Michigan Municipal League Board Elects Six New Members
Officials from Lapeer, Troy, Sault Ste. Marie, Harper Woods, Grandville, Lake Isabella Selected to Statewide Association
GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan – Six officials from throughout the state were recently elected to the Michigan Municipal League Board of Trustees.
During the League’s annual meeting on Sept. 22 at its 2021 Convention in Grand Rapids, the following were selected as new Board members: Lapeer City Commissioner Joshua Atwood, Troy City Councilmember Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga, Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Don Gerrie, Harper Woods Mayor Valerie Kindle, Grandville Councilmember Joshua Meringa, and Lake Isabella Village Manager Tim Wolff. All six were appointed to three-year terms on the 18-member board.
In addition, the Board selected its officers for 2021-22 and named Flint City Councilmember Monica Galloway as Board President and Sterling Heights City Councilmember Barbara Ziarko as Vice President. Ziarko is in line to become League president for the 2022-23 term. The Michigan Municipal League is a statewide non-profit organization representing the state’s cities, villages, and urban townships.
Details of the newly elected Board members:
Joshua Atwood has served as a Lapeer City Commissioner since 2015 and is the youngest commissioner elected since the city was established in 1869. He co-founded Lapeer’s first-ever Youth Council, which in turn established the city’s first volunteer group—Lapeer City Superheroes. The group is very proactive in organizing city cleanups, planting flowers and lending a helping hand whenever possible. Atwood holds a monthly event, “Coffee with a Commish,” that is instrumental in encouraging public engagement. He also hosts “Coffee with a Commish: Teen Edition” targeting the next generation of leaders, business owners and residents. Atwood is a leader in the growth of ecotourism in the city and an important part of the growth and success of downtown Lapeer.
Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga was elected to Troy City Council in 2020. As an economic anthropologist, her career has spanned philanthropy, academia and international development. Born and raised in northern Michigan, Chamberlain-Creanga previously worked for the World Bank in Washington, D.C. as a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow. In 2014, she returned to Michigan to join The Kresge Foundation using her anthropology and development background in service of Kresge’s mission to expand opportunity in America’s cities. Prior to joining city council, she was a member of the Global Troy Advisory Committee and the Troy Downtown Development Authority. Chamberlain-Creanga is a Marshall Scholar who earned her M.S. and Ph.D. at the London School of Economics, her M.A. from University College London, and her B.A. from Wheaton College in Norton, MA. A prolific author, Chamberlain-Creanga has taught at the London School of Economics and Oakland University. She is also a member of Leadership Oakland Class XXIX, a program for regional leaders that creates awareness of key issues affecting metro Detroit.
Don Gerrie served as a Sault Ste. Marie City Commissioner from 2007-2019 at which time he was elected mayor. A native of the city, he graduated from Sault Area High School and Skill Center, received his B.A. in Business Administration/Accounting from Alma College and attended MBA courses at Lake Superior State University. After twelve years in banking, Gerrie began a career at USDA Rural Development, where he is now area director. An advocate for community service, his personal philosophy is “service is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” Gerrie has volunteered to serve and held leadership positions on the board of directors for many local organizations that have a positive impact on our community, including Sault Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of the EUP, Sault Historic Sites, Northern Transitions, Presbyterian Church Trustees and the Sault Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
Valerie Kindle has served as mayor of Harper Woods since 2020 and as a member of the city council since 2012. She is the current president of the Michigan Women in Municipal Government and a board member of the Friends of the Harper Woods Library and the Harper Woods Lions Club. Kindle is a member of the Harper Woods Planning Commission and Ordinance Committee, a board member and second vice president for the Grosse Pointes & Harper Woods NAACP, and a board member and program committee chair for The League of Women Voters Grosse Pointe. She is a member and volunteer for New Life Ministries Worldwide (Harper Woods, MI), a retired State of Michigan delinquency worker, and a case manager with Michigan Works. Kindle has a B.A. in criminal justice from Ferris State University and is a graduate of Wayne State University Labor College and Wayne County Community College District.
Joshua Meringa has served on the Grandville City Council since 2007. He is passionate about public service and is driven toward having a positive impact by improving quality of life for residents and supporting economic development in his community. Meringa currently serves on the Grandville Parks & Recreation Board and Business Relations Committee. Soon after being elected, Meringa became actively involved with MML, and has served on many legislative committees and helped Grandville’s Clean Water Plant win the Community Excellence Award in 2012. Meringa has served several terms on the MML Elected Officials Academy (EOA) Board, including five years as President, and is an EOA Level 4 graduate. He has also been recognized twice as a ‘40 Under Forty’ Business Leader by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. A registered nurse, Meringa works in nursing professional development for Spectrum Health West Michigan. In addition to public service, he is active in his profession, serving on the Board of Directors for the American Nurses Association – Michigan, and served two terms on the Michigan Board of Nursing, including seven years as chair. A native of West Michigan, Meringa earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Calvin College (now University), and master’s degrees from Grand Valley State University in Public, Health, and Business Administration.
Tim Wolff has served as the village manager of Lake Isabella since 2004. He has over twenty years of municipal experience in both elected and appointed positions. A native of mid-Michigan, Wolff holds a bachelor’s degree from Alma College and a master’s degree from Central Michigan University. Since 2011 he has chaired the League’s Land Use & Economic Development Committee. Wolff was a 2007 recipient of the League’s Special Award of Merit and 2012 recipient of the League’s Outstanding Service Award. He is a credentialed manager by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and holds the AICP certification from the American Planning Association (APA). In addition to his service with the League, Wolff actively serves on committees for the ICMA and the Michigan Municipal Executives (MME).
The new trustees join Galloway, Ziarko and the other volunteers who remain on the 2021-22 Board—Robert Clark, Monroe Mayor; Peter Dame, Grosse Pointe City Manager; Carla Filkins, Cadillac Mayor; Stephen Gawron, Muskegon Mayor; Robert LaFave, L’Anse Village Manager; Deborah Stuart, Mason City Manager; Patrick Sullivan, Northville City Manager; Keith Van Beek, Holland City Manager; and Mark Washington, Grand Rapids City Manager.
The League Board and League CEO/Executive Director Dan Gilmartin also thanked the outgoing Trustees for their years of service: League President William Wild, Westland Mayor; Vice President Dr. Deirdre Waterman, Pontiac Mayor; Michael Cain, City Manager of Boyne City; Brian Chapman, Sault Ste. Marie City Manager; Frances McMullan, Ypsilanti City Manager; Jean Stegeman, Menominee Mayor; and Diane Brown Wilhelm, Midland City Councilmember.
Download photos of the president, vice president, and new board members on the League’s Flickr page at https://bit.ly/3nKKt9Q.
For additional information, contact Matt Bach, Michigan Municipal League assistant director of strategic communications, at [email protected] and (810) 874-1073.
Michigan Municipal Leagueis dedicated to making Michigan’s communities better by thoughtfully innovating programs, energetically connecting ideas and people, actively serving members with resources and services, and passionately inspiring positive change for Michigan’s greatest centers of potential: its communities. The League advocates on behalf of its member communities in Lansing, Washington, D.C., and the courts; provides educational opportunities for elected and appointed municipal officials; and assists municipal leaders in administering services to their communities through League programs and services. Learn more at mml.org.