Diane Kaplan connects with a child during a 2017 visit with the Foundation Board to Oscarville on the Kuskokwim River near Bethel. (Courtesy photo / Rasmusen Foundation)

Diane Kaplan connects with a child during a 2017 visit with the Foundation Board to Oscarville on the Kuskokwim River near Bethel. (Courtesy photo / Rasmusen Foundation)

Rasmuson Foundation CEO to step down

Kaplan innovated programs over 26-year career

The CEO of the Rasmuson Foundation Diane Kaplan announced she’ll be stepping down in early 2023 after 26 years with the organization. The Rasmuson Foundation is Alaska’s largest grant provider and provides funding to a number of charitable causes.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” Kaplan said in a statement. “There are some professional and personal pursuits I’ve put off for years. I’m committed to give the board time to do a thorough search and have a smooth transition. There’s never been a perfect time to leave, especially when you love the organization you work for and the people you work with.”

Kaplan said she expects the Rasmuson Foundation board to identify a successor by the end of the year.

According to the foundation, Kaplan joined the foundation in 1995, and worked under the organization’s founders, banker Elmer Rasmuson and his son Ed, who died in January.

“(Kaplan) said the recent death of Foundation board Chairman Ed Rasmuson reminded her that life is finite,” the foundation said in a statement.

Kaplan was born in New York City and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, the foundation said. She came to Alaska in 1983 to manage the Alaska Public Radio Network and was running a small consulting practice when Ed Rasmuson tapped her to help expand the family foundation.

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Since Kaplan joined, the foundation’s assets have grown from $5 million to an estimated $800 million today.

During Kaplan’s tenure, the organization donated $25-30 million annually to nonprofits, tribes, local governments and individual artists, according to the foundation. It is recognized nationally for innovations in health care, advocacy and the arts.

Initiatives from the foundation under Kaplan include Pick. Click. Give; the Individual Artist Award; a dental health aide therapist program; a coronavirus nonprofit relief fund; raising $40 million to combat homelessness in Anchorage and donations to local community foundations.

“Diane has left an indelible mark not just on Rasmuson Foundation, but on philanthropy and the nonprofit community across Alaska,” said board Chair Adam Gibbons in a statement. “She and her team have scoured Alaska far and wide, listening, making friendships, building connections and finding opportunities where the Foundation can help. We are so very grateful that Diane decided to make Alaska her home.”

One of Kaplan’s most important innovations was collaborations with large, national philanthropies, the foundation said, developing a program for out-of-state funders to visit Alaska and tour the organization’s work, according to the foundation. Grantmakers that have been on tours have invested more than $300 million in Alaska projects after attending, the foundation said.

• Contact reporter Peter Segall at psegall@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SegallJnuEmpire.

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