Press release: Gates Foundation official to speak at GRCC graduation


Kathy Mullins
Executive Deputy to the President and Board Liaison

April 8, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A senior official with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation — and a community college alumna — will be the speaker at Grand Rapids Community College’s graduation on May 3.  

Suzanne Walsh is a senior program officer with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and leads its institutional redesign strategies.

“I am delighted that Suzanne Walsh has accepted our invitation to be GRCC’s 2013 commencement speaker,” said President Dr. Steven C. Ender. “In her role with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, she has an exceptional grasp of the importance of the community college in helping to build the economy of the United States. I feel certain our students will appreciate their accomplishments as a GRCC graduate and understand the significance of this accomplishment in regard to their future in today’s global economy.”

Before joining the Gates Foundation in 2010, Walsh was senior program director at the Lumina Foundation for Education. She joined Lumina after working as a program officer in the Heinz Endowments’ Innovation Economy program. Before entering the philanthropy field, she worked at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland and for Oklahoma Indian Legal Services.

“At heart, I’m a community college girl,” she said in a recent interview. "My dad was a professor, and I’m a community college alum.

“My favorite job of all time was working at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s always made sense to me, the idea that education is your passport to the future. At the (Gates) Foundation, we say that it provides a ‘pathway to possibility.’”

Walsh was a student at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y. She received her associate’s degree in applied science there before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in science from Cornell University and master’s in social work and juris doctorate degrees from Case Western Reserve University.
Grand Rapids Community College’s 2013 commencement will take place at 6 p.m., May 3 in the Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse, 111 Lyon St. NE. Tickets are required to attend.

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.