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

Anchorage – Six Alaska nonprofit leaders have been selected for the 2013 Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program. The recipients come from five communities across the state and include professionals in recreation, and health and social services. They are:

Peggy Brown, Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Juneau
Deborah Lyons, Sitka Trail Works, Sitka
Naomi Michalsen, Women in Safe Homes, Ketchikan
Rowena Palomar, Advocates for Victims of Violence, Valdez
Larry Parker, Anchorage Community YMCA, Anchorage
Amy Simpson, Program for Infants and Children, Anchorage

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.

Healthy nonprofit leaders are crucial to Alaska, yet many lead organizations that deal with crisis daily. Many nonprofit leaders 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. On average, a sabbatical extends a nonprofit director’s tenure by three years. 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.

Peggy Brown is the executive director of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, a coalition of 20 domestic violence/sexual assault victim service agencies from across Alaska. Ms. Brown will use her time away to focus on rekindling her passion for watercolor and oil painting, and travel internationally to explore her family roots.

An impressive comprehensive trail network in Southeast Alaska has been Deborah Lyons’ primary focus for the past 12 years in her role as executive director at Sitka Trail Works. She will spend time in the outdoors on her sabbatical and is particularly excited to join her husband in fishing for king salmon in August.

Women in Safe Homes (WISH) Executive Director Naomi Michalsen will spend time reconnecting with family, resting and rejuvenating during her sabbatical. Ms. Michalsen shared that her ultimate goal for WISH is a new domestic violence shelter facility for women, children, and families in Ketchikan. She looks forward to returning to her work so she can tackle this goal with renewed vigor.

Advocates for Victims of Violence in Valdez Executive Director Rowena Palomar will spend a month visiting family in the Philippines, as well as taking in the sights of Italy and Greece during her sabbatical. She says the sabbatical will provide her staff the opportunity to take on leadership roles, build their confidence and strengthen the existing team effort.

Anchorage Community YMCA CEO Larry Parker has an 18-year career at the Y, with the past 10 years spent in Anchorage. Mr. Parker is planning a cross-country road trip with family and an extended time for self-reflection as he looks forward to the second half of his career in the nonprofit sector.

Amy Simpson has served at Program for Infants and Children for 17 years where she has been engaged in helping families with development delays in children ages 0-3, first as a direct service staff member and, for the past eight years, as executive director. She plans to use her sabbatical to rediscover the adventurous spirit that brought her and her husband to Alaska.

The next postmark deadline to apply for a Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical is October 1, 2013. 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.