by Angela Denning-Barnes on May 3, 2013
The name Michelle Dewitt has grown almost synonymous with the Tundra Women’s Coalition in Bethel. She’s been with the regional shelter for the past 16 years and was essential in getting a new shelter up and running. However, she has recently resigned and this fall will be moving over to run the philanthropic organization, Bethel Community Services Foundation.
“We’re very pleased and happy to have her on board,” says Frank Neitz, Board Chair the foundation.
BCSF helps fund local projects. It’s involved in investments, owns 14 properties in Bethel, and runs gaming like the Kuskokwim Ice Classics. It has helped fund such programs as the dental health aide therapists, and Best in the West which gives grants to start up local businesses.
“Our primary mission is to fund things local,” Neitz says.
Dewitt did not take her decision to leave TWC lightly.
“I have loved my work here in children’s program and legal advocacy and then the last almost 13 years as the director, and it has been a fantastic tenure,” Dewitt says.
Dewitt says her experiences at TWC have created new interests for her that have led her to BCSF. She says it is an exciting opportunity since she’s coming from a non-profit organization background.
“We’ve been on the receiving end of funds for a very long period of time, seeking grants to make projects and activities work and to fund them, and over that period of time, I’ve become more and more curious about being on the funding side of projects and working in philanthropy and working with funders,” Dewitt says.
Dewitt says she’s interested in coordinating with other foundations and exploring new partnerships to help fund local projects and activities.
Dewitt will stay with TWC until October to help the organization transition into new leadership.
Elizabeth Roll is President of the TWC Board of Directors.
“She’s been such an integral part of TWC for over 16 years and has really grown the organization exponentially,” Roll says. “We’re really happy to be able to have about a six month notice to be able to work on our new executive director.”
They are big shoes to fill. So, how do you go about filling them? In this case, you hire two people instead of just one. Roll says TWC is creating a deputy director’s position.
“Some of that responsibility will be diverted to the deputy director, simply to make the executive director role a little more manageable,” Roll says, “and that way there will have two people helping run the organization together.”