The Edward Lowe Foundation is an operating foundation, following a different model than practiced by the typical nonprofit foundation. Instead of providing grants, we provide services. Instead of providing money directly, we give our time and our expertise.

Through dynamic leadership, innovative technology, and conservation of the natural environment, an important component of the foundation’s mission is its people. Our board of trustees and management team, together with employees driven to make a difference, take the foundation to the next level by driving innovative thinking in both the entrepreneurial and environmental communities.


  • Edward Lowe, Entrepreneur

    The Start of the Big Idea

    After his Navy duty, Ed Lowe returned to Cassopolis, Mich. and joined his father’s company, which sold industrial absorbents, including sawdust and an absorbent clay called fuller’s earth. In 1947 Ed was approached by a neighbor who was tired of using ashes in her cat’s litter box and the resulting sooty paw prints. She asked for some sand, but Ed suggested clay instead. Soon the neighbor would use nothing else, noting that the clay was much more absorbent than sand and didn’t track all over the house.

    Creating the Market

    Ed had a hunch that other cat owners also would love his new catbox filler, so he filled 10 brown bags with clay, wrote “Kitty Litter” on them and called on the local pet store. With sand available for next to nothing, the shop owner doubted anyone would pay 65 cents for a five-pound bag of Kitty Litter. “So give it away,” Ed told him. Soon customers were asking for more — and they were willing to pay for it.

    Product Quality

    Quality was always a priority with Ed, and his products set the standards for the industry. Edward Lowe Industries was the only company of its kind with complete innovation and product-development centers. This included a “cattery” at Big Rock Valley, which was home to 120 felines who “worked” to assist in the development of new products. The cattery also boasted a fully staffed cat-care clinic, as well as an animal-behavior facility that permitted 24-hour television monitoring of resident cats. In the late 1980s, this operation relocated to Cape Girardeau, Mo., where company scientists at a modern research and development center continually worked to upgrade existing products and develop new ones.

    The Edward Lowe Legacy

    After creating a billion-dollar industry that established the cat as the nation’s most popular pet, Edward Lowe set his creative sights on another goal — fostering and nurturing the American entrepreneur. As a result, Ed committed a good part of his fortune to create “… a whole campus for entrepreneurs” at a private 2,600-acre complex outside his boyhood hometown of Cassopolis, Mich. In 1991 he donated this estate for the headquarters of the Edward Lowe Foundation. Ed died in 1995, but his legacy lives on through the mission and vision of the foundation.

  • Darlene Lowe

    Darlene Lowe co-founded the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1985 along with her husband, for whom the organization is named. Passionate advocates for entrepreneurship and its role in the U.S. economy, the Lowes launched the foundation because they believed that entrepreneurs weren’t getting the kind of support and resources they needed.

    Today as chairman and CEO of the Edward Lowe Foundation, Darlene Lowe assists the board of trustees in governing the foundation and assumes primary responsibility for ensuring the continuity of the foundation’s original intent and founding principles.

    An entrepreneur herself, Darlene founded her own interior design business in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, she became vice president of design and facilities planning for Edward Lowe Industries, where she managed the design and renovation of more than 80 diverse projects, including the foundation’s 2,600-acre campus, Big Rock Valley.

    To learn more about Darlene’s life and leadership style, download her booklet Leading by Design.

  • Trustees and Members


    Darlene B. Lowe
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
    Edward Lowe Foundation

    Paul R. Bowles
    Retired Vice President, Clark Equipment Company
    Former President, Edward Lowe Industries

    Peter L. Pairitz, CPA
    Business Consultant

    John M. Pycik
    Business Consultant

    Murray J. Swindell
    Chairman and Founder
    Acuity Management and Investment Company

    Daniel J. Wyant
    Director, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
    Vice President, Edward Lowe Foundation

    Dr. Ronald S. Paul, Emeritus
    Past President and Past Chief Executive Officer
    Battelle Memorial Institute


    Darlene B. Lowe
    Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
    Edward Lowe Foundation

    Kathy J. Browning
    Director of Administration
    Edward Lowe Foundation

    Jack T. McCarthy
    Chairman and Member
    K & L Gates

    Michael McCuistion
    Director of Physical Resources
    Edward Lowe Foundation

  • Management Team

    Penny Lewandowski, Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Strategic Direction
    Overview: responsible for driving the foundation’s future vision and overseeing its educational, recognition and research programs.

    Michael McCuistion, Vice President of Physical Resources
    Overview: responsible for the foundation’s properties, physical assets and conservation activities.

    Don Bauters, Director of Finance and Treasurer
    Overview: oversees and manages all financial activities.

    Kathy Browning, Director of Administration
    Overview: supports the office of the CEO and board of trustees.

"As a general rule, those who work harder see the opportunity first. "
— Edward Lowe