KZCF’s Board of Trustees and Leadership Team share their exciting highlights from last year and their thoughts about the importance of collaboration in our community. KZCF would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who partnered with us toward our goal of advancing racial, social and economic justice.

Photos of KZCF Leadership team
KZCF Strategy & Leadership Team

What events or stories in 2022 made you proud of the community and/or the work taking place at KZCF?

Jim Escamilla: I feel the announcement that KZCF was actively looking for a new CEO, along with the advancement of our DEI and racial healing framework is exciting.

Von Washington, Jr.: The Emergency Scholarship Fund is an amazing resource to assist with tuition and expenses. The Day of Racial Healing facilitated by TRHT for our community members was deeply impactful.

Sarah Lee: I am proud of the Southwest Michigan Journalism Collaborative’s completion of their first year collaborating to report on mental health. This project was supported by a grant from Solutions Journalism Network, where journalism collaboratives work on reporting on a specific community issue from a solutions journalism framework.

Kama Tai Mitchell: 2022 was fast and intense. I joined the Board of Trustees, and we dove right into finding a new CEO for the Community Foundation. It was a great learning experience for me to assist with the search, and I was honored to be asked to participate.

Lucas Mansberger: I am proud of the way KZCF continues to move our community forward in a dialogue on gun violence.

Joanna Donnelly Dales: I am so proud of the work of our Scholarship Team, especially the innovation around the establishment of the Emergency Scholarship Fund. They saw an unmet need for our community’s students and developed the Emergency Scholarship Fund to help students get to the finish line.

Amy Upjohn: The work taking place in our community around gun violence is so important. KZCF’s commitment and leadership, along with that of our partners, is a wonderful example of the strong partnerships and collaborations that make our community great.

Dr. Xiaoan Li: I am very proud of the fact that more and more individuals and organizations in our community have taken part in the Racial Healing Circles in 2022. The signature event, Expanding Our Horizons, which is provided for the Kalamazoo Police Academy, was so well-attended and received.

Erycka Hunter: KZCF reimagined its DEI efforts by focusing on equity, learning and culture. We are working diligently to build a culture of learning and belonging. We actively aspire to be a premier employer where all staff feels seen, heard and a sense of belonging.

Sydney Parfet: The Racial Healing Circles have been an important opportunity for individuals to gather, connect and learn from one another about lived experiences. It allows new relationships to be made and connections to grow.

Jen Heymoss: I’m proud of our continued work as a convener around gun violence prevention. I’m proud of our work in growing the Emergency Scholarship Fund. I’m also proud that we have a framework for policy change that gives us a pathway for systemic change.

Artrella Cohn: The ways in which funders (including KZCF) have truly embraced the values they stated in writing when it comes to inclusivity in funding is refreshing. The increased support to organizations led by and/or serving the BIPOC community is a sign of trust-based philanthropy in action.

Dr. L. Marshall Washington: Hiring a new CEO for the organization and continuing to provide scholarship opportunities to local Kalamazoo County residents were certainly highlights in 2022.

Photo of KZCF Board of Trustees
KZCF Board of Trustees

Why is collaboration important for KZCF’s work in advancing its mission?

Joanna Donnelly Dales: The Emergency Scholarship Fund is a great demonstration of collaboration to advance our mission. All are working together to respond to the financial emergencies students face that may prevent them from continuing their education.

Dr. Jorge G. Gonzalez: Collaboration with community partners is at the heart of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s mission. Our Kalamazoo partners have an understanding of strategies that are likely to have the largest impact on the people they serve.

Robyn Bennett: Collaboration affords us access to networks and specialized skills that an individual donor may not have on staff.

Dr. Xiaoan Li: Collaboration with community partners is at the heart of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s mission. Our Kalamazoo partners have an understanding of strategies that are likely to have the largest impact on the people they serve.

Erycka Hunter: Active listening and learning are hallmarks of good collaboration. As a community foundation, it is our duty to center community voices to advance our mission.

Jim Escamilla: I feel that collaboration is one of KZCF’s strengths. Being a convener of many organizations and sharing best practices, resources and ideas are at our core.

Artrella Cohn: True and effective collaboration requires diversity of identity as well as thought. Our mission of mobilizing people, resources and expertise to advance racial, social and economic justice is synonymous with collaboration.

Karen Racette: Our work is cross-functional. We need support from all areas to keep processes flowing smoothly.

Sarah Lee: Advancing our mission toward equity and justice requires many collective solutions and partnerships, especially with those who are closest to the issues impacting our community. To catalyze solutions and foster partnerships, collaboration needs to be at the heart of our work. After all, the work of love is to produce justice.

Amy Upjohn: We can’t do it alone! Collaboration must include the whole community so that all voices are heard!

Jen Heymoss: We can’t do this work alone. Our most important work in advancing our mission is working towards de-siloing work across sectors.

Dr. L. Marshall Washington: Collaboration brings together multiple opinions and crucial conversations to arrive at an opportunity or idea that works for that moment in time. We get to embrace the opportunity or idea and begin to formulate plans that will positively impact others.

Lucas Mansberger: Collaboration is truly essential, not simply to maximize the positive impact of our community’s collective resources but to ensure that diverse perspectives and interests are represented in our work.

Von Washington, Jr.: It takes an entire community to realize the importance of assisting those in marginalized communities.

Kama Tai Mitchell: Many hands make light work. None of us are free until all of us are free.

Sydney Parfet: Our community is made up of several parts; KZCF must collaborate with as many sectors, groups, teams and individuals in the community to be successful in advancing our mission.

Sandy Barry-Loken: Collaboration is at the heart of all we do. We need collective power as we work toward systemic change, and that means we need the strengths and assets of everyone working to advance racial, social and economic justice.

To read all of the stories from our 2022 Annual Report, click here.