Metz Legacy Society: Kathy Humphrey


If you searched for one word to describe Kathy Humphrey it might be passionate. But, it also could be prevention. Advocate and compassion come to mind too. “I grew up with parents who taught me basic core values—the dignity and worth of every human being, social justice, human rights and doing what I could to help people who were less fortunate than me. Those values provided guideposts for how I wanted to live my life personally and professionally,” Kathy said. Those values are evident in her words and actions.

“With my parents as role models and seeing how they lived their lives, working in the nonprofit sector reflected my commitment to improving people’s lives. It was a logical next step,” she said. She attended Duke University for undergrad studies in psychology and Indiana University for her master’s in counseling. “After grad school, I moved to Michigan and began work as a therapist. I spent much of my career in mental health administration, overseeing services for adults and children (other than inpatient). I became increasingly frustrated by the lack of funding for essential prevention-based services, the kinds of services I thought could reduce or, in some instances, eliminate the pain and suffering I was seeing,” she said.

That prevention goal she sought was fulfilled when she was named executive director of Planned Parenthood Centers of West and Northern Michigan. “I saw it as chance to move upstream and focus on prevention. I knew the profound impact the organization had on quality of life, health and economic stability of women and families in our community,” she said. Kathy is well known in West Michigan for her 27 years of leadership of Planned Parenthood and growing the healthcare organization from eight to 52 counties.

She notified Grand Rapids Community Foundation of her estate plans in 2003and has been attending Metz Legacy Society events for many years. “While I was involved with Planned Parenthood, I had the opportunity to work directly with Grand Rapids Community Foundation and its staff. I was able to observe its unwavering commitment to our community. I appreciate its strategic leadership as a catalyst for change, the collaborative outcome-oriented systems approach to addressing issues and its ability to live its core values—which are consistent with my own, especially when it comes to diversity and and inclusion. I wanted to leverage my planned gift by combining it with those of others. I knew firsthand the expertise, experience and wisdom of the staff and leadership. I am sure that my planned gift will honor my personal priorities and values and will be managed responsibly and well. I knew the Community Foundation was the perfect place to direct my gift,” she said. She envisions her bequest helping women, children and families with a focus on prevention.

Since retiring from Planned Parenthood a year ago, Kathy has stayed involved with six organizations that reflect her passion, values and views. “If I had unlimited time and resources, I’d be involved with 50 of them, because there’s so much need in this community. I focus my time on a few that I believe have the greatest impact. I look for significant unmet need and organizations that support my core values of justice, human rights and prevention or that serve families and children,” she said. She serves on the state boards of the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, and she volunteers with Progressive Women’s Alliance, Tri-Cities YMCA, Humanity for Prisoners and her spiritual community in Grand Haven, where she resides.

Kathy plans to be doing some childcare volunteer work in the near future, as her son Ryan and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby boy in late June.

To learn more about the Metz Legacy Society and making a gift in your will or estate plan, contact one of the Community Foundation’s development team members: Marilyn, Shaun or Jonse at 616.454.1751.