Lifetime Achievement Award

Mariam Noland

Special Lifetime Achievement Award for Leadership in Philanthropy

Nominated by Detroit Institute of Arts

Mariam Noland became the founding president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) in 1985. Part of her exceptional leadership has been working with other community organizations to build community-based philanthropy. So far, CFSEM has distributed more than $1 billion through 62,000 grants to nonprofit organizations in seven Michigan counties. 

Mariam is considered a hero for her instrumental role in gathering support from community leaders for the “Grand Bargain,” a more-than-$800-million collaboration that helped Detroit exit bankruptcy and save the Detroit Institute of Arts’ collection by funding the pensions of City of Detroit retirees. The Community Foundation administers the money, committed by a team of foundations, corporations and individuals, and spearheaded the fund raising for this work.

Under Noland’s leadership, other major initiatives of the Community Foundation have included the New Economy Initiative, Healthy Food Connect, the Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund, the GreenWays Initiative, and the Detroit Neighborhood Fund. Most recently, Mariam quickly assembled partners to create targeted COVID  Response Funds, which supplied over $12 million in grants to organizations in crisis across Detroit and the region.

Mariam currently serves on the boards of the Bipartisan Policy Center, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, and Downtown Detroit Partnership.  She has served on the boards of trustees of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Independent Sector Council on Foundations, and Council of Michigan Foundations.

Her community work earned her the Eleanor Josaitis Unsung Hero Award and recognition as a Michiganian of the Year by The Detroit News, which referred to Noland as the “ultimate problem solver.” Noland has been recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business multiple times as one of Michigan’s Most Influential Women.

Mariam’s leadership is selfless, thoughtful, humble, and creative. She has built one of the most powerful boards in the region and serves as a role model for how thoughtful philanthropy can change the landscape of a region, making her highly regarded both locally and across the country.