Breaking the Silence, Empowering Women

In the #MeToo era, employers have an obligation to foster a safe and inclusive culture

By: Wensdy Von Buskirk

Throughout her career, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (DMI 12) has found herself in a man’s world. From attending school at Georgetown University to her 30-year rise to senior executive with General Motors Co., and now as U.S. representative, Dingell said she was always “one of the few women in the room.”

When she looks back, her sentiments echo many women who talk of being marginalized at meetings, having their ideas dismissed, getting smaller paychecks, and being passed over for promotions. Or worse, suffering from sexual harassment or abuse in the workplace.

Dingell said it used to be more difficult to raise her voice.

“When I was younger, if a woman said anything she would be labeled. If I spoke up, there would be consequences,” she said.

“Now I’m looking forward. How do we change the climate to one of inclusion for everybody?”\

Dingell will share her perspective as part of a panel titled, “The Women’s Wave: Breaking the Silence,” which explores how businesses across all industries can engage in practices that put a premium on inclusion and equality. The panel also features Michigan Women Forward’s Carolyn Cassin, W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s La June Montgomery Tabron, and PwC’s Ray Telang.

The panel is especially relevant in light of #MeToo, a viral social media movement that sprung up last year in the wake of several high-profile sexual harassment scandals. As women around the world continue to share stories of abuse in the workplace using the ubiquitous hashtag, companies and government can no longer fall back on business as usual.

“I think the #MeToo movement has really highlighted how much women have had to put up with in the workplace, and I think we are living in a moment where companies, government, and other institutions have to reckon with how they can improve and level the playing field for women,” said CNN political commentator Patti Solis Doyle, who will moderate the panel.

Ignite Social Media President Deirdre Lambert-Bounds, who was appointed to the Michigan Women’s Commission by Gov. Rick Snyder, said she is eager to see the #MeToo movement grow beyond social media and into the real world.

“It’s a great start but there is a lot of work to be done,” she said.

Dingell agreed, stating, “The #MeToo movement is not real until it’s real for all women — the women on the factory floor, the tip waitress, the woman wanting to make partner or chair of the department. Washington and the media and Hollywood are in a bit of a bubble, and in the real world, women are still afraid to speak up.”

Cassin said it has been her life’s work to fight for women’s equality in the workplace. During her career as a health care executive, Cassin made sure the companies she led were safe and hospitable for women to work and advance.

“For women, there is an increasing realization of the stark reality of how far we are from gender parity in any form. This is why the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have resonated with so many,” she said. “It’s an important step forward that the Chamber has brought this to the Mackinac Policy Conference and I am honored to be a part of this panel. We hope to highlight how critical this is for the future of our region and for the health and viability of the companies that the Chamber represents.”

Preserving the Public Trust

Educational programs, neutral storytelling keeps PBS above the 24/7 news cycle

By: Dawson Bell

Paula Kerger is keenly aware of the rapidly changing media landscape in America. After more than two decades in public broadcasting and 12 years at the head of PBS nationally, Kerger has witnessed firsthand the decline of traditional media and the chaotic rise of a fragmented and increasingly digital media world.

The effect has been at times exhilarating, she said during an interview with the Detroiter in advance of her appearance at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, as advances in technology have removed barriers to participation in the marketplace of ideas and entertainment. In many ways, the digital revolution has allowed “many flowers (to) bloom,” Kerger said.

But Kerger notes a less salutary development as well: the fragmentation of the media has coincided with a decline in public trust of it, and of public institutions in general. There is a “growing disconnect” between the producers and consumers of content, she said. The continuing success of public broadcasting, Kerger said, is owed in large part to its ability to buck that trend.

For 15 years, a PBS-commissioned survey of Americans has found the public network to be the most trusted news organization in the country. And by a wide margin. In the most recent survey, the percentage of respondents who found PBS and its local affi liates “very trustworthy” was more than twice that of commercial networks.

Speaking to a tech conference in Las Vegas recently, Kerger characterized the trust that Americans place in public media as “our most valuable asset.” Kerger attributes public media’s advantage to several factors, including its insulation from the commercial pressures faced by for-profit media organizations, the close ties between local affiliates and the communities they serve, and a recognition by the public that PBS maintains a distinction between news reporting and opinion.

In a click-driven, hyper-partisan news environment that prizes conflict over consensus, maintaining that approach requires constant vigilance, she said. Amid rapid change, PBS tries to resist the temptation to relax the rigor of its decision-making over content and emphasis, Kerger said. The continuing strength of PBS affiliates also stands in contrast to other news organizations, like local and regional newspapers and broadcasters, where shrinking profits have led to sharp reductions in personnel and original content, she said.

Public media — television, radio and its online offerings — has tried “to fill some of that gap,” she said, by producing more local public affairs programming, political and election coverage, and documentaries. And the public has responded with higher levels of viewership and support. But Kerger is less sanguine about the prospects for restoring trust in news organizations and public institutions more broadly.

“I think we need to look for opportunities to bring people together,” she said, acknowledging that she isn’t sure how it can be accomplished in today’s social media world.

The formula for high cable television ratings is filling screens with talking heads who talk over each other, she said. Meanwhile other primary news sources, such as Twitter and Facebook, “can’t decide what they are.”

“As aggregators and mediators of news content, social networks aren’t news organizations. But they look like news organizations,” Kerger said.

All of this leaves the public in the unenviable position of having to sort through a morass of conflicting information. It is, Kerger said, “alarming…not good.” The role of PBS and public media, she said, is to maintain its focus on serving the public amidst the maelstrom.

“Our infl uence is in continuing to do work the public is attracted to and trusts,” Kerger said.

Striking a more optimistic note, she said, “The public is smarter than they are given credit for.”

Dig Deep: Truth Will Restore Trust in Politics

Former U.S. representative and college football star J.C. Watts Jr. offers advice for a disheartened electorate

By: Greg Tasker

J.C. Watts Jr., a former U.S. congressman from Oklahoma and founder of a boutique government affairs fi rm, has a simple solution to restore trust in national politics: Truth.

“In America, we don’t want to admit that we have a problem,” said Watts, who served four terms in Congress around the turn of the century. “We have a problem with telling the truth. We can agree that two plus two is five but that doesn’t make it right, or true. The truth always hurts before it helps, but you have to admit there is a problem. That is the first step.”

Watts compares a politician’s inability to acknowledge the truth to an addict’s substance dependence.

“It’s not a tragedy to be dysfunctional, but it’s a tragedy to allow dysfunction to become normal. That’s where we are,” he said. “We have to recognize that two plus two is four. When someone says it’s something else, then someone, whether Republican or Democrat, white, yellow, red or black, has to stand up and say that’s not true.”

If Watts’ solution sounds simple, he comes to this belief after wearing a lot of hats in life. He is a former college football star. He has served as a youth pastor. In Congress, he was a member of the Armed Services Committee and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security. He is also author of “Dig Deep: 7 Truths to Finding the Strength Within.”

Watts, whose firm is based in Washington, D.C., believes civility and trust have continued to deteriorate since he left Congress.

“When I left in January 2003, I could see that it was getting progressively worse,” Watts said. “There was still some civility when I was in Congress. To run for office these days, you almost have to be angry and follow the party with blind faith and loyalty.”

He surmises politics and collaboration has deteriorated on both sides of the aisle because of an inability to tell the truth.

“The truth is often in the eye of the beholder. Even in politics, the data isn’t often very clear,” he said. “But to be a good defense attorney or prosecutor, you are constantly peeling the layers of the onion looking for the facts.”

Being a team player is important in accomplishing an agenda, but it’s also important to be able to stand independently and question.

“Everything I learned in athletics made me a team guy,” said Watts, who was a quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners and led them to Orange Bowl victories. “I don’t mind taking one for the team, but I became enough of an independent that if you made me wear a uniform that didn’t fit, I would say something. If we are going to march, tell me where we are marching to. I had enough independence to say two plus two is four.”

Along with speaking the truth, it is wise to have a level of distrust of government, Watts adds.

“Being of African-American descent, I’m old enough to remember that I couldn’t swim in the public pool and had to sit in the balcony of the movie theater because of my race,” he said.

The government isn’t always right, he said, pointing to some of the historic cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court — the Dred Scott decision, for example — and the distrust former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover created in government and the public.

“I’ve had a healthy suspicion of my government,” he said. “At the same time, it’s the government that said we’re going to add the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. It’s the same government that said separate and equal are unequal. It’s the same government that said we’re going to abolish Jim Crow laws.”

How can Congress move past the lingering trend of hyper-partisanship?

“Let’s start by saying, I should treat you the way I want to be treated,’” Watts said. “That’s a pretty good foundation. If we don’t allow our children to act this way, why do we allow politicians?”

“We hold our football coaches to a higher standard than elected officials,” he added. “The same standard we hold (University of Michigan coach) Jim Harbaugh to, we should hold Congress to. It’s that simple.”

Transcending Hyper-Partisan Politics

CNN’s Patti Solis Doyle refl ects on her time with the Clintons, the #MeToo movement, and healing a divided nation

By Dawson Bell

CNN’s Patti Solis Doyle refl ects on her time with the Clintons, the #MeToo movement, and healing a divided nation By Dawson Bell Raised in Chicago as the youngest of six children to working-class, Mexican immigrant parents, Patti Solis Doyle knows what life outside the citadels of power is like. As a veteran of Bill Clinton’s two presidential campaigns, a White House aide throughout his tenure, and the 2008 campaign manager (the first Hispanic-American women to hold that position) for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, she also knows what it is like on the inside.

But in the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, Solis Doyle admits she was, like many Americans, left wondering, “How did that happen?” and “Where do we go from here?” In an interview with the Detroiter, Solis Doyle said she is still grappling with the former. But as a lifelong Democrat and progressive activist, she is confident the 2016 election re-awakened and re-energized the coalition on the left, and will result in a significant course correction in 2018 and 2020.

Solis Doyle now heads a Washington, D.C.-based consulting fi rm and is a regular contributor to CNN. In advance of her appearance at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, she shared her thoughts on a range of topics, including the tenor of debate in contemporary politics, the expanding role of women and minorities in the body politic, and how the reckoning over sexual harassment and abuse affects political campaigns and American society going forward.

The discussion of politics and policy today in America is increasingly acrimonious and uncompromising. Do you view that as regrettable? Is there anything that can be done?

I’m happy the Chamber is taking this topic on. It is important. I think we are at a unique time in our history and in our culture. I don’t think we have ever been this divided. Politicians on both sides have contributed: the president with his comments about women and immigrants; and Hillary Clinton talking about some voters as ‘deplorable’ while her voters are ‘forward-thinking.’

We must take steps to fix it. It may not be fixable if we don’t get started. The first step is always dialogue and conversation. We don’t need to disagree for the sake of disagreement. There are things Democrats and Republicans agree upon, like the need to address our infrastructure. Another thing we must get back to is being able to disagree with civility and respect.

Minorities and women are a growing force in American politics, especially for Democrats. How would you judge their role and influence going forward?

The one good thing that came out of the last election is the commitment to do better in 2018 and 2020. People have taken it upon themselves to get motivated. They want their country back. We particularly see it in women, blacks and Hispanics.

A lot of things happened in 2016 (Russian interference in the election, Hillary Clinton’s email issues, missteps by the Clinton campaign). There was an expectation by everyone — voters, pundits, politicians — that Hillary was going to walk away with this thing. Democrats now very much know what happens when they don’t show up to vote. The early signs (in special and midterm elections) in Pennsylvania, Alabama and Virginia are very encouraging.

What about the #MeToo movement? What does it portend for politics and American life generally?

Women are really pissed off. There has been story after story — Harvey Weinstein,

Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump — powerful men taking advantage. Women are angry. Now they can make their anger heard and known. Something is finally being done. Men are losing their jobs, their fortunes, their reputations. It is a very affirming event. There is always the danger of a backlash. But for the most part, it is empowering. As it plays out, we’re seeing more women in prominent positions in media, a push for equal pay in Hollywood, more women running for office … and winning.

You’re a Hillary loyalist. However, you have been critical of her recently for comments about President Trump and in response to a New York Times report that she allowed an accused sexual harasser to remain with her 2008 campaign. How has she helped shape the current political conversation?

I was critical of her comments (that women voted for Trump under pressure from the men in their lives and that the ‘optimistic’ part of America voted for her), although they were somewhat taken out of context. To suggest, even slightly, that people in Trump states are “backward” is not only wrong, it’s not helpful in getting the country moving forward.

I would add that President Trump’s comments about the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville weren’t helpful either. I have regrets about (Clinton campaign aide Burns Strider). My biggest regret is that he went on to harass more women. If even one young woman dropped out, decided that politics was something she didn’t want to be a part of because of that, it’s not acceptable.

She (Hillary) made a mistake. But this is a woman who I worked with for 17 years. She allowed me to bring a crib to the White House when I ran into childcare difficulties. Her career and her lifelong advocacy for woman mean something. She’s made a difference. We’re not done yet. The process (of redressing sexual harassment) is still convoluted. But these strong women who have come forward have opened the door. Things are changing.

Restoring Trust, Building Integrity

Former U.S. Speaker John Boehner says Washington has much work to do to win back the public

By: Tom Walsh

John Boehner, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, will deliver a keynote address at the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, headlining a discussion about developing trust in American institutions.

Boehner served as U.S. representative from Ohio’s 8th district from 1991 to 2015, rising to become Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015. A Republican with a reputation for candor and a willingness to listen and compromise, he resigned his position due to opposition within the GOP caucus. Boehner recently discussed his career highlights, how to restore public trust, and the national political climate during an interview with the Detroiter.

What is your most important accomplishment and biggest disappointment during your time in Congress?

I dedicated my speakership to addressing the drivers of our nation’s debt. I think the most important accomplishment of my time as Speaker was that we consistently passed budgets that provided a roadmap to prosperity and made common-sense structural reforms to the programs that are currently on autopilot and have our children and grandchildren facing a future of debt.

President Obama and I had an agreement in place that would have been a signifi cant step toward achieving those goals if it had been enacted. The agreement fell apart because of political opposition, which we were both getting from our respective sides. That’s probably my biggest disappointment.

During your first term in Congress, you – as a member of the so-called “Gang of Seven” – were hailed as a “conservative reformer,” challenging leadership in both parties to attack improprieties in the House Bank and House Post Office. How was the “Gang of Seven” reform effort different than the Freedom Caucus two decades later?

The mission of the Gang of Seven was to make the House more accountable to the American people by changing the way it worked and getting rid of outdated practices that were eroding public confi dence in government. At the time, you had members of Congress bouncing checks at the House Bank; stamps-for-cash deals being made at the House Post Offi ce; and the House couldn’t even pass a routine independent audit of its books. The Gang of Seven was about cleaning up and modernizing Congress as an institution. On matters relating to the Republican policy agenda, we generally voted with our leadership.

You denounced the Affordable Care Act as something not done openly, with transparency and accountability, before its passage in 2010. Today, Democrats are making similar complaints about the GOP-controlled Congress. What will it take to re-establish transparency and compromise?

The House is much more transparent and accountable today than it was at the beginning of 2011, when I took the Speaker’s gavel. We made it much easier for legislative information to be accessed online, in real time, by the American public. Bills are now posted online at least two days before they come to a vote. Pork-barrel earmarks were banned. The House still has those practices in place. With respect to “compromise,” I’ve always believed the goal is finding common ground, without compromising on principle.

On the topic of education, you played a key role in writing the No Child Left Behind Act, compromising on details with Sen. Edward Kennedy and others. How do you see education policy evolving under President Trump and U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos?
The No Child Left Behind process was about fi nding common ground and changing federal law to reflect what the public believed. President George W. Bush was elected in 2000 having promised to demand more accountability from the federal education programs that for decades had been throwing money at a problem with little results. I didn’t see anything conservative about continuing to spend billions in taxpayer dollars each year without a system in place to encourage accountability. As it turned out, liberals like Sen. Kennedy and Rep. George Miller weren’t any bigger fans of that practice than I or President Bush.

I was open about my belief that we needed to provide better options to parents with children in struggling public schools, including the right to transfer to private schools. I still believe the full range of options should be available to all students, and I think the current administration shares that goal.

You blame modern-day news outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC, along with social media, for pushing people further right and left. How much blame does the media deserve for hyperpartisanship?
Americans are bombarded by news and information, and they tend to gravitate toward the news outlets that reflect their viewpoints. This does, I believe, have the effect of pushing people into their respective ideological corners. Many Americans have grown distrustful of the so-called mainstream media because they detected a political agenda or bias running through the big TV networks and media entities and got tired of being told what they had to think or believe. I’ve always believed it’s up to our elected leaders to demonstrate that it’s possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

How has President Trump impacted the Republican Party, the standing of the United States in the world, and the tone of public discourse? How can we restore trust?

President Trump is probably the most pragmatic person ever to occupy the Oval Office. There isn’t an ideological bone in his body. As I’ve said publicly many times, he’s only kind of a Republican. As you know, I’m with Squire Patton Boggs, the global law and public policy firm. In our 2016 post-election analysis, we predicted the Trump presidency might look a lot like the Trump presidential campaign: noisy, chaotic, occasionally divisive – but also, ultimately, somewhat effective. He certainly doesn’t do everything the way I’d do it, but the Republican Party, and the world, will eventually evaluate his presidency on the results.

Talking Presidential

Wall Street Journal columnist and presidential speech writer Peggy Noonan shares how the power of words can influence trust in government

By: Tom Walsh

From the presidencies of Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump, no American political writer’s voice has been more prominent these past four decades than that of Peggy Noonan. She will bring that voice to the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference, where she will speak on restoring confi dence in government, media and business to rebuild trust in society.

“I have never seen Americans so divided into different cultural and sociological camps as they are now, with different perceptions, media habits, and ways of getting their primary or beginning views enforced,” Noonan said in an interview with the Detroiter.

Viewed mainly as a political conservative after working for three Republican presidents and writing a book in 2000 titled “The Case Against Hillary Clinton,” Noonan emerged as a sharp critic of candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Her columns on the campaign for The Wall Street Journal earned her the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for political commentary.

Noonan has always had a way with words. As a speechwriter for President Reagan in 1986, she wrote his memorable address to the nation after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in fl ight, killing all seven crew members, including high school teacher Christa McAuliffe. In less than six hours after the shock and horror of that event, Noonan penned and Reagan delivered a masterwork that was at once somber and uplifting.

“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted,” Reagan said, “it belongs to the brave.”

Working years later for President George H. W. Bush, Noonan coined the phrases “a thousand points of light” and “Read my lips: no new taxes.”

A Wall Street Journal columnist since 2000, Noonan has also authored nine books on politics, culture and religion. Before writing speeches for Reagan, she wrote daily commentaries from 1981-84 for CBS News anchor Dan Rather. Later she was a consultant for the television drama, “The West Wing.”

Noonan said both the news and entertainment media bear some blame for today’s contentious state of public discourse. To a certain degree, the news media speaks about and refl ects “the divisions of on-the-ground America,” she said. But she also added that the news media seems “very upfront in a pretty daily way about its essential antipathy to (President) Trump.”

While describing herself as “Trump critic in the opinion space,” Noonan said, “I am not sure it does us any good as a nation that Trump supporters can legitimately claim that those in the news media are overwhelmingly against Trump” and therefore experience news about the presidency through that filter.

Entertainment shows with political themes also impact the nation’s psyche, she suggested. Over the past 10 years, shows like “House of Cards,” “Scandal,” and others “have been deeply cynical, deeply assumptive of the idea that those in politics are in it for the power, the money, the glory, the fame, and are essentially amoral,” Noonan said.

And she worries that “humans in America have become conditioned to see politics and its players in an even lower and more degraded form.”

Restoring public trust and confidence, Noonan said, begins with individual citizens.

“We’ve had democracy for a really long time,” she said. “Let’s talk about what’s good about it. A simple human, solitary attempt each day to try to be fair, not giving in to hating the other side, or looking down on the other side or sides – these individual things help. We all have a lot of power in our own hands as citizens.”
Comparing today’s political tumult with the nation’s mood under other recent leaders – Reagan, the Bushes, the Clintons, and Barack Obama – Noonan said the Trump phenomenon is hard to fi gure out. Is it a blip, an anomaly, or something worrisome, even dystopian?

“Dystopian is going too far for me,” Noonan said. “You never know with history. It takes its turns. Mr. Trump will not be here forever … and we will see as we come out if he has changed politics, in terms of the style and general approach to the presidency. We’ll see if he has changed it irrevocably or not; that will take time.”

One thing Trump has changed, she added, is the notion of who can become president.

“It used to be that in order to be an American president, chances were you had to be a senator or a governor, or perhaps in the case of Eisenhower, a great general,” Noonan said. “Trump’s background was utterly apart and different.”

“When I was a kid, we used to say, ‘Anybody can be president.’ Now we say it in a wholly different way,” Noonan chuckled.

Embracing Forward-Thinking Conversations

Conference Chair Ray Telang outlines a vision for Michigan’s prosperity

By Melissa Anders

Michigan is at a pivotal place, and it is at risk of stagnating if its leaders do not continue to address some lingering issues, according to Ray Telang, U.S. automotive leader and Detroit managing partner for PwC. That’s why Telang, this year’s Mackinac Policy Conference Chair, is looking forward to fostering dialogue on key topics, ranging from workplace equality to the mobility industry. Sessions will focus on three key pillars: Is Michigan Prepared?, The Mobility Disruption, and Trust.

The Detroiter recently sat down with Telang to discuss his vision for the 2018 Conference.

What are some areas to consider when you ask, “Is Michigan prepared?”

Key issues like talent, K-12 education, and workforce development. Are the people that we need trained getting the appropriate resources? How does our infrastructure, postsecondary schools, etc. support getting people to work and/or getting jobs that are critical to our growth so that companies can feel good about continuing to make investments in Michigan? Other key issues include state finances, roads, regional transit, and all the things that companies would look at.

How will Michigan’s mobility leadership be featured in Conference programming?

In the mobility space, this is our opportunity to re-establish our state as an innovation center. We are uniquely positioned given our critical asset of the automotive industry, the number of engineers, the amount of innovation — the patents that are developed here every day. We’re uniquely positioned to capitalize on the transition that’s happening, and will certainly continue to happen, as society changes the way it moves goods and people, and frankly how services are delivered.

Why did you designate trust as one of the Conference pillars?

If we behave in a way that is consistent with how we want to be treated and heard, that will only engender trust. It’s only then will we be able to solve some very important problems, because that’s when we’ll ultimately truly listen to one another and drive solutions that are good for all versus just a few.

Where do we need to build trust?

There’s many places it manifests itself, like trust in the workplace. It has also put a spotlight on some leadership issues — frankly leadership voids — in how we develop talent. More specifically, how do we develop women and minorities? Trust goes into the media, traditional and social media, as well as in government and in corporations.
What do you hope to accomplish with this year’s Conference?

I’m hoping that it will offer an opportunity to continue, or in some cases start an open constructive dialogue about the state’s most critical issues. As we think about this year, it’s even more critical given that it’s an election year.
What are you looking forward to the most?

We’re going to facilitate the first bipartisan gubernatorial debate at the Conference. It’ll be exciting to bring candidates from both parties together on stage.
Where do you think the state needs to go?

We can talk about all the reforms that we make around infrastructure, or the reforms that we’re going to make around postretirement benefits, and some of the things that we need to do to shore up finances. At the end of the day, if we don’t make a significant improvement in our statewide K-12 education system and really get at some leading practices, make the right investments in the right people with the right programs to really move the needle in a positive way, all the things we’re talking about won’t matter. Our kids just will not be prepared to enter the workforce and create careers for themselves.

Butzel Long CFO Michelle A. Brown named to Crain’s Detroit Business’ ‘Notable Women in Finance 2018’

Butzel Long Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Michelle A. Brown was recently named to Crain’s Detroit Business’ “Notable Women in Finance 2018.” She is among 45 women to receive this prestigious recognition.

Brown participates in building a culture that is team-oriented, committed to professional excellence and ensures a high-level of client service. She develops strategic and financial analysis of key performance metrics for presentation to the firm’s Finance Committee and Board of Directors.

Brown also serves as a key advisor and strategic partner to the Finance Committee, Board of Directors and other firm leaders regarding business planning, profitability, growth targets and revenue goals.

She leads the development of annual operating and capital budgets and manages the budgeting and forecasting process.

Brown also monitors all laws and regulations regarding corporate taxes, current trends and best practices in accounting and financial reporting. She communicates the impact of new developments and regulations and makes appropriate recommendations.

She is a member of the Association of Legal Administrators (National and Detroit Chapters)

Brown earned a Master of Business Administration –Magna Cum Laude — in 2000 from Walsh College of Accountancy and Business Administration. She also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Administration from the University of Michigan School of Management in Dearborn in 1992.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing and Shanghai. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter:

CEO Daniel J. Loepp: Michigan poised to compete nationally through collaboration and partnerships

May 22, 2018

MI Blues Perspectives

By: Dan Loepp

It’s clear to me that our state and regional leaders know what it takes to make Michigan a true national competitor –  a place that draws top talent, lures innovative businesses, encourages development and spurs job creation needed to rev up our economy. It starts with collaboration and shared objectives.

Our state’s preparedness is one of the key themes leaders have been challenged to consider as we gather for the 2018 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Today, we are better prepared to collaborate thanks to the energy and synergy we developed during the region’s recent pitch for Amazon HQ 2.0.  The power and spirit of collaboration resulted in an inspiring campaign, “Detroit. Move Here. Move the World.” Amazon chose a different path, but the resulting partnerships serve as a blueprint for intellectual, creative and economic teamwork that could broadly benefit our communities, region and the state.

The area’s leaders are already partnering again on other comprehensive economic development initiatives, including pushing for a much-needed regional mass transit system.

At Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, we’re proud to do our part to prepare Michigan for a brighter, healthier future — as we have for nearly 80 years. Improving our health care system requires collaboration and shared objectives.  It requires us to leave our comfort zones and to listen and compromise to achieve our shared objectives of improved quality, lower costs and better outcomes.

Today, Blue Cross is proud to be among national leaders in efforts to bring value and quality to our customers and members through programs like our Patient-Centered Medical Home, now in its tenth year. Born over years of collaboration with leading physicians in Michigan, our Medical Home practices consistently outperform others in clinical quality and other measures and deliver better health outcomes.

We’re also proud to collaborate with physicians and physician groups on other critical patient safety, clinical quality and care processes. These initiatives have improved and transformed health care for everyone in our state and nationally, including by reducing post-surgery complications, hospitalizations and return trips to the emergency room.

These programs, which we call Value Partnerships, are saving lives and relieving some of the enormous cost pressure on the health care industry. Over time, the initiatives have avoided more than $1.4 billion in health care costs, which in turn serves our members by increasing quality and improving overall affordability.

And in keeping with our social mission, we’re contributing time, resources and expertise to make our communities healthier and more vibrant.

That includes an $85 million payment Blue Cross made this year to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to improve the health of seniors and children, bringing our total payments to $355 million. This is in addition to support for a wide variety of important community-based health initiatives and partnerships, and through thousands of volunteer hours our employees spend in the community.

And now Blue Cross is collaborating with doctors, physician groups, businesses, customers and members to combat the devastating opioid epidemic that is harming families across our state – and nation. We are committed to working together to save lives.

All these successful and powerful initiatives have common threads – collaboration and commitment.

I’m pleased that through collaboration, our leaders, businesses and communities are charting a positive path forward for Michigan and creating a healthy future for our state and our people.

Daniel J. Loepp is President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, which serves nearly 5.4 million members in all 50 states.


View the original post from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan on MI Blues Perspectives. 

MSF-approved projects generate nearly $2.7 billion in investment, create or retain 9,372 jobs

The Michigan Strategic Fund board today approved a wide range of projects, including a Transformational Brownfield Plan for the Bedrock Management Services, LLC project in Detroit, a new Amazon fulfillment center near Grand Rapids, and funds to support community revitalization projects in southeast and west Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced today.

The projects, which support continued economic progress in the state, are expected to generate a total capital investment of $2,675,350,073 and create or retain 9,372 jobs in Michigan.

“Today’s projects represent a tremendous investment in Michigan’s future,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “From Bedrock’s transformational project in downtown Detroit to Amazon’s fourth distribution center in the state – Michigan’s economy continues to thrive and offers even more potential for business growth.”

Bedrock Management Services, LLC received MSF approval of a Transformational Brownfield Plan for its proposed multi-site mixed use redevelopment project in downtown Detroit that will include office, retail, residential and hotel space. The project includes new construction and redevelopment at four distinct sites covering six acres: New construction of the city’s tallest tower on the site of the former Hudson’s department store; Construction of a mixed-use building on existing vacant sites known as the Monroe Blocks; an expansion of the One Campus Martius building; and the renovation of the historic Book Building and Book Tower. The entire project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $2.15 billion and support 7,738 new full-time jobs in the city of Detroit. MSF today approved a Transformational Brownfield Plan that authorizes several sources of tax capture in support of the project. The entire package is valued at $618 million, with an estimated state-benefit-to-incentive ratio is $3.20 in state revenue for every $1 of incentive.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation has facilitated tax abatements, sale of property, and local brownfield approvals to expedite the approval of the project.

The approval for Bedrock’s package of developments in Detroit is the first formal support awarded from the Transformational Brownfield Plan (TBP) program, signed into law nearly a year ago by Gov. Rick Snyder. The TBP program aims to revitalize communities by allowing large-scale, transformational projects to capture or receive an exemption from state sales and income taxes to redevelop challenging brownfield sites into new, vibrant developments that bring jobs and economic growth.

“These landmark developments are a milestone representing Detroit’s credible new era of hope, optimism and growth,” said Bedrock Founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert. “This process has been an outstanding example of collaboration between multiple levels of government and private industry that will unleash billions of dollars of investment, resulting in transformational impact to Detroit, the region, and the entire state of Michigan. Governor Snyder and the Michigan Strategic Fund were instrumental in getting these monumental projects to the finish line. I want to thank the Governor, MSF, and all of our local and state partners for their strong support and commitment to Detroit and the state’s transformation.”

To read more about the transformational Detroit projects, visit here To view a video on the project, visit here:

Amazon plans to lease a new state-of-the-art, build-to-suit fulfillment center in Gaines Charter Township (Kent County) on approximately 100 acres of land currently owned by Steelcase. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $150 million and create 1,000 full-time, full-benefit jobs. In addition to offering an excellent benefits package, the company will offer a 95 percent prepaid tuition program for associates. MSF today approved a $4 million Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant in support of the project. Michigan was chosen over competing sites in other Midwestern states. Gaines Charter Township is offering a 50-percent property tax abatement in support of the project. For information on careers with Amazon, visit

To read more about the Amazon project, visit here

The Gaines Charter Township fulfillment center will be the fourth facility Amazon has established in Michigan, and the first on the west side of the state.  In September 2017, the company announced plans to establish a facility Charter Township of Shelby, investing $40 million and creating 1,025 full-time, full-benefit jobs. The project resulted in a $4.5 million MBDP performance-based grant. In June 2017, Amazon was awarded a $5 million MBDP grant for the creation of a fulfillment center in the city of Romulus, a project that is on track to generate total investment of $140 million and create 1,600 jobs. In addition, Amazon was awarded a $7.5 million MBDP grant in December 2016 for the creation of 1,000 jobs at a new, $90-million fulfillment center in Livonia.

Gerdau Macsteel, Inc. is one of the largest steel producers in North America, manufacturing products servicing the construction, automotive, agriculture and energy markets. The company’s North American divisions focus on long and special steel projects such as rebar, beams and piling, merchant bar quality and more. The company plans to expand at its facility in the city of Monroe that will increase capacity of special bar quality steel used in the automotive manufacturing process. The expansion is expected to generate a total capital investment of $115 million and retain 530 jobs. The Michigan Strategic Fund today approved an exemption from the State Essential Services Assessment for the company valued at $2,407,000. To learn more about career opportunities with Gerdau, visit here:

“Gerdau Macsteel. Inc. is an important manufacturing company that contributes to the employment base and financial stability in the City of Monroe,” said Monroe Mayor Robert Clark. “I am thankful for Gerdau’s continued commitment to the community and the capital investment through this expansion project, as well as the Michigan Strategic Fund partnership, that will retain employment levels at Gerdau for years to come.

The City of Detroit Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received MSF approval of $2,131,165 in local and school tax capture for the Wolverine Packing Co. expansion in the city of Detroit. Wolverine Packing is a large meat wholesale processor and distributor with 500 employees. The company needs to expand production and has identified an underutilized eight-acre site within the Eastern Market district, where it will construct a new cold storage facility. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $40 million and create 50 jobs. The tax capture will be used to alleviate brownfield conditions at the site and make it suitable for redevelopment. The city of Detroit is contributing a 12-year Industrial Facilities Tax exemption in support of the project. Individuals interested in careers with Wolverine should visit

351 W. Western LLC and Great Lakes Development Investments, Inc. plan to construct a new six-story, mixed-use building on .17 acres in downtown Muskegon. The completed project will include retail and office space with three floors of residential market-rate apartments. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of nearly $7.3 million and create 29 full-time equivalent jobs, resulting in a $1.5 million Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based loan participation. The project is Phase 1 of what is expected to become a three-phase development that will be built on vacant adjacent parcels, and is expected to serve as a catalyst for additional revitalization in downtown Muskegon. The project is a community-wide priority with the city of Muskegon contributing an Act 255 tax abatement, a Neighborhood Enterprise Zone tax abatement, a $500,000 loan, and a $12,407 environmental grant. The Muskegon County Community Foundation is also contributing $1.5 million in loans.

The County of Washtenaw Brownfield Redevelopment Authority received MSF approval of $5, 204,760 in local and school tax capture for the redevelopment of vacant property into the 1140 Broadway Street project, developed by Morningside Group, in the city of Ann Arbor. The project will consist of a three-phase, mixed-use urban-style infill development that will include residential rental and for-sale units, retail space, and parking. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $213 million and create 25 full-time equivalent jobs, and will redevelop underutilized, highly contaminated property into much-needed residential and commercial space in Ann Arbor. The tax capture will be used to alleviate brownfield conditions, make the property suitable for redevelopment, and make public infrastructure improvements at the site.

MSF also approved a bond authorizing resolution for private activity bond financing of up to $12 million for Greenville Venture Partners, LLC. Greenville Venture Partners is establishing a 55,000-square-foot dairy processing facility in the city of Greenville that will help provide an outlet to process the current surplus milk supply in Michigan. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $57.9 million and create 33 jobs. In March, the project was awarded a $412,500 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant in support of the project.

In addition, MSF today approved a one-year extension of an existing contract with Aviareps for leisure travel promotion in China in the amount of $270,000.

“Today’s projects, including major business expansions and community revitalization projects in west and southeast Michigan, will fuel new economic activity across Michigan, strengthen communities, and create well-paying jobs for our residents,” said Jeff Mason, CEO of MEDC, the state’s chief marketing and business attraction arm that administers programs and performs due diligence on behalf of the MSF.

“These investments are the result of vital long-term relationships with public and private partners, and we’re pleased to be a part of the collaboration to bring today’s projects to fruition,” he said.

About Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is the state’s marketing arm and lead advocate for business development, job awareness and community development with the focus on growing Michigan’s economy. For more information on the MEDC and our initiatives, visit For Pure Michigan® tourism information, your trip begins at Join the conversation on: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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Rendering courtesy of Bedrock