We can’t believe we have to say so-long to our 9-year board member Eric Abrahamson, President and Principal Historian at Vantage Point History. During his tenure, Eric guided us in strategic planning, hosted the fireside chat with Speaker Series guest former British Prime Minister David Cameron, and shared his unique insights on the history of philanthropy in America.

We asked Eric if he would share his insights with all of you and he happily agreed. Without further ado, here are two hard-hitting questions and Eric’s wise answers.

What initially inspired you to join the board, and how has that motivation evolved over the years?

I have an unusual career. As a historian, I study and write about organizations, especially private foundations. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working on projects for some of the largest foundations in North America, including Rockefeller, Ford, Mastercard, and the J. Paul Getty Trust. For 25 years my wife, Lois, and I have lived in the Black Hills because we like the environment and the sense of community. In 2013, eight years after John Vucurevich died, the foundation’s then CEO Sandy Diegel asked if I could research the history of John’s charitable giving and develop a document that would help the board and staff better understand John’s goals and intentions as a philanthropist. That was a fascinating project. After it was complete, because of my knowledge of John’s donor intent and my background in philanthropy and in community affairs in Rapid City, I was invited to join the board. I agreed because I could see that JTVF had the potential to help nonprofits in our community have a tremendous impact on our collective quality of life.

Looking back on your nine years of service, what JTVF accomplishments are you most proud of?

Foundations have a natural life cycle, but they evolve through that cycle at their own pace. When I joined the board, we were receiving grant applications for everything under the sun. Because of the small number of funders in the community and given JTVF’s resources, many people expected the foundation to be all things for all people. That was impossible, and it’s a job that’s more appropriate for a community foundation. Over the last nine years, JTVF has developed a strong sense of focus and mission aimed at the most vulnerable groups in our community, including low-income families and children. Meanwhile, we have played a key role in working with other donors to help the Black Hills Community Foundation grow to be a powerful force for good in our community. I’m very proud of what both organizations have done and how they have worked together to strengthen our community.


We will miss the zest you brough to JTVF board discussions Eric! Thank you for a wonderful near-decade!