For immediate release
April 29, 2021
Contact: Lisa Demer, 907-545-3555 (cell)

Anchorage, AK – Rasmuson Foundation is pleased to welcome Michele Brown as our newest senior fellow and Rodney Hamilton as IT operations manager. Both joined the Foundation in April.

Brown weaves her rich background in nonprofit and government work into her new role. In 2020, she retired as president of United Way of Anchorage after 17 years of service. At the Foundation, she will continue work to prevent and solve homelessness through innovative strategies and partnerships.

“There are so many social and individual reasons why people end up experiencing homelessness,” Brown said. “But the social and policy aspects are in our control, to prevent people falling into that horrible situation. If we can work together and build upon that, we can create an ecosystem where all can thrive.”

Hamilton, our other new team member, is a lifelong Alaskan born and raised in Anchorage. He brings a wealth of experience from 20 years of working in IT at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium. Among his duties in his most recent role as ANTHC senior computer systems administrator, Rodney supported more than 3,000 users on the health organization’s network, including outlying clinics. For five years, he helped plan and address technology needs for the annual Raven’s Ball.

“Michele and Rodney are wonderful additions to our team,” said Diane Kaplan, Rasmuson Foundation president and CEO. “I’ve admired and had the pleasure to work with Michele during her nearly 20-year tenure at the United Way. Her experience and leadership will help us continue to build partnerships and support programs with the aim of solving homelessness. Rodney’s extensive technical expertise and history of success will keep our team on solid footing, particularly helpful during this time of remote work and virtual meetings.”

Under Brown’s watch, United Way of Anchorage spearheaded the citywide collaboration 90% by 2020 that contributed to raising Anchorage’s high school graduation rate from 60% to 80%. United Way launched the statewide helpline Alaska 2-1-1 and a cold weather shelter system serving families. It enrolled Alaskans in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and increased permanent supportive housing with the Home for Good pilot program serving those who have been chronically homeless. Prior to leading United Way, Brown served seven years as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation under Gov. Tony Knowles. She also served as an assistant attorney general under multiple state administrations. She was the first attorney at the Exxon Valdez oil spill and later advised the state on response efforts.

Brown has received numerous awards including the University of Alaska Anchorage Meritorious Service Award in 2018 and Congregation Beth Sholom’s Shining Lights Award in 2013. Her work to create a community plan to increase Anchorage high school graduation rates resulted in United Way of America’s Best Practices recognition.

[Download press release here.]

About the Foundation
Through grantmaking and initiatives, Rasmuson Foundation aims to promote a better life for all Alaskans. Main funding areas are homelessness, health care, the arts, organizational and community development and human services including projects to address domestic violence, child abuse and services for seniors and people with disabilities. The Foundation was created in 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband E.A. Rasmuson.