Kristen DeVries

Vice President & Executive Director, WMU Foundation

A Michigan native (married to a native Kalamazooan), Kristen believes that the power of higher education lies in its ability to transform lives, empowering individuals to envision themselves changing the world, then providing the tools for them to do just that. She has spent her career on the front lines of these transformations, joining philanthropists at all levels with universities dedicated to serving their communities. 

Kristen DeVries, 2023 Women of
Achievement and Courage Award Recipient

Leadership | Kristen is the first woman to have held the titles of Vice President for University Advancement at Western Michigan University and Executive Director of the WMU Foundation. With a depth of experience building exceptional fundraising and alumni relations teams, she manages corporate, foundation, and major giving, as well as alumni engagement and donor relations, while engaging in campus-wide conversations regarding comprehensive student success and empowerment through technology. Kristen has served several institutions of higher education around the country in similar roles, leaving each with sustained increases in philanthropic support and improved pathways to graduation for students from all backgrounds.

She joined WMU in January 2019, and launched its first comprehensive campaign one year later, with a working goal of $1.25 Billion – the most ambitious campaign for any university in the Mid-American Conference. She has created continued growth in philanthropy and alumni engagement, even during the pandemic and subsequent economic insecurity. In 2021, Kristen was responsible for WMU receiving the largest gift ever made to public higher education – the anonymous $550 million Empowering Futures Gift. At Western Michigan University, Kristen continues to drive transformational change through building joyful relationships with alumni, donors, colleagues and students. 

Kristen is also a nationally recognized speaker on fundraising, non-profit governance, creativity and innovation, and collaborative leadership. She serves as a member of the Association of Governing Boards’ Council of Foundation Leaders, an Advancement Advisor to the Educational Advisory Board, and a participant on the American Council on Education’s Women’s Leadership Forum. 

Community | Kristen’s numerous talents and interests are shown in the variety of ways she has engaged with the community. Locally, she has served on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Michigan and the United Way. She is also numbered among Kalamazoo’s Women Who Care and has served Michigan Women Forward as a reviewer for the 53 Voices Challenge. She has performed in the Kindelberger Arts Festival, serves on the real estate committee for her local church, and hosts community gatherings in her home. She is also immensely proud of her three children and five grandchildren! 

Mattie Jordan-Woods

Executive Director, Northside Association for Community Development (NACD)

Mattie Jordan-Woods is the Executive Director of the Northside Association for Community Development (NACD). She is truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to serve the community for over 35 years.  

Mattie Jordan-Woods, 2023 Women of
Achievement and Courage Award Recipient

Leadership | In 2003, together with residents and community members, Mattie led the $3.7M development of a 26,000 square-foot grocery store. NACD owns the land and building.  In 2004, NACD constructed their current office building which houses a day care center. 

Since 2014 Mattie secured funding and managed the development of senior housing units, land control of four city blocks and was instrumental in the development of neighborhood-based health and other vocational training programs.  She currently chairs the board of the Northside Cultural Business District Authority (NCBDA), a tax increment financing (TIF) tool, which will assist in cultural sustainability initiatives, the creation of resident-owned businesses, energy-efficient, quality, affordable below-market owner-occupied family homes and rental housing for young adults. 

Community | She has a Bachelor of Science degree in communications from Western Michigan University. She’s completed several years of Community Development training through the Neighborhood Reinvestment Institute, LISC, and MSHDA. She has also served on the state of Michigan’s food policy committee and graduated from the Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce Leadership program. 

Throughout her career, Mattie has been recognized for her dedication and contributions to the community as the recipient of the African-American Leadership Business Leader of the Year award, NAACP Vanguard award, YWCA Women of Achievement award, Kalamazoo County Government Service award, Chamber of Commerce Derek Jeter award, NAACP Humanitarian award, and honored by numerous other social service organizations.  

Betty Lee Ongley

First Female Mayor in the State of Michigan, City of Portage

Betty is an activist, community leader, and the first female mayor of Portage, Michigan. Ongley is best known as an extraordinary community servant who founded and contributed to a myriad of organizations to make life better for those in Kalamazoo. This is in addition to her high regard as an accomplished professional in the school guidance field, and as a revered mentor to many women who ultimately went on to serve the community in non-profits and in elected office. 

Betty Lee Ongley, 2023 Women of
Achievement and Courage Award Recipient

Leadership | Betty was the first female mayor in the State of Michigan, but before that she had a long career in education and social work. Ongley began her career as a Caseworker for the Michigan Department of Social Services from 1948-1950. She then worked as a teacher, then the Guidance Director and Counselor for the Portage Public School System from 1956-1986. As a guidance professional, Ongley was elected to serve as the president of the Michigan School Counselors Association and the Michigan Guidance and Development Association. She organized the first community Career Conference for Girls in Science and Math in 1982.  

Betty occupied key leadership roles during the early years of the formation of the City of Portage in 1963. In 1968, a few friends asked her to run for City Council after raising $52 to support her campaign. After winning and serving one term on City Council, Ongley decided to run for mayor, and served in that role for three terms until 1979. She was elected to an additional term as Councilmember, in total serving 20 years on the City Council from 1968-1984 and again from 2001-2005. She was then elected to two terms as a Commissioner of Kalamazoo County, Michigan (1987-1990). 

In addition, Betty founded the Kalamazoo Older Women’s League (OWL) and also served on its Board, and also as president of the Michigan, Midwest Region, and National Boards of OWL. She was a co-founder of the Portage League of Women Voters. Betty helped found the local chapter of the National Organization for Women which awarded her the NOW Outstanding Woman of the Year Award for the Kalamazoo area in 1983. 

Community | Betty has been an active member of the community, championing and leading causes that are dedicated to services for seniors, guardianship, assisting the homeless, and healthcare.  

  • In 1990, Betty established the Kalamazoo Guardianship Consortium, connecting 35 local agencies, including hospitals, courts and nonprofits to address guardianship and conservatorship matters. She served as Chair of the board for five years and was a member of the Board from 1990-1997.  
  • Betty was a founding member and board officer of the Michigan Association for Adult Development and Aging from 1992-1994 and served on the State of Michigan Advisory Council on Aging from 1992 to 1996. 
  • Betty has been an active Red Cross volunteer since 1950, serving on disaster teams for Hurricanes Hugo and Andrew and service on the Board of Directors. She has volunteered with the Red Cross for over 70 years. She served on the board of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy from 2002-2008, the latter three years as President of the Board. 

Her leadership on local boards and committees includes but is not limited to: Senior Services, Inc. of Kalamazoo County, the Kalamazoo Healthy Futures Coordinating Council, the Kalamazoo Dementia Consortium, the Visiting Nurse Association Hospice Advisory Committee, Area Agency on Aging Senior Services, Portage Parks & Recreation Board, Health Connect, Military Academy Advisory Committee, Portage 2000 and Portage 2025, and Girl Scouts of America. 

Join MWF in honoring Kristen, Mattie, and Betty

Location: The Fetzer Center at WMU

Date: Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Time: 11:30am-1:30pm