* * * * *
* * * * *
Lyn Wallin Ziegenbein considers her position as executive director of the Peter Kiewit Foundation to be a way of life.
When the prominent foundation gives one of its grants, the award is often considered a cherished gift.
Ziegenbein said she takes great joy in seeing grant recipients carrying out the plans that the Kiewit Foundation supported.
"When they succeed, that's when we succeed," she said.
After helping foster that success for more than 25 years as executive director, Ziegenbein will be transitioning to a new role with the foundation.
The foundation's board of trustees has announced it will begin a search for Ziegenbein's successor and implement a succession plan over the course of several years.
After a new executive director is named, Ziegenbein will become executive director emeritus, staying with the foundation to help her successor adjust to the position, while leading special projects herself, said John Hancock, chairman of the foundation's board of trustees.
Hancock said the trustees are looking toward the foundation's long-term future but want to use Ziegenbein's institutional knowledge and insight into the community through an extended transition.
The trustees are bringing in the president of the national executive search firm Wheless Partners to lead the search.
Hancock said the trustees are looking for the next Ziegenbein "to lead the foundation for the next 25 years."
Ziegenbein became executive director in 1986.
To date, the foundation has given out more than 4,500 grants and scholarships worth more than $545 million, carrying on the legacy of the late Peter Kiewit by distributing the personal wealth he acquired through his career with the construction company that bears his name.
The Kiewit Foundation, which began operations in 1980, is considered Nebraska's first statewide private philanthropic foundation and still is one of the state's largest. At the end of 2011, the foundation held assets of $334 million.
The foundation lists broad interests: arts and education, children and families, health and social services, community development and redevelopment.
Hancock said Ziegenbein has "carefully nurtured and advanced" Kiewit's gift.
Under Ziegenbein's leadership, the foundation gave $25 million toward construction of Omaha's downtown arena and convention center, then later donated to support TD Ameritrade Park.
The Kiewit Foundation also runs the Summer Fun program, which works with nonprofits to offer field trips to disadvantaged kids.
In the last year, it has given grants to support such things as the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney, Lexington's Somali community center and Omaha's Maha Music Festival. The foundation's grants have been as small as a couple hundred dollars.
In every project the foundation has done, Hancock said, Ziegenbein has been a leader.
"She's just been a tremendous leader for our foundation and for the community and state," Hancock said.
Ziegenbein, 59, said she expects to be with the foundation for the foreseeable future.
"It's really exciting to be in Omaha and in Nebraska," she said. "I really feel that this is our time."
Contact the writer: 402-444-1128, email@example.com, twitter.com/jeffreyrobb