For immediate release
Nov. 2, 2022
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907-545-3555
Anchorage, AK – Leaders of six Alaska nonprofit organizations will get a chance to refresh, reset and renew in 2023 through a Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Award. Each recipient will have three to six months to unplug from demanding jobs with paid time off in the coming year.
The Foundation’s Sabbatical Committee, which includes prior recipients, recently met to select awardees. Awards of up to $40,000 are grants to the individual’s employer to help cover the leader’s salary, travel and other experiences during the time away.
Those selected represent nonprofits doing their part to help Alaska people and communities thrive. One works to ensure quality health care and another, child care. Some offer opportunities for young people and those with disabilities. One nonprofit responds to crises.
Each recipient demonstrated a strong track record of service, a pressing need for extended time off and a team ready to step up when they step away. Some had struggled to even take a regular vacation.
For the sabbatical period, the leaders must disconnect completely. This year, the Foundation partnered with GCI to give each recipient a new cell phone, so they leave the work phone at the office. To ensure a graceful exit and return, The Foraker Group provides support.
With the new cohort, the Foundation will have funded 107 sabbaticals.
“The Foundation believes in the importance of civic and philanthropic responsibility. Part of that is making sure that the strong nonprofit and tribal leaders who take care of Alaska are themselves taken care of,” said Tanya King, Foundation senior program officer and lead for the Sabbatical Awards. “Sabbatical grants give these leaders time to reconnect with family and friends, enjoy new experiences and come back full of energy and creativity.”
Those selected are:
Stephanie Allen, executive director of United Way of Matanuska-Susitna Borough for 15 years. She thought about applying for a sabbatical before but couldn’t see taking time away when so many people needed help after devastating wildfires and the magnitude 7.1 earthquake. After the 2019 McKinley Fire, for instance, she worked 15 to 20 hours a day providing case management for survivors and keeping up with her day job. She plans to decompress, travel, take classes for fun, and spend time reading and reflecting.
Tamar Ben-Yosef, executive director of All Alaska Pediatric Partnership (A2P2). In 2015, she was hired as the first employee of the organization as it transitioned from a coalition to a nonprofit. It has become a statewide leader in initiatives to improve children’s health and promote health equity for all Alaska families. She developed internal infrastructure, budgets, external relationships and programs, including Help Me Grow Alaska. Ben-Yosef was born and raised in Israel, and both her family and her husband’s family still live there. They want to travel internationally including an extended-stay in Israel to be near their parents, siblings and cousins, culminating in the celebration of their oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.
Christina Eubanks, executive director, Hillcrest Children’s Center, an Anchorage nonprofit child care center with a uniquely well-trained and devoted staff in an industry beset with labor shortages. Eubanks, who wanted to be a nun when she was young until her mother reminded her they weren’t Catholic, has been working in nonprofits since graduating from college including 15 years at Hillcrest. During the pandemic, she was able to keep her staff employed, care for children of essential workers, and stay open for the community. She says she is looking forward to sleep, alone time at Chena Hot Springs, a Hawaii camping trip with her husband, and unstructured time with their children.
Barbara Rodriguez-Rath, chief executive officer of The Arc of Anchorage for the last six years and part of the organization for nearly 17 years. The Arc helps those experiencing disabilities reach their potential, and she’s led the agency through accreditation, regulatory changes, the magnitude 7.1 earthquake and the pandemic.
She urges her staff and students to practice self-care and says it’s time to take her own advice. She wants to rest and travel and plans to return ready to grow The Arc’s behavioral health programs.
Kimberly Schlosser, executive director of Sunshine Transit, which provides inexpensive and accessible transportation in the Upper Susitna Valley. When she began at Sunshine nine years ago, the organization was running two vans and trying to expand to a second route. Now they have 22 vehicles and 10 routes and give about 16,000 rides a year. She is planning to travel and practice self-care, including joining a gym and in the summer, planting a garden. She is excited to see how her team will step up in her absence and plans to return full of energy and ideas.
Flora Teo, president of Junior Achievement of Alaska, an Anchorage-based nonprofit with statewide programming that prepares young people to succeed. Teo has worked 20 years for nonprofits including 14 years leading Junior Achievement. She created a rural Alaska presence that now operates in 25 communities and guided the organization through COVID. A past board chair called her a superhero.
On sabbatical, she plans to spread her father’s ashes in Samoa and her mother’s in Spain on the Camino de Santiago.
[Download press release here.]
About the Foundation
Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are health care; the arts; organizational and community development; human services; and solutions to homelessness. Affordable, accessible broadband is a new area of interest. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson, a Swedish missionary, to honor her late husband, banker E.A. Rasmuson.