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Donor Spotlight: Lisa Gonzalez, Ford Motor Company Fund

UMS

By UMS

During this most uncommon season, UMS has been especially grateful for our donors and community partners’ continued support of and belief in our mission. Thanks to their generosity, we have been able to continue to invest in artists and their work, widen the impact of the arts by making our digital offerings free to everyone and explore new ways of delivering uncommon and engaging experiences with artists. Although we are not able to share and celebrate these stories of support in person, we are excited to unveil this Donor Spotlight blog to recognize these important contributions as well as offer a nostalgic look back on some fond UMS memories.


Lisa Gonzalez

Lisa Gonzalez, Ford Motor Company Fund Manager of Community Programs

This week, we recognize the Ford Motor Company Fund, long-time supporters of the UMS Education and Community Engagement programs. The Ford Fund’s support of UMS dates back to 1976, but they became a formal K-12 supporter in 1996. We talked with their Manager of Community Programs, Lisa Gonzalez, to learn more about Ford’s history with UMS, Lisa’s own background with the arts, and the pivots the Ford Fund was able to make to assist in this unprecedented time.

 

Tell us a little about your background with the arts: Musical talents? First performing arts experience? Did you grow up with the arts or come to them as an adult?

I grew up with the arts for sure. I started playing the flute when I was 4 years old, all the way up to my senior year. A fun fact is that my daughter also started playing the flute at the same age, all the way up until her senior year. I have a huge heart for music. My husband and son are both musicians as well, so it’s a central part of our family. My very first performing arts experience was at Interlochen Center of Arts. That was the most amazing experience ever to go on campus and experience all the talent.

 

Lisa Gonzalez and Matthew VanBesien

Lisa Gonzalez and UMS President Matthew VanBesien backstage at a 2019 performance by Las Cafeteras at the Michigan Theater

When and how did you first become involved with UMS? Please share your favorite UMS performance or memory?

I first became involved with UMS two years ago when Arts/Culture was given to me to manage at the Ford Fund. Every single time I attend something offered by UMS, I am in AWE! Having to answer this question, “what is my favorite performance?” is tough because they are all my favorite. But if I had to choose, Las Cafeteras would be at the top of my list. The energy they brought into that room was amazing. I loved seeing those kids up on their feet just enjoying the music.

 

UMS’s motto is “Be Present,” but during these times we hope our community “Stays Present” until we can safely return to our normal programming.  How are you Staying Present with the arts?

I am so thankful for technology!! That is for SURE!!! I really keep myself connected to our arts/culture partnerships by watching videos! I love being able to enjoy a free concert right in the comfort of my home. It is helpful on busy days to just be able to click on a link and connect with UMS and their artists.

 

Ford Motor Company Fund

Ford has been a longtime corporate donor to UMS. What has UMS meant to Ford and why is supporting the arts such an important component of Ford’s corporate philanthropy?

The Ford Fund BELIEVES that the arts have the ability to really educate, inspire, and transform the community where we live, work, and play! One thing I would like to highlight is our pride in being able to support UMS’s K-12 education programming. It’s truly in our DNA as a company because we believe in the power of community building!!

 

The Ford Motor Company Fund made some shifts when Covid hit, can you talk about what you did and why?

When COVID hit, our organization wanted to find another way to support our nonprofit partners and their surrounding communities by providing resources at a click of a button. We’ve created a library of free online resources to help our employees, their families, and anyone else looking for things to do while we’re stuck at home during this pandemic. The activities include virtual tours, downloadable worksheets, online tutorials, videos, and more — all designed to help entertain, educate, or inspire people of all ages.

You can learn more about what we’re offering on the Ford Motor Company Fund’s website.

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