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At a Glance

Things I Can Help You With:

Understanding the wonderful, diverse and sometimes complicated world of Michigan philanthropy (volunteers, nonprofits, donors, grantmakers). This field has been my professional home for more than 25 years. I joined the field as a public grantmaker and went on to lead every nonprofit sector infrastructure organization in Michigan. With that background I can help in several areas including public-private partnerships, service and volunteerism, effective grantmaking and public policy.


Kyle Caldwell is an unabashed champion of Michigan’s philanthropic sector. He began his tenure as president and CEO of CMF on November 1, 2018, bringing more than 25 years of government and nonprofit and philanthropic sector experience.

Kyle’s leadership experiences have run the full gambit of the Great Lake state’s philanthropic and nonprofit infrastructure organizations. Prior to his appointment with CMF, Kyle, a Michigan native, was executive director of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University, one of the country’s leading academic centers for philanthropy. Prior to that, he served as the director for the Pathways to Opportunity Program at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation where he helped evolve the foundation’s approach to addressing poverty to focus on education.

Early in his philanthropy journey, Kyle served as an intern, and then later as executive director of the Michigan Community Service Commission in Governor John Engler and Governor Jennifer Granholm's administrations. A champion of public-private partnerships, Kyle helped launch and then lead the ConnectMichigan Alliance (CMA) which created a $20 million endowment to support volunteerism that engaged both state government and philanthropy in a one-of-a-kind statewide campaign. CMA merged with the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) and Kyle became its president and CEO. There, he championed the work of nonprofits and foundations to help build a stronger ecosystem for philanthropy.

Throughout his work in government and in foundations, Kyle has helped develop innovative and collaborative strategies and programming that strengthen the work of public and private grantmakers, government and nonprofits in Michigan.

His current board involvement includes serving as Board Chair of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and on the boards of BoardSource, United Philanthropy Forum, the Michigan Nonprofit Association, Michigan Association of United Ways and Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Previously, Kyle served on Governor Whitmer's Protect Michigan Commission, as well as national boards, including Points of Lights, Independent Sector and the National Council of Nonprofits.

Philanthropy is Kyle’s second career after a short tenure as a professional photographer working for a small studio as well as large industrial institutions. While still his passion, Kyle notes that photography skills of observer and showing what others don’t see remain a part of the way he leads.

He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communication from Western Michigan University (go Broncos) and an associate’s in applied science degree in journalism from Lansing Community College. Kyle and his wife of more than three decades live in the greater Grand Rapids area and have two children and a mob of “grand pets.”

Get to know Kyle

Describe what you do in your role.

My job is to guide CMF’s Equity at the Center framework and drive our mission to lead, strengthen and support our community of philanthropy. I do this by leading a dedicated team supported by a remarkable board of trustees. Day to day I get to hear and share the great work of our members and their nonprofit partners, help stakeholders understand the value we bring to partnerships and advance the policy goals and aspirations of our sector.

What do you enjoy the most about your work?

I most enjoy learning (then shamelessly sharing) the power of philanthropy, from the young person giving for the first time to a cause they care deeply about, to the wide variety of philanthropy whether through a private, community, corporate, family or hybrid foundation.

What are the causes you’re most passionate about?

Since philanthropy is my passion, I guess the answer is helping our field understand how equity can and must be at the center of our work. In my volunteer life I have gravitated to helping young people grow and thrive.

What inspires, challenges or motivates you?

Imagine that your job, your only professional role, is helping people exemplify the true definition of philanthropy—acts for the love of humankind. That says it all—doing this work is inspiring for all the acts we see, challenging to ensure all can participate and motivating for it is part of what every generation needs to understand and embrace in a healthy society.

What do you love about Michigan?

That I can give directions to anywhere in the state using my two hands I can see the sun rise or set on beautiful lakes within a few hours’ drive. I have come to learn and appreciate that there is something in our DNA that makes collaboration, working as a tightly honed network and where innovation is expected that makes Michigan philanthropy unique among our peers. Living in Michigan all my life, I love the fact that we are surrounded by the Great Lakes and public lands we must steward, great diversity in our residents we can come to know and understand and huge challenges and opportunities we must embrace.

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