Q&A: Marcie Lewis


Marcie Lewis. Courtesy Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Marcie Lewis became executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan in 2012.

The nonprofit based in northeast Grand Rapids serves the families of critically ill children being treated at local medical and mental health hospitals.

Previously, Lewis served as the president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation, where she worked for 20 years. During that time, the foundation raised more than $15.5 million on behalf of the Grand Rapids Public Library.

Lewis said she started her nonprofit career at what was then called the Kent County American Red Cross, now the American Red Cross of West Michigan, and worked there for six years.

Biggest career break?

Back in 1986, when Pat McDuffee, then CEO of the Kent County Red Cross, hired me as the communications and development director, which has led me down a path I never dreamed of before. 

Proudest moment?

I’ve had many proud moments throughout my life, but most of my proudest moments have to do with times I’ve had the opportunity to help others grow, whether it’s as a mentor or helping someone through a difficult life situation. 

Best advice you’ve ever received?

It may sound simple, but to treat others as you would like to be treated. This rule can be applied to most every aspect of one’s life, from home, work, family, friends and strangers alike.

How did you make your first dollar?

Babysitting, beginning at the age of 13, and I have worked ever since.

Most-treasured possession?

They are not my “possessions,” but my most-treasured in life are my husband and our two daughters, who are now young adults. My husband and I are enjoying being empty nesters, and as for our daughters, it’s such a treasure to be their mom, to watch them navigate their lives and to figure out their paths and passions. 

Dream job?

I feel so blessed to have actually had two dream jobs: both my job as president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation for 20 years and now as the executive director of the Ronald McDonald House of Western Michigan for the past five years. Both organizations have amazing missions and are a gift to our community.

If you were president for a day, you would…?

I would work to help remove the stigmas about mental health. So many people suffer from some form of mental health issues, and while it is becoming more openly discussed, there are still so many barriers to treatment and help. 

Last book you read?

Unashamed,” by Christine Caine

Last search term you googled?

“Growing tomatoes in an earth box.” I did this, and they’re producing flowers, but no fruit yet. Apparently, it will. Well, it said so on Google, so it must be true.

Your worst habit?

Multi-tasking. It drives my husband, Mark, crazy, because I’ll be doing so many things at one time. It’s especially bad when we’re house cleaning, because I’ll start dusting, then remember to put in a load of laundry, then remember to make a phone call, then remember to add something to the grocery list, then go back to dusting. You’d think after 27 years of marriage, he’d be used to it, but he still shakes his head.

To unwind, you like to…?

Relax in our hot tub with a glass of red wine or take a long walk if the weather is nice. I actually like to walk when it’s snowing out – it’s so peaceful and quiet.

Dream vacation?

A leisurely road trip across the U.S.A. There are so many places I want to see.

Favorite food?

I can always go for Mexican, but I must say that my husband makes the best grilled salmon.

Person you most admire?

People who choose to get involved to create change and improvement. It’s easy for some to sit back and complain, but I truly admire those who act instead.

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