Published in Nonprofits
Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. COURTESY PHOTO Mike Goorhouse, president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area. COURTESY PHOTO

Goorhouse stepping down as leader of Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area

BY Monday, November 21, 2022 04:22pm

HOLLAND — Mike Goorhouse began his work with the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area when he was just 14 years old. In the coming months, Goorhouse will say goodbye to the organization that he has led for the past eight years.

Nonprofit officials announced on Friday that Goorhouse, 36, would be stepping down as president and CEO to pursue as-yet undetermined new opportunities. The community foundation’s board of trustees will soon launch a search for a new executive, led by Chicago-based consulting firm Kittleman & Associates LLC, which specializes in nonprofit leadership recruitment. 

Goorhouse’s move caps 11 years at the CFHZ, where he started in 2012 as vice president of donor development before being named president and CEO in 2014. Goorhouse also previously worked for a year at the Council for Michigan Foundations.

“It is a hard and happy decision at the same time. It’s one of those things where you’re trying to discern where is the best place to use your gifts and abilities in the community, and what’s best for the organization you’re working for. Both of those were important to me,” Goorhouse told MiBiz.

Goorhouse, who was first involved with the CFHZ in high school while serving on the youth advisory committee, remains undecided about his next move. However, he will help the organization over the coming months with the leadership transition, which could take four to five months.

He’s not clear whether he will stay in philanthropy or move to the public or private sectors.

“I’m feeling like it’s the right time and also my personal desire to pursue different avenues to create impact and look for what’s the next challenge for me personally,” he said, adding that “making sure the economic system is working for everyone” is an overarching career goal. “You don’t have to be in the nonprofit world to do that.”

Meanwhile, Goorhouse will leave the CFHZ in a “really healthy place” financially and with its personnel. The community foundation is having its “biggest fundraising year to date,” and Goorhouse said the CFHZ has tripled the amount of its assets since he joined the staff 11 years ago. 

The organization ended 2021 with $120 million in assets, including overseeing 199 donor-advised funds that total nearly $40.7 million in assets, according to the foundation's 2021 annual report. The foundation last year issued $10.8 million in total grants, including more than $900,000 in scholarships.

CFHZ Board Chairperson Diane Kooiker said in a statement that the organization has “experienced meaningful growth and impact” under Goorhouse’s leadership and “we are sad to see him step away from his role. Mike is a remarkable leader whose contributions to the Foundation, and the community at-large, have played a significant role in helping those who live, and work, in the greater Holland/Zeeland area thrive. We are grateful for his years of service and the impact he has made on our community during his tenure.”

Goorhouse said growing the foundation’s assets is “not about having a big pot of money. How we have grown is by building additional relationships with different parts of our community. Our ability to relate to, connect with, listen to and influence the Holland/Zeeland area is meaningfully deeper now than it was before.”

Changing that perception of the community foundation as primarily an outlet for wealthy, white individuals has been one of the key successes of his time at CFHZ, Goorhouse added.

“We didn’t have outward commitments to equity and inclusion, and so we’ve come a long way in that,” he said. “We’re not perfect. We’re a long way from being where we need to be, but we have come a long way both in who’s on our team and who we’re listening to.”

Indeed, being a “big tent organization” that represents groups all along the racial or socioeconomic spectrum has been perhaps the largest challenge during his eight years leading the community foundation, Goorhouse said.

He cited grantmaking rounds that may reflect more “progressive” causes, and others that involve “family stability and the importance of kids growing up in stable parent homes, which is seen as a more conservative talking point.”

“We can be a place that looks at the data, the reality and experiences of what’s happening in our community and talk about important issues even if the rest of society is trying to make those issues one side or political, but we can only do that if we’re committed to being a big-tent organization,” Goorhouse said. “We have to be invited to tables on multiple sides of the community.”

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