Business leader, philanthropist, advocate, mentor, volunteer Kate Wolters has gathered many feathers in her cap during her decades of service to West Michigan. This month, Grand Rapids Community Foundation has added another.
Wolters has become the sixteenth recipient of the Jack Chaille Community Philanthropy Award, given annually to donors who not only support the Community Foundation but also serve as volunteers or donors to other community efforts.
“Kate is a tireless visionary and we honor her with equal enthusiasm,” said Community Foundation President Diana Sieger. “Her support of this community and our Community Foundation has been long-standing and outstanding. She has big ideas backed by a big heart, and we’re honored to recognize her as a leader in our donor family.”
The Community Foundation established the award in 1997 to commemorate the illustrious contributions of its namesake, William Jackson Chaille, who himself became the award’s first recipient. Since that time, the Community Foundation has honored 14 more leaders sharing his infectious spirit for giving and passion for people. Each recipient has demonstrated consistent financial support and a long-term commitment to the Community Foundation, as well as advocacy for its projects and leadership.
Wolters exemplifies all of these stellar qualities and then some. Among her contributions to the Community Foundation are creating the Kate Pew Wolters Fund, a dynamic donor advised fund; co-chairing the life-altering Challenge Scholars education campaign; and blazing the trail in the Metz Society for planned giving. These shining examples prove her commitment to community, and have inspired other philanthropists and volunteers to follow her compelling example.
Broader community involvement deepens this dedication. Wolters is a member of the Steelcase Board of Directors, chair of the Steelcase Foundation and president of the Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation, which she founded alongside her late husband in 1997. She is co-chair of the First Steps Commission and a board member of both the Progressive Women’s Alliance of West Michigan and Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service. Formerly, she’s served on the Founders Bank and Trust board of directors and has lent her expertise to a plethora of non-profits, including Indian Trails Camp, Grand Rapids Art Museum Foundation, Michigan State University Foundation, the Disability Funders Network, Aquinas College and UICA.
Wolters’ leadership and advocacy have taken her nationally as well. In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the National Council on Disability, a position the U.S. Senate reconfirmed two years later. In 2004, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm appointed her to the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees and, in 2013, she was reappointed by Governor Rick Snyder to serve the remaining term of former trustee Sue Carnell.