Detroit Children’s Fund selects Jack Elsey as executive director

DETROIT – Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) announced today the appointment of Jack Elsey as executive director. Elsey brings 13 years of experience in public education to his new role.

“DCF has attracted a strong team to drive its mission of ensuring Detroit children have exceptional learning and development opportunities. We could not be more pleased to have Elsey at the helm,” said KC Crain, DCF board chair and president & COO of Crain Communications Inc. “His conviction that every child deserves a first-rate education and the achievements he’s led toward this vision make him an outstanding fit for the team.”

“Jack has led classrooms, schools and districts to stronger academic results. His proven experience in improving education for children is complemented by a strong intellect, great relationships, an energetic spirit, and an uncompromising commitment to excellence,” said Tonya Allen, Detroit Children’s Fund board member and Skillman Foundation president & CEO.

Elsey began his career as a middle school teacher in the South Bronx as a Teach for America corps member. He went on to hold a leadership positions with several urban schools districts where he focused on school turnaround efforts.

Most recently, Elsey served as the chief schools officer for the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan (EAA), a district charged with turning around some of Detroit’s historically lowest performing schools. Under his leadership, EAA schools showed improvements in several areas: student growth results outperformed state averages, suspensions were reduced by 30 percent, and school culture was strengthened through the creation of small learning communities. Elsey has also served as an assistant superintendent for Detroit Public Schools, and chief schools officer of Detroit Rising College Prep Schools where he introduced governing councils and site-based management controls to empower nine low-performing neighborhood high schools.

Elsey has also served as chief of innovation and incubation at Chicago Public Schools where he helped establish a common evaluation system across schools of all governance types, equalized funding for charter and alternative schools, and more than doubled the number of seats serving opportunity youth. While in Chicago, Elsey also led a broad coalition of school leaders, funders, and policymakers to create the Commitment to Quality, a city-wide agreement to improve charter school performance. In the span of two years, the number of Chicago charter schools on the “warning list” was reduced from 10 to three.

Elsey holds an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and master’s degrees in teaching and education leadership from Pace University and The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, respectively. In 2016, he was named as a Future Chief with Chiefs For Change.

“I am excited and honored to have been selected to lead the Detroit Children’s Fund.  Detroit’s comeback will be complete only when every school in the city is high quality,” Elsey said. “We at DCF intend to help make that happen by growing the best schools in Detroit, recruiting national high-performing schools to join us, and investing in our most promising future leaders to ensure our schools continue to improve for many years to come.”

“In our work, we have the privilege to meet talented and passionate people who dedicate themselves to supporting children. Jack is a prime example,” said Nick Karmanos, chief advancement officer of the Detroit Children’s Fund. “He works from the heart, has strong vision, and is a thoughtful collaborator. We’re delighted to have him lead the team.”

Detroit Children’s Fund adds three key staff members including Nick Karmanos as chief advancement officer

DETROIT – Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) announced today the addition of three key staff members to aid in fund development for the organization.

Nick Karmanos has been hired as chief advancement officer, responsible for DCF’s institutional advancement and fundraising. Prior to joining Detroit Children’s Fund, Karmanos served as senior vice president of institutional relations for Karmanos Cancer Institute, where he raised more than $150 million over 16 years.

“The opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of Detroit’s children through improved access to quality education is very important to me,” said Karmanos. “We have the chance to provide hope and opportunity to generations of kids, empowering them to find a brighter future. I am truly humbled to have the chance to contribute and look forward to working with the DCF board and my colleagues in advancing this epic endeavor.”

Lisa Laurin and Karry Dalton have also been added to the DCF development team, and will work under Karmanos’ leadership. 

Laurin joins Detroit Children’s Fund as corporate relations officer, developing relationships with corporate partners and supporting the execution of major gift solicitation strategies. Dalton will serve as events officer, responsible for planning and executing DCF’s fundraising events.

“I am thrilled that these very talented folks have joined the team. They will play a critical role in leading our outreach efforts with the broader community,” said Tonya Allen, DCF board member and president & CEO of the Skillman Foundation. “Detroit Children’s Fund has gained a lot of traction over the past year, thanks to our generous donors, our impassioned board led by KC Crain, and the work of Punita Dani Thurman, executive director. The addition of Nick, Lisa and Karry to the team will help us accelerate this momentum.”

“The experience and capabilities Nick, Lisa and Karry bring to DCF will be a tremendous support to our mission of dramatically changing the odds of success for Detroit children,” said KC Crain, chairman of the Detroit Children’s Fund.

About the Detroit Children’s Fund

Detroit Children’s Fund (DCF) is committed to dramatically changing the odds for Detroit youth by ensuring they have exceptional learning and developmental opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom. Built in partnership with a team of civic and corporate leaders from across the city and globe, DCF deploys venture philanthropy principals to invest in high-potential education nonprofits that serve Detroit children. More at

Media Contact: Natalie Fotias, 313.393.1179,