Steelcase Foundation appoints Daniel Williams as next president

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Daniel Williams Courtesy 616 Media

The president and CEO of West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology has a new role.

The Steelcase Foundation said last week it appointed Daniel Williams, the current leader of the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology (WMCAT), to head up the foundation as its next president, effective Feb. 22. He is replacing the foundation’s previous president, Julie Ridenour, who announced her retirement last September.

Williams said in a letter on WMCAT’s website he is grateful for his nearly six years of helming the Grand Rapids-based nonprofit, and he promised he “will continue to be (its) partner in building a more just and equitable West Michigan” in his new role. The WMCAT board of directors launched a search for its next president and CEO. More information is online.

The mission of the Steelcase Foundation is to empower people to reach their full potential through quality, accessible public education, work and cultural opportunities.

The foundation said Williams is uniquely suited to become its next leader because in his leadership at WMCAT, he “worked extensively to advance equity in education and workforce development.”

“We are delighted to welcome Daniel as the next president of the Steelcase Foundation,” said Kate Wolters, chair, Steelcase Foundation board of trustees. “Daniel is an accomplished leader in urban education and works tirelessly to bring equity and innovation to West Michigan. His community work around racial equity and helping to expand access to social and economic opportunity for young people make him an ideal fit.”

Prior to WMCAT, Daniel served as co-founder and principal of Grand Rapids University Prep Academy, the first Centers of Innovation School in Grand Rapids Public Schools. While at UPrep, Daniel led his team to achieving a graduation rate of more than 90% and a college acceptance rate of 100% each year. In 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer appointed Daniel as vice chair of the MI-STEM Council. In 2018, he was one of seven leaders appointed by then-Gov. Rick Snyder to join the Michigan Consortium of Advanced Networks.

“The foundation’s focus on education is an important one, and I enter this role with the understanding we must support not only students but their families and communities together,” Williams said. “I believe in order to do our work well, we must listen first while centering all we do around the lived experiences of families and community by elevating their voices. We must celebrate all they have done, especially in such a challenging year, and value their inherent knowledge. We must also challenge structures and systems that slow down progress. This begins by interrogating our own systems and structures that may be perpetuating the very inequity we are working to alleviate. I am thrilled to represent the Steelcase Foundation on this new challenge, working alongside community toward a more inclusive region where all can thrive.”

Steelcase Foundation

Established in 1951 as an endowed foundation independent from Steelcase Inc. by Steelcase founders and its original directors, today, the Steelcase Foundation supports projects that drive systemic change with more than $5 million in grants distributed in the past fiscal year.

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