Steve and Lisa Bresenoff Feierstein

Steve (left) and Lisa Bresenoff Feierstein (middle) attend an event hosted by the VCU School of Nursing’s Langston Center for Innovation in Quality and Safety. They have worked closely with the center’s director Michael Bleich, Ph.D., RN (right), to support innovation initiatives at the school. Photo courtesy of the VCU School of Nursing

Fueling Innovation at School of Nursing

Steve and Lisa Bresenoff Feierstein have always been forward thinking people. Thirty-one years ago, they co-founded Active Healthcare, a company that has helped innovate the medical equipment business.

“That’s always how I’ve walked in my shoes as a nurse,” said Lisa, a 1978 graduate of the VCU School of Nursing. “I knew that my path was going to be very nontraditional.”

Lisa says her nursing education provided a springboard to leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation initiatives. She also earned an M.B.A. with a minor in health care administration. Together she and her husband founded a company that centers innovation in health care supply delivery at its core, and they remain driven by the potential for creativity and design thinking to drive success and positive outcomes for patients. That success and innovative spirit is one of many reasons the School of Nursing honored her as one of 120 outstanding alumni during the school’s 120th anniversary.

“Nurses have the ability to be at the forefront of innovation and leadership,” Lisa said. “And we need to be sitting around the table when we discuss the future of health care.”

In 2013, the School of Nursing also recognized Lisa with an outstanding alumni award, and she and Steve have remained connected to campus through Reunion Weekend events.

Both she and Steve began to think about how they might give back to support causes they care about, and they connected with Jean Giddens, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing, and quickly were impressed with her leadership and creative vision. Through her, they connected with the Langston Center for Innovation in Quality and Safety’s mission and its director Michael Bleich, Ph.D., RN.

“It was all Dean Giddens working diligently and creatively coming up with various ideas until one sparked our soul calling of merging innovation, education and entrepreneurship,” Lisa said. “We were excited to support innovation at the Langston Center.”

The couple helped establish the Bresenoff-Feierstein Fund for Innovation and Leadership to provide flexible support for strategic needs at the school. Through this support, the school has created a competitively reviewed grant fund for faculty or students to support innovation and design thinking when it comes to testing and evaluating medical device prototypes that have potential for scalability. The fund also supports the creation of the Bresenoff-Feierstein Innovation Series so the center can bring top scholars to campus in innovation, quality and safety with goals of influencing practice, policy and research and encouraging innovation and leadership best practices.

“The university leadership has been eager to embrace the whole notion of innovation and quality to help set the school apart,” Steve said. “Michael and Dean Giddens have built a strong collaboration with us to help advance these areas.”

The Feiersteins are excited to see how their support for the School of Nursing has broadened and expanded into a wide range of areas that neither they nor the dean could have envisioned from the start.

“I’m so proud that we’ve had a hand in helping nurses get at the essence of their full potential,” Lisa said. “And we’re both looking forward to a strong future.”

About the Langston Center

The Langston Center for Innovation in Quality and Safety is housed at the VCU School of Nursing. The center promotes patient-centered, population focused and cost-effective initiatives designed to improve health care. The Langston Center offers a unique arena of opportunities to advance leadership, quality and safety science, decision and implementation science, and innovation.

Established in 2015, the Langston Center is a partnership between VCU Health System and the School of Nursing. Named after retired nursing dean Nancy Langston, Ph.D., the center continues her legacy by advancing science to improve patient care.

The center’s director is Michael R. Bleich, Ph.D., RN, who also serves as senior professor. A nationally recognized scholar and thought leader, Bleich most recently served as the center’s interim director after joining the school for a year as a visiting senior professor.

If you would like to support innovation at the VCU School of Nursing’s Langston Center, please contact Pamela Lowe, senior director of development at the VCU School of Nursing, at 804-827-0020 or