Kris Palosaari

Kristine Palosaari might be new to the free-market movement, but not to the ideas behind it.

Palosaari joined the Mackinac Center in March as vice president for advancement after holding development roles for a number of years at nonprofit organizations in the Grand Rapids area.

“I was raised with a free-market value system,” Palosaari said. “My dad was a small business owner and he taught me that if you do something well it will allow you to be successful. That’s what the free market is all about.”

Palosaari said she came to the advancement field in a non-traditional way while working as the fitness instructor at the Grand Rapids YMCA. She was asked to join the development team to lend her knowledge of exercise equipment as part of several grant requests and a new career was born. From there she became a divisional development director for The Salvation Army and then development director for the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids.

During that time she earned a Certification in Fund Raising Management from Indiana State University to go along with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Kendall College of Art and Design and a master’s degree in organizational communication from Western Michigan University.

“Being successful at development is a long process of developing relationships,” she said. “It’s a lot like parenting — there are little victories along the way, but often it doesn’t really come to fruition until down the road.”

Palosaari also said it’s important for people in the development field to be passionate about what they’re raising money for.

“People who give to nonprofits are savvy,” she said. “They don’t want to feel as though you’re just selling vacuum cleaners.”

Drawing on her experiences growing up makes it easy for Palosaari to be passionate about the Center.

“My dad put a lot of subcontractors’ children through college,” she laughed. “When the market is successful, there’s a ripple effect like that and everyone benefits. The Mackinac Center’s work brings to light all of the barriers people face to that kind of success, and it’s so eloquent and deeply researched. It’s invaluable.”