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Diane Kaplan to Be Honored with Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy

Diane Kaplan

Diane Kaplan, President and CEO of the Rasmuson Foundation, will receive the Grantmakers In Health (GIH) 2019 Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy. The award recognizes outstanding health grantmakers whose work is distinguished by leadership, innovation, and outstanding achievement.

Under Ms. Kaplan’s leadership over the past 17 years, the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska’s largest philanthropy dedicated to improving life for Alaskans, has grown from supporting important capital projects to taking on some of the state’s thorniest, long-standing challenges, such as homelessness, excessive use of alcohol, and access to health care. In a state with hundreds of tiny villages separated by vast distance and difference in language, culture, and law, Ms. Kaplan is known for practicing true grassroots philanthropy, organizing the foundation’s planning around listening sessions, where staff, trustees, and advisors hear directly from community members. “Diane is a visionary leader, unafraid to tackle the toughest problems requiring complex approaches and partnerships,” said Nancy Kaufman, Principal of The Strategic Vision Group, in her nomination of Ms. Kaplan. “She cares deeply about those experiencing health disparities and boldly refuses to work from the top down, preferring collaborations with community voices and leaders.”

It is this leadership style that has allowed Ms. Kaplan to secure a number of local, state, and national partnerships for the foundation, as well as collaborations with providers and residents. Her efforts to engage executives of health systems, Alaskan Native corporations, and state government agencies—as well as prominent legislative leaders, judges, law enforcement officials, and foundations—resulted in the formation of Recover Alaska, a statewide effort dedicated to changing social norms on drinking, promoting treatment options, and advocating for strong policies and laws. Ms. Kaplan was also an early champion of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s work to introduce the first successful dental therapist workforce in the United States. With support from the Rasmuson Foundation—and the tireless efforts of Ms. Kaplan, who leveraged partnerships, assessments, and funding to build support for the program—Alaska Native communities have greater access to culturally appropriate dental education and routine dental services. Ms. Kaplan has also led formal collaborative interchanges within health philanthropy. In 2008, she ensured start-up support to form the Funders Oral Health Policy Group, which has grown to a working group of over thirty funders working to improve access to oral health services, and advocating for new state-based dental therapy legislation based on the Alaska model. 

Ms. Kaplan has served in leadership roles on a number of boards, including national and regional philanthropy boards. She is a member of the boards of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics, The Alaska Community Foundation, and United States Artists. She is also a member of the Anchorage Homelessness Leadership Council and the Anchorage Rotary Club. Her additional board experience includes work for the Alaska Community Foundation, the Alaska Children’s Trust, and the University of Alaska Anchorage Honors College. She has also served on the boards of the Council on Foundations, Philanthropy Northwest, the Anchorage Community Land Trust, and the United Way of Anchorage, among others. 

Ms. Kaplan’s contributions have been recognized by a number of institutions, including the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce Athena Society, Alaska Public Radio Network, Alaska Broadcasters Association, and YWCA. In 2018, she was a recipient of a Lifetime Champion for Kids award from the Alaska Children’s Trust, and in 2013 she received the First Alaskans Institute Ted Stevens Award. Ms. Kaplan was named the Council on Foundations Distinguished Grantmaker of the Year in 2007, and in 2006 received the Alaska Federation of Natives’ prestigious Denali Award, which recognizes a non-Native individual who has contributed to the growth and development of the Alaska Native community’s culture, economy and health. She was also recognized with the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women Shining Star Award in 2010. 

GIH established the Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy in 1993 in honor of Terrance Keenan and his more than 40 years of contributions to the field of health philanthropy. The award will be presented to Ms. Kaplan on June 13, 2019 at the GIH Annual Conference on Health Philanthropy in Seattle, Washington.

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