Our people

The Jonas Philanthropies Board and Staff connect some of the country’s most prominent advocates for healthcare investment with leaders, innovators and experts from the worlds of business, philanthropy and education. Together, they are turning their passion for improving healthcare into tangible results where it matters most.

Our staff

William T. Bester, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Brigadier General (RET) Senior Advisor

Brigadier General William T. Bester serves as a Senior Adviser to Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare.

Prior to his current position, Gen. Bester served as the Vice President for External Affairs at the Uniformed Services University (USU) of the Health Sciences. Before that, he served as USU’s Acting President, and had a short assignment as the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. Gen. Bester also served as the Vice President for Distributed Learning and as the Acting Vice President for External Affairs at USU, and served as the University’s Acting Dean of the Graduate School of Nursing from July 2006 to December 2007.

Gen. Bester’s distinguished career in the US Army culminated in his selection as the 21st Chief of the Army Nurse Corps. While serving the Army as its Nursing Service Chief, Gen. Bester was also assigned as the Assistant Surgeon General for Force Projection and Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Health Policy and Services (2000-2002) and as Commander of the Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine (2002-2004).

Earlier assignments include sole anesthesia provider for the Cuban Refugee Operation at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas (1980); Chief Nurse of the 67th Combat Support Hospital during its deployment (1995) to Taszar, Hungary in support of Operation Joint Endeavor, later serving as Medical Task Force Commander with responsibility for all medical assets in Hungary and Croatia; and Commander, Moncrief Army Community Hospital, Ft. Jackson, South Carolina (1998-2000).

Following his retirement from active duty, Gen. Bester served as Professor of Clinical Nursing at the University of Texas in Austin and was also the Director of Nursing Practice with the Seton Family of Hospitals in Austin, Texas. Gen. Bester was asked in 2005 to be Director of Nursing for a health care team, organized by Project Hope, to assist the victims of the tsunami in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. He joined the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal “Men in Nursing” in 2006. 

Gen. Bester holds a BSN degree from the College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, Minnesota and an MSN from the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Nurse Anesthesia Program at Madigan Army Medical Center. Gen. Bester is the recipient of the Luther Christman Award (2005) and honorary doctorates from the College of St. Scholastica (2001) and Seton Hall University (2003). His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, three Legion of Merits and four Meritorious Service Medals. He is a member of the California Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association, the Military Officers Association of America, Sigma Theta Tau International and the Association of the United States Army.

A sought after lecturer on topics of nursing and health care leadership and disaster relief, Brigadier General William T. Bester has been invited as a guest speaker to over 25 conferences, workshops, and meetings during the last five years.

Darlene J. Curley, MS, RN CEO, Jonas Philanthropies and Executive Director, Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare

Darlene J. Curley, MS, RN, FAAN is CEO of Jonas Philanthropies, investing grants in high need areas of nursing & veterans’ healthcare, low vision and blindness, and children’s environmental health. Curley is Executive Director of Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare (JNVH) at Columbia University. Since 2009, she has forged partnerships with 40 National funders and more than 140 leading academic and healthcare organizations, to develop the signature program: 1,000 Doctoral Nursing Scholars in all 50 States addressing the nation’s critical shortage of nursing faculty and primary care leaders.

Ms. Curley was elected to the Maine State Legislature in 2002 and responsible for negotiation and oversight of an $8 billion state budget as a member of the appropriations committee. The Governor appointed her to the National Conference of State Legislatures charged with increasing healthcare access, improving quality, and reducing costs with legislative leaders from across the country. In 2006, she was a Congressional candidate in Maine’s 1st district.

Previously, Curley was the Founder and CEO of a Medicare certified home health and medical staffing agency serving five rural counties in western and northern Maine, creating jobs for 100 health care providers. As National Director of Strategic Planning for HealthSouth she was responsible for health system mergers and acquisitions in all 50 states.

In 2013 she received the Second Century Award for Excellence in Healthcare from Columbia University, and in 2015 was named a Visionary Pioneer at the University of Maryland. At the National Academy of Sciences, she is a member of the Global Forum for Innovation in Health Professional Education, a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and New York Academy of Medicine. She is a frequent speaker and author on topics of healthcare philanthropy, healthy policy & finance, and workforce development including op-eds in Politico and the L.A. Times. She is a graduate of the University of Maine and holds a M.S. from the University of Maryland.

Maggie Gelwix Executive Assistant

Maggie Gelwix serves as the Executive Assistant for Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare. She is responsible for overseeing, coordinating, planning and organizing the day-to-day support operations for the grantmaking, financial and communication functions, and managing relationships with consultants and outside vendors. Ms. Gelwix has several years of experience serving in various managerial and administrative roles.

 Ms. Gelwix received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Telecommunications and Film from the University of Alabama.

Kelly Mahoney Director

Kelly Mahoney serves as Director of Jonas Nursing and Veterans Healthcare, where she oversees the organization’s national grantmaking programs and day-to-day operations. Most recently, Ms. Mahoney worked in development at Malaria No More, helping to mobilize resources to end malaria deaths. Prior to this, she spent two years as the lead health education volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and worked at the National Center on Philanthropy and the Law at New York University and at Millennium Promise Alliance.

Ms. Mahoney received her master’s in public administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and her bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University.