"Before applying, I didn't think I needed time away from work. However, the sabbatical helped me understand that while my work at SJC is central to my purpose, I need to find and maintain a sense of balance so that I can keep doing the work I love." - Va Lecia Adams Kellum, St. Joseph Center

In an effort to replenish the stores of energy and inspiration for our community’s most treasured leaders, the Durfee Sabbatical program offers up to six organizations a total of $75,000 each.*

Many leaders in the Los Angeles nonprofit sector work under conditions of unrelenting stress, often leading to burnout. The enormous demands of their jobs, combined with financial pressure, can prevent them from taking time off for much needed rejuvenation and reflection. Through the sabbatical, leaders recharge themselves while empowering leadership and strengthening leadership throughout the organization.

Since its founding in 1997, the Durfee Sabbatical program has awarded more than 100 sabbaticals to outstanding nonprofit leaders in Los Angeles. Sabbatical alumni also meet twice a year to engage in cross-disciplinary dialogue, and every two years for an overnight retreat. Each leader works with our consultant to prepare themselves and their organizations for the leave.

Furthermore, the award encourages leaders to share leadership and build the bench at their organizations. In the executive leader’s absence, interim leaders take on new responsibilities and as a result, the second tier of leadership is enhanced.

*$60,000 for the awardees to travel, reflect or otherwise renew in whatever manner they propose, for a minimum of three consecutive months; $15,000 to support interim leaders and staff.


  • To recognize and reward accomplished nonprofit leaders with an extended break from their work for personal rejuvenation
  • To advance the skills and capacity of staff at sabbatical organizations to create more sustainable leadership structures
  • To encourage shared leadership across the staff
  • To advocate  for the investment in people as the sector’s most valuable asset to fulfill its mission 
  • To foster community and cross-disciplinary dialogue among nonprofit leaders in Los Angeles


“A three-month sabbatical for nonprofit leaders can be a lever for whole systems change.”

From Creative Disruption to Systems Change: A 20-Year Retrospective of the Durfee Foundation’s Sabbatical Program shows both the short and long-term benefits for individuals and organizations that partake in a well-planned sabbatical.



From Creative Disruption to Systems Change

A 20-year retrospective study showing both the short and long-term benefits for individuals and organizations that partake in a well-planned sabbatical.

Do-It-Yourself Sabbatical Guide For Nonprofits, with Sample Policies 

Advice to leaders planning their own sabbaticals, plus sample policies from nonprofits.

Creative Disruption

A five-year retrospective study demonstrating the value of sabbaticals for nonprofit leaders. Durfee’s program is one of five studied.

Sabbatical Tip Videos

Durfee Sabbatical Program Awardees on the benefits of sabbaticals for all involved and things to consider before taking or funding sabbaticals.

Funders’ Guide to Creating a Sabbatical Program

A comprehensive guide that shows funders how to develop their own sabbatical programs for nonprofits.