William Davidson Foundation names new president and CEO

The William Davidson Foundation’s Board of Directors announced Wednesday that Darin McKeever has been named president and chief executive officer, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

McKeever, the Foundation’s chief program and strategy officer, will succeed Jonathan S. Aaron, chairman of the Board of Directors, who has served as president since the philanthropic organization’s founder, William “Bill” Davidson, died in 2009.

The William Davidson Foundation is a private, family foundation established by Davidson in 2005 to advance the economic, cultural and civic vitality of Southeast Michigan, the State of Israel, and the Jewish community.

 “I am forever grateful for Mr. Davidson’s confidence in my leadership and the trust he placed in me to lead the Foundation in its infancy,” says Aaron. “Over the years, we have grown into an outcomes-driven, results-oriented organization with a full professional staff. As Darin steps into his new role as president, I look forward to working with him, the staff and my fellow board members as we continue to honor our founder and his philanthropic vision.”

Ethan Daniel Davidson, the son of the Foundation’s namesake, praised Aaron for his leadership role.

“I want to express my gratitude to Jonathan for stepping into the role of president after my father died,” says Davidson, a member of the Board of Directors. “He has worn two hats for almost nine years – chairman of the board and president. He now passes the baton to a creative leader who has already brought so much to this Foundation.”

In his role as chief program and strategy officer, McKeever led the Foundation’s board and staff through a strategic planning process that established the organization’s philanthropic goals and methods for achieving them. He has created and filled new staff positions for the program, grants management and communications functions, and has carefully stewarded efforts to raise the organization’s visibility and deepen its partnerships with grantees, philanthropists, and other foundations.

A native of Connecticut, McKeever has invested deeply in understanding the challenges and opportunities in Southeast Michigan, in Israel, and in the Jewish community.

 “It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the president and CEO of the William Davidson Foundation,” McKeever says. “Mr. Davidson was a lifelong philanthropist who cared deeply about the welfare of future generations, particularly residents of Southeast Michigan and Israel and members of the Jewish diaspora. I am grateful for the trust the Board has placed in me and proud to lead the Foundation in their name.”

McKeever brings to the William Davidson Foundation well-honed experience as a social entrepreneur as well as expertise in global philanthropy. He worked previously for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where he built and led an international team charged with improving the effectiveness of philanthropy and charities worldwide.

Earlier, he served for more than a decade as co-founder and executive director of Heads Up, a provider of academic and enrichment programs that, under his leadership, became the largest AmeriCorps program serving the Washington, D.C. region.

McKeever graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College, with a degree in social studies. He received his master’s in public administration as a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. McKeever currently serves on the boards of Midtown Detroit Inc., the Jewish Funders Network, and the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator.
“Darin brings a rare combination of expertise and skills,” says Ralph J. Gerson, treasurer and member of the Board of Directors. “He co-founded and built from the ground up a successful nonprofit organization. He understands nonprofit organizations from the inside out. He also led efforts at the nation’s largest foundation to make giving to causes around the world both easier and more impactful.
Given that our scope is domestic and international, Darin’s experience is particularly valuable to us.”

“Darin’s affinity both for Detroit and the Jewish community helped with a seamless transition into the Foundation,” adds Karen W. Davidson, widow of the founder and member of the Board of Directors. “Our partners and peers knew immediately that they had a trusted ally and thought partner. Darin’s newfound love of Israel and his understanding of our global context especially thrills me.”

 McKeever’s appointment was made at the Foundation’s last board meeting when a new slate of officers was elected. Danielle Olekszyk, the Foundation’s chief financial office, will add Vice President to her title. Olekszyk has served as CFO since 2014 and was the organization’s first hire. Board members Ralph Gerson and Mary Aaron will serve as Treasurer and Secretary, respectively.

Now with 17 professional staff members, the $1.2 billion foundation is dedicated to honoring the memory of its founder – William “Bill” Davidson – and continuing his lifelong commitment to philanthropy.

The late Bill Davidson was an internationally recognized businessman and philanthropist. An expert in making troubled companies profitable, he transformed a struggling, family-owned automotive-glass fabricating firm into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of architectural and automotive glass. He also was the owner of several professional sports teams, including the Detroit Pistons, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Detroit Shock women’s basketball team.

Born and raised in Detroit, Davidson earned his bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Michigan and his law degree from Wayne State University. Despite his stellar career in business and professional sports, it was always his family and his Jewish heritage that were most important to him. Throughout his life, he supported projects and organizations that preserved and enhanced Jewish life and continuity.



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