Business Leaders for Michigan appoints new president and CEO

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Jeff Donofrio Courtesy Business Leaders for Michigan

The state’s business roundtable hired the former director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity as its next president and CEO.

Business Leaders for Michigan said Friday it appointed Jeff Donofrio to succeed Doug Rothwell in leading the organization, which aims to make Michigan a top 10 state for jobs, personal incomes and a healthy economy by championing specific public policy initiatives.

Donofrio was chosen after a national search, due in part to his extensive policy experience at the federal, state and local levels.

He comes to Business Leaders for Michigan after having served as director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO), in charge of coordinating and streamlining the state’s workforce and economic development programs to meet business and labor needs and grow communities where all Michiganders have equal opportunities to reach their fullest potential.

Prior to LEO, Donofrio served as executive director of workforce development for the city of Detroit and as an executive at Ford Motor Company.

“Jeff is well-known for being a strategic thinker and a problem-solver,” said Gerry Anderson, Business Leaders for Michigan board chair and executive chair of DTE Energy. “We know what our challenges are as a state, and we hired a new leader who can advance toward solving them. Those who have worked with Jeff know that he has the passion, the forward-looking leadership and the capabilities to make a transformational impact.”

Donofrio said he is excited to continue working to increase career opportunities and income for Michiganders and making the state more competitive in attracting talent and improving its economic standing.

“I look forward to using my career experience to help build on the tremendous work Doug Rothwell and Business Leaders for Michigan have been doing for the past 10 years,” Donofrio said. “Skilled workforce training, K-12 education and working to reduce racial inequities will be chief among my initial priorities in leading the organization.”

During his tenure at LEO, Donofrio implemented numerous workforce development programs designed to train Michiganders as skilled workers for in-demand jobs, including Sixty by 30, Michigan’s goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree from 49% today to 60% by 2030, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer highlighted in her 2019 State of the State address.

Donofrio’s hiring is effective Nov. 30, and he will spend a month in transition with Rothwell before Rothwell departs at year-end.

“We’re looking forward to having Jeff on board and moving Michigan to top 10 status in the coming years,” Anderson said. “Our board wishes to express publicly our immense gratitude to Doug for standing up this organization and leading us in work that yielded tremendous progress over the past 10 years.”

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