Environment Picture

PRESIDENT’S COLUMN: Passing the baton to the right leader at the right time as MEC starts a new chapter

Chris Kolb is a man I’ve long liked and admired—and an excellent choice for the next Michigan Environmental Council president.

I’ve always thought that Chris looks at the world through a lens similar to mine. We share great respect for American Democracy and an abiding belief that smart, determined political action is the most promising path to a safer, better world. We also share a special love for the Great Lakes and the extraordinary natural resources of this magnificent two peninsula state.

But, of course, we are different too. Over time, Chris will put his own stamp on this wonderful organization, and MEC will inevitably reflect his vision and special talents. He will strengthen old partnerships and pursue new allies. He will find new and better ways to give voice to conservation values that would otherwise get lost in the political rough and tumble of Lansing and Washington. Fortunately, he will be more adept than I in marshalling the power of information technology to advance MEC’s mission.

As MEC evolves, this spirited organization will find the balance between continuity and innovation. MEC will continue to reflect the collaborative talents of its committed member groups, strong board, remarkable staff and generous donor partners. Its proud history and recent legislative achievements in water and clean energy will provide a solid platform from which to launch ambitious programs designed to bring Michigan back to environmental health and economic prosperity. None of this will be easy.

MEC’s leadership shift takes place at a time of unprecedented political promise and historic economic stress. Even as we await a new Obama Administration, we know MEC and our allies will need to prod and prompt both Lansing and Washington to do right by Michigan’s environment. And as we share the pain of our once great auto industry’s decline, we know that our economy can be rebuilt with environmental protections and clean energy investments.

In fact, MEC’s greatest opportunities lay in the challenge of climate change and energy. Expensive, polluting energy practices are at the heart of what’s wrong with our old economy—and these reforms are at the center of what needs to be done to make things right. To play its essential role in this transformative period, MEC needs to be stronger, smarter and better funded. Fortunately, Chris Kolb is a leader for this time of change.

While Chris’s political and environmental credentials are well-recognized—as are his passion, work ethic and extraordinary ability to bring divergent people to agreement, there is one concern that MEC friends are asking me: “Can he fundraise as well as you, Lana?” To that I respond, the answer lies more with the questioner than with Chris.

I have no doubt that we will all be hearing from Chris Kolb. He will call, write and visit to bring us up to date on MEC’s challenges and achievements, listen to our views and ask for our financial support.

And when he calls, I hope you will join me in saying yes. For the future of MEC is in the hands of people who share my passion for Michigan’s environment—a passion that I will hold long after I pass the baton to MEC’s next committed leader.
-Lana Pollack
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