Debra Hepler to retire as executive director of Ghost Ranch

August 28, 2018 by Robyn Davis Sekula

ABIQUIU, New Mexico — Today, Debra Hepler announced her retirement as the Executive Director of the Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), effective February 1, 2019. Hepler has served as Ghost Ranch’s chief executive since April 2008.

Hepler’s announcement came during a board meeting held today of the National Ghost Ranch Foundation. Hepler’s career has spanned education and healthcare administration, retreat centers, medical mission fields, education and fitness, all of which helped inform her leadership at Ghost Ranch. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business and certifications in nonprofit management, and health and life coaching.

“Ten years is a significant amount of time for any leader,” Hepler said. “With all we have accomplished over the past decade in strengthening Ghost Ranch for an exciting future, I feel God is now calling me in new directions.”

“Debra has courageously and effectively led Ghost Ranch with energy, intelligence, imagination and love,” said Charles Jaynes, board chair of the National Ghost Ranch Foundation. “She will be deeply missed.”

In 2017, day-to-day management of Ghost Ranch was transferred from the Presbyterian Mission Agency to the National Ghost Ranch Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation established in 1972 to support the Ranch. The Presbyterian Foundation’s role with Ghost Ranch is to provide oversight and support to the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, which is a constituent corporation of the Foundation and which owns the land and buildings at Ghost Ranch.

Tom Taylor, President of the Presbyterian Foundation that holds Ghost Ranch in trust for the denomination, said that Hepler’s leadership has been “what was needed over these past years, as Ghost Ranch transitioned from a time of significant subsidies from the national church to operating independently and with improved financial performance.”

Jaynes noted that Hepler had been discussing transition with the board leadership since earlier in the year. A committee has been formed to develop a transition plan and commence the search process for Hepler’s replacement.


About Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch is one of three national education and retreat entities of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and is located 60 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It encompasses 21,000 acres and is open year- round.

Ghost Ranch offers many programs and gatherings for spiritual formation and growth, including weeks for youth and families, among many other offerings. About 45,000 visitors come to Ghost Ranch each year from every U.S. state, plus 40 or more countries. Visitors can take tours of Ghost Ranch to visit places Georgia O’Keeffe captured in her paintings and can see locations made famous in films. Ghost Ranch museums showcase world-renowned paleontological fossils and archeological artifacts, and workshops include programs in spiritual/religious development, arts, sciences, environmental education and outdoor adventure, and health and wellness.

To find out more about Ghost Ranch, visit, or call (505) 685-1000.