Charity Begins at Home: Families Rebuilding Communities

May 19-20, 2011  //  Grand Rapids, MI

In 2011, the first ever National Summit on Family Philanthropy was held in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Family donors from around the country gathered to discuss the importance of family philanthropy in communities facing crisis and recovery. Participants spoke of their vital work in sustaining institutions, nurturing innovation and growth, and collaborating with other leaders to address community problems.

Plenary sessions for the 2011 Summit focused on:

  • Practical guidance for family donors looking to get the most impact from their local, place-based giving
  • Neighborhood revitalization efforts in three communities across the U.S.
  • The advantages, expectations, and challenges facing different leadership roles, including donors, volunteers, board members, and organizers
  • The process of building institutions and creating civic-oriented philanthropy in West Michigan
  • The challenges of honoring a place-based grantmaking focus with the issues and priorities of the next generation
  • Reflections from a major foundation on sustaining local family commitment across generations

Summit 2011 Media Mentions:

Speakers Included:

  • Robert Collier, Council of Michigan Foundations
  • Richard DeVos, Sr., Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation
  • David Egner, Hudson-Webber Foundation
  • Virginia Esposito, National Center for Family Philanthropy
  • David Frey, Frey Foundation
  • Mary Galeti, Tecovas Foundation
  • Elenore Garton, Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson Foundation
  • Lillian C. Giornelli, CF Foundation and Cousins Foundation
  • Greg Giornelli, Purpose Built Communities
  • Kate Guedj, Boston Foundation
  • Valerie Jacobs, Jacobs Family Foundation
  • Dorothy A. Johnson, Johnson Family Foundation
  • Reginald Jones, Steans Family Foundation
  • Dori Kreiger, Family Philanthropy Services, Council on Foundations
  • John E. Pepper, Jr., The Walt Disney Company
  • Erick Stewart, J.E.C.K.S. Fund, Battle Creek Community Foundation
  • Betsy Upton Stover, Frederick S. Upton Foundation
  • Thomas J. Tierney, Bridgespan Group, co-author:Give Smart
  • Ridgway White, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • William S. White, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • Kate Pew Wolters, Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation

A Sample Summit 2011 Plenary: The Grand Rapids Renaissance

In this Summit 2011 plenary, three major donors from Grand Rapids, Michigan—all with years of experience as both philanthropic and community/economic leaders—reflected together about the process of building institutions, changing systems, and creating a noted culture of civic-oriented philanthropy in West Michigan.


  • Richard DeVos, Sr., Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation
  • David Frey, Frey Foundation
  • Kate Pew Wolters, Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation


  • Dorothy A. Johnson, Johnson Family Foundation


Lead Sponsor

Partner Sponsors


Honorary Co-Chairs

  • Caroline Avery, President, The Durfee Foundation Chair, National Center for Family Philanthropy | Santa Monica, Calif.
  • David Frey, Frey Foundation | Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Elenore Garton, Marie C. and Joseph C. Wilson Foundation | Rochester, N.Y.
  • Margaret Ann (Ranny) Riecker, The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation | Midland, Mich.

Summit Planning Committee

  • Michael Moody (Chair), Frey Foundation Chair for Family Foundations and Philanthropy | Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, Grand Valley State University
  • Robert S. Collier, President and CEO | Council of Michigan Foundations
  • Virginia M. Esposito, President | National Center for Family Philanthropy
  • Dorothy A. Johnson, Trustee | Johnson Family Fund

Johnson Center

  • Kathy Agard
  • Marlene Corrado
  • Robin Leonard
  • Joel Orosz
  • Tera Wozniak Qualls
  • Robert Shalett
  • Erica Curry VanEe

Many aspects of Summit planning and logistics were handled by a faculty and student team from the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University.