Jen Fanning to participate in the Nonprofit Sabbatical


Jen Fanning and Grand County Rural Health Network were recently awarded $77,488 in grant funding by The Colorado Health Foundation to participate in their new Nonprofit Sabbatical Program.

Developed in 2019, the newly established program was designed to award Colorado-based nonprofit executives with a three-to-four month sabbatical, while offering funds for their organization’s interim leadership and staff capacity building.

The Nonprofit Sabbatical Program will support the Rural Health Network by strengthening the interim leadership bench and building capacity of staff. Network staff will receive leadership coaching before, during and after the sabbatical with trainings focused on financial management, nonprofit and human resources management, facilitation, strategic planning, evaluation,
and peer support and wellness.

Participation in this program will support Jen Fanning by providing her a 1-month executive-in-residence training at The Colorado Health Foundation and a 3-month sabbatical away from work focusing on personal and professional growth opportunities of her choosing. Jen plans on completing a Spanish-language immersion program abroad with her family, before returning to the work rejuvenated and with a renewed commitment to the mission. Knowing the ongoing uncertainty due to the pandemic and the possibility that plans could change, Jen hopes to complete this sabbatical during the summer of 2021.

“I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity not only for myself and my family, but also for the organization,” said Jen Fanning, Executive Director. “I hope to
have a better grasp of the Spanish Language at the end of my sabbatical so I can truly communicate with our Spanish-speaking community here, which will help us at the Network better advocate for the needs of our entire community.”

Fanning explains, “At the Grand County Rural Health Network, our vision is that everyone in our community has what they need to thrive and be healthy. We do that by advocating for and supporting the health of our community, because we know that health is more than health care. Our programs and services provide access, resources, and support for our community. At the same time, we work to make long-term change through collaboration and harnessing a shared vision
with partners and community.

We know that we are healthier together and we can create the change in our community to ensure everyone is as healthy as they can possibly be. We believe in health equity – the idea that everyone should have what they need to be as healthy as possible. Our community is only as healthy as our least healthy. The Nonprofit Sabbatical Program grant award will strengthen the organization’s leadership and staff, as well as have a significant impact on health equity for our most vulnerable populations by giving all of our staff tools to advocate for our community and educate and empower others.”

“The Grand County Rural Health Network is pleased to receive this grant award as an opportunity to model the importance of self-care and set boundaries in one’s work career,” said Sue Johnson, board member. “It’s hard to grow as an individual and an organization when you are constantly putting out fires. This will allow Jen time to reflect and grow personally, while allowing the organization to reflect and improve systems.”

The board of directors is also excited about this opportunity because a large, statewide foundation finds value in preserving the organization’s leadership now and in the future. The Rural Health Network is the only rural nonprofit in Colorado to receive this award.

“I think it speaks volumes that a large, statewide foundation like The Colorado Health Foundation continues to invest in our little nonprofit in rural Colorado,” said Amanda Uehlein, program manager. “It’s clear how much they value the work we’re doing in our community.”

In 2019, the Foundation developed the Nonprofit Sabbatical Program to recognize and reward long-term and respected nonprofit leaders in Colorado and strengthen the organizations they lead by offering funds for interim leadership and staff capacity building. This program is designed to offer nonprofit executives the opportunity to step away from professional responsibilities and take time for themselves for rejuvenation.