Equity at the center

Dr. Grace Lubwama’s decades-long career has been fueled by her desire to see communities prosper and thrive. What began as a dream of making the world a better place evolved into a strategic and coordinated effort to dismantle long-standing, harmful systems, replacing them with equitable ones. For Dr. Lubwama, equity means giving community members what they need and accounting for the fact that everyone’s needs may be different.

“Equity is flexible and adaptive to what everyone’s individual needs are,” Dr. Lubwama said. “It brings out the humanity and empathy in all of us. Today, somebody might be vulnerable, and tomorrow we might ask, ‘What can I do to support that person?’”

"We have to be true to serving everyone in our community.”

- Dr. Grace Lubwama

Impact that lasts

In addition to a clear understanding of equity, Dr. Lubwama prioritizes a clear definition of function, purpose, goal and strategy, all of which are necessary when engaging in the transformational work of strengthening communities through philanthropy.

“I think narrowing down and being very, very clear on what philanthropy can do is going to be key to the next era of the Community Foundation,” Dr. Lubwama said. “I’m hoping that in this role, the Community Foundation can go back to its original roots — finding the resources, mobilizing those resources and giving out those resources in an impactful way that isn’t just distributing. We want to be impactful so that communities can change.”

Connection as a catalyst

At the heart of supporting community well-being is the need for relationship building. Fostering long-lasting relationships grounded in trust and authenticity is one of the many things Dr. Lubwama looks forward to doing with KZCF’s various stakeholders. To her, positive relationships are vital to driving change and ensuring that everyone remains excited, engaged and connected to the work our community members are doing.

Part of my personality is being a relationship builder.

- Dr. Grace Lubwama

“I just want to be real and authentic,” Dr. Lubwama said. “I think when we embrace relationships and, again, remain authentic with each other, we express ourselves differently. Our differences bring out what we’re interested in, and understanding these things is going to be key to my leadership and relationship building with our different community partners and donors.”

Valuing every voice

Within these first few months, Dr. Lubwama looks forward to realigning the mission, vision and purpose of KZCF. In addition to learning more about the relationship between philanthropy and direct service from the philanthropic perspective, she seeks to rearticulate the purpose of KZCF in the community and ensure that every community member’s voice is valued equally.

“If we are about everyone in this community thriving in a way that is equitable, that means we have to be true to serving everyone in our community,” Dr. Lubwama said. “The key is we have to be true to what our values are. We will not discriminate against anybody based on whatever their identity is or based on what their belief is. We’ll have everybody at the table and engage in a conversation about how we can thrive collectively.”

A promising new path

Sensing the shifts and opportunities for growth in the philanthropic sector, Dr. Lubwama looks forward to continuing to serve the residents of Kalamazoo in new and improved ways. This guiding principle of community support and enrichment will remain at the center of Dr. Lubwama’s agenda as she champions positive change for community members.

Dr. Lubwama said, “I believe that with our stakeholders, staff, trustees and community partners, we are collectively going to figure out what that looks like — what makes us relevant. I'm excited to get to the era when KZCF becomes an irreplaceable pillar in the community.”

KZCF...an irreplaceable pillar in the community.

- Dr. Grace Lubwama