As a senior program director at The Kresge Foundation, Lois R. DeBacker leads the Environment team in developing, implementing, and assessing the impact of grantmaking strategies that address climate change. She meets regularly with experts in the climate change field and collaborates with peers at other foundations and in other sectors to execute climate change mitigation strategies. Lois invites and reviews grant and investment requests from nonprofit organizations specializing in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy. She meets with and learns from leaders of nonprofits whose mission and work are consistent with Kresge’s giving priorities.
“Climate change is the most serious problem confronting humankind,” Lois says. “Unless immediate action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are at grave risk of disrupting the climate so severely that Earth will become inhospitable for life as we know it. The gravity and urgency of the problem motivates the Environment team, and me personally, to do the smartest and best work we can.”
In addition to supporting and guiding other members of the Environment team, Lois co-manages Kresge’s Program Department. She identifies and addresses policy issues and training needs across the foundation’s six programs, and supervises the program directors of the Health and Human Services teams. As a member of Kresge’s management team, Lois works closely with colleagues in other departments to develop and implement foundation-wide policies and procedures.
Lois, who joined Kresge in 2008, has devoted her professional career to protecting the environment. She worked for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation in Flint, Mich., from 1991 to 2008, serving as associate vice president for programs her last three years at Mott. Her responsibilities included overseeing the foundation’s Civil Society and Environment programs. Prior to working at Mott, Lois held various staff positions in the legislative and executive branches of Michigan state government. Among her achievements, she worked on legislation to create the state’s pollution prevention office, and provided leadership as the office’s first manager.
A University of Michigan graduate, she earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. She serves on the board of the Consultative Group on Biological Diversity and is active in the Environmental Grantmakers Association.