GRPS Foundation names new president and CEO

Stephanie Adams. Courtesy Grand Rapids Public Schools

The fundraising partner of Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) hired new a president and CEO.

The GRPS Foundation said Friday, Nov. 19 it hired Stephanie Adams for the role, effective Dec. 15.

In her new role, Adams will direct the work of the organization, keeping its mission of “ensuring that all GRPS students have the tools they need to learn, grow and thrive” at the forefront. She also assumes responsibility for fundraising, staffing, programs and administrative affairs, and she will directly report to the GRPSF board of directors.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be accepting this opportunity to lead the organization. As an alum of Ottawa Hills, a Latina, an active member of the GR community, there is no greater pride than being able to raise money for our schools,” Adams said.

Adams, a longtime nonprofit leader and community organizer, brings 15 years of community development experience to GRPSF.  She was previously the executive director for Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, which she served since 2017. She graduated from Ottawa Hills High School in 1994.

“We are very excited to have one of our own GRPS graduates at the helm of the GRPS Foundation,” said Leadriane Roby, superintendent of GRPS. “Stephanie brings a whole new level of energy, excitement, experience and relevant personal connection to our schools that is going to take the GRPS Foundation to the next level for the betterment of our scholars.”

At Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, Adams implemented a new strategic plan, tripled fundraising efforts, increased volunteer hours from 1,200 hours to over 3,000 annually and more than doubled the staff in five years. As an outdoor enthusiast, Adams focused on leading her team to empower people to cultivate vibrant parks and green spaces in Grand Rapids.

Her other nonprofit experience includes positions in marketing and communications at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University and the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Grand Rapids. Adams also served as associate director for the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology, marketing director for Goodwill industries of Greater Grand Rapids and a corporate sales executive for the Grand Rapids Griffins.

“I know that I speak for the entire GRPS Foundation board when I say how thrilled we are to have Stephanie Adams joining the team,” said Madelaine Lane, GRPSF board president and attorney at Warner, Norcross + Judd. “Not only is Stephanie a proven advocate for the Grand Rapids community, but she also is a GRPS alum. As such, she knows firsthand how important the foundation’s mission is to help provide equitable resources for our next generation of community leaders — the students of GRPS.”

GRPSF started as a vehicle for private funding to support athletes and was established as an independent nonprofit in 1993. The foundation now supports programs and projects affecting every aspect of GRPS student education, linking community resources with the needs of benefiting GRPS students and their learning environment. The foundation has granted more than $20 million since 2003.

“I am really looking forward to a GRPS alumna being president and CEO of the GRPS Foundation,” said Kimberley Williams, vice president of the Grand Rapids Board of Education and board designee to GRPSF. “Stephanie’s leadership will be an inspiration to all GRPS scholars.”

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