Mary Ann Boe, Executive Director

Photo by Shelly Mossman

Photo by Shelly Mossman

Mary Ann Boe has been a leader in the death and dying community for over 30 years. Her credentials for end of life work began with her son's 14-year sojourn with death, which continues to motivate her life's work.

As a community builder, she was the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Cedar Culture Center in Minneapolis, MN (one of the premier venues for global music and dance in the midwest). Within the field of death, dying and loss, Mary Ann founded one of the first residential hospices for children in the U.S., providing programs of care, support, education and research. Additionally, she is certified as an End of Life Doula and served as the Executive Director of the Conscious Dying Institute in Boulder, CO. She was also a consultant for the National Advanced Illness Coordinated Care Council. 

Through Deva Nation, Mary Ann supports citizens in developing community driven, holistic responses to the diverse care and comfort needs at or near the end of life.

Contact:, (651) 303-0744

"My life's work is a gift from my son. He gave me a mission; I believe we can build and sustain a new culture of care that delivers compassion and well-being throughout our whole life and death journeys. My son used to say, "There's work to do!" He was right. And it is my honor and privilege."


Professor Allan Kellehear

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Allan Kellehear, PhD., FAcSS, works at the University of Bradford in the UK as  50th Anniversary Professor (End-of-Life Care) and Academic Director of the Digital Health Enterprise Zone (DHEZ) – a university research & development centre applying digital and technological solutions to long term health conditions.

He is a medical and public health sociologist and has written extensively on the human experience of dying. Recent books include The Inner Life of the Dying Person (Columbia University Press 2014) and A Social History of Dying (Cambridge University Press 2007). Aside from these and similar studies, he is also known as the founder of the public health movement within palliative care. The public health approach in palliative care is one that incorporates and advocates health promotion, public education, community development, and civic engagement principles for the end of life. Foundational works that developed these ideas include Compassionate Cities: Public health and End-of-Life Care (Routledge 2005) and Health Promoting Palliative Care (Oxford University Press 1999). In recent years he has extended and illustrated these ideas collaboratively with colleagues in edited volumes such as Compassionate Communities: Case studies from Britain and Europe (with Wegleitner and Heimerl - Routledge 2016) and International Perspectives on Public Health and Palliative Care (with Sallnow and Kumar - Routledge 2012).

He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), Past President (2013-2017) of the Association for the Study of Death and Society (ASDS) and current President of Public Health Palliative Care International (PHPCI).

Dr. Julian Abel

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"I have been a consultant in palliative care since 2001, working initially at a district general hospital and a hospice. Over the last 6 years I have been involved in finding ways of building compassionate communities around people at end of life. With varying degrees of success, I have tried to do this at local, regional, national and international levels. I was the chair of the organizing committee for the 4th International Conference Pubic Health and Palliative Care, held in Bristol in 2015. I am vice president of PHPCI and Chair of the U.K branch."

Dr. Abel is the Director Compassionate Communities UK and Vice President of Public Health Palliative Care International (PHPCI).


Dr. Bill Manahan


Dr. Manahan is Assistant Professor Emeritus of Family Practice and Community Health at the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center in Minneapolis. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine as well as the Board of Directors for the Northwestern Academy of Homeopathy. He is a Past-President of the American Holistic Medical Association (now known as the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine).  He was the founding Program Director for Minnesota’s first rural Family Medicine Residency program. He currently is the Co-Chair for the Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group which is composed of 800 healthcare practitioners in Minnesota who come together to do multidisciplinary education and referrals.


Semerit Strachan

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Semerit Strachan is an Intentional Creativity Coach leading powerful creative processes to explore how art unites body, mind, and spirit to create holistic healing.  Semerit has found that her experience as a pediatrician, healing coach, and painter have synthesized into an integrated healing art form. “There is a link between art, creativity, illness, and healing. Intentional Creativity can be a powerful remedy that brings us new information on how we can work with both sides of the brain to access and transform the story that lives within us."

Semerit envisions and champions the dawning and creation of a new medicine that encompasses the arts and directs patients to their own inner healing force. She received her MD from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine at New York University and serves as the Director of Medicine at the Cultural Wellness Center in Minneapolis, MN. 


Why our Compassionate ‘Kato Towns’ Community Matters

“The main benefits of the development of a Compassionate Community: contributing to the vitality of our community; decreasing isolation; building awareness of community resources; and as an enhancement to our existing health and social services.”

Mary Bliesmer, RN, Emerita Nursing Faculty MSU, Mankato


“Becoming a Compassionate Community will only excel our already amazing community, bringing us together even more. This is especially important when preparing for end of life. Death is not a failure. If we prepare and know how/what to expect with death, maybe we can help with the grieving process. Death and grieving do not have to be the elephant in the room.”

Erica Fisher, President, One Bright Star


“A Compassionate Community has the potential to touch so many lives in the community to help ease suffering during the acute and chronic phases of grief. Most people want to help but don’t know what to do or say when they see another person suffering. In fear of saying the wrong thing they often choose to do nothing. This program could help empower people to be able to express their care and support.”

Diane Witt, PhD, APRN, CNP, Associate Professor, School of Nursing MNSU


“Modern health care has made amazing advances in treating disease. At the same time the personal impact of living with serious illness makes folks desperate for support and resources as they cope with the burden of decision making it causes. Compassionate communities will help fill this gap.”

Dr. Greg Kutcher, Medical Director, Mayo Hospice


“This project meets the purpose of the Institute to “create partnerships to support the health of families and society.” And “develop models that translate knowledge to change practice and improve family and societal health and healing.”

Lynn Kuechle, Coordinator, Glen Taylor Nursing Institute for Family and Society


“Grief before, during and after the dying process is universal. By recognizing this and having open conversations within our community, we can better support the mental, spiritual and physical health of our neighbors.”

Dani White, RN, Mayo Clinic, Registered Nurse Case Manager Hospice


“As a hospice chaplain and stress management counselor, I have seen many situations in which someone suffering from loss doesn’t know where to go for help and those who wish to be supportive don’t know how to start those conversations. Those barriers combined with our culture of denial about death and dying have resulted in a collective spiritual and psychological wound.”

 Reverend Kevin Bradley, Holistic Stress Management Counselor and Final Exit Network Board Member


 “Dying is a sacred process – it is not a failure, like birth is not a failure. It is a human process. So all humans are capable of caring for those experiencing loss, death and grief.”

Shelly Olson, Scandian Luther Church, St Peter, Pastor, ELCA


“Yes, I can commend these efforts to develop learning that can help caregivers feel comfortable. Especially first the responders, of all professionals, need the ideas and emotional ability to work their clients, patients, and victims to give comfort when they may be near death and/or give support to family members.  We need to develop a philosophy of positive views of death and dying.”

Jim Sinkbeil, Retired Mortician, BS, MA, EMT


“Compassionate Community offers overall healthier community and enhanced relationships. It will be support for all levels of grief, including but not limited to death, loss of pets, loss of country, loss of job, financial loss, and loss of dreams due to health situation or family situation. It will teach community members how to interact with people who are grieving.”

Mary Conley, Stifel, Vice President Investments


“In overwhelming and often suppressed ways, death and loss affect me, my daughter, my husband, my family, my co-workers, my neighbors, my friends, the people I pass on the highway, all of us. It is inescapable. A focus on Compassionate Communities will bring attention to this universal impact. This movement will raise awareness about the value of social connections to our well-being and ask each of us and the organizations around us to support each other as we navigate the inescapable.” 

 Kristen Friedrichs, SHIP and BE WELL Coordinator, Blue Earth County


 "A key component of the city's strategic plan is to develop implementation steps that focus on equity in service provision and social experience. A number of the goals for improvement can only be achieved if our regional partners, like Deva Nation, participate in solutions."

Alison Zelms, Deputy City Manager, City of Mankato