From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Leadership Changes Announced at Ghost Ranch

Date 14 May 1998 18:13:39

    Leadership Changes Announced at 
    Ghost Ranch Conference Center 
    by Julian Shipp 
ABIQUIU, N.M.-The Ghost Ranch Conference Center and Plaza Resolana en Santa 
Fe Study & Conference Center governing board recently announced the 
resignation of the Rev. Joseph D. Keesecker as Ghost Ranch/Plaza Resolana 
director. Tom Guiles, associate director of operations and finance at Ghost 
Ranch/Plaza Resolana, has been appointed by the board as acting director 
until an interim director is nominated. 
    The governing board will discuss the time line for a search process for 
the director position during their May 8-10  meeting at Ghost Ranch. 
Keesecker, who could not be reached for comment at press time, had served 
as director of Ghost Ranch/ Plaza Resolana for the past 11 years. 
    According to the Rev. Ed Craxton, associate director for Christian 
education in the Congregational Ministries Division (CMD), the Ghost 
Ranch/Plaza Resolana governing board and Keesecker have been grappling with 
leadership and organizational issues as they look toward the future of both 
centers. Deciding new staff leadership will be needed for the future, 
however, the governing board initiated conversations with Keesecker that 
resulted in a mutual decision for his service as director to end March 12, 
    "These decisions were difficult for both the governing board and for 
the Rev. Keesecker," Craxton told the Presbyterian News Service. "It was 
difficult because Joe has certainly made some very positive contributions 
to the ranch." 
    Indeed, Keesecker served during a decade of substantial growth at Ghost 
Ranch and Plaza Resolana conference centers. During his tenure, program 
offerings and budgets tripled; Plaza Resolana en Santa Fe was added as a 
second conference center; program opportunities were expanded to a 
year-round basis; a long-range plan for facilities and conference 
development called "2005" was developed; major improvements in the areas of 
compensation, personnel policies and procedures were formalized through 
collaborations between the staff and the governing board; important 
community coalitions were formed to deal with issues confronting this part 
of northern New Mexico; and a new form of governance was developed for the 
Ranch and Plaza. 
    In announcing the transition, Paul Biderman of Santa Fe, president of 
the governing board, stated, "On behalf of the entire board, I thank Joe 
Keesecker for his numerous contributions to the ongoing formation of these 
centers. We affirm Joe's pastoral strengths, personal integrity and 
dedication in his ministry at Ghost Ranch and Plaza Resolana. Rev. 
Keesecker's special touch in the lives of countless people who comprise the 
Ghost Ranch and Plaza Resolana community has been greatly appreciated and 
will be missed." 
    Biderman said additional details regarding the interim director search 
process should be available after the board's May meeting. He said a 
four-person committee is now researching what process the board can utilize 
within the search process requirements of the denomination. 
    Craxton said that under the terms of the governance agreement for Ghost 
Ranch/Plaza Resolana, a liaison for CMD (in this case Craxton) will 
participate in the board's search for a new director. The person the board 
selects for the position then will come before CMD for approval, then will 
go on to the General Assembly Council for its approval. Craxton said the 
nominee is not subject to General Assembly confirmation, as is the case 
with division directors. 
    Biderman acknowledged the delay in announcing Keesecker's resignation, 
but said it was prompted by the federal Age Discrimination Act. After 
Keesecker was presented with a separation agreement draft following 
negotiations, Biderman said, Keesecker had 21 days to accept or decline the 
agreement. Following that, Biderman said, Keesecker had additional time to 
revoke acceptance. "We waited out that period and then we just worked with 
Keesecker on developing the finishing touches for a public statement [April 
23]," Biderman said. 
    Prior to accepting the call to Ghost Ranch/Plaza Resolana in 1987, 
Keesecker served for eight years with the Program Agency of the United 
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as associate director and then co-director of 
the Presbyterian Hunger Program. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  phone 502-569-5504             fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 
  mailed from World Faith News <>  


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