Family foundation elects new leadership


Mary Frey Bennett. Courtesy Frey Foundation

Major changes are afoot at a family foundation based in Grand Rapids — with the election of third-generation trustees to leadership positions, including a new foundation chair.

The Frey Foundation announced this afternoon that current Chair David Frey will pass the baton to his niece, Mary Frey Bennett, beginning on Jan. 1.

Bennett has served as vice-chair of the foundation since 2014.

This marks the first time a member of the Frey’s third generation has held the position of board chair.

David Frey has chaired the organization since 2002.

He will continue to serve as a trustee on the foundation’s board.

The Frey Foundation said the transition will be “seamless.”

Frey Bennett

Frey Bennett was born in Grand Rapids, graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy and Kalamazoo College and earned a master’s degree in nonprofit management. She has worked in the field of philanthropy for two decades and lives in Gainesville, Florida.

She said she appreciates the “unique benefits” of serving on a multi-generational board.

“I look forward to continuing our role as a partner and collaborative funder and working with amazing people and organizations in our grant-making region,” she said.

Other officers

The election of other officers also took place today and third-generation trustee Eleonora Frey Zagel, who serves as director of the Family Business Alliance and resides in East Grand Rapids, was elected vice-chair.

Trustee Edward Frey Jr. was re-elected treasurer of the board, and third-generation trustee Sara Frey Rose of Harbor Springs was elected secretary.

Their terms are for one year. 

A committee made up of members of the Edward Frey and Frances Frey family nominated the new officers.


“This transition has been anticipated, as the third generation has taken increasingly larger roles in foundation leadership and demonstrated their skill in governance and outcome-based philanthropy,” David Frey said.

He said the foundation encourages officers to relinquish their titles around their 75th birthdays.

John Frey retired as vice-chair of the board at the age of 75 in 2014.

Steven Wilson, president of the Frey Foundation, said the election of new officers is a “significant step in the long legacy of the Frey Foundation.”

Wilson said the new officers have served on the board of the Frey Foundation for the better part of a decade, “learning together, leading together and working together across generational lines.”

“I’m very excited about the work that lies ahead of us,” he said.

The foundation

The Frey Foundation is one of Michigan’s largest family foundations.

Its trustees invest collaboratively in West Michigan and Northern Michigan to “strengthen communities, protect the natural environment, enhance the arts and transform the lives of individuals and families.”

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