Cranbrook Schools and Adrian College are the only two educational facilities Griffin Howell has ever attended and he is extremely passionate and committed to both institutions. He is currently the major gifts officer at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, and an Alumni Board member at Adrian College.
“I went to Cranbrook kindergarten through 12 th grade,” Howell said. “And I went to Adrian College for four years. I’ve only gone to those two schools and I have an incredible affinity and allegiance to both institutions. They are the only two schools I’ve worked for as well.”
Griffin graduated Adrian College in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Government. He then accepted a job with the College as an international admissions counselor, working mainly with Canadian hockey and lacrosse players who were coming in.
He had no intentions of leaving his position at Adrian College, but couldn’t turn down a job offer from the school near his home town that he attended as a child, especially when it was a step up in positions.
“My job at Adrian College set me up because when I got to Cranbrook I took the associate dean of upper school admissions job there,” Griffin said. “I was director of international enrollment as well at Cranbrook.”
Griffin was the associate dean of upper school admission from 2013 to 2018 before moving into the development office as the major gift officer, where he has worked for the past two years.
When he was at Adrian College, he worked with Joe VanGeison, who has since worked his way up to the position of assistant vice president of enrollment.
“Joe VanGeison is an absolute superstar. I still communicate quite frequently with Joe, and always like to hear what’s going on, and what he’s working on,” Howell said. “I was also friendly with and worked with Jim Mahony ’00 [Adrian College’s Vice President of Development]. Now, being in Cranbrook’s development office, I lean on Jim quite a bit and bounce things of off him, and use him as a resource quite a bit.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for many institutions to raise needed funding for various projects. However, Howell said the schools he is associated with have donors who are there for them through thick and thin.
“What we’ve seen at Cranbrook, and what I’m sure what Jim [Mahony] has seen at Adrian College, is your biggest supporters are the ones that are first in line asking if they can do more. I think that shows a great institution… When family situations change and money gets tight but they still prioritize, giving what they can to Adrian or Cranbrook, it shows the strength of the school and how important that experience was to that person, and how important it is to them that they continue to support it.”
He said he really enjoys his job because every day is different, whether he is working with a family to endow a scholarship or working with an alum to donate to a capitol project.
“My job is to let people have an impact at a school that has their heart and their love,” Howell said. “So, what I try to do every day is ask, what can I do to help people make an impact to the place that has made an impact on them. That is probably the most fulfilling part of my job.”
Howell added that he works with a great team who are just as committed as he is, which makes it a great place to be.
“It’s truly a team effort,” he said. “Everybody works together. I’m not somebody that would ever want to work in a silo. I like working with people. I feel like when I go to work every day that everybody working with me is on the same team wanting to make the same impact. That’s a really fun part about what we do.”
Griffin was asked to join Adrian College’s Alumni Board two years ago and said his response was a very easy “yes.”
“Whatever I could do to give back to Adrian, I was excited to do,” Griffin said. “I’ve really enjoyed the work and getting to know the other board members.”
He said a majority of Adrian College alumni want to make sure the campus experience is just as great for the next group of kids coming in as it was for them.
“When you go to a school like Adrian, a small liberal arts school, you feel like you’re a part of a very tight-knit community and that never goes away, because Adrian gives people that feeling while they go to school there,” Griffin said. “It truly has an impact on you.”
Griffin is engaged to a Cranbrook alum, Meagan Davis, and his wedding is scheduled for August. With restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he is unsure if the event will have to be rescheduled.
Whenever the wedding is, Griffin will have an Adrian College classmate, Michael Yakamovich ‘11, by his side to support him.
“We haven’t quite decided how we are going to negotiate it all yet,” Griffin said. “It’s topic number one every night at dinner.”
When you go to a school like Adrian, a small liberal arts school, you feel like you’re a part of a very tight-knit community and that never goes away, because Adrian gives people that feeling while they go to school there,” Griffin said. “It truly has an impact on you.