Janice Benson arrived in May as the first project assistant for our burgeoning entrepreneurial agriculture program. Work with the Christian Appalachian Project fired a deep commitment to restoring the community spirit sprawl obliterates. After successfully expanding our Taste the Local Difference program, she’s working on our next Seeds of Prosperity conference.
Julie Hay joined us in February as our first-ever Leelanau County policy specialist. Her enthusiasm and terrific communication skills are nailing her first big assignment: Working with citizens and the Leelanau Conservancy on farmland preservation. “The sense of humor around here, the Web site,” she says. “I just love the Institute!”
Joe Mielke has been our information technology guy for years; last spring he became a full time employee who makes sure our network of 20 computers, Web cameras, servers, and email systems keep us communicating with each other, and the world, with minimum hassle. His former life as a newspaper reporter and editor are a big help, too!
Drew Thompson, our first-ever director of advancement, began recruiting major private donors in November. Drew’s raised millions of dollars for charitable groups; his legal and financial experience assures that donors and the Institute gain maximum benefit from the large gifts he’s attracting. “I love to ask people to support big, audacious ideas,” he says.
Rob Wooley came to us from the renowned Brookings Institution to launch our Emmet County office, and has now become our first-ever Operations Manager. He organized a citizens group and worked with other fine organizations in Emmet on smart solutions to the county’s rapid growth. We’re searching for his Emmet County successor.
There’s more information about Rob, Janice, Julie, Joe, and Drew at www.mlui.org. Just click on “Staff” in the left-hand column.