It’s true that some investments are more successful than others, even ours. In this week's post, Rasmuson Foundation President Diane Kaplan shares her thoughts about some of the Foundation's best investments. You might be surprised that her selections are not projects or institutions – but people.

Over the years, Rasmuson Foundation has had the pleasure of hosting interns for two to 12 month assignments. In choosing interns, we look for people with a a philanthropic spirit and passion for changing the world. Surely hosting internships has been one of our best investments. Many of our interns have gone on to full-time work in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. We are proud of them. Meet just some of our past interns.

Ricardo Lopez was our first intern, referred to us by Jason Metrokin, President of Bristol Bay Native Corporation. I like to tell people that Ricardo was an intern for “five minutes” because we offered him full-time employment on the program team in very short order. Ricardo had been pursuing education in marine biology out of state but decided it wasn’t for him. Today he is national chairman of Native Americans in Philanthropy—the trade association (or “affinity group” as its called in our world) for Native people working in the sector and their supporters. How cool is that? His day job has him managing the Affiliate Program for Alaska Community Foundation and he previously had a successful stint with the CIRI Foundation.

Ricardo Lopez and Angela Cox

Angela Cox was referred to us by colleagues at Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. She had recently graduated from Washington State University where she served as student representative to the Board of Regents. She worked in the communications area for Rasmuson Foundation while pursuing application to graduate school. While attending New York University, we were happy to connect her with our colleagues at the Ford Foundation where she pursued an internship along with her class work. Angela was subsequently the first director of the Arctic Slope Community Foundation. Today, as Vice President for Administration at Arctic Slope Native Association, she is overseeing activities around the opening of a new hospital for the North Slope. Her volunteer activities include service on the Alaska Community Foundation Board of Directors and The Foraker Group Operations Board.

Latanya Odden was referred to Rasmuson Foundation by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Marleah LaBelle by First Alaskans Institute, which has a highly respected internship program for young Alaska Native college students and recent graduates. Latanya was offered full time employment and worked on our communications team before family considerations took her to Fairbanks and the East Coast. Marleah subsequently worked at several Anchorage nonprofits including Food Bank of Alaska, Alaska Native Arts Foundation and Stone Soup Group. Today these two outstanding former interns are employed by Southcentral Foundation as part of their communications team.

Sharity Sommer’s family has its roots in Galena. She attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School and built a network of connections statewide. Sharity began her philanthropy work as an intern from First Alaskans Institute. She departed the Foundation for new opportunities (read her post from her last day as an intern here), but came back to join our communications team on a full time basis. She will soon be transitioning to the program team where she will review grant applications from organizations throughout Alaska. Sharity loves adventure and has a big heart. She jumped off a hotel in Las Vegas last year (attached to a cord) and has done stints volunteering for community projects in Africa and China.

These are just a few of our great investments. They have enriched our work and continue having impact in the greater community in different ways. Truly, they have changed our organization for the better and they are changing the world as well.