The governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison (OFL) is a novel organization that facilitates relationships and creates opportunities for partnership among foundations, and between foundations and the state government. This organization, which has flourished under the direction of Ms. Aldridge-Eason, is the first of its kind and has since served as a model for similar organizations nationwide. This organization was created in response to the economic downturn in the state of Michigan as a way to increase the efficiency and thoroughness of community support through the nonprofit sector. Since its inception, the OFL has connected more than $100 million from foundations to state initiatives including reforms in K-16 education, economic and workforce development, health, early childhood, and land use (1). The OFL brought together foundations, school leaders, and government officials in a collaborative effort to found the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, which was then instrumental in creating the Office of Great Start. Another success of the OFL has been its involvement with the Michigan College Access Network, where it was able to use foundation grants to leverage matching support from the U.S. Department of Education, equaling $25 million (2).
“We are here to work on strategic partnerships between government and philanthropy with the intent to move and change systems to better serve Michigan residents. Changing systems often means changing policies. So we are interested in policy reforms that better, that improve, the lives of Michigan residents.”
Ms. Aldridge-Eason was also influential as a facilitator when the state created the country’s first nationally funded Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative. This program was a partnership between local and national foundations and the Michigan Department of Corrections, and demonstrated Ms. Aldridge-Eason’s ability to form relationships and build trust between various parties based on their similar goals and initiatives.
Ms. Aldridge-Eason recently stepped down as the chair for the board of directors at Genesys Health Systems, and continues to serve on the board and as a member of the board of directors at both Altarum Institute and Tapology, Inc., and as a member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives. She has also been affiliated as a member, fellow, treasurer, director, or coordinator with a vast number of nonprofit organizations including, but certainly not limited to, the Michigan Public Health Institute, Michigan Community Service Commission, Baptist World Alliance, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Flint Youth Service Corp., Flint Young Women’s Christian Association, and the American Society for Public Administration.