Edwards named executive director of Johnson Center

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James Edwards has been selected as the new executive director of the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. He replaces Kathy Agard, who retired in December.

Edwards has served as director of the Johnson Center’s Community Research Institute and assistant professor of social work since arriving at Grand Valley in 2003. Before joining the Johnson Center, Edwards was the program director for Network 180 Access Center in Kent County. He has direct service experience in child welfare and juvenile justice and has served as a foster care worker, juvenile court probation officer and investigator for the county Family Drug Court Task Force. He also assisted with the expansion of mental health home-based services in Kent County, and served for five years as a board member for the Arbor Circle Corporation.

“I am truly honored and excited to lead the Johnson Center,” said Edwards. “Dr. Kathy Agard retired, leaving us with a strong local and national reputation. We plan to continue building on her work and our commitment to being a key organization in the support of philanthropic and nonprofit work in Michigan and nationally.”

Edwards earned a bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College, a master’s degree from Western Michigan University and a doctorate from Michigan State University.

“I am delighted to welcome Dr. James Edwards as the executive director of the Center. His leadership, experience, and creativity will be invaluable to all nonprofits, foundations, and donors,” said Dorothy A. Johnson, president emeritus, Council of Michigan Foundations.

Gayle R. Davis, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said: “Dr. Edwards brings just the right combination of leadership, creativity, experience and knowledge of the field, and interpersonal effectiveness to this important position at Grand Valley. I look forward to working with him in this new role.”

For more information, contact Robert Shalett, communications director at the Johnson Center, at (616) 331-7585.