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Kevin Philipps joins Kent ISD as new financial chief, likes education’s collaborative approach

Kevin Philipps recently joined Kent ISD as its new Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services. Philipps comes to the regional service agency after serving as an administrator at East Grand Rapids Schools for 13 years and at Richmond Community Schools in Macomb County for five years.

“From a personal perspective, I thought this would be a great next step,” says Philipps, who said he looks forward to being able to serve the 20 school districts in Kent County.

Kevin Philipps recently joined Kent ISD as its new Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services

Why did you become a school administrator?

Philipps decided to go into education upon the recommendation of a college friend whose father was a school superintendent. Before working in public education, Philipps worked for GMAC – formerly a credit arm of General Motors Corp. – and DCT Inc., an automotive parts manufacturer based in Southeast Michigan. 

“I had just built a house in Richmond,” said Philipps of his decision to apply for the finance job with Richmond Community Schools, a small district located northeast of Detroit. 

How does working for schools differ from the private sector?

“It’s a friendlier environment. Once you get into in public education, you’re there for the kids.”  Success in education requires a collaborative approach, not a competitive approach, he says. “Our mission is to serve the local districts and make the local districts more effective.”

Family:

His wife, Leslie, is Director of Human Resources for Jenison Public Schools in neighboring Ottawa County. He has a 21-year-old son, Ryan, who attends Michigan Technological University and a 16-year-old daughter, Katie, who attends East Grand Rapids High School. He also has a step-daughter, Peyton, who attends Grand Valley State University.

Education: 

Graduated from Lumen Christi High School in Jackson; earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Adrian College in 1992 and a master’s of business administration from Wayne State University in 1996.

Hobbies: 

Philipps and his wife are avid golfers and he recently took up snow skiing. At home, they have two Labrador Retrievers, Pebbles and Bambam.  He’s also a big fan of U of M sports teams.

Unlike most, your last name is spelled with one “l” and three “p’s.” How did that happen?

“Virtually everyone gets it wrong. I don’t know. My dad is from the U.P.”

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James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.

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