Tom Willis in conversation with Dan Varner
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Dan Varner is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit, whose mission is to co-create independence and dignity through the power of personal and workforce development across the 5-county metro Detroit region. The $35-45MM/year organization not only provides personal and workforce development programs for over 15,000 people annually, but also serves as the umbrella over four social enterprises: the iconic thrift stores, a tier-1 kitting and assembly supplier to the automotive and other industries, an industrial recycling and asset recovery operation, and a contract labor workforce. Those social enterprises provide training opportunities for vulnerable populations served by the organization, as well as financial resources for the organization’s major programs, including workforce training and personal development programs for people who are justice-involved, unemployed or underemployed, and people living with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities.
Prior to joining Goodwill, Dan served as the CEO at Excellent Schools Detroit, a coalition of Detroit’s leading organizations working to improve Detroit’s public education systems; worked as a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation where he co-led the foundation’s redevelopment of a local investment strategy for Detroit; and he is also the cofounder and former CEO of a nationally-recognized, award-winning youth development organization that Dan helped grow into one of the largest youth development organizations in Detroit, now serving over 14,000 young people annually.
Dan has received numerous awards, and his work has been recognized by two Presidential administrations. He is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and has served on numerous boards of directors, including the ACLU of Michigan, Capital Impact Partners, ConnectEd, and Detroit PAL, and served on Michigan’s State Board of Education for four years. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School.
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