Juan R. Olivarez, Ph.D.

Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion form the bedrock of thriving communities and must be integral to the everyday practice of philanthropy. Together with businesses, governments, and communities, we are building a more just and hopeful future.” Juan Olivarez

Book Juan as a speaker.

Juan Olivarez is available to speak on a variety of topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in philanthropy, including inclusive growth, equity in talent development, and community engagement in West Michigan.


Juan R. Olivarez joined the Johnson Center as the distinguished scholar in residence for diversity, equity, and inclusion in July 2018.

Throughout his career, Juan has been a passionate champion for equity and inclusion. He was the first Hispanic president of any college or university in the state of Michigan, serving as the eighth president of Grand Rapids Community College from 1999 to 2008. During his time there, he launched the Community Learning Enterprise and helped to lead the Delta Strategy, a grassroots collaborative of Grand Rapids’ organizations that sought to build a coherent and inclusive narrative for social good in West Michigan.

Juan later became president of Aquinas College, his alma mater, from 2011 to 2017. Between these two presidencies, he served as president and CEO of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (2008–2011), where the educational needs of the community were a top priority.

Related Articles
Tue January 19
Donors and institutions are wrestling with the roots of our collective inheritance: much of philanthropy’s corpus has its history in exploitative acts. While philanthropy may not be set up to support reparations in the form of direct cash payments, there are steps funders can take — and are already taking — to rebalance that scale.
Tue August 11
Dr. Olivarez reflects on the challenges facing our communities and our country, and calls for hope, optimism, and action.
Tue May 26
Although organizations and communities have been investing in inclusive growth efforts for years, Juan Olivarez describes in this article how these efforts are increasingly coming in to focus.