John T. Vucurevich Foundation President & CEO to Retire in 2019

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Rapid City, SD - The Board of Directors of the John T. Vucurevich Foundation announced today that President and CEO Sandy Diegel will retire in January 2019.

Founder and philanthropist John T. Vucurevich established the foundation in 1985. During Vucurevich's lifetime, It functioned as a small, part-time organization, making its first grant in 1989. After Vucurevich's death in 2005, the bulk of his estate passed to the foundation. With significant new assets and grantmaking capacity, the foundation hired Diegel, the former CEO of Behavior Management Systems, in February 2007.

"Sandy played a critical role in ramping up the foundation's grantmaking after John passed away," says Dale Clement, who served as chairman of the foundation's board during most of Diegel's tenure as CEO. "She has helped us build on his personal legacy of giving and worked with the board to set funding priorities consistent with his philosophy. She established a reputation for listening, learning, participating, and convening. Under her leadership, the foundation has facilitated solutions to key challenges, initiated relevant collaborations, and brought awareness to important issues." Major philanthropic and charitable initiatives of the foundation over the last eleven years include Partners In Nursing, Human Services Collaborative, Rapid City Crisis Care Center, Main Street Square - Granite Sculpture Project, Starting Strong, Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Prosperity Initiative, and Rapid City Collective Impact.

According to Diegel, "It has been an absolute privilege working with the board, my co-workers, community organizations and other funders to carry on John's philanthropic legacy and to realize his goal 'to make a piece of the world a brighter place.' I hope John would be proud of our work thus far." Diegel said she decided to retire "to have more time to do the many things on my bucket list and be with family, including, being a more present grandma to six grandsons in Colorado and Nebraska." 

After her retirement, Diegel will continue to serve the foundation as a member of the board of directors. "We are pleased Sandy agreed to serve on the Board of Directors. Our best wishes are with her. She left a great legacy for the future of the Foundation," said Clement. The board will begin the search for Diegel's replacement this summer and hopes to have a new chief executive in place by the end of 2018. 

With assets of nearly $141 million at the end of 2017 and a staff of four full-time employees, the John T. Vucurevich Foundation is the largest independent, private foundation in western South Dakota. Last year, the foundation awarded nearly $10 million to nonprofits in the Black Hills and western South Dakota working primarily in the fields of education, health and human services, and the arts. The foundation also provides funding to a number of post-secondary institutions in the Black Hills region to support student scholarships.


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