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

Anchorage, Alaska – Seven Alaska nonprofit leaders have been selected for the 2015 Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Program. The recipients come from five communities across the state and include professionals in arts, health, and human social services. They are:

Guy Adams, Northwest Inupiat Housing Authority, Kotzebue
Marie Carroll, Arctic Slope Native Association, Barrow
Nancy Harbour, Alaska Center for the Performing Arts, Anchorage
Marcia Howell, Alaska Injury Prevention Center, Anchorage
Laurie Kari, Mat-Su Valley Interfaith Hospitality Network DBA Family Promise Mat-Su, Wasilla
Rebecca Shields, Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center, Kodiak
Pauline Smith, Alaska Literacy Program, Anchorage

Guy Adams has been at Northwest Inupiat Housing Authority since 1998 and its CEO since 1999. He will use his sabbatical to achieve some life goals and spend quality time with his family. Adams hopes to return from the sabbatical refreshed, refocused and ready to continue helping the people of the region.
Marie Carroll will use her time away from Arctic Slope Native Association to recharge and prepare for ASNA’s next big project, which is finding a sustainable solution for elder care in the North Slope region. Carroll will stay close to home for her sabbatical; she plans to spend time with family geese hunting and spring whaling, both traditional Inupiaq activities for renewal. Carroll has been with ASNA since 1999.
Nancy Harbour has been at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts since 1988, six months before the doors opened. Since becoming president in 1997, Harbour has overseen numerous capital projects, implemented the new ticketing cost center, stabilized resident company relationships and successfully renegotiated union and management contracts. During her three-month sabbatical, Harbour will spend more time with family, travel and indulge in her hobbies of gardening and quilting.
Marcia Howell began working at the Alaska Injury Prevention Center in 2000 and was named executive director in 2008. Under her leadership, AIPC has developed multiple new funding sources and unrestricted net assets have grown more than sevenfold. Howell will spend her two-and-a-half month sabbatical visiting family in the Lower 48 and there’s talk of backpacking a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Physical activity – tennis, cycling – will be high on her list of sabbatical activities. “I know that I do my best thinking when my body is moving,” she says.
Laurie Kari has worked for Family Promise Mat-Su since 2005 and has been its director since 2008. Family Promise Mat-Su provides shelter and homeless prevention services in the Mat-Su Valley. In 2001 she helped establish its predecessor organization, Mat-Su Valley Interfaith Hospitality Network. Kari will use her sabbatical to visit family in the Lower 48 and hopes to return to the pottery wheel, write journals, hike and exercise. Her goal is to come back to Family Promise refreshed, complete and balanced.
Rebecca Shields has worked in every position at the Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center. Beginning in 1991 as an advocate, she worked her way up to executive director in 2007. “I love my work and consider myself fortunate to get to devote my time and energy to a cause that I so deeply believe in. However, the work never stops. And the issues seem to somehow grow more complex. It can be exhausting at times. As the executive director, I am always on duty,” she wrote. During her sabbatical, Shields and her husband will fulfill a long-held dream to travel extensively abroad.
Pauline Smith’s work at Alaska Literacy Program spans nearly 35 years. She began as a volunteer in 1980 and worked off and on handling special projects, beginning in 1992. She has been executive director since 1999. For her sabbatical, Smith plans to visit her children and grandchildren in the Lower 48, travel, learn to sail in California and study weaving at a school in Ecuador. “I hope my time away will benefit Alaska Literacy Program by giving staff the freedom and confidence to make decisions for the agency and the program,” she wrote. “I hope new ideas and insights may be fostered without me and my particular frame of reference.”

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.

The next postmark deadline to apply for a Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical is October 1, 2015. 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.