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The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Has Announced the Recipients of 2013 Sabbatical Program

May 9, 2013. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2013 Sabbatical Program.

The foundation honors leaders of nonprofit organizations across the state for their dedicated service and commitment to the sector. It provides each recipient with $25,000 to take an extended break from work to focus on their personal needs, self-growth and self-revitalization in order to return to their organizations with a rejuvenated spirit and renewed sense of focus.

This year’s sabbatical recipients are:

  • Jennifer Herman of Boone, Executive Director of OASIS, Inc.
  • Mavis Hill of Creswell, Executive Director of Tyrrell County Community Development Corporation
  • Chris Kromm of Durham, Executive Director of Institute for Southern Studies
  • Frankie Roberts of Wilmington, Executive Director of Leading Into New Communities, Inc.
  •  Dawn Rochelle of Jacksonville, Executive Director of Onslow County Partnership for Children

Having made thousands of grants over the years, as well as meeting with and learning from nonprofit leaders across the state, trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation recognized that some of the most creative and inspirational leaders were experiencing burnout from the ongoing challenges of managing and sustaining their organizations with less resources and greater demands. The foundation established this program in 1990, one of the first of its kind, to give leaders time off in hopes that they would come back recommitted to their work and prolong their tenure with the nonprofit sector.

“Many leaders of the nonprofit sector are selfless, extremely driven individuals,” said Leslie Winner, Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “Often times, however, they reach a point where they have completely expended their personal energy. They need this time to re-energize and re-focus so they can return to work with fresh ideas, a different perspective and newfound momentum. This program not only benefits the recipients, but also benefits the staff, the board and the communities they serve.”

Front row (left to right): Dawn Rochelle, Chris Kromm Back row (left to right): Jennifer Herman, Frankie Roberts, Mavis Hill
Front row (left to right): Dawn Rochelle, Chris Kromm
Back row (left to right): Jennifer Herman, Frankie Roberts, Mavis Hill

Five sabbatical recipients are chosen annually. Individuals are encouraged to spend up to six months engaging in activities that they are interested in and that are unrelated to their field of work.

Profiles of the 2013 recipients are below:

Jennifer Herman is the executive director of OASIS, Inc. in Boone, N.C. Since 1978, the organization has provided service, information and shelter for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the northwest mountains of the state. Jennifer has led the organization for 21 years. Colleagues describe her as someone who “creates an environment which is very team-oriented, open, professional and enjoyable.” Jennifer is the 2010 recipient of the Appalachian Women’s Fund’s annual “Women of Vision” award.

During her time off, Jennifer plans to travel across country with her husband and two sons to camp at the rim of the Grand Canyon; see the giant trees of California; enjoy time near the Pacific Ocean; and drive across the Great Plains. She is using the second half of her sabbatical to focus on stress reduction, fitness and meditation.

Mavis Hill is the executive director of Tyrrell County Community Development Corporation in Columbia, N.C. Tyrrell CDC is dedicated to educating, encouraging and empowering local citizens to participate in the economic revitalization of Tyrrell County and surrounding counties. It also works with local agencies and private entities in securing resources which enhance the community’s natural and cultural heritage and quality of life. In her 20 years at the CDC, Mavis has assumed responsibility for program management and design, supervising all staff, grant writing, finances and other duties assigned by the Board.

During her sabbatical, Mavis plans to spend time with her mother and son; take a writing course; concentrate on her personal health and well-being; and travel to the Caribbean and Africa.

Chris Kromm is the executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, N.C. Founded in 1970 by a civil rights veteran, the Institute for Southern Studies is a media, research and education center working for a more just, democratic and sustainable future. Chris has received several prestigious awards in his 12 years leading the organization including the coveted George Polk Award for magazine reporting. He is also the founder of Facing South – the Institute’s online magazine, which reaches close to 55,000 readers a month – and Southern Exposure – the Institute’s award-winning print journal.

During his time off, Chris plans to spend time with his wife and two children tackling a small “bucket list” of experiences they have been waiting to find time to pursue, as well as attend a two-week residency in writing.

Frankie Roberts is the executive director of Leading Into New Communities (LINC) in Wilmington, N.C. LINC’s mission is to educate and motivate youth to make positive life choices while empowering men and women returning from incarceration to be productive members of the community. Frankie founded the organization in honor of his brother in 2000. Colleagues describe him as someone who has “given relentlessly to the community at large.” Among his many accolades, Frankie is a recipient of the Outstanding Professional Award, given by the Cape Fear Council of Governments and in 2012 he was named Civitan Club Citizen of the Year.

During his sabbatical, Frankie plans to spend time with his entire family – including his wife, two sons, daughter, four grandchildren and 91-year-old mother. He is also looking forward to reading, meditating, exercising and traveling.

Dawn Rochelle is the executive director of the Onslow County Partnership for Children in Jacksonville, N.C. The mission of the organization is to advocate and provide services for the healthy development of children by building the strengths and capacities of families, caregiving professionals and communities in which they reside. Dawn is described by colleagues as someone who is “constantly pushing boundaries, capitalizing on resources, and looking for opportunities to serve children and families.” In 2002, she was named “Woman of the Year” by the Jacksonville-Onslow Chamber of Commerce. This past June, she was invited to participate in the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago to discuss early childhood initiatives.

During her time off, Dawn plans to devote more time to scrapbooking, train for a 5K or 10K and travel to Australia. 


 The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians. ZSR invests in statewide, multi-county and community-based organizations that are dedicated to building an inclusive, sustainable and vibrant state. The groups that the foundation supports work to build healthy, robust communities at the local level and engage in research, education, civic dialogue and advocacy around issues of importance to communities and to North Carolina. ZSR currently focuses on the areas of community economic development, environment, public education, social justice and equity and strengthening democracy. The foundation is a 75-year-old private foundation based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.zsr.org.