This year brought changes to the Leo Adler Foundation, but it is, and always will be, locally controlled.

“We are so hands-on. We hold everything pretty tight,” said Carrie Folkman, incoming chair of the committee.

Carrie Folkman

Carrie Folkman

Folkman has served on the Foundation since December 2014. She is taking over as chair from Norm Kolb, who has stepped down after 25 years as Foundation chair.

“It is both an honor and great privilege to accept this responsibility and build upon the strong foundation,” Folkman said. “Norm Kolb has provided faithful leadership and a steadfast vision of Leo’s final wishes. I am grateful to follow in his footsteps.”

According to a press release, Kolb led community investment of more than $36.2 million in scholarships and grants, including the funding of more than 9,200 scholarships and 1,400 nonprofit community projects. He will remain active on the committee and help mentor Folkman.

Leo Adler was a self-made millionaire who, upon his death in 1993, left $20 million in a trust to support a community fund and scholarship program for graduates of Baker County high schools and Powder Valley High School. Students are eligible to receive an Adler scholarship for five years by submitting renewal applications.

In 2020 alone, the Leo Adler Foundation awarded more than $1.21 million in scholarships and community grants — $846,300 to 242 students for the 2020-21 school year and $364,734 in grants to 41 nonprofit organizations.

“Almost a million and a half every year for a community of our size. It’s an amazing legacy,” Folkman said.

“Leo was always an involved and visionary person; he was a people person who learned by watching, and he valued commitment, hard work, and an authentic, realistic perspective,” Kolb said. “Simply put, he was a partner, not an owner.”

The Adler committee includes Folkman, Kolb, Dianne Ellingson, Tabor Clarke, John Wilson, Mark Johnson, and Karin Barber.

Barber is the designated trustee for First Republic Trust Company, a division of First Republic Bank, to serve as Trustee, replacing U.S. Bank. This change happened in September 2020.

“I’m very excited for the new opportunities ahead in partnership with First Republic Trust Company,” Folkman said. “They understand Leo’s history and his vision. As Leo was the ‘spark’, they will be the light to move our foundation forward.”

She said First Republic has been extra helpful in this year of unprecedented changes.

“In addition to their deep expertise in trust administration and investment management, we’ve seen First Republic’s incredible customer service firsthand, which will serve Leo Adler’s vision for Baker and beyond,” she said.

This year did bring unique challenges with the coronavirus pandemic.

“There have been challenges economically, and a lot of kids who had to pivot amid the pandemic,” Folkman said.

Refunds and reissues for scholarships were necessary, she said, as well as extensions for community projects that could not be completed in 2020.

A new website is set to go live on Feb. 1, along with the scholarship applications. Scholarships are due by April 1, 2021.

Second edition

Adler’s story is featured in “The Spark and the Light: The Leo Adler Story” by Adair Law. The second edition can be purchased at the Baker Heritage Museum gift shop or the Adler House Museum.

For more information about the history of Leo Adler and opportunities for funding through the Foundation and Community Fund, please visit

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