The Avedis Foundation is closing in on having its own place to call home; its headquarters under construction is nearing completion.

The Avedis Foundation is closing in on having its own place to call home; its headquarters under construction is nearing completion.

The foundation has spent the past five years establishing itself as a driving force behind the goal of betterment for the community, and now it is establishing itself in a building of its own.

Avedis, putting down roots at 1500 E. Independence, is wrapping up construction of its new building that spans 6,800 square feet — enough space to accommodate coordinated efforts with partners and fellow dreamers.

The building's original finish date was thought to be in October, but CEO Kathy Laster said things are moving along so well the organization could be packing up for the move a little sooner.

“It's starting to look like it could be done sometime in September,” she said.

The simple structure is as practical as it is spacious.

Complete with both large and small conference rooms, a safe room for inclement weather, and several office spaces, Laster said there are many optional uses for its multiple rooms.

“The safe room has to house people in case of a tornado, so its uses are really limited,” she said. “But we could furnish it very simply as a meditation room, which can be a quiet space for people to use.”

Also, there is room for some light exercise equipment, and office space for new partners just starting out.

“An option we have is the ability to use some of the office space to help someone, like a nonprofit partner, get on their feet,” she said.

Another large office space could be converted as a group think tank, Laster said.

“We could use a large space for brainstorming and visually gathering information on whiteboards,” she said.

There are lots of options, she said.

A large covered back porch area will be furnished so people can sit outside and work or visit.

“We'll have sitting areas and a table for those who want to work on a laptop outside,” she said.

The large kitchenette will be useful when catering meals for meetings, she said.


Michelle Briggs officially retired as CEO the end of June, but her successor is from within the nonprofit's family — former board member Laster began her new role this month.

The change is well-timed; for the next year or two, while the organization takes a breath to transition, Laster said Avedis will continue to follow the path it began — helping current programs and projects get on their feet.

“I look forward to carrying out the important work of the Avedis Foundation, helping continue to evolve its strategic vision and path forward, and leading a team effort with the foundation’s exemplary staff, the board, and our community partners to achieve great things for Pottawatomie County and our surrounding communities,” Laster said.

Avedis beginning

With assets in excess of $100 million, Avedis Foundation is one of Oklahoma’s larger foundations.

It was formed in June of 2012, following the sale of Unity Health Center to SSM Health Care/St. Anthony Shawnee. The sale prompted the establishment of a foundation from Unity’s former board, known as Community Health Partners. In nearly six years, Avedis has issued more than $19 million in grants to numerous organizations in Shawnee and Pottawatomie County, in fulfillment of the foundation’s mission “to measurably improve the health, wellness and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomie County and its surrounding communities.”

For more information, visit the Avedis Foundation website, at