Tag Archives: Diana Sieger

Grand Rapids Community Foundation Recognized for Diversity and Inclusion


This year Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce has chosen Grand Rapids Community Foundation as the recipient of its 2014 Diversity Visionary Award. Created by the Chamber in 2003, the award recognizes an individual or organization for their exemplary efforts, advancements and contributions to ensure diversity, inclusion and equity within their own institution or community.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation has been a true leader in fostering a more welcoming, inclusive and equitable community. We are pleased to honor the organization for their sustained efforts at the board and staff levels as well as their successful track record in making an impact on the behaviors, policies and strategies in the region,” said Rick Baker, Chamber president and CEO.



“This award demonstrates how important inclusion is in continuing to build a vibrant and dynamic community, and it brings attention to the issue. We have devoted, and will continue to devote, our time and commitment to assuring that all voices are heard and all members of our community are at the table. We intend our organizational culture to model equity in everything we do,” said Diana Sieger, Community Foundation president.

“For more than 25 years, Grand Rapids Community Foundation has been deliberately trying to increase diversity and inclusion, internally and with our grantees. When we established our first volunteer committee to review grants, it was intentionally diverse in its make-up. That opened the door for further conversations throughout the organization on this subject,” said Marcia Rapp, vice president of programs and diversity co-champion.

The Community Foundation focus on diversity and inclusion has become part of our organizational culture and involves staff, trustees and grantees. This award comes on the heels of important work that the Community Foundation has been doing to move the issues of diversity, inclusion and cultural competency forward. As an example, over the last few years, three staff teams (of four to five people) participated in year-long statewide cultural competency learning groups with other foundations. “Facilitated by specialists in this area of knowledge, these peer learning groups fanned the fire and created enthusiasm across the organization,” Marcia said. Additionally, all staff and trustees take a personal inventory of their cultural views. This inventory helps determine where each person is on their cultural competency journey.




Recently, the Board of Trustees approved a strong diversity and inclusion policy for use with nonprofits who are applying for general grants. “Our mode is to ‘work with’ not ‘do to’ others, so we are working with community experts to assemble a palette of resources that nonprofits and others can tap for continuous improvement in the area of cultural competence,” Marcia said.

“Each day as I work with donors and the community, the importance of diversity and inclusion becomes more apparent. Although one can grow fatigued along the way, reflecting on the successes provides the energy and determination to keep going. I am honored to be a part of the leadership team at the Community Foundation as we further this work internally and externally,” said Jonse Young, donor services director and diversity co-champion.






Past Recipients of the Diversity Vision Award include:

2013: Faye Richardson-Green, Steelcase Inc.

2011: Bing Goei, Eastern Floral & Goei Center

2009: Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

2007: Cascade Engineering Inc.

2005: James P. Hackett, Steelcase Inc.

2003: Bob Woodrick, D & W Foods



Four Colleges Commit to Grand Rapids Community College’s Challenge Scholars Program



November 8, 2013 — Aquinas College, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University have each created special scholarship packages to support Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Challenge Scholars program. The Challenge Scholars program, which begins with sixth grade students at Harrison Park School and Westwood Middle School, is designed to help students succeed in school, maintain good grades and behavior and to eventually be accepted to college. Students that complete program requirements and graduate from Union High School will receive a last dollars scholarship from the Community Foundation. The value of the scholarship depends on which college the student chooses to attend and family income.

The scholarship packages that each of the colleges have created are set aside for Challenge Scholars students specifically and each differ slightly in their requirements and what is provided. “When Challenge Scholars launched two years ago, these four colleges became some of our strongest champions. The scholarship commitments we announce today add another element to the partnerships that are already bringing additional resources to students, parents and faculty at our three Challenge Scholars schools. Together, with Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) we are ensuring students on the West Side have the opportunity to reach their full potential as students and citizens. I’m grateful to our partners for their caring and generosity,” Diana Sieger, president of Grand Rapids Community Foundation said.

“This community is truly blessed to have well engaged, community-oriented higher education institutions like Aquinas College, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University. They have been major partners with GRPS for decades, and once again, they have stepped to the plate to support our students.






Challenge Scholars is a game changer and the momentum continues to grow thanks to partnerships like these,” Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent of GRPS said.

The local college presidents, whose schools are committing these scholarship packages provided these comments.

Ferris State University has been an active partner with the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in its efforts to encourage students to attend college. We are pleased to support the efforts of the Challenge Scholars program and look forward to encouraging these students not only to attend college, but to graduate,” Dr. David Eisler, president, Ferris State University said.

Dr. Steven C. Ender, president, Grand Rapids Community College said, “We know it takes a village to raise a child. The Challenge Scholars program provides the foundation for our community to work together to offer the guidance and support necessary for students to learn and grow, follow their dreams, and achieve success. Providing educational opportunities for West Michigan residents for nearly a century has given us, at GRCC, the first-hand knowledge that expanding access and support for education empowers our community’s most precious resource—its citizens.”






“I believe strongly in providing educational opportunities to our community’s young people,” Grand Valley State President Thomas J. Haas said. “The Challenge Scholars program fits in perfectly with Grand Valley’s mission to provide access to a college degree and increased opportunities. I have visited Harrison Park and sat and talked with the children. They’re remarkable, and show such promise. This program absolutely will make a difference in their lives and in the future of our community. I can’t wait to welcome some of these students to our campus.”

Dr. Juan Olivarez, president, Aquinas College said, “Aquinas College is proud to invest in the future by investing in students enrolled in the Challenge Scholars program. The families I have met at Harrison Park School are committed to their children’s education and are willing to make the necessary sacrifice to see their dream realized. Aquinas College is honored to partner with them in this dream.”

Grand Rapids Community Foundation’s Annual Donor Party



Each autumn, Grand Rapids Community Foundation celebrates its donor with a special party. This year it was held at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, which is a Community Foundation grantee. The highlight of the evening is the Chaille Award for Community Philanthropy which was given to Kate Wolters.

Wolters has become the sixteenth recipient of the Jack Chaille Community Philanthropy Award, given annually to donors who not only support the Community Foundation but also serve as volunteers or donors to other community efforts.











Kate is a tireless visionary and we honor her with equal enthusiasm,” said Community Foundation President Diana Sieger. “Her support of this community and our Community Foundation has been long-standing and outstanding. She has big ideas backed by a big heart, and we’re honored to recognize her as a leader in our donor family.”

The Community Foundation established the award in 1997 to commemorate the illustrious contributions of its namesake, William Jackson Chaille, who himself became the award’s first recipient. Since that time, the Community Foundation has honored 14 more leaders sharing his infectious spirit for giving and passion for people. Each recipient has demonstrated consistent financial support and a long-term commitment to the Community Foundation, as well as advocacy for its projects and leadership.

Wolters exemplifies all of these stellar qualities and then some. Among her contributions to the Community Foundation are creating the Kate Pew Wolters Fund, a dynamic donor advised fund; co-chairing the life-altering Challenge Scholars education campaign; and blazing the trail in the Metz Society for planned giving. These shining examples prove her commitment to community, and have inspired other philanthropists and volunteers to follow her compelling example.

Grand Rapids Community Foundation: Diana Sieger, Lynne Black, and Marcia Rapp Celebrate 25 Years

17 JANUARY 2013


I’ve said it before and I will say it again—

Grand Rapids Community Foundation throws a great party. It was a totally “rad” time at the GRCF late Thursday afternoon as they brought the 80’s back to celebrate with staff, along with several special guests, three incredible leaders who have been with the foundation for 25 years—Diana Sieger, President; Lynne Black, Vice President of Finance and Administration; and Marcia Rapp, Vice President of Programs.

Everyone was dressed as a memorable musician, actor, or TV personality from the 80’s—from Punky Brewster to Magnum PI. Centerpieces were made out of cassette tapes, records, and a sprinkling of 80’s candy. Disco balls hung from the ceiling, and the festivities kicked off with a rousing game of “Retro Pyramid,” their own version of the $25,000 Pyramid.









When I asked “Princess Diana” (her 80’s alter-ego) Sieger what has been her favorite part of leading the foundation, she talked about how she grew up in “a time of social change” and that carrying out the mission of the foundation, helping so many worthwhile organizations in this community, is very special to her.

Lynne “Cat in the Hat” Black told me how the people she works with have been a big part of her longevity with the GRCF. “They are all so passionate,” she said.

Marcia Rapp, or “Annie Wilkes,” the lead character in Stephen King’s Misery, topped off her costume with an axe, mallet, and a 2×4. I talked to her about what she enjoys most about being part of the foundation staff. She said she enjoys the people and that there is “something different every day.” She treasures being able to be part of the team and credited Sieger’s leadership for making the GRCF what it is today.

Gifts were presented to each of the three honorees, and were very thoughtful and personal. Roberta “Cyndi Lauper” King gave a beautiful toast to the ladies she calls the “best brand builders” in Grand Rapids.




Once all of the formalities were out of the way, it was time to enjoy great 80’s themed food and drinks (think Bartles & James) and karaoke began. There was “Margaritaville” sung by Cyndi Lauper and “Love Shack” by Princess Diana and her backup dancers. It was a truly happy and memorable celebration for Sieger, Black, and Rapp—one that I’m sure will not soon be forgotten around the office.

Congratulations, ladies. You are each an excellent example of leadership and commitment to the community.






Grand Rapids Community Foundation Donor Party


VENUE: Kendall College of Art & Design of Ferris State University at the Historic Federal Building
DATE: September 28, 2012

When Diana Sieger and the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (GRCF) throw a party, the people come. Last Friday evening the Foundation held its annual donor celebration that included the presentation of the 2012 Jack Chaille Award for Community Philanthropy. Hundreds of those who support the GRCF newest addition of Kendall College of Art & Design’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, the historic Federal Building.

The group that gathered on Friday was essentially a “who’s who” of West Michigan philanthropists. Guests of honor John and Nancy Kennedy were joined by community leaders such as Ralph Hauenstein, Mike and Sue Jandernoa, John and Marie Canepa, Greg and Meg Willit, and countless others who are so supportive of the foundation’s efforts. They enjoyed hors d’oeuvres from YoChef’s Catering Company and great wine from Martha’s Vineyard. Conversation was lively, and the atmosphere was one of joyful celebration as everyone came together to toast the Kennedys and this community foundation that is near and dear to their hearts.

Midway through the event, everyone made their way into the auditorium where GRCF President Diana Sieger welcomed everyone and began with the fantastic news that during the 2011-12 fiscal year, the foundation raised over $20 million. They also made grants and scholarship awards of just over $11 million, supporting initiatives surrounding housing and education in West Michigan. The GRCF is one of Grand Rapids’ greatest assets, serving as a permanent endowment for our community.

Sieger then introduced GRCF Board Chair, Eva Aguirre Cooper of WOOD-TV. She noted the level of “strategy, seriousness, and diligence” that goes into each decision regarding which grants to recommend for approval, and recognized the trustees who were there on Friday night, including Wayman Britt, Paul Doyle, Carol Karr, Paul Keep, Christina Keller, and Cecile Cave Fehsenfeld. Also recognized were David Rosen, Kendall College President; and David Eisler, President of Ferris State University.

The program continued with the presentation of the 2012 Jack Chaille Award for Community Philanthropy. This year’s recipients were John and Nancy Kennedy. There was a beautiful video tribute to Kennedys that included comments from two of their children, and their friends Mike Jandernoa and Phil McCorkle. Sieger then invited the Kennedys to receive their award, and they had three of their four children with them—John, Margaret, and Tom. (Their son Paul was unable to attend)

The Chaille Award is given annually to GRCF donors who not only support the Community Foundation’s mission, but also many other community efforts. John Kennedy is President of Autocam and Nancy is a full-time community volunteer. They are involved with Grand Valley State University, University Prep School, Saint Mary’s Hospital, the Heart of West Michigan United Way, the Catholic Schools of Grand Rapids, and of course the Community Foundation. John was part of the original committee for grant distribution, and they established Employees of Autocam Fund at the GRCF. The Kennedys also made a leadership gift to help secure the new building for the foundation. All four of their children have served on the GRCF Youth Grant Committee, and both Margaret and Tom served as the Youth Trustee on the board.

John and Nancy Kennedy are the supporters every nonprofit dreams of having. They are engaged 100 percent with each cause they are involved in and as Diana Sieger said, they are “great examples of people who give from their hearts. They are not only generous with their financial gifts, but they are active and very engaged volunteers. When they are behind something, a project or a cause, their time, talent, and treasure go into it. They are purposeful about their philanthropy and only take on causes to which they can fully dedicate themselves.”

Sieger then presented the Kennedys with their award, which is different for each recipient every year. The Community Foundation created an invitation package for the event this year that, when put together, formed a beautiful poster. The Kennedys were given a framed copy of this poster for their home, which was very fitting being that the award was given during ArtPrize and in one of the largest venues for the event. It was truly a work of art!

Friday night’s event was sponsored by Fifth Third Bank; PNC, Varnum, LLP; AMBS Investment Council LLC; Baker Holtz CPAs and Advisors; The Bank of Holland; Ellis Parking Company; JPMorgan Private Bank; Lafleur & Godfrey Inc.; Merrill Lynch; and Northern Trust.

Thank you to Diana Sieger and the entire staff of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation for all of your hard work and dedication to our community, and congratulations on a remarkable year! Stellafly is very excited to see what this year will bring!