Reflections from the Director

Posted by: DVULI | June 10, 2023

Letter From Eileen Kooreman
Spring/Summer 2023

I never dreamed I would work at the same place for over 25 years!  I moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, with my family in 1996 for a temporary stay while my husband went back to school. Little did I know, God had other plans.

I started working at the DeVos Family Foundations on  October 3, 1996, as an administrative assistant. At my job interview, it was mentioned that the DeVos family was thinking about doing a philanthropic project together. This was not how they usually did their philanthropy, and they weren’t sure what direction it would take. That project  became a mission—to strengthen and build up Christian leaders who were called to serve urban youth.

Ginny VanderHart and I, the only two staff members at that time, had one big problem.

How would we carry out a mission to do something we knew nothing about with leaders who worked in a context completely different than our own?

It turns out that not knowing is the best way to approach something new.

Question assumptions. Be open to seeing things differently. Allow yourself to be in uncomfortable spaces. Listen for the truth even when someone tells you that you have it all wrong, and when unsure of yourself, go to the Lord and pray, pray, pray.

Being part of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative has been such an amazing experience. It has shaped me as a leader and blessed me beyond my wildest dreams. It has opened my heart to the joys and challenges of the  hundreds of urban leaders who go unnoticed for their work every day. People like you who make daily sacrifices for kids and community, want to be better and finish strong, and believe the gospel still has the power to transform lives. You have invited me into your cities, homes, ministries,  and churches. The friendships I’ve made and the opportunity to be a part of your world have changed me in profound ways.

As Dr. John Perkins is fond of saying, “My friends are my treasure.” Let me rephrase that–my friends, YOU are my treasure.

I hope DVULI has changed you as well. I hope you are up for being a lifelong learner, for being curious about the way others see the world, the way others approach God in loving worship, the way others bring their gifts and their culture and offer it for all to savor. We serve a God who is that big.

Let’s embrace each other as we move forward to the finish line.

Eileen Kooreman
DVULI Director
IG: @erkooreman
FB: @ekooreman

This letter was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of On the LEVELTo read the full newsletter click here.

On the LEVEL is a print publication of the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (DVULI). All content is property of DVULI and may not be republished or reproduced without permission. Views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the DVULI staff, RDV Corporation, or the DeVos Family Foundations. The DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative is a 501c3, founded in 1998 and made possible by the generous support of the DeVos Family Foundations. © 2023