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Skiff Foundation director announces retirement

Zylstra to take over as foundation leader

Published: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 12:13 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Nov. 30, 2012 12:20 p.m. CST
(Submitted Photo)
The roles of Foundation Director and of Events and Community Coordinator, held respectively by Bruce Hoffmeier and Leisa Zylstra, will merge into the single position of Foundation and Events Manager, to be assumed by Zylstra upon Hoffmeier's retirement July 1, 2013.

In July of 2002, Bruce Hoffmeier sat down with then-Skiff Medical Center CEO Eric Lothe and agreed to lead the hospital’s non-profit foundation. His commitment was for two years.

The two-year commitment was understandable. Hoffmeier had just completed a career and many years of service to the Newton Community School District. Who doesn’t want to enjoy their retirement?

Thursday, Hoffmeier announced his intention to retire from the job he promised to hold for two years, effective right around the 11th anniversary of his taking the assignment.

“Ten and a half years ago, I sat down with Eric Lothe and I agreed to make a two-year commitment to the hospital,” he said. “Now it’s been more than a decade, so I’m going to retire … again.”

Hoffmeier said he originally planned to end his service with the hospital this year, but joked current Skiff CEO Steve Long wouldn’t let him. He said he then planned for a Dec. 31 exit, but when plans soon came together for a first-of-its-kind joint fundraising event for the foundation and the Skiff Medical Center Auxiliary, he knew he had to see it through.

“The Skiff Gala will be a fancy-dress dinner, with entertainment, a live auction and a dessert auction,” he said. “It’s going to be a big deal; one we hope to make an annual event, and a type of thing that hasn’t happened in Newton in quite a while.  Once we decided upon that, I thought it wouldn’t be fair to pass that to somebody else.  So I’ll be here until July 1, 2013.”

The search for Hoffmeier’s replacement has already ended, and Long didn’t have to look far to find a suitable replacement. Leisa Zylstra, who has worked at Skiff for more than two years as the Events and Community Coordinator within the Public Relations and Marketing department, will take on Hoffmeier’s responsibilities in addition to her own.

“Both Bruce and Leisa’s current jobs are half-time and will be replaced by a consolidated, 32-hours-per-week position retitled as the Foundation and Events Manager,” Skiff spokeswoman Stephanie Alexander said.

Hoffmeier said Zylstra will make a great replacement. He also is looking forward to mentoring Zylstra as the new year gets underway.

“Talk about going from the beast to the beauty,” he said with a grin. “Some morning, I’ll sit down and tell her everything I know. It’ll take about 15 minutes.”

“I absolutely love working at Skiff,” Zylstra said.  “I’m excited to learn from Bruce, to expand my role here, and to become acquainted with more people in the community.”

Zylstra grew up in Oskaloosa and has been a Newton resident for 13 years. She is a mother of two and her husband Ryan is a local police officer.

Bob Eschliman can be contacted at (641) 792-3121 ext. 423 or via email at beschliman@newtondailynews.com.