As chair of the Michigan League for Human Services’ Board of Directors, I am very pleased to announce today that state Sen. Gilda Jacobs will be the League’s next president and CEO.
We know that change is both challenging and full of opportunities. What makes it challenging is saying goodbye to Sharon Parks, who has worked on behalf of vulnerable people for more than three decades in Michigan.
Sharon is well known around the state and a tireless, smart and quick-witted advocate. She has been a key part of the League since 1977 and I knew her well in my capacity as a state representative working on social issues. She took over as president and CEO in 2008 after the retirement of Ann Marston, who very ably led the organization for 14 years.
Sharon will be missed, and we plan to call on her for help with the League’s mission even as she enjoys her well-earned retirement.
But change also brings opportunities, and Gilda brings a bounty of talents to the table.
She is finishing up her second term as a state senator from Huntington Woods. She also served two terms as state representative, and she was an Oakland County Commissioner and Mayor Pro-Tem of Huntington Woods.
Gilda has a reputation for working across the aisle. She has many friendships in state government and in both parties in the Legislature, and she was the state’s first female floor leader in either chamber, selected by her peers.
Her legislative record is impressive. She led a bipartisan effort among legislators, lobbyists, county commissioners and Detroit Zoo leaders to establish a 20-year tri-county millage in 2008 to support the zoo. She is the sponsor of laws that allow children to carry epinephrine pens or inhalers to camp, prohibit sex offenders from adopting children and make medical records more secure, among others.
She is an able fund-raiser, working for many years for JARC as development director.
Trained as a special education teacher, she has passion for advocating for people with disabilities as well as low-income children and their families and the frail elderly.
We will miss Sharon but she will be replaced by the right leader to move forward the mission of the League in advocating for vulnerable people in our state.
— Lynn Jondahl, chair of the League Board of Directors