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Three long-term Kresge trustees retire from board

General Foundation News

Last week marked a significant turning point in The Kresge Foundation’s governance and leadership history: Paul Hillegonds, Nancy Schlichting and Elaine Rosen retired as trustees after serving for 18 years each. The trio joined Kresge’s board in 2004 and played a significant role as the foundation transformed from a capital challenge granting institution to a strategic philanthropy.

At a panel discussion during their final board meeting at Kresge’s Troy, Michigan, headquarters last week, Hillegonds, Schlichting and Rosen reflected on their experience serving the organization for nearly two decades and expressed their deep pride in Kresge’s national programmatic work and the emphasis on its hometown of Detroit.

They also addressed the hardest decisions they made while on the board. All said they were challenged personally and collectively by Kresge’s participation and $100 million contribution to the “Grand Bargain,” a 2014 effort to preserve city pensions, protect works of the Detroit Institute of Arts from being liquidated, and encourage a swift resolution of Detroit’s municipal bankruptcy.

During the conversation, the trustees also shared some parting advice with their fellow trustees and Kresge staff.

Hillegonds praised the foundation for its urban opportunity frame and urged the board to consider focusing more deeply on regional issues plaguing cities across America. Hillegonds, who led metro Detroit’s Regional Transit Authority until earlier this year, said that this perspective could help Detroit and other cities that struggle with a city vs. suburbs mentality.

Schlichting, the former Henry Ford Health System CEO and a leading healthcare expert, urged the foundation to continue to use its convening power to bring more voices to the table, an activity that she said is needed now more than ever across the United States.

And Rosen, who also served as the board chair from 2007 until March of this year, encouraged the foundation to relish its privilege to take the long view on issues facing cities across America. Rosen said her perspective about the foundation’s future often evokes a passage in the Tanakh, the Jewish Scriptures, in which Mordechai tells Esther that it is possible that she was made “for a time like this.”