North Star Reach Welcomes Seasoned Nonprofit Leader

North Star Reach, the ninth U.S. residential camp in SeriousFun Children’s Network (SeriousFun) founded by actor and philanthropist Paul Newman, proudly announces the appointment of Howell-native J.J. Lewis as its new Chief Executive Officer. With over 20 years of nonprofit management experience, including involvement with North Star Reach as a donor and volunteer.

“On behalf of the North Star Reach Board of Directors and myself, I am thrilled that J.J. Lewis is joining NSR as our permanent CEO,” announced Sheri Mark, Board Chair. “J.J. is a proven non-profit executive whose enthusiasm, talent, and career experience made him a unanimous and enthusiastic choice of the Board. We are especially fortunate to have found a new leader with deep Michigan roots and a historical personal commitment to the mission of the organization. Our mission is compassionate, our vision inspiring, and our plans are in motion. Our community of children, families, donors, staff, volunteers and partners are excited to Keep the Campfires Burning under J.J.’s leadership.”

Lewis will take on the role from David Leckey, who served as the Interim CEO for the past 12 months. Leckey is an accomplished executive who has leveraged his breadth and depth of experience to help non-profits and communities navigate through change and build resiliency and opportunity for long term success.

“We also want to recognize and thank our Interim CEO David Leckey,” shared Mark. “David agreed to lend us his 35 years of career executive leadership during 2023 to help us build our vision and strategies for the future and conduct a thorough search process for our permanent CEO. Thank you for seeing us to this point, David!”

Currently serving as the Chief Philanthropy Officer for United Way of the Lakeshore, Lewis has demonstrated leadership in fundraising initiatives, including individual, major, and workplace giving, as well as strategic planning. Prior to his tenure at United Way of the Lakeshore, he held the position of Superintendent and CEO at Compass Charter Schools in California, where he received recognition for his exemplary leadership, transparency, and vision. He also brings with him experience in communications, fundraising, and volunteer management through his previous roles at both Detroit Public Television and WRCJ 90.9 FM and ServiceSource.

Lewis’s connection with SeriousFun began during his time at Central Michigan University as a brother of The Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity, as the Network is their national philanthropy. He actively supported North Star Reach’s establishment, overseeing Phi Kappa Tau’s National Community Service Event that aided in setting up camp facilities for its inaugural campers.

Reflecting on his appointment, Lewis remarked, “I have been a steadfast supporter of SeriousFun Children’s Network and North Star Reach since my collegiate years. Every child deserves the transformative experience of camp, and I am honored to lead an organization that embodies this belief.”

In addition to his extensive professional background, Lewis is pursuing a Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership from the University of Southern California. He holds a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University and a Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University in history and political science. Certified in Nonprofit Management and Fundraising, Lewis is an active member of various professional associations, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity.

“I am eager to collaborate with our dedicated team, supportive Board, and the wider community to expand North Star Reach’s impact,” Lewis expressed. “Together, we will continue to provide life-changing experiences for children facing serious health challenges, ensuring they have access to the magic of camp.”

North Star Reach invites the community to participate in a Spring Work Weekend scheduled for May 3-5. Attendees will have the opportunity to volunteer alongside Lewis and partake in a welcoming campfire. For more details and to register, follow this link.

We invite you to connect with J.J. on LinkedIn and stay in touch with North Star Reach through Facebook and other social media channels. J.J. can be reached via email at and is excited to engage with our North Star Reach community!