Johnson Center names new executive director

GVL / Courtesy -
GVSU executive director of Center for Philanthropy, Kyle Caldwell

GVL / Courtesy – GVSU executive director of Center for Philanthropy, Kyle Caldwell

Meghan McBrady

The Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University has named Kyle Caldwell as the new executive director, beginning August 1.

Caldwell will provide the overall leadership and vision for sustainable growth initiatives. He will also oversee the strategic objectives for the center.

“My job will be to provide vision and direction, garner resources and support, tell our story, then get out of the way and let our people thrive,” Caldwell said.

The Johnson Center, which is an academic center within the College of Community and Public Service at GVSU, was created to promote the understanding of philanthropy, Caldwell explained. While his job at the center is not a faculty position, he indicated that he will help students understand the nonprofit sector.

“Working with students, leading one of GVSU’s crown jewels, all while standing at the forefront of our nation’s leading centers on philanthropy is a trifecta of opportunities,” Caldwell said. “I am proud to be working at a leading center under the name of a great leader in philanthropy, Dottie Johnson, and feel equally fortunate to be a Laker.”

Dorothy A. Johnson, the namesake of the Johnson Center, said that Caldwell’s national perspective and influence will help students understand the importance of having the center on campus.

“I have enthusiastically embraced Kyle’s new leadership role,” Johnson said. “An academic and government leader, Kyle will look for those students at Grand Valley doing good to help others and help them become leaders within their chosen fields.”

A Western Michigan University alumnus with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organizational communication, Caldwell has over 22 years of experience working within the nonprofit sector.

Since 2013, Caldwell has been the director of the Pathways Out of Poverty grant-making team at the Charles Mott Foundation. Prior to that, he was the president and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association from 2007 to 2012 and was the president and CEO of the Connect Michigan Alliance from 2004 to 2007.

Besides his numerous leadership roles within nonprofits, Caldwell served under Govs. John Engler and Jennifer Granholm as the executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission and was the director of corporate and foundation relations at Olivet College.

He also serves on boards of state and national organizations, including the National Council of Nonprofits and the Michigan Community Service Commissions. He is on the advisory board for the School of Communication Advisory Committee at WMU.

In regard to his background, Caldwell said that he intends to further advance his work at the Johnson Center and impart his unique perspective on the dynamics of the nonprofit sector.

“We are an ecosystem that needs healthy funders and charities to support the common good and we need strong relationships with business and government to help ensure that our communities are healthy and vibrant,” Caldwell said. “That’s the perspective I think I bring to this work and the Johnson Center is the best place for me to advance this work.”

For further information about the Johnson Center, visit its website at