PUBLISHED: 4:10 PM on Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Big Brothers Big Sisters unites statewide to best serve Alaska's youth
In an effort to bring its life-changing mission to an increasing number of children, families, schools and communities across Alaska, Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in Alaska consolidated on Aug. 1.

"This is an exciting moment for BBBS," said board chair Bill Peters. "It's the culmination of many years of statewide collaboration between the agencies, and involved more than a year of careful planning from committed board volunteers and staff."

Planning began in April of 2006 when the Boards of Directors for each of the previously independent agencies across Alaska recognized that by standardizing programming statewide and addressing financial sustainability on a large scale, BBBS could exponentially increase the number of children who will be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister.

"We really appreciate the hard work of all the board members who carefully considered all the options before them," said Peggy Owens, the new Chief Executive Officer for BBBS of Alaska. "Only through their thoughtful deliberations do we know this is the right move for our agencies and Alaska's kids."

Current BBBS matches and families won't see many changes due to the organizational change.

"Volunteers, children and their families will continue to receive match support and training from the same great local staff. The only impact they may see is that it will be easier to stay in the program if they move within the state," stated Marc Wheeler, the new VP of Programs and Operations for BBBS of Alaska.

The new unified organization will be lead by a statewide Board of Directors with regional representation, local volunteer Leadership Councils, and a strong Executive Team. All four members of the Executive Team have been recognized by BBBS of America for

their leadership. Peggy Owens, the former Executive Director for Southcentral Alaska will now assume the position of President/CEO for BBBS Alaska.

Marc Wheeler, formerly the Executive Director in Southeast Alaska is now Vice President overseeing Programs and Operations statewide, based in Juneau. Taber Rehbaum, the former

Greater Fairbanks Executive Director, as Vice President of Recruitment and Partnership Development is charged with overseeing and developing partnerships to recruit volunteers, based in Fairbanks. Joining the team is Annette Leeland, formerly the Executive Director of BBBS in Livingston, Mont. as Vice President of Fund Development.

"This is a good deal for Southeast Alaska's kids," said Mike Elerding, Ketchikan board member for BBBS of Alaska. "By keeping our mentoring programs strong locally and getting the benefits of a statewide organization, we're going to help our region and our state's youth in a big way."

Big Brothers Big Sisters's mission is to help Alaska's youth reach its potential through professionally-supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships. National research has shown that the positive relationships between youth and their Big Brothers and Big

Sisters have a direct, measurable and lasting impact on children's lives. Children are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be involved in violence. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest, largest, and most effective youth mentoring organization in the United States. In 2007, the organization plans to serve more than 1900 youth in 30 communities across Alaska. For additional information visit