Leaders of Grand Valley’s Johnson Center for Philanthropy and supporters of the nonprofit sector from across Michigan gathered to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the center at an event on November 8 in Grand Rapids.
The event brought together many of the people who worked over the past two decades to make the Johnson Center for Philanthropy one of the most well-respected centers of its kind in the nation. The center works and partners with nonprofits and grantmakers by conducting research, teaching effective practices, and providing pathways to service.
Grand Valley President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers joined Dorothy Johnson, the center’s namesake, and many other honored guests, including former executive director Kathy Agard and former director of The Grantmaking School Joel Orosz, to celebrate the occasion.
Orosz and Lubbers recalled stories from the days when the center was just a concept that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation wanted to develop at a university in the state.
Orosz explained that few universities other than Grand Valley had any interest in putting resources into a philanthropy-based academic center, and pointed out what a significant benefit the Johnson Center has turned into for the community and the university.
The event also served as an opportunity for current and former Russell G. Mawby Fellows to share updates on their research projects. The fellowship honors Mawby’s 25 years of leadership in philanthropy as the CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Several university officials also commented on the success of the Johnson Center throughout the years. Provost Gayle Davis shared thoughts and congratulations on behalf of the university, and several deans attended as well.
Johnson Center Director James Edwards said he’s thrilled to be part of such a meaningful organization. “I’m proud to be part of this amazing center as we celebrate our first 20 years,” he said. “I look forward to seeing what we will be able to accomplish in the next 20.”