Standing Beside Alaska's Non-Profits

Are You Really Going To Do It?

I was very grateful and honored to receive one of the coveted Rasmuson Foundation sabbaticals that would afford me the opportunity to take off three months. I would not have to write a book nor go to school nor contemplate world peace. All I was required to do was take time to re-connect with myself and my wife Stephanie – something those closest to me know I need to do.

Ever since the Rasmuson Foundation announced the sabbatical recipients for 2006, I have been asked “have you gone,” “was it good,” or “are you really going” more times than I can count. I feel I owe an update to my many well-wishers (plus the few that might really just be glad to get rid of me for a while) on the status of my sabbatical.

I have not taken the sabbatical yet. When the awards were announced in January 2006, my schedule was booked solid through mid-May. Many of those who had encouraged me to take a sabbatical felt that the only way I would relax would be to get out of state. Therefore, since I did not want to leave Alaska during the summer, the fall was the time I looked toward. Since I had already scheduled a few important sessions in September and early October, mid-October was the first, real non-summer, non-scheduled period on my calendar for 2006.

I am pleased to announce that I WILL BE TAKING OFF ON OCTOBER 20th. The Foraker Group Governance Board meets on October 19th. Then, on October 20th, Stephanie and I will fly to Mexico where we will sleep, eat, rest, read, and hopefully relax for up to three weeks. After Mexico, we plan to take a totally unstructured road trip throughout the U.S. and return to Alaska around January 15th, 2007. When we were reflecting on what would be the most relaxing way to spend the sabbatical, the thought of having three months with no expectations seemed ideal. For the past six years at Foraker – and the preceeding eight years at United Way – my life has been a series of back-to-back meetings. I am not sure that having nothing on my schedule will be as easy as it sounds since I am worried that I may suffer withdrawal symptoms from my long-standing addiction to meetings.

While on sabbatical, The Foraker Group will be in good hands. First we have two great boards that are engaged in a way that will maintain momentum. Second, we have competent, dedicated and trusted staff that will continue to provide services to Alaska’s nonprofit sector. For the last two years, George Hieronymus has been running the day-to-day operations at Foraker. He deals with our finances, our contracts, our staff, and our partners services. He will be in charge, and that is no different than usual. Laurie Wolf, Mike Walsh, and Terry Horton will be available to provide the same outstanding services they have been doing since they each joined The Foraker Group. While there are still a few Partners that ask for my help, each of these incredible people is requested more than I am at this point. We also still have twenty specialist consultants to meet many of the discreet needs of our Partners. While a few people may notice my absence, I believe that most will not even know that I’m gone.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported our mission to strengthen the nonprofit sector. I also want to thank those who have supported me personally. I really do need to take a break, get perspective, and come back refreshed. I will write again when I return to share any insight I gain from this break. Until then, I urge my colleagues who have been keeping an unrealistic schedule to apply now for one of these sabbaticals. Having spoken to each of the previous sabbatical grantees, I know they share in their appreciation of the Rasmuson Foundation for their leadership in helping us tired CEOs take care of ourselves, and they would urge their peers to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.