Newsmakers for October 2006

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Mark Russell is the new executive director at Kids Enjoy Exercise Now USA (KEEN), a D.C.-based nonprofit that provides free one-on-one recreational programs to youth with severe mental or physical disabilities. KEEN has five affiliate sites in the United States (Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles and Kansas City, Mo.) and three in the United Kingdom.

Russell comes to the organization from the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, where he was also executive director. Contact: (866) 903-5336,


The D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, headed by the Rev. Barry Lynn, is taking on a Vancouver, Wash.-based nonprofit over its allotment of federal funds. Americans United filed a lawsuit to block the Northwest Marriage Institute from receiving further funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and demands that it return its previous years’ grant money to HHS.

The institute, led by Director Bob Whiddon¸ states on its website that its goal is “providing faith-based education in marriage and related subjects, and to provide professional, faith-based premarital and marriage counseling.”

In 2005, HHS gave the institute $97,750 through its Compassion Capital Fund (CCF), which falls under the auspices of the Family and Youth Services Bureau, headed by Harry Wilson. Initially turned away as a grantee, the institute applied for and received a CCF subgrant from Sterling, Va.-based Institute for Youth Development, one of the HHS intermediaries for the fund. Later in the year, HHS approved a direct grant to the nonprofit under CCF’s Targeted Capacity-Building Program.

The lawsuit contends that the institute has used the federal money for programs that are religious in nature, making the federal involvement unconstitutional. Whiddon claims that none of the federal money was used that way.


Michael Carr is the new senior vice president of marketing communications at the National 4-H Council in Chevy Chase, Md., an organization that develops resources and funding for 4-H clubs around the country. Carr comes to the council from the Reston, Va.-based National Association of Secondary School Principals, where he was director of public affairs. Contact: (301) 961-2823,


Molly Turner was hired by the Kansas City, Mo.-based American Humanics, which trains young people for careers in nonprofit leadership, to serve as director of national internships and placements. Turner was corporate connections program manager at the United Way Capital Area in Austin, Texas. Contact: (816) 561-6415,


The National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB), which promotes the value of financial literacy and youth development within the credit union industry, elected new leadership over the summer. The new chairman is John Faries¸ vice president of accounting and marketing at Space Age Federal Credit Union in Aurora, Colo. Elected to fill Faries’ spot as southwest regional coordinator is Rebecca Isaacs, business development director at the Credit Union Association of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Contact: (800) 235-4290,


Washington-based Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP), which focuses on broadening support for national and community service in the United States, hired two new project coordinators over the summer. Katy Hutter comes to ICP after a year in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a Fulbright grant. She previously worked with educational and youth development nonprofits in Chile. Charlotte McDowell joins after working for the U.N. Foundation in the Peace, Security and Human Rights Program. Contact: (202) 775-0290,


After working nearly a year with the interim title, Jim Hmurovich has been named CEO of the Chicago-based Prevent Child Abuse America, a national advocacy and education provider with 40 state chapters. Hmurovich had taken over for Judith Renyi after her brief tenure, which began in January 2005 and ended the following October. Hmurovich served as director of the Division of Family and Children for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration from 1993 to 2001, and was deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Corrections from 1974 to 1993. Contact: (312) 663-3520,


The New York-based William T. Grant Foundation (assets: $250 million) named Vivian Tseng to be its new program officer in September. Tseng, an expert in community and developmental psychology, joined the foundation in 2004 as a postdoctoral fellow. She previously served as an assistant professor at California State University-Northridge. Contact: (212) 752-0071,


Debbie Cohen, strategic communications specialist for the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation (assets: $3 billion), left the grant maker in early September. A former reporter for Education Week, Cohen says she will start her own consulting and freelance business and serve as a consultant for Casey. Contact: (410) 547-6600,


The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (assets: $1.9 billion) appointed Paula Lynn Ellis, former vice president of operations at Knight Ridder, to serve as vice president of national and new initiatives. The position was formerly entitled “director of national venture funds” and was filled by Julie Kohler. Contact: (305) 908-2600,


The Simon Youth Foundation in Indianapolis (assets: $6 million) named Chris Chalker to serve as its director of educational services. Chalker was director of alternative education for the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township (one segment of the public schools in Indianapolis) for the past 10 years. Contact: (317) 263-2361,


Lutheran World Relief President Kathryn Wolford is slated to become president of the Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation (assets: $2 billion) in December. She will take over from Peg Birk, whom the board of directors appointed as interim president. Birk will return to her position on McKnight’s board. Contact: (612) 333-4220,


The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (assets: $5.5 billion) last month announced its 2006 MacArthur Fellowships – the informally-dubbed “genius awards” – and two of the 25 winners have some background on youth issues. Adrian LeBlanc, a New York journalist, penned Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx, built on 10 years of research about one poor extended family in the Bronx. Jennifer Richeson, an associate professor in Northwestern University’s Department of Psychology, has been examining the consequences of racial stereotyping and the dynamics of interracial interactions.

The fellows each get $500,000 over five years to use at their discretion. Contact: (312) 726-8000,


Did you know that the recently resigned U.S. surgeon general, Richard Carmona, had proclaimed 2005 to be the Year of the Healthy Child?

One central component of the concept was the continuation of Camona’s 50 Schools in 50 States Initiative, through which he pledged to visit at least one school in each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., by the end of his tenure. “I believe that it is the most comprehensive agenda ever set forward by any U.S. surgeon general for a single year,” Carmona said at a news conference in January 2005.

Nevertheless, you could be forgiven for never hearing about it. Even retroactively counting 21 visits that Carmona made to schools before 2005, the surgeon general’s website credited him with visiting schools in 26 states by the time he left office in early August.

The halfhearted project was an appropriate cap on Carmona’s tenure: four years of little production buffered by even less fanfare.

When President George W. Bush nominated Carmona to replace outgoing Surgeon General David Satcher in 2002, all signs pointed toward a dynamic period for the office. Carmona was a professor of surgery at the University of Arizona, but was by no means a standard academician. He was an Army Green Beret during the Vietnam War and served as the SWAT training officer and surgeon for the Pima County, Ariz., sheriff’s department. He once rappelled down a mountain to save victims of a helicopter crash in Arizona.

It was his legendary reputation in the Tucson area that got him the gig as surgeon general, a job with a stated mission that includes providing “a highly recognized symbol of national commitment to protecting and improving the public’s health.”

But Carmona was hardly heard from. One staffer who worked closely with him said that in the tightly controlled Bush administration, a charismatic guy like Carmona would never be allowed to outshine higher-ups on the health chain, such as Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, who left in January 2005.

“Let me put it this way,” Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik told the Arizona Daily Star two years ago. “I don’t think this administration is using Carmona’s many talents. My observation is that he is part of an organization that is very tightly controlled by a handful of people.”

Just as striking as the lack of well-publicized national campaigns was the lack of a paper trail. One of the few lasting legacies of any surgeon general is his or her published reports, and Clinton appointee Satcher released 14 official reports from 1998 to 2002. Several of them focused largely on youth, including timely looks at children’s mental health and youth violence.

Over the same amount of time, Carmona produced two studies: one on secondhand smoke and another on osteoporosis. Satcher put out more reports in his two years under President Bush than did the president’s own appointee.

Carmona is replaced for now by an acting surgeon general, Rear Adm. Kenneth Moritsugu. Contact: (301) 443-4000,


New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine named Dr. E. Susan Hodgson to serve as the state’s child advocate, an independent monitor of the state’s child welfare system. Hodgson is a pediatrician who has worked with abused and neglected children. She has served as co-director of the Dorothy B. Hersh Regional Child Protection Center in New Brunswick, N.J., since 1997.

She takes over for Kevin Ryan, who has become director of the state’s Department of Human Services, which houses the state child welfare system. Ryan was tapped in February to replace the politely dismissed former director, Jim Davy, whom Ryan publicly and frequently critiqued in his role as advocate. Contact: (609) 292-3703,


Robert Clay, former director of the Boys & Girls Club of Joplin, Mo., was sentenced in federal court to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and money laundering. The simplicity of his plan is perhaps the most unsettling thing – other than the fact that Clay has run the organization since the late 1980s.

Clay opened a money market account in 1997 to manage a $20,000 federal grant that had been made to the club to help open a site in Miami, Okla. His board knew the account had been opened, but had no idea that Clay never closed it.

Over the next eight years, according to the prosecution, he deposited $597,749 of the club’s contributions, grants and donations into the account rather than into the general operating account, where it should have gone. In pleading guilty, Clay admitted to using $443,000 of that money for his own benefit. Contact: (417) 623-8072.


Mary Bourdette, 61, a veteran government relations expert. She served as director of public policy at the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) for more than a decade, and left in 1993 for the same job at the Child Welfare League of America. After serving as deputy assistant secretary for legislation to Donna Shalala, secretary of Health and Human Services under President Clinton, Bourdette returned to CDF in 2000 as director of intergovernmental relations.