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Collaboration and Focus on Mission Drive Jennifer Prinz, President and CEO of Donor Alliance


Known for her focus on continuous performance improvement, Jennifer Prinz, president and CEO of Donor Alliance in Denver, CO believes it’s possible to end deaths on the organ donation waiting list in Colorado and Wyoming.  “Eight years ago, unfortunately, 157 people died waiting for a transplant on the local list,” says Prinz. “Last year there were 55 people who died waiting, and that’s 55 too many. We think we can eliminate deaths by collaborating with our donor hospitals and transplant centers while honoring donor families and staying focused on helping the people who need us the most.”

Prinz serves on the Organ Donation and Transplantation Alliance’s (The Alliance) board of directors as the representative of The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO), where she serves as an at-large member of the Board. She was recognized as a 2022 Most Admired CEO by the Denver Business Journal for her impactful leadership and contributions to Donor Alliance and the communities the organization serves. She leads a team of nearly 180 professionals and 220 volunteer advocates for life.

“We’re all working on a single mission: to save and heal lives through donation and transplantation,” says Prinz. “I have a knowledgeable Board of Directors and an executive team of five people who are outstanding in their organizational roles. I have tremendous gratitude for everyone on our staff as they all come to work every day genuinely dedicated to our mission. And most importantly, Colorado and Wyoming residents are among the most generous in the country in terms of donor designation. All of this has propelled lifesaving and healing success in our region. Last year the Donor Alliance team honored more heroic donors than ever before resulting in a 29 percent increase in lives saved through transplantation.”

Donor Alliance’s two-state service area of Colorado and Wyoming boast some of the highest authorization and donor designation rates in the country, with 66 percent of Coloradans and 61 percent of Wyomingites saying ‘Yes’ to organ, tissue, and eye donation, well above the national average of 49 percent. Prinz attributes those high rates to the ‘Rocky Mountain Strong’ tradition where communities help one another and says that donor designation is one way to do that. In 2022, Donor Alliance recorded another record-breaking year for organ donation – its eighth in a row – with 829 lifesaving organs transplanted.

Collaboration is the Key to Saving Lives

“Donor Alliance stands out as an organ procurement organization (OPO) focused on relationships.  The relationships that we have within our team, the relationships that we have with our donor hospitals and community partners, and the relationships we have with our transplant centers all support Donor Alliance’s efforts to save more lives than ever before,” says Prinz.

Prinz reflected on recent feedback that she received from a local leader and transplant surgeon who has worked in many different areas across the country. “The surgeon once told me that it feels more rewarding and productive to work with Donor Alliance because our teams are all aligned. That difference is driven by the Donor Alliance team and their amazing focus on collaboration and relationship building.” Prinz goes on to say, “Relationships are key to saving and healing lives, and that’s what we are here to do. When we know each other, and we make connections, we can come together and make a difference in the lives of many.”

Baldrige Quality Award and Core Values

Donor Alliance has consistently been recognized for achieving outstanding clinical and operational outcomes. The organization received the 2018 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest presidential honor for quality and organizational performance excellence.

“We started our Baldrige journey in 2009 with a continued commitment to maximize donation and transplantation,” says Prinz. “We decided to utilize the Baldrige framework as our business model to leverage our ability to enhance organizational performance and growth. The framework helped refine our core competencies and guided our performance management systems.”

2019 DC Baldrige Award Donor Alliance Group
The Donor Alliance Team was recognized at the 2019 Baldridge Award Ceremony in Washington D.C.

“Donor Alliance continues to use the Baldrige framework and it’s a significant part of why we have achieved record-setting growth in donation and transplantation each of the last eight years.”

In 2022, Donor Alliance was recognized as a 2022 Top Workplace by The Denver Post and was also awarded the Best at Making Work Meaningful across all categories. It was the ninth year the organization was honored as one of the region’s top small companies and was recognized for fostering a mission-driven culture through its core values of Integrity, Leadership, Excellence, Accountability and People First.

Found Her Life’s Work

Prinz grew up in Englewood, OH, just north of Dayton, and has a younger brother. Her mother, father, and stepfather were all police officers and encouraged her to give back to her larger community. “My parents talked to me about making sure that I was making good choices, developing career goals, and focusing on improving my community. This guidance is why I chose a career in nursing and graduated from Wright State University.”

Prinz was exposed to organ procurement professionals who were working with donor families when she worked in an ICU as a nursing student and later as an ICU nurse in Tennessee. “As a new nurse, I thought the donation process was an extraordinary part of healing a donor family’s pain by offering hope to another suffering family through transplantation,” says Prinz. “I feel honored and privileged to work in the field of donation and transplantation.  I believe this is my life’s work. Every aspect of my world connects to donation and transplantation.  I feel like my colleagues and I have a responsibility to do this important work well, to honor donors and their families and to meet the needs of people that are waiting.” Prinz’s family has also been touched by donation and transplantation.

After 18 months as an ICU nurse, Prinz joined Tennessee Donor Services as an Organ Procurement Coordinator.  She received a master’s of public health degree in health policy administration in 2006 from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and became COO of Donor Alliance in 2008. She became CEO in June 2020.

2022 DMV Flag Raising JP
Prinz and team raise a flag at a DMV office to observe National Donate Life Month in 2022

She says her dream weekend would be camping on the Oregon coast with her family and watching the waves meet the beach. Enjoying the outdoors is their preferred vacation, and most weekends find them connecting with family and friends over a good dinner and conversation. “I love to cook, and have recently been making homemade pasta,” she says.

Honored for Mentoring and Community Contributions

Prinz says she was honored to be selected as one of the 2019 outstanding women in business by the Denver business community and to serve as a mentor at the Denver Business Journal’s Bizwomen Mentoring Monday in February 2023. “I’m honored to help other leaders develop their skills as they advance their careers,” says Prinz. “For me, one of the most important things is to help people achieve more than they ever thought possible. So growing leaders – leaders within our organization and leaders throughout our community – is an honor and a privilege.”

2022 Donor Dash
Prinz (right) and colleagues at the 2022 Donor Dash

In 2020, Prinz received a Northmont Education Foundation Roll of Recognition award (she attended Northmont High School) for her contributions to the community. “It meant the world to me to receive this community award,” she says. “Some of the people who received it previously are people I’ve looked up to my whole life.” Prinz’s mother and brother still live in the Northmont area.

Staying Focused

With a significant amount of change expected in the organ donation and transplantation community in the coming years, Prinz is adamant that staying focused is essential. “We as leaders must focus on the important things like honoring donors and donor families, supporting our workforce, and improving donation and transplantation while we go through these different environmental changes,” says Prinz. “We have to help our teams stay focused as well. What most motivates our staff is our collective mission to save and heal lives through donation and transplantation.”

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