AARP Regional Vice President Rawle Andrews Jr., announces that Paula D. Cunningham – a distinguished community, business and education leader in Michigan for more than three decades – has been appointed State Director for AARP in Michigan, effective July 6.
As State Director, Cunningham will be responsible for leading and directing the advocacy and community outreach work of AARP and its 1.4 million members in the state of Michigan. “With an exceptional leader like Paula Cunningham at the helm, AARP will continue its dynamic and effective advocacy and community outreach efforts going forward,” said Andrews.
Thomas Kimble, President of AARP Michigan, commented: “Paula Cunningham combines impressive leadership skills with a deep passion for community service. We are pleased and honored to have someone with her stature, grace and ability to lead AARP Michigan into the future.”
Cunningham spent 25 years at Lansing Community College, where she served as President from 2000-2006. Under her leadership, the college implemented a strategic planning process that resulted in five new buildings. The main building on the LCC campus was officially named the Paula D. Cunningham Administration Building in 2006.
For the last nine years she has served as president and CEO of Capitol National Bank in Lansing, where she successfully led the bank through Michigan’s worst recession in 70 years.
She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2013 for her business and community service. Cunningham is known as a pioneer. She was the first female president of LCC and the first female president and CEO of Capitol National Bank, in addition to being the only African American female in the country to be president and CEO of a majority owned bank. Cunningham was also the first African American female to chair the board of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“I am following my heart to this leadership job with AARP,” Cunningham said. “I am deeply passionate about and committed to this organization and its social mission to fight for and equip each individual to live their best life.”
Rob Fowler, executive director of the Small Business Association of Michigan, said Cunningham “will be a huge asset and a presence in this state that will be helpful both to seniors and to AARP as an organization.
“I think so highly of her. She is a quiet, thoughtful leader. She also is entrepreneurial, a creator and an innovator. That’s what is special about her.”
Fowler and Cunningham have worked together as directors of MiQuest, an organization that promotes entrepreneurship in Michigan.
Lou Anna K. Simon, President of Michigan State University, added: “Paula Cunningham’s academic and business leadership experience and her deep involvement in the community make her a wonderful choice for AARP Michigan State Director.”
Tim Daman, President and CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, who has worked with Cunningham the last few years as a member and leader of the Chamber board, commented: “"I have tremendous respect for Paula. She has great leadership skills and brings a balance of education and business experience."
Throughout her career, Cunningham has been actively involved with numerous community and governmental organizations, some of which include: Chair of the board of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce; Board of Trustees of Davenport University; Executive Committee of the McLaren Health Systems; Chair of the Michigan Association of United Ways; Executive Committee of the Michigan Nonprofit Association; founding member of MiQuest Board, and Co-chair of the Children’s Leadership Council of Michigan.