CMF's 2019 Mawby Intern Reflects on Russ Mawby's Legacy

Thursday, August 29, 2019
Guest blog by Garrett Moeggenborg, CMF's 2019 Mawby Intern

“Working with youth will be like a stone thrown into a pond; the ripples keep expanding far beyond our time and place, far beyond our ability to measure or perhaps even envision.” - Russell G. Mawby

I have spent the last eight months as the 2019 Russell G. Mawby intern. There is a sense of importance and pride that comes along with this title that I’m not sure I had fully understood or appreciated until my internship was coming to an end.

Those who are newer to philanthropy in Michigan may not know the name Russ Mawby or all he accomplished. I encourage those who aren’t familiar with Russ to ask their more seasoned colleagues about him. When you do, I bet they will be glad to share their stories.

Dr. Mawby’s impact on our state and the sector at large can’t be overstated. He was a co-founder of both the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) and the Michigan Nonprofit Association. He was chairman emeritus of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and was the foundation’s president. Because of his leadership at the foundation and the Youth Challenge presented to community foundations, he is also credited with launching the Michigan Community Foundation Youth Project (MCFYP), the leadership body that represents all the Youth Advisory Councils (YACs) across Michigan. These youth groups typically have endowment funds that allow them to grant funds to projects they deem pertinent to the lives of their peers. This work has turned sparks into flames, igniting the drive and passion of countless philanthropic leaders.

I had the privilege of spending a recent summer afternoon with Lou Ann Mawby, Russ's wife. We were joined by Brenda Hunt, the CEO of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Rob Collier, the former president and CEO of CMF, and Kyle Caldwell, the current president and CEO of CMF. The knowledge and respect in the room was remarkable. We spent the afternoon in Russ’s favorite hangout spot in Battle Creek: The Dandelion Café. For much of our time together, we simply talked about Russ.

As I sat listening to the remarkable stories of everything Russ has done, I was in awe. But it was after Lou Ann looked at me said “Russ really walked the talk,” that it really hit me. Every former YACer, every current and future philanthropic leader in our state has Dr. Russell Mawby to thank for the groundwork he laid. He is truly one of the greats. Imagine what more we can continue to accomplish if we can do even a fraction of what Russ achieved in his lifetime.

Russ Mawby’s impact continues to ripple through philanthropy not only in Michigan, but our country and our world, and that effect will keep expanding and expanding… far beyond our time and place, far beyond what we could ever envision.

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