Overview: Responsible for overseeing daily operations and implementing strategic direction
As president and COO of the Edward Lowe Foundation, Dan Wyant oversees daily operations and execution of strategy. This includes evaluation of the organization’s current entrepreneurship and land stewardship initiatives and determining new programmatic direction. He also serves as vice chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees, a role he has held since 1998, acting as an interface between the board and management team.
Wyant initially joined the foundation as president and COO in 2005. In 2011 he was appointed director of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and took a five-year hiatus from the foundation, returning in 2016.
Wyant has a diverse environmental background in the private and public sectors and has served under three governors. He was director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) for nine years, a position he held under two administrations (Governor John Engler and Governor Jennifer Granholm). During his tenure, Wyant helped establish nationally recognized programs for economic development and pollution prevention that not only diversify and add value to Michigan’s economy, but also protect the state’s diverse natural environment.
Prior to the MDA, Wyant provided policy expertise for the Senate Majority Office and was associate director of Governor John Engler’s Office of Legislative Affairs. In the private sector, Wyant was a marketing manager for the Ralston Purina Co. and an export trade consultant for Lowe’s International.
Within the philanthropic community, Wyant has served on the board of directors of The Nature Conservancy in Michigan and been a board member of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF).
Wyant holds a bachelor’s degree in food systems management from Michigan State University and a master’s in business administration from American University in Washington, D.C.
Vice President of External Relations and Strategic Direction
Overview: Responsible for increasing the foundation’s visibility, managing partner relationships and playing a key role in driving the foundation’s future vision.
Recruited to the foundation in 2005, Penny Lewandowski is responsible for developing a strong national presence for the foundation, and for cultivating and managing relationships with the foundation’s external partners in entrepreneurship and economic development. She also leads the efforts to set and drive the vision for the organization’s future.
Recognized as a thought leader in entrepreneurship and building an entrepreneurial culture, Lewandowski is a frequent speaker on new ways to think about economic development – especially how a grow-from-within strategy leads to thriving and sustainable economies. In this capacity, she also represents the philosophies of the National Center for Economic Gardening, led by Chris Gibbons and managed by the foundation.
Previously, Lewandowski led the foundation’s entrepreneurship team in developing and delivering programs that help second-stage entrepreneurs. Prior to joining the foundation, she was executive director of the Greater Baltimore Technology Council and served as director of entrepreneurship and education for the Morino Institute, a nationally recognized entrepreneurship program in Reston, Va. She also directed George Mason University’s Century Club, a group formed to build alliances between the university and business community.
In 2003 the Kauffman Foundation, in conjunction with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, named Lewandowski as the recipient of its prestigious “National Supporter of Entrepreneurship” award.
Vice President of Physical Resources
Overview: responsible for the foundation’s properties, physical assets and conservation activities.
As vice president of physical resources for the Edward Lowe Foundation, Mike McCuistion oversees all the organization’s facilities, equipment and properties, risk management, safety and security.
McCuistion, who has been with the Lowe organization since 1981, also leads the foundation’s land stewardship initiatives. This includes directing land management practices at Big Rock Valley (BRV), which has 2,000 acres of woodland, prairie and wetland, and overseeing BRV’s inventory of botanical, animal and insect species — many of which include threatened and endangered species. In addition, he works with various researchers and organizations who wish to conduct conservation research at BRV.
Active in numerous civic organizations, McCuistion is a board member of the Gateway Community Foundation of Cass County and chairs the Howardsville Christian School Board. He has served as president of the Cass County United Way, chaired the Newberg Township Zoning Board and been a member of the Cass County Economic Development Task Force and the Cassopolis/Vandalia Area Chamber of Commerce.
McCuistion received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas Tech University.
Director of Finance and Treasurer
Overview: oversees and manages all financial activities.
Don Bauters joined Edward Lowe Industries (ELI) and the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1986. He has held a variety of financial positions and was promoted to director of finance and treasurer in 1990. During that year, he assisted with the sale of ELI’s cat-litter business to Golden Cat, a South Bend, Ind.-based company. (Golden Cat was later bought by Ralston Purina, which was acquired by Nestlé SA in 2001.) Bauters also helped divest remaining for-profit businesses following Ed Lowe’s death in 1995, with proceeds transferring to the foundation.
In his current role, Bauters is gatekeeper for all fiscal activities at the foundation, overseeing any agreements involving financial obligations and managing the organization’s cash-flow position. He assists the directors of physical resources and programs to develop cost and capital investment plans for their respective areas. He makes recommendations to the foundation’s investment committee and tracks investment performance. Bauters also administrates the organization’s 401(k) plan and maintains all records and reports required by government regulation for private foundations.
Prior to ELI and the foundation, Bauters worked at Crowe Chizek in South Bend, Ind., where he was a manager of the CPA firm’s audit group. During his nine-year tenure at Crowe, Bauters also consulted with closely held businesses, assisted with tax planning and was a member of Crowe’s healthcare group.
Bauters graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in business. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Indiana CPA Society. He has also been active in a number of not-for-profit organizations, including St. Joe County Habitat for Humanity, where he was treasurer, and the board of Notre Dame Credit Union, where he was chairman of the audit committee.
Director of Administration
Overview: supports the office of the CEO and board of trustees.
Kathy Browning joined the Lowe organization in 1983 as an administrative assistant to Darlene Lowe, now chairman and CEO of the Edward Lowe Foundation. Over the years Browning has served in a variety of positions including facilities manager, assistant controller, corporate secretary and director of operations for the group’s Florida properties.
In her current role as the foundation’s director of administration, Browning acts as a liaison between the board of trustees and management team. She organizes board meetings and helps develop agendas for the foundation’s trustees and members.
Browning manages the day-to-day activities of the Office of the CEO and coordinates communications from the CEO to other personnel and offices. She represents the CEO and the foundation at meetings and events. She is also certified to administer, score and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and has conducted workshops on the personality-assessment tool.
Prior to joining Edward Lowe Industries and the Edward Lowe Foundation, Browning worked in the legal field for 12 years. She received a bachelor’s degree in business management and administration from Indiana University.
Director of Entrepreneurship
Overview: leads the foundation’s entrepreneurship division, including overall management of the entrepreneurship team, its programs, finances and technology services
Colleen Killen-Roberts was recruited to the foundation in 2015 as general manager of Economic Gardening, and in April 2016 she was promoted to director of entrepreneurship. In her current role she leads the entrepreneurship team in developing programs that help second-stage entrepreneurs get to the next level, including Economic Gardening®, PeerSpectives® Roundtables and Leader Retreats at Big Rock Valley. Killen-Roberts also cultivates appropriate partners to deliver these programs throughout the country and manages the rollout process.
A trained business coach, Killen-Roberts has more than 20 years of operational and fiscal management experience. She played a key role in several second-stage companies as director of operations, CFO and chief of staff, guiding these companies to profitability and record growth. Most recently, she was the director of business operations at Emerson School, a nationally recognized nonprofit school for gifted children in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Among professional recognitions, Killen-Roberts was a finalist in the 2007 Crain’s Detroit Business CFO of the Year award and a Golden Key winner in the 2006 TEC Group for being a leader of leaders.
In addition to promoting entrepreneurship, Killen-Roberts is passionate about her family, pets and community and serves on the board of the Kalamazoo Humane Society.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in administration, accounting and management at the University of Michigan and earned an MBA from Eastern Michigan University, graduating magna cum laude.