As he steps into his role as the medical school’s new chief development officer, DeWayne Cook is hopeful that the work ahead of him will help build an environment of transformational and life-changing philanthropy.
“It’s that opportunity to know that someone’s generosity helped create the next great physician or researcher here at WMed,” said Cook, who began his duties in Kalamazoo in November. “We’ve got the people, the resources, the generous donors, and the leadership to make it happen."
Cook comes to WMed with more than a decade of fundraising experience and a deep understanding and track record of success in donor engagement, relationship cultivation, campaign management, and team leadership.
The opportunity to lead fundraising efforts at the medical offered the chance at a homecoming of sorts for Cook and his family. Cook, a native of Detroit, is a graduate of Davenport University where he earned a master’s degree in management with a strategic management focus and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Meanwhile, Cook’s wife, Leah, a Grand Rapids native, earned her PhD at Western Michigan University and currently serves as director of the School of Science and Math at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Cook said he and his wife, along with their three children, are excited about the chance to come back to Michigan and call the Kalamazoo area home.
“Kalamazoo is a community that cares about family,” he said. “For my wife it’s an opportunity to return to the place that helped mold her into the professor and educator that she is today and we’re excited to come back and give back.”
Prior to coming to WMed, Cook was the senior director of Global Relationships and Resources for Corus International which is an ensemble of long-serving global leaders in international development and humanitarian assistance. In the role, he served as the strategic leader for a three-year denominational campaign aimed at raising more than $125 million for a world hunger endowment.
Cook has also held fundraising leadership positions with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) where he managed a team of 10 employees; PULSE Movement; Centerpoint Church in Kalamazoo, and Reformed Church in America. He previously worked in fundraising in West Michigan for Dwelling Place and the Spectrum Health Systems Foundation.
“One of the things that really drew me to WMed is I’ve always had a heart for healthcare and medicine,” Cook said. “I know the power of both and what they can do for a community so it was an easy choice for me to come back and be a part of this growing community. I’m ready to embrace it again and ready to call it home.”
Cook’s first week on the job was busy as he met with numerous WMed leaders and stakeholders. In the coming weeks, he said he will take part in what he called a “welcome tour” to connect with medical school donors and begin building the foundation for a successful year of fundraising in 2024 and beyond.
“I’m an innovator and a builder and the work ahead of us will be all about leadership, creativity, and building a program of giving that focuses on our great community and enhances WMed’s profile locally, regionally, and nationally,” Cook said. “It’s exciting to be part of that and help create something that will have a lasting impact.”
Cook’s arrival to WMed is part of a collaboration between the medical school and the Western Michigan University Foundation (WMUF), under the direction of Executive Director Kristen DeVries, to provide strategic leadership and management of the medical school’s fundraising and advancement activities. DeVries led the national search for Cook, who is employed by WMUF but dedicated exclusively to medical school fundraising. In his role, Cook is a member of WMed’s senior leadership team and his office is located on the medical school’s W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus.