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Grand Rapids Hires Chief Advancement Officer - Case Study



Chief Advancement


2,300 Students


Grand Rapids, MI



"GRCS was thrilled with the finalists we presented and brought them all to campus. In the end, they offered the job to Michael Calhoun and he has accepted enthusiastically. Michael has been doing development work with Compassion International and has brought an incredible gift set to the GRCS team."

brian jensen, executive search consultant

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Executive Summary

When they realized they were in need of a staff role exclusively dedicated to advancement, Grand Rapids Christian Schools reached out to Vanderbloemen to conduct the search. Previously, they had had different roles amongst their leadership working on aspects of advancement work, but after reevaluation since the onset of 2020, they realized they needed to commit more time and resources to advancement work by hiring a Chief Advancement Officer.  Our team began the search, and was able to narrow it down to a few choice candidates who we presented to GRCS. Their chosen candidate, Michael Calhoun, has transitioned into this role and has been thriving in the GRCS community. 


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Grand Rapids Christian Schools provide a high-quality, faith-based education to students in preschool through 12th grade. With five campuses located throughout Grand Rapids and Rockford, Grand Rapids Christian Schools educates over 2200 preschool through 12th-grade students annually and nurtures the lives of a spiritually, culturally, and economically diverse student body.  


Grand Rapids Christian Schools recognize that the school is only one component of a faith formation process shared with the home and the church. While the home is the fundamental and most Biblical arena for faith formation, the Christian school bears an important responsibility in this process as well.



At the time, GRCS had no one serving in a chief advancement role. In order to move forward with their vision, they needed someone with an entrepreneurial spirit who could strategize for the future of GRCS. Knowing they would need outside help to fill the role, they contacted Vanderbloemen for their search.


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Throughout this search, Vanderbloemen wanted to ensure that we would be able to present Grand Rapids Christian Schools with candidates that were not only qualified for the role, but could align with the GRCS mission and vision. When our recruiter working this search found Michael Calhoun, she knew that there was something unique about him. 


Jessica Barro, Vanderbloemen Executive Search Recruiter, shared her thoughts, saying "I haven't had many moments in this job where it was so clear that the Lord was working. Michael Calhoun hadn't previously worked in education, but his skillset and accomplishments were so perfectly aligned with what GRCS was looking for, that I knew he could potentially be able to flex his skills to fit the role. He had a transferable skillset that was invaluable, and we were really excited to present him as one of our candidates for the Chief Advancement Officer role. It all seemed to fall into place, and throughout the whole process it felt clear that God was moving in this search." 

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After being presented with multiple candidates. Michael Calhoun stood out as the clear choice for Grand Rapids Christian Schools. Michael had the perfect strategy and development experience for GRCS, having served as the Director of Global Innovation for Compassion International, as well as the Vice President of Global Engagement for One Child Matters. He believes that serving students allows the church to serve outwards- from students, to families, to the church, and to the community.


Here at Vanderbloemen, the executive search process is a detailed regiment, wherein our consultants and recruiters work alongside each other to get to know your school in order to understand what it needs, search for the best candidates, and work alongside you to narrow down your selection. Our consultants and recruiters use an extensive network of pastors, Christian educators, and non-profit leaders to find the best-fitting candidates for your organization. 

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The Vanderbloemen team brings combined experience in a variety of Christian fields, specialties, and backgrounds. Our consultant working on this hire had over 15 years of work in Christian education, and therefore was able to accurately understand the needs of Grand Rapids Christian Schools. Since Michael Calhoun has joined the GRCS team, they have been able to make notable progress in planning the future of Grand Rapids Christian Schools through advancement work. 


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Topics: Education, Higher Education, School, casestudy