NewsBlack History Makers


Paula Cunningham

Posted at 4:36 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2019-02-08 13:24:39-05

Paula Cunningham has served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Capitol National Bank since October 2006.  She has courageously and successfully guided Capitol National Bank through the stubborn economy of recent years and maintained the bank's focus on serving the community. 

Prior to leading Capitol National Bank, Paula Cunningham served six years as President of Lansing Community College (LCC), which served more than 40,000 students and 3,000 employees. As President of Lansing Community College, she successfully led a community millage campaign to generate annually an additional $9 million for the institution into perpetuity.  She was also responsible for the implementation of an aggressive facilities master plan which resulted in five new buildings in five years and increased faculty salaries.  The Administration Building was named in her honor and is the only building in downtown Lansing named after a female. During her 25 years at LCC, President Cunningham also served in a variety of executive positions including Vice President of Planning and Community Relations, Director of Professional Development, Director of Marketing and Communication, and Dean of Business. 

Paula Cunningham is the founder of L3 Entrepreneurial Academy in Lansing, MI which was a K-6 public school academy that received significant business and community support. During L3 Entrepreneurial Academy's first year of operation, 97 percent of the students improved at least one grade level in Math and 93 percent improved at least one grade level in English and Language Arts (based on national testing data).  

Believing in the entrepreneurial spirit that’s in all of us, Paula and her husband were among a small number of African Americans in the country who owned and operated an 18-hole golf course, Mason Hills Country Club, that was located in Mason, MI.  During their ownership, they also provided opportunities for inner-city youth to receive free golf lessons.

As Founder of the Professional Development Corporation (PDC), Paula Cunningham was able to secure a federal grant that provided training opportunities to socially and economically disadvantaged women and taught them to be more self-sufficient.  During PDC’s first year of operation, 83 percent of the trainees gained employment.

Paula is the past chairperson of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and was the first minority female to serve in this position. Paula currently serves on the Boards and Executive Committees of the McLaren Health Systems- Lansing, Michigan Nonprofit Association, Davenport University, MiQuest Board and Grace Foundation. In addition, she serves on the Mayor’s Financial Health Team, Team Lansing Foundation and the Airport Advisory Committee. For more than six years, Paula also hosted a weekly talk radio program called, "Connections,” that discussed current events and interviewed community leaders.

Paula D. Cunningham obtained a Master's Degree in Labor and Industrial Relations and a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, both from Michigan State University.  She also received an honorary doctorate degree from Alma College. She has traveled extensively throughout the world and values the diversity that comes with learning and living.