From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Leadership Changes Announced at Ghost Ranch
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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