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At a Glance

Things I Can Help You With:

  • Connecting foundations and state executive branch officials.
  • Helping to identify opportunities for partnerships.
  • Hosting issue-based conversations to build knowledge.


Karen Aldridge-Eason is the first foundation liaison to a governor’s office in the United States, a position she accepted in 2003 as a loaned executive from the foundation. Established through a joint agreement between Michigan foundations and the governor’s office, Aldridge-Eason assumed responsibility for the development of the new position, charged with bringing together state policymakers and foundation leaders to explore and identify solutions to issues affecting Michigan’s children and their families. Aldridge-Eason joined Mott in 1993 as a program officer for the Flint Area team, becoming program director the following year. A graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she received a bachelor’s degree in education, she also earned a master’s in public administration from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. In addition to serving as an administrator for a mission boarding school in Liberia, West Africa, she also held several governmental positions prior to becoming part of Mott’s staff. She served as budget director for the city of Flint and director of the Office of Health and Human Services within the Michigan Department of Management and Budget.

Get to know Karen

Describe what you do in your role.

  • Promote mutual understanding and collaboration between state government and foundations, and identify strategic opportunities for partnering.
  • Serve as a trusted source of data, information and dialogue about programs, policy impacts and policy and implementation options. 
  • Facilitate strategic joint investments that are aimed at improving outcomes for Michigan residents, especially those that are most vulnerable and marginalized.

What do you enjoy the most about your work? I enjoy working between two sectors (state government and philanthropy) that can be responsive to the needs of communities and their residents.

What are the causes you’re most passionate about?

  • Quality education from birth through college and career readiness that is accessible for those with the least resources
  • Decent and affordable housing in communities that are safe and attractive

What inspires, challenges or motivates you? I am inspired by the desire of people to do good and create real opportunities for families to thrive in Michigan. At the same time, I am challenged by the systems that lock families in poverty but motivated by Michigan philanthropy and state executive leaders who are committed to addressing both systems that perpetuate poverty and inequities, including racial, gender and cultural/social across our state.

What do you love about Michigan? I love Michigan’s diversity – its people, its cultures, its cities and communities, its seasons and it’s my home.

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