GRAND RAPIDS — Diana Sieger plans to retire as president of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the organization she helped to grow significantly over her 35-year tenure during which she became a powerful voice for Michigan’s philanthropic sector.
Since joining GRCF in 1987, Sieger oversaw the organization as it grew its financial assets from $38 million to $387 million and its staff from three to more than 30 people.
In addition to developing GRCF’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion and changing the organization’s governance structure to avoid conflicts of interest, Sieger has overseen the creation of GRCF’s first donor advised fund in 1990 and the acquisition of the nonprofit’s headquarters in downtown Grand Rapids. Donor-advised funds now account for more than $100 million of the organization’s total assets.
Under Sieger’s leadership, the GRCF also launched the Challenge Scholars program to grow the number of low-income, first-generation college students who earn a degree or vocational certificate.
GRCF Board Chairperson Kyle Caldwell, who also serves as the president and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations, said Sieger’s commitment to the philanthropy sector “just cannot be overstated.”
“Philanthropists and nonprofit leaders have benefited enormously from Diana’s principled, strong, and empathetic leadership,” Caldwell said in a statement. “Her impact goes beyond the numbers, including the tremendous growth of the Community Foundation’s endowment and grantmaking. Diana has positioned Grand Rapids Community Foundation to be a catalyst for equitable systems change for more than 35 years. The Community Foundation staff, Board of Trustees and community partners feel privileged to have worked with her and are grateful for her many contributions and to live in the brilliance of her legacy.”
A search committee led by former GRCF board chairs Carlos Sanchez and Kathleen Vogelsang has started the leadership transition plan. The board also will hire a search firm in hopes of filling the position by this coming fall.
“I have been honored to serve this Community Foundation and our community,” Sieger said in a statement. “I am proud of our efforts to lead the community to strengthen the lives of its people. The efforts of trustees, staff, donor, community and nonprofit partners have been an inspiration to me during my career, and I know there are many who will continue to work with passion for the future of the Community Foundation and Kent County.”
Reached by email Thursday, Sieger told Crain’s Detroit Business that she is unsure of her exact exit date, but expects it to be late this fall.
The GRCF celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2022 and stands as Michigan’s oldest community foundation. The organization provides grants to nonprofits and scholarships to students via multiple restricted and unrestricted funds. The organization as of June 30, 2022 had net assets of $359.7 million, which included a $43.3 million loss in investment income as major funds contended with market volatility.
In its 2022 fiscal year, the GRCF authorized almost $16 million in grants and scholarships, nearly half of which came from donor-advised funds. The GRCF’s grantmaking strategy “prioritizes organizations that lead with equity and/or are led by people of color,” according to its most recent annual report. Two-thirds of the GRCF’s 503 scholarships approved last year went to first-generation students and 59 percent went to students of color.
As well, the organization’s Black Legacy Fund awarded $100,000 to 20 organizations last year. The GRCF also has dedicated funds for the LGBTQ and Latinx communities.
Since 2019, the percentage of GRCF’s investment portfolio managed by minority or women-owned business enterprise certified managers has grown from 3.3 percent to 47.5 percent in mid-2022.
Crain’s Detroit Business contributed reporting to this story.
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