GHDT receives Christel Dehaan Legacy Gift

Christel DeHaan

Christel DeHaan’s life epitomized the American Dream. Born during World War II in Germany and immigrating to the United States in 1962, she started typing and ironing services upon her arrival in Indiana. In 1974 she co-founded RCI, the company that pioneered vacation exchange and became the leader in its industry. When she became the sole owner of RCI in 1989 Christel led the company’s global expansion, creating over 30 international offices. At the time she sold the company in 1996 to NYSE-traded HFS, RCI had over 4,000 employees.

Christel’s passion for life, for causes, for people and for the arts, music and nature was underscored by a deep commitment to excellence in all that she did. She made a difference as an employer, as a community leader and as a philanthropist. The Christel DeHaan Family Foundation (CDFF) has made grants supporting over 700 arts, education, child welfare and human needs organizations. In 1998 she founded Christel House, a public charity that helps children around the world break the cycle of poverty and become self-sufficient, contributing members of society.

Through her careful planning, the work of Christel House will continue. Currently serving nearly 6,000 students, Christel House uses a holistic approach which ensures that a child’s basic needs are met, and then provides top-quality education, character development, career-planning, and ultimately, job placement. As a thoughtful and strategic philanthropist, Christel DeHaan desired CDFF to close following her death and corpus assets be provided to designated organizations through Legacy Gifts. The Foundation closed in 2023 after awarding millions of dollars in grants over its lifespan.

Through these efforts, Christel DeHaan will be remembered for providing educational opportunities to children in Indianapolis and around the globe, and for strengthening arts and cultural institutions in Indianapolis. Christel’s philosophy of life was, “to care, to share, to make a difference,” and nothing could summarize her life more clearly.

Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre (GHDT) is eternally grateful for the vision, generosity, and legacy of Christel DeHaan. GHDT is honored to be a recipient of a Christel DeHaan Legacy Gift. This gift is in the form of an endowment that will be managed by the Central Indiana Community Foundation. Because of Christel’s passion for the arts and especially the work of Mr. Hancock, our organization is strengthened, enriched, and inspired. We are humbled that Christel DeHaan selected GHDT to continue her legacy of philanthropy for generations to come.

If you are interested in contributing to this endowment fund for GHDT, please contact us.

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