Press Release

10 Oct 2012

Van Andel Institute Announces Hiring of Key Development Personnel

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Grand Rapids, Mich. (Oct. 10, 2012) – Van Andel Institute (VAI) announces the recent hiring of two key staff members to expand the organization’s capacity to attract philanthropic support for new programs in biomedical research and science education.

Patrick Placzkowski joins the organization as Director of Development for Van Andel Research Institute (VARI), the cornerstone of West Michigan’s life science and biomedical research corridor. VARI scientists conduct biomedical research with a focus on cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, a commitment to developing a new understanding of the disease process and an emphasis on translating scientific research results into clinical applications.

Anthony Thompson, Ed.D., begins work as Director of Development for Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI). VAEI prepares the scientists and leaders of the future by promoting and strengthening science education through opportunities for young people, from elementary grades through graduate school, to think and act like scientists in the exploration of the natural world.  VAEI also enables teachers to more effectively engage their students through professional development opportunities in inquiry-driven science education.

Placzkowski has 14 years of experience in non-profit management and fund development, including foundation and corporate relations, major gifts, web-based and annual fundraising.  Prior to joining VAI, Placzkowski spent nine years at the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C., serving as the Director of Development for the last three years.  Placzkowski began his career in non-profit management in the arts, as the Artistic and Managing Director of the St. Croix Festival Theatre, and as an education and fundraising consultant for the Milwaukee Shakespeare Company.

Thompson has enjoyed extensive institutional advancement experience in higher education since 1987, serving as an Alumni Relations Officer, Foundation Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Institutional Advancement in both public and private colleges/universities.  Thompson was Director of Alumni Relations at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and later served as Chief Operating Officer of the UCF Foundation.  Other advancement positions include: Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Tougaloo College; Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Paul Quinn College; Vice President for Development and Planning at the Florida Education Fund; Vice President for Institutional Advancement at South Carolina State University (SCSU) as well as Executive Director of the SCSU Educational Foundation; and Vice President for Advancement at Virginia Union University.

“The broad range of experience and expertise in advancement and fund development that Patrick and Anthony bring to the table enable Van Andel Institute to enlarge donor engagement throughout the region and the nation,” said Love Collins III, VAI Vice President of Development, Communications & Marketing. “Increased staffing also enables the Institute to expand its research and education outcomes, serving its vital mission to speed new treatments for cancer and neurodegenerative disease to patients and to provide unique science education opportunities to the next generation of leaders.”

Link to photos of Patrick Placzkowski and Anthony Thompson (Photo Credit: Jeff Dykehouse)

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Van Andel Institute

Established by Jay and Betty Van Andel in 1996, Van Andel Institute is an independent research organization dedicated to preserving, enhancing and expanding the frontiers of medical science, and to achieving excellence in education by probing fundamental issues of education and the learning process. This is accomplished through the work of over 200 researchers in more than 20 on-site laboratories and in collaborative partnerships that span the globe.