Leadership transformed educational organization over 35 years
After nearly 25 years of exceptional and deeply committed leadership as
Executive Director at the Eagle’s Nest Foundation (ENF), Noni Waite-Kucera
plans to step down from her role in September, 2024. Eagle’s Nest was
founded in 1927 and chartered as a not-for-profit summer camp with a
unique educational mission in 1950. Nearly 100 years later, its mission is
more relevant than ever. Under Noni’s leadership the organization has
grown to be an innovator in experiential education, a model of sustainability
and conservation practices, and an impact-driven leader in the camping and
educational communities on a regional and national level.
“Noni’s transformative vision and extraordinary leadership have advanced
ENF’s mission for her entire career. Noni’s steady and caring hand has
guided ENF through decades of transformation and growth but has always
helped ensure that ENF delivers impactful programs of the highest quality.
We are a better and stronger organization because of her leadership. While
we hate to see her go, we look forward to working with Noni to help us find
the next Executive Director for ENF so that we may continue to enrich the
lives of young people and our communities,” said Cormac Connor, President
of the ENF Board of Trustees. “My fellow trustees and I appreciate Noni’s
remarkable stewardship of Eagle’s Nest, and we join her, the ENF staff, and
all our wonderful community of campers, students, families, and supporters
in embracing the next stage with excitement and optimism.”
Noni was essentially born and raised at Eagle’s Nest. Her grandfather, Dr.
Alex Waite was one of the co-founders of Eagle’s Nest Camp. In fact, Noni’s
mother and father worked together at Eagle’s Nest in their college years.
Her father, the late Dr. Moseley Waite, was a camp counselor and chaired
the Board of Trustees, and Noni’s mother, Helen Waite, was also a camp
counselor, camp director, founder of The Outdoor Academy, and the first
Executive Director of the Eagle’s Nest Foundation. Noni was a camper and
counselor at Eagle’s Nest and went on to direct many camp programs. In
1989, Noni became the Business Manager. In 1993, she assumed the role
of Camp Director for Eagle’s Nest Camp in addition to the role of Business
Manager. In 2000, the Board of Trustees selected Noni as the Foundation’s
second Executive Director.
During her tenure, Eagle’s Nest Foundation has deepened and expanded its
commitment to building community and helping to create the “whole child”
through each of the organization’s programs, Eagle’s Nest Camp, Hante
Adventures (cultural and outdoor immersion programs for teens), and The
Outdoor Academy, a semester boarding school. Under Noni’s leadership,
The Outdoor Academy, now 28 years old, has become one of the nation’s
leading semester schools and has enriched the lives of hundreds of
students. The summer programs are thriving as they close in on the
Foundation’s centennial year.
“I am proud and honored to have spent my career at Eagle’s Nest,” said
Noni. “Promoting the natural world and the betterment of human character is
our mission and is critical to making our world a better place. To know that
thousands of children and teens have learned to reveal and embrace their
best selves through simple living, connect deeply to nature, and live well in
community in my time at Eagle’s Nest leaves me incredibly grateful. It has
been a tremendous gift to work alongside passionate, creative, and deeply
committed colleagues in this important work and I stand ready to help further
the mission over the years to come.”
While there is no way to replace Noni, the ENF Board of Trustees has
retained the Aspen Leadership Group (ALG) to guide and oversee the
transition process. ALG will coordinate a nationwide search and bring its
expertise in mission-driven executive searches. Aspen’s team has extensive
experience working with regional and national educational organizations.
The official search process will begin in late Fall with the expectation of
identifying a candidate by early to mid-Spring 2024.
“Noni’s steady leadership leaves the organization on strong footing as we
begin our next chapter,” said Will Abberger, Chair of the Search Committee
of the ENF Board of Trustee. “The Board is looking forward to working with
the Aspen Leadership Group to find the next leader of Eagle’s Nest to build
on the important legacy of the organization and to continue our vital work at
the forefront of the experiential education and the summer camping and
semester school movement.”