The International SPA Association Foundation is the 501(c)3 foundation of the International SPA Association and was created in 1999 to serve the educational and research needs of the spa industry. The ISPA Foundation's mission is to improve and enhance the value of the spa experience; its vision is to advance spa culture to sustain health and well-being.

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Looking for an additional way to support the ISPA Foundation? Simply click here to shop Amazon through AmazonSmile and select the ISPA Foundation as your nonprofit to support. Amazon will then donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the ISPA Foundation!


Improve and enhance the value of the spa experience.


Advance spa culture to sustain health and well-being.


The purpose of the ISPA Foundation is:

  • To promote the public welfare through the advancement of physical fitness, medical and wellness care, and professional spa services;
  • To encourage, provide for, and engage in professional study and research related to lifestyle and health enhancement from physical fitness, dietary practices, spa services, and educational programs and scholarship programs;
  • To improve the quality and increase the availability of professional spa services, medical and wellness care, conventional and complementary therapies and treatments, and related educational programs.

Core Values

  • Visionary leadership that is always open to new ideas
  • Integrity evidenced by ethical, honest and credible behavior
  • Nurturing the wellness of society and the environment
  • Commitment to spa management as a profession


  • Establish the Foundation as the educational source for the spa industry.
  • Establish definitive research validating spa industry-related topics.
  • Create an endowment that sustains the Foundation in perpetuity.

ISPA Foundation Board

  • Frank Pitsikalis - ISPA Foundation Chairman
  • Garrett Mersberger - ISPA Chairman
  • Brennan Evans - ISPA Vice Chairman
  • Lynne McNees - ISPA President
  • Brent Bauer, MD - Medical Advisor
  • Ruth Stricker - Honorary Boad Member
  • Deborah Szekely - Honorary Board Member

The ISPA Foundation works to extend and promote a healing touch to communities around the world using new and innovative methods. By supporting and funding forward-thinking individuals and organizations, the foundation establishes new initiatives that will enhance health and wellness.

Foundation Initiatives


The ISPA Foundation has begun the process of instituting a full-fledged spa management curriculum for institutions of higher learning, several of which have already adopted the introductory text for use in a comprehensive spa management course. Click here to view all the tools and textbooks created by the Foundation.

ISPA Foundation Mary Tabacchi Scholarship

Mary Tabacchi Scholarship

Central to our investment in the future is the ISPA Foundation Mary Tabacchi Scholarship. With the help of the ISPA Foundation, through a wealth of donations, students interested in pursuing a career in spa management will be able to achieve their dreams. It is the ISPA Foundation's hope that students touched by these scholarships will not only provide comfort and care to people who need it but serve as inspirations to others to join the spa profession.

The scholarship was created in 2006 and named in honor of Mary Tabacchi PhD, RD, Professor, Services Marketing and Operations Management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration.

To apply for the 2020 Mary Tabacchi Scholarship, click here. Requirements for the desired applicant are as follows:

1.  Will be a junior, senior or grad student in the upcoming school year, enrolled full-time in a bachelor’s or master’s program of a related discipline, i.e. business, health science, hospitality or spa management, and pursuing a spa management/spa leadership/spa entrepreneurial-related career. Please note, students applying for this scholarship must be enrolled in classes for the fall 2020 semester to be eligible.
2.  Has completed or is enrolled in courses with a strong emphasis in business, management, analytics and/or entrepreneurship.
3.  Has a minimum GPA (or international equivalent) of 3.0.
4.  Has completed/is currently completing a spa-related internship/externship or has conducted/currently conducting a project, paper, research initiative, etc. that has a demonstrated focus on the spa industry and can provide details of the skills and experiences gained during said internship/externship or project/paper/research initiative in his/her resume.
5.  Is involved in on/off-campus organizations and demonstrates leadership roles held in such organizations.
6.  Agrees to be a mentor to the 2021 Mary Tabacchi scholarship recipient.
7.  Submit the following required materials. Due date is currently being extended due to COVID-19:
        a.    A completed scholarship application including detailed responses to Section 3 Essay Questions;
        b.    Original college transcripts that include evidence of courses taken and current GPA (or   international equivalent);
        c.    Two reference letters;
        d.    A professional resume.
Required Application Questions:
1.    Tell us about a personal or professional experience that you feel demonstrates your unique leadership style.
2.    What business, management, analytical, and/or entrepreneurial coursework have you had that will support your future success, and how?
3.    As part of a growing industry, how will you utilize your resources to enrich the spa and wellness industry?
4.    What sets you apart as an individual and as a leader?
5.    What draws you to the spa and wellness industry, and how does that relate to your overall goals?


Ruth Stricker Spa and Wellness Award

The stresses of modern life take an extra toll on active aging adults across the globe. Ruth Stricker, founder of The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness, in Minnesota, is an internationally recognized icon for the mind/body connection. Her financial gift has allowed the Foundation to create a research award with a special focus on how spas can enhance health and wellness to our aging population or people experiencing techno stress, chronic illness or loneliness.

Dr. Howard Murad Research Grant

Made possible through a donation from Dr. Howard Murad, the Foundation is hoping to discover solutions to the constant stresses of today’s hurried world. Widely acknowledged as one of the country's foremost visionaries in the field of total mind, body and spiritual wellness, Dr. Murad is also an innovator in research concerning the effects of cultural stress - a term used by him to describe the cumulative physical and mental effects resulting from the seemingly minor stress points in everyday life. By funding research into this relatively new area, we believe the negative effects of stress can be minimized to help us all live healthier, balanced lives.


Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law and may be designated to one of the following areas of giving:

  • Education & Outreach Fund
  • ISPA Foundation Mary Tabacchi Scholarship Fund
  • Ruth Stricker Spa & Wellness Award
  • Dr. Howard Murad Research Grant Fund

There are a variety of ways to financially contribute to the ISPA Foundation that provide benefits both to you and the Foundation. Giving opportunities may also be customized to meet your interests. The ISPA Foundation would be pleased to work with you and your personal advisors to find the method that fits your needs and wishes, as well as ensure any technical requirements are met.

Donate Now    ISPA Foundation Gift Form

There are additional ways you can contribute and support the Foundation, such as participating in ISPA Foundation events, volunteering your time and knowledge and purchasing ISPA Foundation materials. Through the generous contributions and support of ISPA Foundation donors, the Foundation has the power to move, grow and endure with lasting impact.

Foundation Research Sponsors