For Immediate Release
Contact: Cassandra Stalzer, 907-334-0520

Anchorage –  Seven Alaska nonprofit leaders have been selected for the 2014 Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program. The recipients come from five communities across the state and include professionals in arts, community development, health and social services. They are:

Kristin Carpenter, Copper River Watershed Project, Cordova
Nancy DeCherney, Juneau Arts and Humanities Council, Juneau
Barbara Dubovich, Camp Fire Alaska, Anchorage
Brian Green, Christian Health Associates, Anchorage
Meera Kohler, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc., Anchorage
Mark Lackey, CCS Early Learning, Palmer
Joan O’Keefe, Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc., Juneau

The Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program supports nonprofit leaders in time away from the job. The program’s goal is to retain exceptional CEOs/executive directors and tribal administrators in the sector by providing three- to six-month opportunities for rest, reflection and rejuvenation. On average, a sabbatical extends a nonprofit director’s tenure by three years.

Healthy nonprofit leaders are crucial to Alaska, yet many work in environments where the need is great but human and financial resources are thin. The stress and long hours can strain professionals. A sabbatical provides time for personal growth and renewal.

Sabbaticals are beneficial to organizations because they reduce the burnout rate of nonprofit leaders and reduce disruption caused by avoidable leadership transitions. Nonprofit leaders return reenergized. The benefits of planned leadership sabbaticals were the subject of a 2010 study which can be found here.

While on Sabbatical, recipients are expected to completely step away from their organizations. Recipients this year are planning to travel, focus on hobbies, and spend time with family.

Kristin Carpenter turned an interest in community development and a master’s degree from the Kennedy School of Government into a 15-year career working to ensure the long-term sustainability of the wild salmon economies in the Copper River watershed. She will use time off to reconnect with family and recharge for the work ahead.

Nancy DeCherney began her position as the executive director of the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council in 2006, and in that time has seen the organization’s membership double, its staffing and budget increase three-fold, and its programming blossom to become a model for local arts agencies. She will use her sabbatical to pursue personal creative endeavors and experience life as an arts audience member during her travels.

Barbara (Barb) Dubovich has worked full time for Camp Fire Alaska for 32 years, and has served as its president for the last decade. Camp Fire provides high quality summer and school-based programs for more than 5,000 youth across Alaska. Barb looks forward to lots of sand and sun as she rests and recharges in order to meet the future challenges and opportunities for this important community program.

Dr. Brian Green is a founder of Christian Health Associates and has worked as its executive director for the past 18 years. Under his guidance, CHA has grown to include a clinic and counseling center, a program that matches volunteer medical professionals with under-insured Alaskans, two public school-based clinics, and other health programs. Brian says a sabbatical will focus on prayer, reading and reflection needed to help prepare him to continue as CHA’s leader.

Meera Kohler landed in Cordova in 1976 with a newly-minted MBA and found her accounting skills were in demand at the local electrical utility coop. Fast forward to 2014, and Meera has spent 34 years in the utility industry including 13 as the president and CEO of Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc. She plans some international travel as a way of refreshing her vision of her work.

A baby-boomer work ethic  has kept Joan O’Keefe at the helm of SAIL (Southeast Alaska Independent Living, Inc.) for the past 12 years. SAIL helps elders and people with disabilities live in their community of choice with the highest quality of life. Joan plans to sail herself during her Sabbatical – taking time on the water to reflect and refresh in order to continue to serve her community.

For the past eight years, Mark Lackey has served as the executive director of CCS Early Learning Center which provides Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Chugiak and the Mat-Su. Mark will spend time away to focus on family, where he draws the strength and purpose for his work.

The next postmark deadline to apply for a Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical is October 1, 2014. Details about the Sabbatical Program, guidelines for preparing a proposal and application materials are available online. For more information please call (907) 297-2700 or toll-free within Alaska 1-877-366-2700.

About the Foundation
The Rasmuson Foundation was created in May 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson. Through grantmaking and initiatives, the Foundation is a catalyst to promote a better life for all Alaskans.