Community Foundation president to retire at the end of the year

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Mariam Noland, founding president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, will retire at the end of the year — ending a 36-year run with the foundation.

“The generosity and caring nature of this region are extraordinary,” Noland said in a statement Tuesday. “I have been so fortunate to work with many others to help our region and its residents thrive. Seeing the Community Foundation’s positive impacts grow over the years is thrilling.”

Mariam Noland, president of the of Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, is honored for her efforts as the 'Grand Bargain' deal maker during Detroit's bankruptcy process.

Noland’s announcement follows a banner year of annual giving for the foundation, setting a record of grants awarded totaling $104 million in 2020. The grants supported COVID-related needs, including testing sites for vulnerable populations, support for health care workers, small business relief and mental health programs.

“Mariam Noland’s leadership in this community cannot be overstated,” said James B. Nicholson, chair of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan Board of Trustees. “Her career has been dedicated to building our region’s charitable infrastructure. Along the way, she became a hero in the effort to preserve retiree pensions and cultural assets during Detroit’s bankruptcy.

"She has helped the community during crises and provided leadership to improve life for all in our region. We owe her so much gratitude.  At the same time, we are happy for Mariam and her spouse, Jim. They deserve to catch their breath and enjoy the next chapter in their lives.”

The Community Foundation said it will begin a national search for Noland’s successor in the near future. Noland is credited with leading the Community Foundation in awarding more than $1.2 billion in grants during her tenure to nonprofit organizations mostly throughout southeast Michigan. According the foundation, she also spearheaded some of the region’s most “transformational initiatives” and accumulated more than $1 billion in assets.

The Detroit News named Noland a Michiganian of the Year in 2015. That same year The News noted that it was Noland who led the effort to rally national and local foundation leaders to save Detroit from an expensive and lengthy battle in bankruptcy court and offer a remedy — a $816 million settlement fund tied to what became known as the "grand bargain" — that enabled creditors and pensioners move forward.

Also among her other honors, Noland received in 2020 the Special Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Philanthropy from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Detroit Chapter. 

Noland serves on the boards of the Downtown Detroit Partnership Inc., Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.