Gilda Jacobs named president & CEO

August 4, 2010

Board chair Lynn Jondahl

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


First Tuesday: Gov’s budget has balance

March 2, 2010

Sharon Parks

Check out the latest “First Tuesday” newsletter. Each month it features a column by League President & CEO Sharon Parks and offers short updates on the League’s work. To subscribe sign up here.

Here’s today’s column:

Last month when I wrote my First Tuesday column the governor was about a week away from presenting her final, and probably most difficult, budget. We’ve now had a chance to look at that budget and, while it is not all that we would like to see, it is a balanced approach. The FY2011 Executive Budget includes a mix of spending cuts, tax cuts for business, new revenues and reforms. 

 Although the League is very disturbed by the prospect of more cuts in spending and massive early retirements, we’re solidly in support of expanding the sales tax to services. (See story below “From Poodle Cuts to Pedicures…”) We are concerned, however, about lowering the sales tax rate to a point that the revenue yield is less than needed.  

The League also supports the governor’s proposed physician’s tax as a means of averting another reduction in Medicaid reimbursement rates. We also believe the governor, like most of the nation’s governors, is right in assuming at least two more quarters of federal recovery money through a higher Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) matching rate. 

While the governor’s plan was in large part drawn from the Business Leaders for Michigan Turnaround Plan, the business community doesn’t like it — even though the budget calls for significant business tax cuts. And, despite this balanced approach, it appears by all accounts that the budget is dead on arrival in both the House and the Senate, as the House speaker and Senate majority leader both call for a cuts-only budget.  

The prospects for folks who are desperately trying to make it in this brutal economy are bleak indeed. A cuts-only budget would not only continue the deep cuts made in the current year’s budget, but would further shred the safety net and curtail a wide range of services in local communities across the state.

So much is at stake. A generation of children needs the opportunity to realize their full potential. Tens of thousands of adults in Michigan need the opportunity to gain the skills and education to compete for a job in the workforce that pays a family-sustaining wage.  Communities that have seen their infrastructure ravaged by this economy need to be vibrant and safe once again. 

The League has joined an important effort called A Better Michigan Future. The campaign’s platform also offers a balanced approach to solving Michigan’s fiscal problems.  It does so in way that modernizes the state’s tax structure and provides transparency and accountability. I hope everyone will look carefully at this approach and join in an effort to chart a new course for Michigan.