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Leader Profile:

Carolyn Bloodworth

Carolyn Bloodworth, long-time director of corporate giving for the Consumers Energy Foundation, brings the perspective of a corporate grantmaker to understanding Michigan's philanthropic scene. Having served on the boards of the Michigan Community Service Commission, the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Michigan Nonprofit Association, Bloodworth participated in creating the culture and implementing programs of Michigan’s philanthropic sector.

Leadership Highlights

Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about the value of engaging youth in philanthropic lessons early in their educational careers.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about the importance of relationships and human capital in the philanthropic sector.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about the role of public policy in the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) and the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA).
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about the importance of listening in philanthropic leadership.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about why members wearing "multiple hats" has been so effective in Michigan's philanthropic sector.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about how Michigan members have balanced personal biases in public policy work while wearing multiple hats.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about how Michigan's philanthropic leaders worked together to represent the needs of the state.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about the inspiring vision and fearlessness of Michigan's philanthropic leaders.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about the powerful mission of the ConnectMichigan Alliance (CMA).
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about how the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) has helped her as a corporate grantmaker.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about her career in philanthropy.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about how Consumer's Energy continues to support youth through the America's Promise initiative.
Ms. Carolyn Bloodworth talks about how Consumer's Energy supports a variety of Michigan communities through grantmaking.

Education

Carolyn Bloodworth attended courses at Western Michigan University (WMU) before receiving a Bachelor of Arts in business from Spring Arbor University.

Philanthropic Biography

Carolyn Bloodworth first began working with the Consumers Power utility company in 1981, while taking classes at WMU. In 1992, a few years after earning a degree from Spring Arbor University, she began working in corporate giving shortly after Consumers Power had formally established a corporate foundation. By 1997, Bloodworth was running the foundation’s grantmaking program, which extended to 17 states and 21 countries and currently holds the position of director of corporate giving and education for both Consumers Energy, and its parent company, CMS Energy. Bloodworth also serves as the secretary and treasurer for the Consumers Energy Foundation and the CMS Energy Foundation.

Contributions to the Field

Bloodworth has given her time to a variety of causes and organizations including Michigan FFA Association, Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), The LEAGUE Michigan, Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF), Baker College of Jackson (board of regents), Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC), and the United Way of Jackson County’s Community Solutions Coordinating Council. Through The LEAGUE Michigan, Bloodworth helped develop plans for K-12 education infused with philanthropic elements, similar to the one she received as a child. In an interview with the Our State of Generosity project, Bloodworth said that volunteerism was an integral part of her upbringing and she would like to provide those opportunities for the future generations of Michigan’s youth.

This philanthropic value within education ties into the notion that collaboration is one of the keys to success in building an effective community. Regarding the importance of the work that The LEAGUE has done with Michigan’s youth, Bloodworth said, “we need to build these young people and their character, and build them as people, and as citizens.” Bloodworth also pointed out the importance of the interactions between CMF, MNA, MCSC, and The LEAGUE Michigan, claiming “it is quite an interesting little blur because they are all interwoven in some way. I see the commission (MCSC) as the doing; trying to make sure we mobilize the people to serve the nonprofits, and make good use of the money that the foundations have invested in the state.”

Bloodworth served on boards at the Food Bank Council of Michigan, Junior Achievement of the Michigan Edge, Jackson County’s Promise to Youth Alliance, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Jackson County, and the Nonprofit Network. She also worked with the community advisory board for Michigan State University’s public radio program, WKAR, and served as a director for the ConnectMichigan Alliance.

Bloodworth’s career represents a distinctive collaboration of the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She noted, “many of our business leaders in Michigan, particularly many at my company, are actively involved in the nonprofit sector, they are actively involved on foundations, they serve on many, many boards.” Through work with Consumers Energy, CMF, MCSC, and MNA, Bloodworth experienced the for-profit, foundation, and nonprofit aspects of Michigan’s infrastructure. This intersection of interests and organizations tends to center around the desire to improve the state of Michigan. Bloodworth suggests that these intersections contribute to the health of these organizations individually, and to the state as a whole. Through work with Consumers Energy, CMS Energy, and service to various nonprofit organizations, Bloodworth made a profound impact on youth, education, and community development within Michigan.

Quotes

Bloodworth was interviewed regarding her insights and experiences in working with Michigan’s philanthropic community and the Our State of Generosity (OSoG) partners. The following quotes relate to the five organizing themes of the OSoG project.

Servant Leadership in Michigan Philanthropy

“I had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Russ Mawby a couple weeks ago and we were talking about education and how it needs to be more than just reading and writing. We need to build these young people and their character, and build them as people, and as citizens. That is what The LEAGUE does, but without these kids understanding that’s what they are doing, and so it just makes it very natural for them and I think it becomes more successful as a result of that.”

Human, Financial, and Knowledge Resources

“The people are of the most incredible quality; the thinking, the visioning and the work that they do, and I think that is one of the reasons why that board [of MNA] is so effective. People are not hesitant to speak their mind. There is a great openness. There is some very great discussion. Because so many of the people on the board are on multiple boards themselves, they are thinking beyond just MNA, which I think makes a big difference because they see the bigger picture.”

[On what makes the people who serve with the commission, CMF, MNA, and The LEAGUE effective] “The quality of their character, their deep passion for Michigan and seeing Michigan grow and prosper is so appealing. Positive energy. A real can-do attitude, can-do spirit and I think a love for their field. It tends to really make you want to be as in love with what you are doing as they are.”

Philanthropy and Public Policy

[On CMF’s role in public policy] “I think it is critical that they [CMF] do focus on the public policy. For me as a corporate grantmaker, it is a little challenging because we have different interests and our corporation has policy interests, so it is helpful for me as a foundation that CMF carries that load because I can’t ask my corporation to do that.”

“They [the MNA board of directors] are very, I think, aware and cognizant of those differences and very deliberate in shaping the policy and making sure that all voices get heard and I think that is where it is so effective and that is where that, I think, deeply rooted understanding and knowledge comes into play. I am blown away consistently, when we meet and we talk about the public policy and we talk about the different things that have been done and where we are headed. I am always just very impressed.”

National & Global Implications

“[CMF] was a critical piece of my company’s philanthropy when we decided we wanted to start a foundation back in 1990 … I don’t think we could have done it without it.”

“MNA has been incredibly effective, but what I see is I see such a strong partnership [with CMF] and there is such a deep connection there. I don’t think the two are able to function as effectively without one another.”

Practical Wisdom

“It is interesting. I think business expects philanthropy to be operated as a business. I think we look at a lot of the nonprofits we support and want to make sure their bottom line is strong; we need to make a good investment in them. But what I also think about is the fact that many of our business leaders in Michigan, particularly many at my company, are actively involved in the nonprofit sector, they are actively involved on foundations, they serve on many, many boards. Many of them are nonprofit leaders themselves, so there is a real important intersect[ion] there.”

“I think about the ability of all of those leaders. They take their stripes off when they get into a room. You can’t tell who belongs to which organization and I think that is probably one of the reasons why Michigan’s sector is so strong. And they are all looking out for one another. That is the one thing that I consistently hear, and now being on all of these boards, I see it. In each board meeting I see it. They deeply care and they are rooting for each other. When they go to Washington they are not just wearing the MNA or CMF hat; they are wearing the hat of Michigan and that I think is what makes this such a great success and I am just real pleased to be part of it.”

“Listen ten times more than you speak. That is such an important lesson to learn, and the more you listen the more you see.”

References

Crain’s Detroit Business. (2018). Notable women in nonprofits. https://www.crainsdetroit.com/awards/carolyn-bloodworth-notable-women-nonprofits-2018

This profile was last updated: 02/22/2020