About The Dakota Foundation


The Dakota Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 by A. Bart Holaday to focus his philanthropic efforts on initiatives that foster social entrepreneurship and enhance self-sufficiency initially in the states of North Dakota and New Mexico. From 1997 through 2010 it was managed by Holaday and his wife, Lynn, who served as foundation executive director, and his sister, Janet, foundation secretary-treasurer. Lynn was instrumental in the growth and development of the Foundation but died October 1, 2010 after a valiant fight with ALS (please find a wonderful tribute to Lynn here). Her strong support led to the Dakota Foundation making the lead gift to build the Holaday Athletic Center at the US Air Force Academy, which is named for Lynn and Bart.

Bart Holaday grew up in Jamestown, N.D., and graduated from high school there in 1960. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and, afterwards, received a Rhodes Scholarship that took him to Oxford University in England for three years of graduate study. From Exeter College, Oxford, he earned a master's degree in politics, philosophy and economics. He also earned a law degree from George Washington University. In 2006 he received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University of North Dakota (UND), Grand Forks.


In his career, Bart spent time in both the public and private sector serving seven years in the Air Force and in senior management positions in the Defense Department, the Department of Interior and the Federal Energy Administration. In 1992 he became one of the original members of Investor’s Circle, a group of private individuals who sought to invest in companies that achieved social objectives as well as delivered a sufficient financial returns. This was the beginning of impact investing, and Holaday served on the board and vice chairman of the organization. A Chartered Financial Analyst, he retired in 2001 after 20 years in the venture capital industry as managing director of the Private Markets Group of UBS Asset Management in Chicago, where he and his team managed $19 billion in venture capital, buyouts, real estate, oil, gas and timber. Bart served as Treasurer and board member of the National Venture Capital Association, and chaired an industry task force to establish the first valuation and performance measurement standards for the industry.

Bart serves on the board of Jamestown College in his home town. At the University of North Dakota he has chaired the Center for Innovation Foundation and is involved with the university's entrepreneurship program. He also serves on the boards of Alerus Financial, Adams Street Partners in Chicago, the Air Force Academy’s Endowment and the Falcon Foundation. An energetic man with wide-ranging interests, he established the Dakota Foundation "to address social issues and enhance human capabilities through activities that combine business discipline with charitable intent."


In addition, the Dakota Foundation funds a post-graduate fellowship at Exeter College of Oxford University that each year sends a top graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy to Exeter for two years of graduate work. Holaday is recognized as one of Exeter College's top benefactors and is a member of the Court of Benefactors. At the Air Force Academy Bart was founding chairman and a board member of the U.S. Air Force Academy Endowment. As a North Dakota native, Holaday has a deep affection for the state and for the special values he describes as "a strong work ethic, personal integrity, self-reliance and straight-forward dealing." Similarly, he is committed to the people and communities of his adopted state of New Mexico where he and Lynn spent much of their time. Since 2009 he has lived in Colorado Springs and is increasingly focusing Dakota Foundation activities on suitable projects there. In 2013, he married Cathy Nolan, who serves as Vice-Chairman of the Dakota Foundation. An energetic man with wide-ranging interests, he established the Dakota Foundation "to address social issues and enhance human capabilities through activities that combine business discipline with charitable intent to help people help themselves."


Our Officers

  • A. Bart Holaday
    Founder and Chairman

    Bart is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), former Air Force officer, federal civil servant, venture capitalist and philanthropist. As a cadet at the USAFA, he was a varsity athlete, class president, Cadet Wing Commander and earned a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University. In more than 20 years as a venture capitalist, he was an industry leader ultimately serving as an officer and board member of the National Venture Capital Association. He co-chaired an industry task force that established the first portfolio valuation and performance measurements standards for private equity. In these positions he advanced his vision of building the American economy based on innovation, entrepreneurship, investment and hard work. As a philanthropist, he founded the Dakota Foundation, a foundation dedicated to funding entrepreneurial, non-profit organizations that help people help themselves in achieving greater economic self-sufficiency.

  • Catharine M. Holaday
    Vice-Chairman

    Cathy grew up in Colorado and loves outdoor sports. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1973 and began a business career. When, in 1986, her third child, Kelsey Nolan, was born, she left the work world to raise her children and become actively involved in the community as a volunteer. She currently serves on the board of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Widowed twice, she married Bart Holaday in 2013.

  • Janet L. Holaday
    Secretary-Treasurer

    Janet Holaday received a bachelor's degree in French and Spanish from Colorado College and a master's degree in accounting and business law from the University of North Dakota. She became a CPA and joined the accounting firm founded by her father, Sidney E. Holaday. It was the first father-daughter CPA firm in North Dakota. She has provided both professional and pro bono accounting and auditing services for numerous non-profit organizations in central North Dakota. She was a chapter and state officer of the North Dakota State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution for over 20 years. She is currently state registrar and genealogical consultant for three other hereditary societies and is active in organizations supporting higher education, historical preservation and genealogical research.

  • Edie Rossborough
    Executive Support

    Edie Rossborough graduated from the University of Southern Maine with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in Business Administration. For the last twelve years Edie has been employed part-time in an administrative capacity for a small strategy consulting firm. Most recently, Edie helped to co-found greenestbeans.com, an early-stage start-up supporting the healthy-eating evolution. Greenestbeans.com is an online food networking resource that matches the consumer’s healthy eating desires to specific foods that meet their criteria. Edie is currently a member of the Communications Committee for the Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel and serves on the Board of Directors of A Place to Start, a non-profit that works with families living with Alzheimer’s. She lives in southern Maine with her husband and four children.


Our Advisory Board


Our Senior Advisors