St. Peter’s Health Establishes Employee Education Institute to Honor Longtime Helena Physician

April 8, 2021

St. Peter’s Health announced today the launch of the Fred C. Olson Learning and Development Institute in honor of longtime Helena physician and former St. Peter’s Health Interim CEO Dr. Fred C. Olson. The Institute will oversee all of the organization’s employee education initiatives and scholarships, and create a new scholarship for employee education in Dr. Olson’s name. 

A strong believer in continuous learning and development, Dr. Olson began practicing medicine in Helena as an Internal Medicine physician in 1986, then led St. Peter’s through a particularly challenging transition as Interim CEO from 2016 to 2017. 

“Dr. Olson has deep roots in Helena and at St. Peter’s,” said St. Peter’s Board Chair Mark Taylor. “He’s been a champion for our employees and believes that ongoing education and training is essential to grow and provide the best care possible for our community. We cannot think of a better way to ensure his impact and presence remain at St. Peter’s for years to come.”

Through the creation of the Fred C. Olson Learning and Development Institute, St. Peter’s will more than double its annual investment in employee scholarships and match donor contributions dollar for dollar. Any St. Peter’s Health employee seeking to advance his or her education through certifications, associate degrees, undergraduate degrees or post-bachelor degrees is eligible for a scholarship. Qualified scholarship recipients will receive funds to cover their education expenses and be recognized with an award created by a local artist upon successful completion of their education or training program. 

According to CEO Wade Johnson, this is a major step forward for the organization’s “People First” initiative launched in 2020. “We are fundamentally changing the way we support our people, both at work and at home. Investing in and empowering our team members to learn and grow is a core value at St. Peter’s, and it’s one more way we’re committed to becoming a ‘People First’ organization.”

In partnership with the St. Peter’s Health Foundation, the Institute oversees all of the endowed scholarship funds at St. Peter’s including the Fred C. Olson Employee Education Endowed Scholarship Fund, Eden Family Endowment, Elaine Fordyce Nursing Education Endowment, Dr. Thomas & Martha Hawkins Endowment for Respiratory Health, Treacy Scholarship Endowment, Kay Sullivan Endowment, Dianne Armstrong Endowed Scholarship Fund for Future Nurses, and the Deb Daehn Nursing Scholarship Endowment funds. 

Since October 2020, more than $870,000 has been raised for scholarships to fund employee education. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana provided the seed funding for the new Olson scholarship which has now grown to thirty-eight individual and corporate donors, including Margaret and Dick Anderson and Dick Anderson Construction. 

“People are the most important part of any business, and employers have a responsibility to help them be the best version of themselves,” said Dick Anderson. “We’re proud to support the legacy of Dr. Olson, and we look forward to hearing about the personal successes made possible by this partnership.”

Donors include Dick Anderson Construction; Margaret and Dick Anderson; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana; Dianne Armstrong; Dr. Fred C. Olson and Dr. V. Lee Harrison; Cindy and Jim Utterback; Sharon and Dr. Russ Bell; Mary Beth and Larry Frideres, in memory of Elaine and Edna Fordyce; Stephi and Wade Johnson; Jan and Terry Cosgrove; Ken and Liz Eden; Elaine and Mark Taylor; Kathy and Larry Dreyer; William Northey; Lisa and Nate McCarthy; Mechille and Pete Johnson; Heidi Wampler, DVM and Todd Wampler, MD; Dr. Jon Griffin; Dr. Judith Birch; Judy Browning, in memory of Steve Browning; Dr. John and Mrs. Starla Cassani; Dr. Shelly Harkins and Todd Kortkamp; Dr. Sarah Fenton and Randal Rake; Kelly Minnehan-Galt and Dr. John Galt; Melanie and Dr. Robert LaClair; Nancy and Mick Robinson; Heather and Guy Almquist; Dr. Michael Hay; Karlenne Hager Trimble, in memory of Larry Watson; Sister Elizabeth Henry; Kelly Parsley and Jeffrey Morris; Barbara J. “Bobby” Spilker; Lynn Tamms, in honor of Dianne Armstrong; Rowley Family; Kim Sullivan, in honor of Dianne Armstrong; Diane and Mike Evans, MD, in honor of Dianne Armstrong, Mary and Robert Runkel, in honor of Sister Elizabeth Henry and in memory of Kathleen McGlynn Laymeyer; and Sandra Gwilliam.

“St. Peter’s is a wonderful organization with a team of talented and good people,” said Dr. Fred Olson. “When staff are engaged and committed to excellence, our patients and community benefit by receiving the very best care. I am humbled by this opportunity to inspire others to grow and thrive.”

Anyone interested in supporting the Fred C. Olson Employee Education Endowed Scholarship Fund at St. Peter’s Health, creating their own named endowed scholarship fund, or adding to our other endowed scholarship funds may donate through the St. Peter’s Health Foundation at