David Egner is the President and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, a Detroit-based organization built upon the ideals of innovation, teamwork, and outcomes. The visionary responsible for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills franchise, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., set up the Foundation with a limited lifespan that must spend down by 2035. By doing so, and by appointing his life trustees, he ensured the Foundation stayed true to the ethics and values he led his life with. The Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life in its regions by concentrating on Mr. Wilson’s hometown of Southeast Michigan and Western New York, the home of his beloved Buffalo Bills. Priority areas for the Foundation include Active Lifestyles; Preparing for Success in Early Childhood, Afterschool, and Young Adults and Working Families; Entrepreneurship and Economic Development; Caregivers; and Nonprofit Support & Innovation.
Egner has long been a well-known figure and leader in Michigan philanthropy – from his early years as an executive assistant to the chair at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, to guiding the Michigan Nonprofit Association, a Lansing-based coalition, through its development and mergers. Prior to leading the Wilson Foundation, Egner was President and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation for 19 years, often considered one of the organizations behind driving transformation of Midtown and Downtown Detroit. From 2009-2015, Egner also served as Executive Director of the New Economy Initiative (NEI), the largest philanthropic led economic development initiative in the country. NEI is recognized for its inclusive approach to economic development, generating nearly $3 billion in economic impact during Egner’s tenure, while seeing minority business starts created by the program exceed more than 2.5X the national average.
Egner’s approach is based on the idea that the empowerment of community leaders and the creation of a shared vision of progress are key to successful philanthropy. His strategy centers on the area between public sector and market forces to tackle the issues in the community. The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is set to allocate more than $2 billion dollars in grants to both Southeast Michigan and Western New York, by 2035, which is considerably more than its initial corpus of $1.2 billion. Egner has a Master of Business Administration from Western Michigan University, and a bachelor’s degree from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He and his wife Tammy live in Metro Detroit and they love to spend quality time with their four children, their children’s partners, and their five grandchildren, including happily hosting monthly family Sunday brunch in their home.