National Nonprofits

Give that man a cigar. That, for the tobacco industry, at least, is the reaction to the departure of Chuck Wolfe as executive vice president of the American Legacy Foundation. The foundation is slated to receive $1.5 billion over five years from the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement negotiated by the attorneys general of 46 states. Eagle Scout Wolfe, a one-time youth representative on the board of the Boy Scouts of America and aide to the late Fla. Gov. Lawton Chiles (D), put together that state’s successful hard-hitting youth-driven anti-smoking campaign.

In May 1999 he became American Legacy’s first employee. His departure after a year is “not really soon for me” says Wolfe, whose adrenalin pumps when starting a venture in an adversarial climate. In January American Legacy’s 11-member board – made up of mostly public health heavy hitters (like Dr. Steve Schroeder, president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) and elected officer holders (including board chair, Christine Gregoire, the Democratic attorney general of Washington state) and one youth (University of Miami student Jenny Lee) – hired as president Cheryl Healton, a Columbia University School of Public Health professor with limited experience in the unfiltered, go-for-the-throat world of tobacco control.

A tobacco industry spitball beaned Healton after just one month on the job when the industry and the attorney general of North Carolina, Michael Easley (D), cried foul over a series of don’t-be-a-sucker TV ads aimed at teens that critics claimed (accurately) vilified the tobacco industry. That “we’ll sue you” approach, used successfully by Wolfe in Florida, coerced American Legacy to buckle and temporarily pull two of the offending ads. That decision and Wolfe’s “absolutely” being used to running the railroad has Wolfe heading back to Florida for a summer at the beach. Contact: American Legacy (202) 454-555; Beachbum Wolfe at

The hard-working Bill McColl has been promoted to be executive director of the 14,000-member National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). McColl joined the Arlington, Va.-based group as its legislative director in 1995. The group, with eight staff, promotes high standards and verifiable criteria for effective treatment of substance abusers.

If Bush winds up in the White House pushing Texas-style, faith-based treatment programs, which eschew the standards that for NAADAC members are an article of faith, McColl will be the guy “on a one-by-one basis” trying to shoot down the former Texas Air National Guardsman’s pilot proposals. McColl fears the emergence of a “two-tiered system” – one for secular agencies, another for exempted faith-based groups. He is certainly qualified for shooting down attacks on treatment standards, having spent four years in the Air Force in charge of a missile combat crew. Ready, aim . . . Contact: (703) 741-7686.

There’s more staff-generating at Generations United, the D.C.-based group that promotes program links between the elderly and children and youth. Hired as public policy coordinator is attorney Marti Long. Promoted to run the Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children Project is social worker Maggie Troope. Contact: (202) 232-0733 .

Disconnecting at the Benton Foundation’s Connect for Kids is Paula Antonovich, after just six months at its ambitious website ( aimed at parents, providers and politicians. She replaced Patrice Pascual, who signed off to take the deputy director job at the Casey Journalism Center for Children at the University of Maryland, where she is editor of its quarterly The Children’s Beat. The Center, supported in 1999 by $850,000 in grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, has a new director, Beth Ferking, a veteran of covering social issues at the Denver Post and Newhouse News Service. Her predecessor, Kathy Trost, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, had directed the center since its founding seven years ago and will continue to consult. Contact: (301) 699-5133.

Former congressman Kweisi Mfume, president of the Baltimore-based NAACP, has hired a new national director of its Youth and College Division, a post once held by Ella Baker, one of the most accomplished activists on youth and social justice issues in the 20th century. On the job is Hiewet Senghor, 24. She oversees 500 youth councils and college chapters nationwide, as well as the NAACP’s annual youth summit, attended by 1,000 civil rights and community activists. Senghor, who says she’s just too busy to talk to a reporter about her plans, serves on the League of Women Voters’ national diversity task force and on the advisory board of Black Youth Vote. Contact: (410) 358-8900.

The American youth service field has a rich, heroic, amusing and also tragic history of accomplishment, folly and struggle for recognition. Yet it is a history that is unknown even in the sketchiest of outlines to the vast majority of those who choose, or more often, stumble, into a career in youth work. Not that she has much competition as the acknowledged historian of youth work, but to most observers, that mantle clearly belongs to Judith Erickson. She has retired as director of research services at the Indian Youth Institute, a post she has held since IYI was established in 1989. Erickson’s 45-year career in youth work began in Spokane as a caseworker in the welfare department. She spent four years as director of the Minneapolis Council of Camp Fire and taught college before landing at the Boys Town Center for the Study of Youth Development (wherein lies the tale of one of youth work’s more bizarre follies) in Nebraska. At Boys Town, Erickson worked on the ambitious American Youth Organization (AYO) Project, which has become Erickson’s labor of love.

AYO, largely financed out of Erickson’s purse in recent decades, seeks to trace the history and development of American youth work and non-formal education beginning in 1800.

While at Boys Town she authored, as part of the AYO, the Directory of American Youth Organizations. It’s not just the standard reference on the subject, but the only reference. The 7th edition is available from Free Spirit Publishing. Contact: (800) 735-7323.

When Boys Town closed the research center in 1982, Erickson packed the orphaned AYO off to the University of Minnesota’s then-cutting edge (but now one of the dullest knives in the drawer) Center for Youth Development and Research.

Replacing Erickson at IYI is Mindy King, formerly with the Indiana Prevention Resource Center, where she directed the state’s annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Use Survey, thereby steeping her in teen problems. Retraining for King in the positive youth development approach is in order, but Erickson, now director of research emeritus, is up to the task. Erickson hopes her in-progress “America’s Dreams for Its Children: A History on Non Formal Education, 1800-2000,” will be published in 2001. Contact: (317) 924-3657. 


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