Advisory Board Member Spotlight – Jan Newman


Growing up in a small town in Maine, Jan learned the power of community through shared experiences and collective involvement.

Jan moved to Alaska in 1989 and sought out a place where she felt that same sense of belonging. Her first day in Palmer she went to the Post Office for a mailbox. The woman behind the counter welcomed her to town, told her where to find the best burgers, and where to shop for winter clothes! That first friendly encounter in Palmer made her feel instantly at home and had a huge impact. In fact, it has stayed with her for 30 years!

During that time Jan married, had three children, and started a small farm on Lazy Mountain. She met other local farmers and producers and grew a deep sense of community. Agriculture is deeply woven into the history and fabric of this town. So, when the idea presented itself she started a public food program.

In 2013 Jan started Grow Palmer.  The all-volunteer program supports the agricultural community through education and awareness and helps families find fresh, wholesome, local foods. Furthermore, Jan believes that working together in a public garden increases a sense of ownership and stewardship. It fosters both a community identity and spirit.

It is this spirit that drew Jan to the community foundation model. A founding member of PCF, she is deeply driven by the basic principles of community foundations: build economic prosperity, achieve healthy ecosystems, encourage healthy people, support social enrichment, and create vibrant neighborhoods.

When asked why she chose to live, work and raise a family in this community, Jan’s response is a simple one. “We’re creating a giving community,” she says. “a culture of loving where you live.”