• Community Development
Diane Kaplan took a small family foundation and turned it into the biggest, most influential philanthropy in Alaska history. A life of service was always her destiny and Alaska is lucky she brought that destiny north.
Born in Brooklyn in 1957, the youngest child of a single mother, shaped by life where money was in short supply, Diane began her philanthropic career at age five collecting for Jerry’s Kids, followed by UNICEF, Trees for Israel, etc. — an avocation she carried into adulthood, raising millions over the years for Alaska Native Heritage Center, public radio, Nudlaghi Leadership Institute, ad infinitum.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she went into broadcasting, emigrating to Alaska in 1983. As head of APRN she initiated the building of radio stations across the state, expanded news and public affairs programming from one daily broadcast to a full schedule, including the award-winning “National Native News” and “Native America Calling.”
In 1995, while managing her own consulting practice, Ed Rasmuson tapped her to run his family foundation. During her 27-year tenure as President of the Rasmuson Foundation she elevated the lives of thousands of Alaskans.
Wholly or in collaboration, she gave us` “Pick Click Give,” which last year funneled $3 million from PFDs to charities, Museum Acquisitions, Covid-19 relief; she fought to create the first dental aide program for rural Alaska, co-funded revitalization of Mt. View, co-created United States Artists, the largest national fellowship for all arts, and created community foundations in cities across Alaska.
She left Rasmuson in 2022 at age 65 for a slightly less strenuous schedule, serving on the boards of United Artists and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and performing specific services for several national philanthropies. Her contributions to improving the world we live in continue.