Annual Conference Highlights


A Health & Wellness Focus Throughout the Conference

Welcoming Our Local YMCA 

We are taking philanthropy on the move throughout Annual Conference in partnership with the local YMCA. They will be leading interactive and energizing activities to help improve our minds, bodies and spirits. They will present at each keynote and attendees will be invited to engage with them in our exhibitor space as we ignite ideas together! 


Sunday Keynote and Dinner

Sparking Change in Communities Through Partnership

Fountain Street Church

The conference kicks off with an opening reception hosted by the region’s community foundations at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel before we make our way to Fountain Street Church for the opening keynote. Sue Jandernoa, Annual Conference tri-chair, will welcome all to her hometown and introduce artist Adonna Khare, 2012 ArtPrize winner, who will create a visual story around the evening’s discussion. Joining Sue in conversation will be Wayman Britt, Kent County administrator, Jori Bennett, director of ArtPrize and Ridgway White, president of the C.S. Mott Foundation, to share their insights as they have sparked tremendous change in their communities. The keynote will be followed by a strolling dinner and catching up with colleagues while enjoying thought-provoking art. Experience Fountain Street Church’s curated exhibit in celebration of ArtPrize’s 10th anniversary while taking in the history and beauty of this Grand Rapids-treasured community gathering place that has welcomed presentations from Eleanor Roosevelt to Winston Churchill to The Moody Blues.

Keynote Conversation Panel:

Ridgway White
President, C.S. Mott Foundation

Jori Bennett
Director, ArtPrize

As a leader in the creative and marketing industries, Jori recently accepted the role of executive director for ArtPrize in early 2018 after serving as the director of business development at ArtPrize since 2015. Jori has nearly two decades of experience in creative team leadership, marketing, strategic engagement, fundraising and program management.

Wayman Britt 
Administrator, Kent County

Sue Jandernoa
Vice President and Treasurer, Jandernoa Foundation
Secretary, Board of Directors, Michigan Health Endowment Fund
Annual Conference Tri-Chair


Adonna Khare
Visual Storyteller



Monday Keynote and Luncheon

Boosting Educational Excellence in Michigan

Our Monday luncheon will begin with presentation of the 2018 Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy, presented to individuals with a demonstrated commitment to leadership, impact, creativity and collaboration in their philanthropy.

Our conversation on the main stage will be kicked off by Heather McGowan, an internationally known speaker, writer and thought leader. Recognized as the 2017 no. 1 global voice for education on LinkedIn media network, Heather prepares leaders to most effectively react to rapid and disruptive changes in education, work and society. She will compel us to understand why we need to ensure students today are prepared for the jobs of tomorrow—that don’t yet exist. What are we doing in Michigan to respond to this need?

Heather will be joined by CMF members and partners who will share the work of Launch Michigan, the new diverse, statewide coalition of stakeholders committed to boosting educational excellence for every student and every school throughout our state. We will also hear from CMF members and partners about the outcomes of their work that aligns with these efforts. Carlos Sanchez, Annual Conference tri-chair, will facilitate a conversation among keynote panelists: Amber Arellano, executive director, Education Trust Midwest; Nancy Moody, chair, DTE Energy Foundation and vice president of public affairs, DTE Energy; Ashley Johnson, program officer for education, Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation; Julie Ridenour, president, Steelcase Foundation; and Troy Wilbon, M. Ed., principal, Harrison Park School K-8, Grand Rapids Public Schools.. 

Keynote Panelists:

Amber Arellano
Executive Director, Education Trust Midwest

Amber oversees research and policy, public engagement, technical assistance and operations at The Education Trust-Midwest. In partnership with the Steelcase Foundation, Amber founded the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. She was previously a teacher, education journalist and researcher.

Nancy Moody
Chair, DTE Energy Foundation and Vice President of Public Affairs, DTE Energy

Nancy is chair of the DTE Energy Foundation and vice president of public affairs for DTE Energy. She also has responsibility for all corporate social responsibility work, including volunteerism, community outreach and neighborhood revitalization. Nancy additionally manages non-profit board service for senior leadership.

Ashley Johnson
Program Officer for Education, Doug and Maria DeVos Foundation

As program officer, Ashley partners with schools in Grand Rapids, Kentwood and Wyoming and national organizations to support local education practice. She is a doctoral student in curriculum, instruction and teacher education at Michigan State and worked as a teacher and instructional leader in a Washington, DC charter school.

Julie Ridenour
President, Steelcase Foundation

Julie has been Steelcase Foundation president since July 2012, with a primary focus on helping set and execute educational priorities and strategies. She co-chairs the CMF Public Policy Committee and serves on the Governor’s Foundation Liaison Advisory Committee, CMF P-20 Affinity Group, and recently, the Launch Michigan Steering Committee. 

Troy Wilbon, M. Ed.
Principal, Harrison Park School K-8, Grand Rapids Public Schools

Troy spent 10 years with Bethany Christian Services as a classroom supervisor of young adults. He then transitioned to Grand Rapids Public Schools as a dean of students, became a high school principal and currently serves as a pre-k through 8th grade principal at Harrison Park Elementary School. 

Carlos Sanchez
Immediate Past Chair, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Annual Conference Tri-Chair



Monday Evening Special Event

The Sweet, the Savory and Surprises: A Night to Remember

Grand Rapids Public Museum

This is a particularly special year for the Annual Conference because this will be the final conference for Rob Collier as president and CEO at CMF. Monday night, we head to the Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) for an evening full of surprises where we will celebrate Rob and his dedication to Michigan philanthropy.

The one-of-a-kind GRPM represents the modern rebirth of Grand Rapids. The “Grand Action” to revitalize the city led by philanthropy leaders in the 1990s resulted in major improvements throughout the downtown area, including construction of the current GRPM, now an icon on the riverfront visited by hundreds of thousands of people per year. Enjoy all that GRPM has to offer— ride the carousel, view the planetarium show, attend the “Victors of Character” performance about Gerald R. Ford and explore the museum’s hands-on curiosities located around every corner. GRPM is also home to the GRPM School, a truly unique Center of Innovation school within the museum serving 180 students in grades 6–8! Enjoy a strolling dinner and refreshments and you’ll quickly see why Grand Rapids is known across the nation as a place for “foodies” and earned the nickname Beer City, USA. It will be a night to remember, with exciting live performances and special surprises.


Tuesday All-Member Meeting

During the Annual Members Meeting on Tuesday morning, you will hear from Board of Trustees chair Neal Hegarty and incoming chair David Jones as they share updates on CMF’s work over the past year, as well as plans for the year ahead. You will also have an opportunity to engage with CMF’s incoming president and CEO, Kyle Caldwell.


Tuesday Keynote and Luncheon

The conference will conclude on Tuesday afternoon with what promises to be a truly inspirational program! We will present The Dr. Gerald K. Smith Award for Philanthropy, selected by CMF’s Michigan Forum for African-Americans in Philanthropy (MFAAP) Affinity Group, recognizing the significant efforts and contributions of an individual in the field whose work and grantmaking activities promotes effective and responsive social change in black communities.

We will then hear from Frans Johansson, an entrepreneur, international speaker and author of The Medici Effect and The Click Moment. Hear his fresh insights on how the best opportunities for innovation and growth are found in diversity, when disciplines and ideas intersect. See why leaders around the globe call him an engaging, dynamic and intellectual tour-de-force.

Hear from fellow CMF members Mark Van Putten, Annual Conference tri-chair and president, Wege Foundation, Kate Pew Wolters, president, Kate & Richard Wolters Foundation, and Riley Wilson, youth trustee, Grand Rapids Community Foundation, as they join Frans in a conversation to share their perspectives on his insights.

Our conference will conclude with philanthropy truly on the move as we engage in an energetic arts experience.

Keynote Conversation Panel:

Kate Pew Wolters
President, Kate & Richard Wolters Foundation

Mark Wege
President, Wege Foundation
Annual Conference Tri-Chair


Breakout Sessions

Experience over 30 breakout sessions centered on topics important to your work.



We look forward to seeing you at CMF's 46th Annual Conference in October!


Thank You To Our Conference Sponsors

Additional sponsors include: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, Clark Hill PLC, Plante & Moran, PLLC, Pennies From Heaven Foundation and Rehmann