Chamber’s Sandy K. Baruah Among Those Appointed to Bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday appointed new members to the bipartisan Protect Michigan Commission. The appointees represent a diverse array of industries, professions, and backgrounds. Housed within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the commission will help raise awareness of the safety and effectiveness of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, educate the people of this state, and help protect the health and safety of all Michigan residents. Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah is among those appointed to the commission.

“Michigan is working around the clock to ramp up vaccinations and reach our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day, and with the help of the Protect Michigan Commission we can ensure everyone has a plan to get vaccinated once the opportunity becomes available to them,” said Gov. Whitmer. “The bipartisan members of this group will play a vital role in helping to reinforce the importance of everyone getting the safe and effective vaccine. I am confident that the members of this commission will rise to the occasion and help Michigan end the COVID-19 pandemic once and for all.”

“Our clearest path to healthy communities, a growing economy, and day-to-day activities free from fear is through the COVID-19 vaccine,” Lt. Gov. Gilchrist said. “As we continue to build up the largest vaccine program in our state’s history, we will be working alongside members of the Protect Michigan Commission to ensure that Michiganders in every part of our state, especially those with questions and those hardest hit during the pandemic, have a plan to get vaccinated. The best thing we can do right now is to work together to see all of our communities through to the other side of this pandemic.”

The Governor has selected Kerry Ebersole Singh to lead the Protect Michigan Commission and assist in mobilizing the ongoing efforts of the commission.

“This is a critical time for Michigan, and as we ramp up vaccination efforts across the state I am confident that we can leverage the expertise of the commissioners to ensure everyone who wants a vaccinate can get one,” said Kerry Ebersole Singh. “I am honored to be a part of one of the largest commissions to date and I am ready to work together with the commission to meet the governor’s vaccination goals.”

The Protect Michigan Commission, formed in December, serves in an advisory capacity to Gov. Whitmer and DHHS. The new members are tasked with providing public leadership to elevate and reinforce the importance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, identifying barriers that may impede the acceptance of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by Michigan residents, which includes identifying areas or groups within this state that are likely to experience vaccine hesitancy, and develop an outreach action plan designed to overcome these barriers. The Commission must complete its work and submit a brief final report to the Governor by Dec. 31, 2021. Appointees will serve until the dissolution of the Commission.

The Commission is co-chaired by:

  • Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II
  • Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, M.D., Chief Medical Executive and DHHS Chief Deputy for Health
  • Blake Griffin, Detroit Pistons
  • Former Lt. Gov. Brian N. Calley, Small Business Association of Michigan
  • Eva A. Garza Dewaelsche, SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress, Inc.
  • Tina Freese-Decker, Spectrum Health
  • Jamie Brown, Michigan Nurses Association
  • Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., Michigan State University and Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative

The Commission will establish advisory workgroups to assist the Commission in performing its duties and responsibilities. The following individuals will serve as Chairs for the advisory workgroups:

  • Business Leaders workgroup: Dolf Van Amersfoort, Stellantis
  • Seniors workgroup: Dr. Brenda Surae Eaton, M.D., AARP
  • Youth (16-30) workgroup: Dondre Young, Community Foundation of Greater Flint
  • Rural workgroup: Chuck Lippstreu, Michigan Agri-Business Association
  • Latinx workgroup: Eva A. Garza Dewaelsche, SER Metro-Detroit, Jobs for Progress, Inc.
  • Asian Pacific American workgroup: Dr. S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D., Michigan State Medical Society and American Medical Association Council on Science and Public Health
  • African American workgroup: Rev. Charles E. Williams, II, Historic King Solomon Baptist Church
  • Middle Eastern workgroup: Dr. Zafer I. Obeid, M.D., Arab American & Chaldean Council
  • Local Government workgroup: Dr. Deirdre Waterman, M.D., City of Pontiac
  • Disability workgroup: Tim Hileman, Special Olympics Michigan
  • Faith workgroup: Lea A. Luger, Yad Ezra
  • Labor and Workforce workgroup: Mike Shoudy, Michigan Education Association
  • Health Leaders workgroup: Melissa A. Holmquist, Upper Peninsula Health Plan
  • Education workgroup: Kristen McDonald Rivet, Michigan Future, Inc. and city of Bay City
  • Tribal workgroup: Sadie Valliere, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indian
  • Women and Children workgroup: Denise L. Smith, Hope Starts Here Detroit

In addition, the Governor appointed the following people to the Protect Michigan Commission:

  • Aamina Ahmed, Rising Voices of Asian American Families and New American Leaders
  • Dr. Colleen Allen, Ph.D., Autism Alliance of Michigan
  • Suzanne Miller Allen, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
  • Sandy K. Baruah, Detroit Regional Chamber
  • Najah Bazzy, Michigan Muslim Community Council
  • Mark Behnke, City of Battle Creek
  • Amber Bellazaire, Michigan League for Public Policy
  • Evan Bonsall, City of Marquette
  • Dr. Nirali Bora, M.D., Kent County Health Department
  • April Bowen, Planned Parenthood of Michigan
  • Hodari Brown, National Business League Detroit Chapter
  • Laurel Burchfield, Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness
  • Robyn Burlingham, Tribal Council for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi
  • Anna Byberg, National Association of Social Workers
  • Kyle Caldwell, Council of Michigan Foundations
  • Chong-Anna Canfora, Michigan Community Action Association
  • Jim Carruthers, City of Traverse City
  • Carlo L. Castiglione, Plumbers Union Local 98
  • Guillermo Cisneros, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Steve Currie, Michigan Association of Counties
  • Derek J. Dobies, Michigan AFL-CIO and City of Jackson
  • Jeff Donofrio, Business Leaders for Michigan
  • John E. Duckworth, Baptist Council of Michigan
  • Dr. Brenda Surae Eaton, M.D., AARP
  • Karla Fales, CareWell Services Southwest, the Region 3B Area Agency on Aging in Barry and Calhoun Counties
  • Jennifer Fiedler, Michigan Townships Association
  • Diane N. Fleser, Disability Network of Michigan
  • Steve Grigorian, Detroit Economic Club
  • Kate Guzman, Oakland County
  • Ken L. Haney, Jr., SEIU Healthcare Michigan
  • Dan Hurley, Michigan Association of State Universities
  • Farah Jalloul, Michigan Pharmacists Association
  • Dr. Tina Kerr, Ph.D., Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators
  • Erin Knott, Equality Michigan
  • Kelley J. Kuhn, Michigan Nonprofit Association
  • John P. LaMacchia, Michigan Municipal League
  • Mike Larson, Michigan Association of United Ways
  • Laura LeBlanc, Volunteers of America Michigan
  • Robert LeFevre, Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities
  • Chuck Lippstreu, Michigan Agri-Business Association
  • Dr. Matt M. Longjohn, M.D., Western Michigan University Stryker School of Medicine
  • Dr. Felipe Lopez Sustaita, Ed.D., Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan
  • Jimena Loveluck, Washtenaw County
  • Mark Miller, Jewish Federation of Michigan
  • Joseph P. Murray, City of Dearborn
  • Bill Nowling, Wayne County
  • Dr. Zafer I. Obeid, M.D., Arab American & Chaldean Council
  • Jacqueline Ouvry, State of Michigan State Appellate Defender Office
  • Dominick J. Pallone, Michigan Association of Health Plans
  • Soumit Pendharkar, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians
  • Dr. Delicia J. Pruitt, M.D., Saginaw County Health Department
  • Rico Razo, City of Detroit
  • Dr. Lawrence A. Reynolds, M.D., City of Flint
  • Melissa K. Samuel, Health Care Association of Michigan
  • Erin Schor, Michigan Community College Association
  • Mike Shoudy, Michigan Education Association
  • Dr. Constance B. Simon, Ed.D., NAACP
  • Dorian Slaybod, Farmworker Legal Services
  • Cindy Spurlock, AFSCME
  • Richard K. Studley, Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • Ruthanne K. Sudderth, Michigan Health & Hospital Association
  • Madiha Tariq, ACCESS
  • Jeremy Tripp, Michigan Public Employees SEIU Local 517M
  • Linda Vail, Ingham County Health Department
  • Sadie Valliere, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indian
  • John J. Walsh, Michigan Manufacturers Association
  • Dr. Sook Wilkinson, Ph.D., Council of Asian Pacific Americans of Michigan
  • Vicki Wolber, Macomb County
  • Rev. Dr. Jimmy Womack, M.D., Plymouth United Church of Christ

The Commission will include the following members of the Legislature: Sen. Winnie Brinks nominated by the Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Curt VanderWall nominated by the Senate Majority Leader, Rep. Felicia Brabec nominated by the House Minority Leader, and Rep. John Roth nominated by the Speaker of the House.

Appointments to the Protect Michigan Commission are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.


Gov. Whitmer Announces Bipartisan ‘Protect Michigan Commission’ to Educate Michiganders on COVID-19 Vaccine

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