WMU appoints proven leader as new VP for development and alumni relations

Contact: Paula M. Davis
Headshot, Kristen DeVries.

Kristen DeVries

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Following a national search, Western Michigan University has named an experienced fundraising executive to provide strategic leadership and oversight of the University's development efforts, alumni engagement and foundation enterprise.

Kristen R. DeVries, previously vice president for university advancement at Lawrence Technological University, will join WMU as its next vice president for development and alumni relations, effective Jan. 2. She also will serve as executive director of the WMU Foundation.

A proven leader, DeVries fills a critical role at WMU, joining the enterprise-wide effort to advance the strategic direction of the University.

"We are excited to have an experienced and talented leader like Kristen assume this important position," says WMU President Edward Montgomery

"She has a proven track record of building a first-rate development and alumni relations team and successfully executing a major comprehensive fundraising campaign."

Position At WMU

In leading WMU's Office of Development and Alumni Relations, DeVries will oversee a comprehensive fundraising campaign; manage corporate, foundation and major gifts; and preside over all other fundraising activities. She also will be responsible for alumni engagement activities, as well as promoting engagement with faculty, staff and students.

As executive director of the WMU Foundation, she will work closely with WMU's president and with the WMU Foundation Board of Directors to set and meet fundraising goals.

"With Western Michigan University's leadership on such an impressive trajectory, it's a tremendous time to join the University and to engage even more constituents in the great future ahead of us," DeVries says. 

"I'm very impressed by the quality of WMU's development and alumni relations professionals as well as that of the faculty, deans and other academic leadership. I feel honored that I've been asked to join such an excellent group."

DeVries says she is looking forward to the opportunities her role at WMU will present, including launching a comprehensive campaign in the future.

Prior positions

Prior to being tapped by WMU, DeVries led all fundraising and alumni engagement activities at LTU. She first joined the Southfield, Michigan, university in 2016.

During her tenure there, she increased the level of giving every year. In addition, the university experienced a record-setting increase in the number of individual donors, social media engagement increased tenfold, and new technologies such as text to give and crowdfunding were implemented. DeVries also was part of a leadership group that launched a nursing program at LTU in partnership with Ascension, and she was part of a team that achieved AACSB accreditation for the first time in the College of Business and Information Technology. 

Previously, DeVries served as senior associate vice president for strategic engagement and advancement operations at Drexel University; associate director of relationship management, operations and performance improvement at the University of North Texas; and an administrator in fundraising-related posts at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas, National Jewish Medical & Research Center, and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children.

VP search

During WMU's search for a vice president for development and alumni relations, Renee Pearl, director of engagement, guided the operation. 

"Renee has done an excellent job leading our alumni engagement and fundraising efforts during this interim period," Montgomery says. "We appreciate all of her hard work and her willingness to serve during this critical period."

To learn more about WMU's development, alumni relations and foundation activities, visit the Office of Development and Alumni Relations website.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.