’s largest secure treatment program for civilly committed sex offenders.  The first service lines recognized include Ambulatory Care, Community Based Services, Forensic Services, Mental Health Substance Abuse Treatment Services (MHSATS), and Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP). With nearly 5000 employees that work at 160 buildings across five campuses, DCT is one of the largest state agencies in Minnesota. For more information:

About University of Minnesota School of Nursing

Founded in 1909, the School of Nursing ranks 10th among nursing graduate schools by US News and World Report.  The School offers four academic programs: two pre-licensure programs (their bachelor of nursing and masters of nursing) and two doctoral programs (their doctor of nursing practice and doctor of philosophy in nursing).  The School’s nearly 200 employees serve approximately 1500 students. For more information:


# # #