Gretchen Guess will head Rasmuson Foundation

Former legislator, school board member and health care executive Gretchen Guess, who grew up in an Alaska family dedicated to public service, will begin her new post as executive director of the Rasmuson Foundation on Feb. 28.

Her selection to be the second CEO in the foundation’s history was unanimously approved in mid-December by the foundation board. Diane Kaplan, the foundation’s first employee and president and CEO since 2001, is leaving at the end of the year. Sammye Pokryfki, the foundation’s former senior vice president, will serve as interim CEO beginning Jan. 1.

Guess, a graduate of Steller Secondary School in Anchorage, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Carleton College in Minnesota and a master’s in public policy analysis from the University of Rochester. She is returning to Alaska after nearly a decade in Florida and Washington state.

“Alaska has always been my home,” she said. “This state has a special way of touching the heart and inspiring people to build or overcome the impossible.”

Her selection as Rasmuson Foundation’s new CEO came after a months-long search of a large field of exceptional candidates from Alaska and across the nation, said Rasmuson board chair Adam Gibbons.