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Foundation executive addresses literacy

Jan. 27, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A high-ranking executive at a local foundation will tackle the literacy crisis Friday, Jan. 30, as part of the Keystone Community Bank Breakfast Speaker Series at Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business.

Dr. Juan R. Olivarez, president and chief executive officer of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, will deliver a talk titled "Reach Higher, America: Reach Higher, Kalamazoo--Overcoming the Literacy Crisis."

The event, the third in the speaker series for the 2008-09 academic year, begins with breakfast at 7:30 a.m., with Olivarez's presentation following at 8 a.m. in the Dean's Conference Room in Schneider Hall, home of the business college. The free event is open to the public. Reservations are required and can be made by calling (269) 387-5050. Parking is available in the nearby Fetzer Center parking lot.

Olivarez joined the Kalamazoo Community Foundation as president and CEO in July 2008. Prior to that, he served as president of Grand Rapids Community College from 1999 through June 2008.

Olivarez holds a doctoral degree in family and child ecology from Michigan State University, a master's degree in educational psychology from Wayne State University and a bachelor's degree from Aquinas College. During his career in education, he held positions as a school psychologist, supervisor of elementary special education, director of high incidence programs and services for special education, and a research and development director.

In 1991, Olivarez became dean of Institutional Research at Grand Rapids Community College and was promoted to chief executive officer of the Community Learning Enterprise in 1996. He also served as the president of the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation.

Olivarez has demonstrated his commitment to community involvement by serving on several local state and national committees and boards, including the National Institute for Literacy Board, following an appointment by President George W. Bush; Lt. Gov. John Cherry's Commission on Higher Education and Economic Growth, after an appointment by Gov. Jennifer Granholm; and Delta Strategy Executive Committee.

The Keystone Community Bank Breakfast Speaker Series is underwritten through the generosity of Keystone Community Bank. The series provides an opportunity for the local community to hear prominent business leaders, WMU faculty, alumni and friends of the Haworth College of Business discuss current business issues and corporate strategies as well as key information regarding the continuing progress of the business college.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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