Sean Decatur and Russell Kavalhuna Join Joyce Foundation Board


The Joyce Foundation is pleased to welcome to its Board of Directors American Museum of Natural History President Sean M. Decatur and Henry Ford College President Russell A. Kavalhuna.

Prior to joining the American Museum of Natural History, where he became its first African American president in April 2023 and the first African American to head a major New York City cultural institution, Decatur had a distinguished career in academia and science. He was most recently president of Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. During his decade-long tenure there, Kenyon achieved significant gains in student body diversity, resources for financial aid, and record enrollment, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to joining Kenyon College, Decatur served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College, and was a professor at Mount Holyoke College and a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Decatur, a chemist, also currently serves on numerous advisory boards and is chair of the Inclusive Learning Group Advisory Committee at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Since 2018, Kavalhuna has been president of Henry Ford College, a community college with 13,000 students in Dearborn, Michigan. At Henry Ford, Kavalhuna has successfully focused on completion rates for low-income students and students of color. He also was notably selected to join the inaugural cohort of the Aspen Institute’s New Presidents Fellowship for Community College Excellence in 2020. Before joining Henry Ford College, Kavalhuna was a former federal prosecutor and commercial airline pilot. Kavalhuna was appointed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to a statewide Workforce Development Board and to the Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services. He is also a member of the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, the statewide board for all aviation infrastructure spending and rule making.

“Sean and Russell bring deep knowledge of and connection to Ohio and Michigan, two states in which Joyce makes significant investments. We are looking forward to the insightful contributions they will bring to the Board,” said Joyce Foundation Board Chairman Jose Alvarez.

“As a scientist, educator, and now natural history museum leader, I have devoted my career to pursuing inquiry and knowledge and to ensuring that educational, social, and cultural opportunities are available broadly. It is a great honor to join the board of the Joyce Foundation, with its longstanding commitment to advancing racial equity, education and economic mobility and, frankly feels like a perfect fit. I look forward to working with my fellow board members in continuing Joyce’s good work.” Sean M. Decatur

A Cleveland native and, and until recently, a lifelong Ohio resident, Decatur earned his bachelors degree from Swarthmore College and his Ph.D. degree in biophysical chemistry from Stanford University

Kavalhuna earned his undergraduate degree in aviation science from Western Michigan University and his juris doctor from WMU’s Cooley Law School.

“I have a passion for public service, education, and institutional leadership — I am proud to bring those skills to the Joyce Foundation Board, and to work with an already formidable group that is committed to furthering opportunities for the next generation in this region.” Russell A. Kavalhuna

The Chicago-based Joyce Foundation is a private, nonpartisan philanthropy that invests in public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region. It supports policy research, development, and advocacy in six program areas: Culture, Democracy, Education & Economic Mobility, Environment, Gun Violence Prevention & Justice Reform, and Journalism.

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