2020 Sabbatical Award

Waking up on her first morning in Kona, Hawaii, Darlene Supplee immediately started thinking about what she had to do and where she had to go. Then the executive director of the North Star Council on Aging remembered: It was the first day of her sabbatical and the only place she needed to be was on her lanai.

For 60 days, Supplee enjoyed the pleasures of Hawaii, gazing at the ocean, swimming, snorkeling for the first time, drinking healthy smoothies, and generally letting her brain slow down from its normal work pace. On her 28th day there, Supplee heard herself say out loud: “I feel relaxed.” That’s when she knew the sabbatical was really working its magic.

She was assisted by Shelby, a “funny and bossy senior,” who had picked Supplee up at the airport. Realizing none of Supplee’s friends could visit because of Hawaii’s Covid quarantine rules, Shelby decided she was Supplee’s “peeps” and called regularly to announce what adventure the pair would embark on that day.

Supplee was happy to leave the planning to her new friend, calling it an “amazing relief for someone who had been making all the decisions for the last seven years.”

Darlene Supplee and her Hawai’i friend, Shelby.

The last month of Supplee’s sabbatical was devoted to moving into a new house back in Alaska, and then she returned to work. To celebrate, her staff held a small party and a group of seniors did a “drive-by” to welcome her home.

Supplee said the time away gave her “time to breathe, learn, rest,” so she could return to Alaska “a stronger Darlene, and a better ED.”

About the Sabbatical Program
Tribal executives and nonprofit CEOs/executive directors receive paid time away from the office for rest and personal renewal. The Foundation believes leaders can better serve their organizations when they have taken extended time away to refresh and reflect on their work, gain insight into what they want to accomplish in their careers, learn better ways to run their organizations and renew their personal energy. Learn more here.