Kennedys, Kellers recognized with awards from Grand Valley University Foundation

Two couples, John and Nancy Kennedy and Andy and Christina Keller, were recognized June 13 by the Grand Valley University Foundation for their commitment to philanthropy, service and the university.

The Kennedys were recognized as Grand Stewards of the university, and the Kellers received the Leadership Award.

President Philomena V. Mantella congratulated both couples and said they represent philanthropic examples of supporting Grand Valley to become a "beacon of opportunity and excellence in today’s tumultuous landscape."  

John and Nancy Kennedy in official portrait
John and Nancy Kennedy received the Grand Steward Award.

John and Nancy Kennedy, Grand Stewards

The Grand Steward Award honors individuals who represent the highest level of leadership, service and financial support. The Kennedys are the first to receive this award since it was established in 2011 and are the first in their generation of philanthropists to receive such recognition.

Jim Brooks, co-chair of the GVU Foundation, presented them with the award, adding that John and Nancy have advocated for education and Grand Valley for more than 40 years.

“Together, they are driven by their faith to not only share their financial success, but to roll up their sleeves and get involved,” Brooks said. “At a time when the odds of learning seemed insurmountable, they were on the front lines to make things happen.”

The Kennedys were instrumental in the development of Grand Valley’s engineering program and continue to be actively engaged. In 2007, the John C. Kennedy Hall of Engineering was dedicated in their honor.

John and Nancy run both professional and volunteer literacy programs. These programs help hundreds of West Michigan’s most disadvantaged students move toward reading proficiency every year.

President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers said, “I don’t think anyone in West Michigan has been more dedicated to the improvement of life in our community and, particularly, for the education and development of children.”

After 10 years of service on the GVSU Board of Trustees, John is an honorary life member of the board and a director of the GVU Foundation. He received Grand Valley’s Leadership Award in 1991 and the Enrichment Award in 2006.

Christina and Andy Keller standing in front of a lake
Christina and Andy Keller were honored with the Leadership Award.

Andy and Christina Keller, Leadership Award

Andy and Christina Keller are third-generation supporters of Grand Valley. The Leadership Award honors emerging leaders whose active commitment to public service and education have contributed significantly to the quality of life in West Michigan.

“We are blessed to be in a region where we can see a visible transformation from our efforts, whether it’s inner-city schools, the arts, business community or safe and equitable housing," Andy said. "This is a place where simple steps forward can really make a difference."

Christina has been with Cascade Engineering (CE) since 2009. She serves as co-chair of the Board of Directors and CEO of the CE Family of Companies. Andy has been in the software start-up space for 25 years and joined Blue Medora in 2016 as a principal engineer. The Kellers are actively engaged in the work of the Keller Foundation.

At Grand Valley, the Kellers are helping to develop West Michigan’s tech talent pipeline through the Laker Accelerated Talent Link, which connects senior students to leading West Michigan employer partners by building strong connections.

Daniel DeVos, vice co-chair of the GVU Foundation, presented them with the award.

“Together they are a force for good, helping to create systemic changes that will provide a better future for everyone,” said DeVos.


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