Mildred “Millie” D. Kahane decided early on in her life in New York that she wanted to go to college, the first in her family to do so. When she graduated from Adelphi University in Long Island in 1949, she left with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a passion to help others.
But that feat was not accomplished alone. Kahane benefitted from the investment of a generous donor. The scholarship she received allowed her to complete her degree and planted the seed of philanthropy that bloomed into a lifelong interest in supporting education and scholarships, such as the Mildred “Millie” D. and Albert “Al” J. Kahane Scholarship for Nurse Practitioners at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
Close friends and colleagues describe Millie as a force who knew what she wanted and did it to her last breath. Her education was such a gift that she wanted to gift forward. When she passed away in 2020, Kahane left a legacy as a philanthropist and leading advocate for the development and training of nurse practitioners.
She gained hands-on experience in bedside care at Meadowbrook County Hospital in New York. That’s where she met her future husband, Albert “Al” J. Kahane, who was a physician doing an internship. Their first stop after marriage was Anchorage, Alaska, she was the first executive officer in the newly created Alaska Board of Nursing and helped open a new hospital and served as its director of nursing. Then onto Fairfield, California, where she earned a master’s degree in Public Health.
In 1965, they moved to Sacramento, and she expanded her nursing skills into the classroom. Kahane was an assistant professor at Sacramento State College. Some of her students became nurse practitioners, which was a new concept and a new title at the time. By the early 1970s, a few years after the first nurse practitioner program launched, Kahane became a faculty member of the UC Davis School of Medicine and developed the nation’s first interprofessional family nurse practitioner and physician assistant (P.A.) certificate program.
The nurse practitioner certificate program transitioned to the School of Nursing in 2013, where it was elevated to a master’s-degree program. In its more than 40-year history, UC Davis has graduated nearly 2,000 family nurse practitioners and P.A.s, with more than 50% of graduates working in underserved areas. Kahane’s wish for her scholarship was to provide support for students in the nurse practitioner program, with a preference for students with an interest or experience in geriatrics in good academic standing.
“Never before has there been a time when the advanced skills and leadership talents of nurse practitioners are needed to care for our communities,” says Catherine “Cat” Adams, senior director of development. “Ms. Kahane’s generosity increases the opportunity for students with a heart to serve and the drive to make a difference possible. We are honored to be part of her legacy.”
When being interviewed for a past article, Kahane reflected, “I’ve done mostly what I’ve wanted to. Good family, fantastic husband. I took advantages of opportunities along the way.”
And now, thanks to her generosity, countless future School of Nursing nurse practitioners blaze their own trail because Millie Kahane chose to pay it forward.