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Lois R. DeBacker

Managing Director


Lois DeBacker serves as managing director of The Kresge Foundation’s Environment Program, which helps U.S. cities combat and adapt to climate change while advancing racial and economic justice. She joined the foundation in February 2008.

On June 3, Kresge announced Lois will retire effective September 27 after serving more than 16 years with the foundation and 33 years total in philanthropy.

Lois’ experience includes more than 16 years at the C. S. Mott Foundation in a series of positions of progressive responsibility, including the role of Associate Vice President of Programs. Before joining the Mott Foundation, Lois worked for 10 years in Michigan state government in both policy-development and program-management capacities.

She is a member of the Gulf Health and Resilience Board, an advisory board to the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She serves on the external advisory board of the University of Michigan’s Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute and is a member of her community’s Ad Hoc Environmental Sustainability Committee. She is the secretary of the board of directors of the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.

Lois is a past board president of the Biodiversity Funders Group and has served on other grantmaker affinity groups and nonprofit boards in a variety of capacities. Lois is the recipient of the 2015 Nicholas P. Bollman Award from the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. She was named a 2024 Notable Leader in Sustainability by Crain’s Detroit Business.

She received her bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in public affairs from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Her graduate work focused on urban and domestic policy.

Photo: Douglas Schaible

Areas of Specialty

Climate adaptation


Intersection of climate change and health