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Piper Trust Names Five 2006 Piper Fellows

Sabbaticals for Nonprofit Leaders Provide Professional Development, Renewal

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (December 11, 2006) – The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust today awarded Piper Fellowships to five exemplary nonprofit leaders, who will participate in self-designed sabbaticals for professional development and renewal. The 2006 Piper Fellows are:

  • Rob Crawford, Chief Executive Officer, Life Development Institute
  • Michelle Mac Lennan, Assistant Manager, Chandler Center for the Arts
  • Milon F. Pitts, Client Services Director, Homeward Bound
  • Marsha Porter, Executive Director, Crisis Nursery
  • Keith A. Thompson, Executive Director/CEO, The Phoenix Shanti Group

“Today’s nonprofit executives lead organizations that require the same strategic planning and agility that corporations demand,” said Judy Jolley Mohraz, president and CEO of the Piper Trust. “Through Piper Fellowships, nonprofit leaders can sit in the same seminars as national and international corporate leaders and explore best practices across the country.”

In addition to annually providing up to $30,000 for a maximum of five fellowships, the Trust provides up to $10,000 to match new or increased professional development for each organization’s staff. The awards are intended to give professionals in the nonprofit field a minimum of one month to a maximum of two months work-release time plus expenses for study and travel.

Rob Crawford
As CEO of the Life Development Institute for the last 24 years, Rob Crawford has responded to the immense community need for support services that allow young adults with learning disabilities to enhance their knowledge, skills and resources to live independently.

Through his Piper Fellowship, Crawford will explore how to expand opportunities for independent living services through affordable housing alternatives. His fellowship will conclude with a strategic planning retreat with staff, board, community partners, current and former students, and parents.

Michelle Mac Lennan
Michelle Mac Lennan joined the Chandler Center for the Arts in 1999 and in 2005 was named assistant manager, where she supervises more than 200 volunteers and a staff of 11. In addition to her duties at the center, Mac Lennan serves as vice president for the Chandler Cultural Foundation and is the liaison for the City of Chandler and Chandler Unified School District for facility scheduling.

Through her Piper Fellowship, Mac Lennan seeks to enhance her leadership ability, expand her capacity for long-term planning and implement cutting-edge approaches to patron services and internal communications. Her sabbatical will include professional conferences, courses in strategic management and ethics at the ASU Center for Nonprofit Leadership and Management, a three-day communications seminar and an intensive course at the New York Film Academy.

Milon F. Pitts
After working in several family support services positions at Homeward Bound, Milon F. Pitts in 2004 took over as director of client services, where he manages a staff of eight and oversees support services and programs that help families and children achieve economic independence and stability.

During his sabbatical, Pitts plans to attend three workshops offered by the National Training Institute to enhance his leadership, interpersonal and strategic planning skills. Pitts also will participate in The Grantsmanship Center’s one-week training program, visit exemplary housing programs and attend a seminar about housing tax credits.

Marsha Porter
Marsha Porter’s career in social work spans three decades in the Valley. After working for 18 years in various positions at the Arizona Department of Economic Security program, Porter joined Crisis Nursery as executive director in 1994. Since that time, Crisis Nursery has expanded their services to offer programs to children living at home with their parents and will be initiating a new program to recruit, train and supervise family foster homes in 2007.

Through her fellowship, Porter plans to enhance her management skills through two courses at Harvard Business School. She will conduct four site visits to cities around the country that are revamping their child welfare systems and will use these experiences to develop strategies for Crisis Nursery’s future in Arizona’s child welfare system.

Keith A. Thompson
As Phoenix Shanti Group’s executive director/CEO for the past four years, Keith A. Thompson has led the agency to expand its services, double its annual budget and increase the number of clients it serves. He is responsible for the fiscal, programmatic and development operations of the agency, which provides housing, education and direct client services to individuals, families and loved ones infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Thompson also served as executive director of TERROS Behavioral Health Services for five years.

To better understand how to serve the changing needs of people who are HIV positive or living with AIDS – especially the special medical and psycho-social needs presented by a growing aging HIV positive population – Thompson plans to spend three weeks visiting AIDS agencies in several West Coast cities. He also will participate in a 10-day Georgetown University Nonprofit Management Program followed by visits to several best practice agencies in the Washington, D.C., area. He will end his fellowship with a week of reflection in Southern Pennsylvania.

For more information about the Piper Fellows program or details about any of the recipients, please visit the Leadership Development section.