Paul Hillegonds, chief executive officer of the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, has shared his plan to retire at the end of 2021. Hillegonds is the founding CEO of the Health Fund, joining the foundation as its first employee and growing it to a team of 20. His leadership guided the organization through its first five-year strategic plan, and he’s overseen more than $166 million in grants since 2015.
In May, the Health Fund Board of Directors adopted its new five-year strategic plan. The new plan calls for a continued commitment to the health of Michigan residents, especially children and older adults, along with an expansion of grantmaking and non-grantmaking activities.
“I’m passionate about the Health Fund’s mission and the incredible work of our grant partners. And I’m so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve with this staff and board, as well as the financial support from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan that has made our work possible,” said Hillegonds. “The new strategic plan presents a timely opportunity for another leader to carry forward the foundation’s critical work and grow the organization as well as its impact.”
“Paul Hillegonds’ deep understanding of Michigan’s diverse communities is unparalleled, and his experience bringing people together to solve problems has been invaluable,” said Health Fund Board Chair Susan Jandernoa. “Under his leadership, the Health Fund has grown from a startup foundation to a source of support and expertise that helps people all across the state. We are lucky to have had him as our founding CEO, and thankful for the standard he has set going forward.”
Hillegonds’ career has always been focused on improving life for the people of Michigan. He served for two decades in the Michigan House of Representatives, including as co-speaker and speaker of the house. He then held positions as president of Detroit Renaissance and senior vice president of Community Affairs for DTE Energy; in both roles he championed metro Detroit, facilitated regional investment and collaboration, and worked to advance equity and justice.
These values have guided his service on numerous philanthropic boards including the Kresge Foundation, the Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. In addition, Hillegonds serves on the boards for the Center for Michigan, Michigan Future, Inc., and New Detroit, and has been the chair of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority since 2013.
The Health Fund Board of Directors has formed a committee to establish a guiding vision for the CEO role and lead the hiring process for Hillegonds’ successor. They look forward to conducting a robust search in the coming months.