Kathy Agard, executive director of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, has retired after more than 35 years of nonprofit management experience. A gathering in her honor was held December 14 in Loosemore Auditorium. Agard came to Grand Valley in 2006 as the executive director of the Johnson Center and associate professor with the School of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration.
Under Agard’s leadership, the Johnson Center launched the field’s first peer-reviewed journal, The Foundation Review, and the development of the first endowed chair for family philanthropy, the Frey Foundation Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy. The Johnson Center was able to secure almost $5 million in grants and the center’s endowment principal increased to more than $5.5 million. The center’s earned income also increased every year of her tenure. During her time as executive director, the center worked with more than 100 student workers, introducing them to the nonprofit sector and further equipping them for service in the field.
In 2008, Agard received the “Most Valuable Player Award” from The League, a national youth service organization, for her service at the Johnson Center and Learning to Give, where she led a team of educators in the development of more than 1,200 lesson plans on giving, service and civic engagement for use in K-12 classrooms nationwide.
Before joining the Johnson Center, Agard served as founding executive director of the Learning to Give initiative for the Council of Michigan Foundations, which is designed to infuse the teaching of philanthropy into the core curriculum of K-12 schools. From 1988 until 1996, she developed and implemented the Michigan Community Foundation’s Youth Project, which now serves as an international model in youth grantmaking.
Agard grew up in Muskegon. She and her husband have two children and three grandchildren.