Mr. Collier transitioned from the Rotary Charities of Traverse City to serving as vice president and chief operating officer of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) in 1995. In addition to his regular duties, which included supervising staff, developing new projects, and overseeing daily operations, Mr. Collier was able to guide the design and implementation of the Great Lakes Community Foundation Environmental Collaborative (Great Lakes Collaborative). The Great Lakes Collaborative sought to educate participating community foundations on environmental grantmaking and to assist them in expanding (or in some cases forming) environmentally focused endowment funds (4). Initially the collaborative was supported in part by grants from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Great Lakes Protection Fund, with 21 shoreline community foundations involved. The Great Lakes Collaborative has since grown to include over 70 foundations.
“We have got to recognize that philanthropy is best because it is diverse. We have got to celebrate diversity and inclusiveness and recognize that while there are great differences of opinion, differences of perspective, differences of viewpoint, everybody can make a difference.”
In 2000, Mr. Collier succeeded Ms. Dorothy Johnson as president and CEO of CMF, and currently remains in that position. As president and CEO, he has helped to reaffirm CMF’s public policy focus, and is a strong supporter of treating government as a partner of the nonprofit sector. Mr. Collier has worked to formalize this partnership through the creation and support of both the Michigan Nonprofit Council for Charitable Trusts to the Office of the Attorney General and the Governor’s Office of Foundation Liaison, alongside programs such as Foundations on the Hill. Additionally, Mr. Collier has been instrumental in overseeing the expansion and scaling-up of Michigan programs, including overseeing the growth of the Great Lakes Collaborative to include Canadian community foundations as well as those from other states. He has also supported the development of the Michigan Community Foundations’ Ventures, a supporting organization of CMF that seeks to strengthen community foundations in Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana, in partnership with regional associations of grantmakers serving those states.
Mr. Collier is an outspoken proponent of infrastructure organizations within the nonprofit sector. When discussing CMF and the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) in his interview for the Our State of Generosity project he stated: “The idea was we created a safe place for members to come together, learn from each other, share stories, at times disagree and opt out of a partnership, which is fine, but creating that safe place, I think was very, very important”. Mr. Collier has shown his dedication to that idea through his extensive service to Michigan’s infrastructure organizations. He has served as a trustee of MNA since 1998, and has been a member of the Michigan Community Service Commission since 2000. Similarly, Mr. Collier has been very involved with national infrastructure organizations. He currently serves on the public policy committee for both the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers and the Council on Foundations, and has previously held other volunteer positions at both organizations.
“I think the first thing we learned was that we were stronger collectively than we were individually; that there was benefit by really pulling together and pooling our resources to partner with government. I think that was the first thing. I think the second thing was that we realized that we had to treat government not as an adversary, because it would have been easy when you have the Tax Act that happened in 1969 … My response is that we have learned over the years that government is an extremely important partner and that it is much better for us to be at the table with government than to be on the menu for government.”
Outside of these infrastructure organizations, Mr. Collier has been involved in a wide range of boards throughout the sector. Earlier in his career, Mr. Collier served on the nonprofit board of the nonprofit panel of Independent Sector, and he also dedicated time and effort to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, acting as a trustee of the Michigan AIDS Fund, a member of the steering committee for Funders Concerned About AIDS (based in New York), and he continues to serve as a trustee for the Michigan AIDS Coalition. Mr. Collier has served as a member of the board of directors of the Michigan Association of United Ways, and was appointed by the governor to the executive committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in 2011.