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John P. Ellbogen Foundation President Opening Speaker at UW Institute for Nonprofits

June 19, 2008
Woman smiling
Mary Ellbogen Garland

The president of the John P. Ellbogen Foundation will open this year's Snowy Range Nonprofit Institute (SRNI) at the University of Wyoming with her presentation "Leading for Mission."

"It's an honor to have this opportunity to speak about how mission drives the work of the foundation," said Mary Ellbogen Garland of Laramie, who is the daughter of the late founder of the philanthropic foundation.

"Rural Nonprofit Leadership: Connecting the Generations" is the theme of the annual institute Aug. 3-5 at the UW Hilton Garden Inn and Conference Center in Laramie. Addressing issues of workers from multi-generations working side by side and bolstering skills for volunteer staff and board members of Wyoming nonprofits is the major thrust of this year's institute (

Qwest Foundation is the 2008 institute-level sponsor. Regis University's master of nonprofit management program sponsors the 2008 closing conversation. SRNI is a project of the UW Cooperative Extension Service Community Development Education Initiative Team.

The top five counties for the number of charitable nonprofits are Albany (69), Fremont (63), Laramie (131), Natrona (140) and Teton (111), according to the February 2008 report Wyoming Nonprofit Sector.

There were 178 foundations in Wyoming in 2005, according to the report. The John P. Ellbogen Foundation was formed out of proceeds of the estate of John P. "Jack" Ellbogen, who died in 2001. Ellbogen, a Worland native, received his bachelor's degree in history in 1948 and his juris doctorate in 1950 from UW, and he was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the College of Business. A successful businessman, he shaped the foundation's mission: "To create or cause change, primarily for the benefit of the people of the state of Wyoming through the support of science, education, and charity."

"I have the best job in the world," said Garland. "Every day I think about the possibilities for a better Wyoming and give consideration to how the foundation can most effectively invest in protecting or enhancing the lifestyle we value in this state."

The foundation's mission statement is purposely broad, said Garland. "Dad understood how quickly things change in the world. We should keep focused on the changing culture of Wyoming so we can best meet the needs of the state."

Education, said Garland, is the foundation's first priority. The foundation has provided more than $4.9 million to UW, including the John P. Ellbogen College of Education Dean's Excellence Fund, Excellence Fund for Geriatric Education in the College of Health Sciences, and nine separate endowments by the Ellbogen Foundation at UW.

The foundation's effects ripple throughout the state. "Through the support of the Wyoming National Board Certification Initiative, teachers in every county are participating in a very rigorous professional development process. The end result is enhanced learning of hundreds of children across the state," Garland said.

The foundation has recently made a commitment of support to the Wyoming Early Childhood Partnership, a recently formed group whose mission is to build a comprehensive early childhood system in Wyoming.

Part of this work will include doing local assessments of early childhood care and education, services and facilities throughout the state of Wyoming. "Quality early care and education have a big impact on social issues later on, such as crime rates, graduation rates and the workforce," noted Garland.

The foundation has further leveraged its impact by partnering with other foundations and even the state Legislature; Garland said partnering is a key component in helping Wyoming's residents.

"The foundation work is extremely gratifying. The board is eager to continue to find ways to effectively benefit our state," said Garland. "There is much work to be done."

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