Two Foundations Collaborate
Once Again to Offer Sabbaticals
to Nonprofit Executives

Research shows that three-month leaves give veteran nonprofit executives

 restorative breaks, and create greater organizational capacity

PITTSBURGH (March 8, 2023) – The McCune Foundation and the Richard King Mellon Foundation once again have joined forces to offer sabbaticals to local nonprofit executives.

“Nonprofits perform essential and often heroic work in our communities, and strong leadership is essential to their success,” said Sam Reiman, Director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. “But even during good times, nonprofit executives often are under-resourced and over-worked. And since the pandemic, those pressures have magnified considerably. Many leaders are experiencing burnout and stress, and opportunities for visionary thinking and planning for organizational enhancement often are consumed by daily crisis management. A sabbatical offers the opportunity for professional development, big thinking and much-needed rest and rejuvenation for these key leaders. It will help the participating nonprofits to retain these key leaders. And it also will increase the capacity of the organizations, as boards and staff develop systems to manage during the leader’s time away.”

A study published last month in the Harvard Business Review further affirmed the transformative power of sabbaticals.

Added Reiman: “The McCune Foundation was an early leader in this novel approach to helping our nonprofits. We were delighted to collaborate with McCune to restart this important initiative last year. And we are pleased to partner with them again, on the next chapter of this important work.”  

The two foundations invited a small group of high-performing local nonprofit executives to apply for the initial sabbatical pilot, announced in March 2022. For this second round, a wider group of nonprofit leaders with significant collaborative histories with either or both of the two foundations were invited to apply:

 The eight recipients of three-month sabbaticals in this second round are:

  • Angela Garcia, Global Links
  • Anna Hollis, Amachi Pittsburgh
  • Susan Friedberg Kalson, Squirrel Hill Health Center
  • Kristen Linfante, Chamber Music Pittsburgh
  • Patrick Moore, Andy Warhol Museum
  • Jada Shirriel, Healthy Start
  • Carol Shrieve, Carnegie Library of Homestead
  • Anthony Williams, The Neighborhood Academy

The eight nonprofits each will receive up to $75,000 to cover the cost of the sabbatical and to assist the nonprofits in developing the enhanced leadership capacity necessary to continue operating the nonprofit effectively during the leader’s time away.

The POISE Foundation is the grants and fiscal administrator for the program.

“It is more critical now than ever that our nonprofit sector has continuity of strong leaders who are mentally, emotionally and physically prepared to deliver a high level of service to a demanding community,” stated Mark Lewis, President and CEO of POISE Foundation.  “We applaud the McCune and Richard King Mellon Foundations for recognizing the need of respite for key leaders. POISE Foundation is excited to play a critical role in this effort.”  

The McCune Foundation launched its first nonprofit sabbatical program in 2000 and has provided 14 sabbaticals over the last 20 years. “Research has shown how effective sabbaticals are in supporting leaders and the organizations they serve,” said Laurel S. Randi, Executive Director of the McCune Foundation. “We are delighted to partner with the Richard King Mellon Foundation in launching the refined program which is now stronger than when we first began providing these grants.”     

The Richard King Mellon Foundation has come to the effort through a new program in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan, called Organizational Effectiveness, to support the advancement and effectiveness of local nonprofits.  

There are four investment areas in Organizational Effectiveness: Leadership & Governance; Human Capital Management; Strategy & Learning; and Communications. Guidelines for the Organizational Effectiveness program and the application portal are on the Foundation’s website.  

# # #

About the Richard King Mellon Foundation: Founded in 1947, the Richard King Mellon Foundation is the largest foundation in Southwestern Pennsylvania, and one of the 50 largest in the world. The Foundation’s 2021 year-end net assets were $3.4 billion, and its Trustees in 2022 disbursed more than $152 million in grants and program-related investments. The Foundation focuses its funding on six primary program areas, delineated in its 2021-2030 Strategic Plan.