January 5, 2015

Sierra Club Announces Leadership Changes for Michigan

Veteran Leader Anne Woiwode is New Conservation Director as New State Director is Named 

January 5, 2015                                                     
Media Contact: David Holtz, 313-300-4454

Lansing, MI—Sierra Club announced today that Anne Woiwode, director of the Michigan Chapter since 1985, has stepped into the newly created role of Michigan Chapter Conservation Director and Assistant Director Gail Philbin is taking over as the organization’s new Chapter Director.

“Gail and Anne will lead a stronger Sierra Club team in Michigan that is prepared to take on the really tough challenges to protecting Michigan’s lakes, rivers, streams, air and public lands,” said David Holtz, Chair of the Michigan Executive Committee. “This new arrangement culminates a transition process that began with the hiring of Gail Philbin and the opportunity to focus all of Anne Woiwode’s extraordinary talents on the critically important task of protecting the Great Lakes state resources and the public health.”

Philbin takes over day-to-day management of the Michigan Chapter, which has 62,000 members and supporters.  She joined the Sierra Club Michigan staff in 2011 as the assistant director.  She is a non-profit administrator and communications professional with a background in the environmental field. She began her career with The Nature Conservancy in Chicago in the 1980s and, prior to coming to the Sierra Club, served as outreach and education coordinator at the Chicago non-profit CNT Energy (now Elevate Energy).  Her diverse career path includes forays into the arts and social services, having been assistant director at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids and donations manager at Second Harvest Gleaners Food Bank (now Feeding America West Michigan).

Anne Woiwode has been involved with the Sierra Club since 1980 and helped lead a 10-year battle to protect 90,000 acres of old growth forest, lakes and dunes through the Michigan Wilderness Act, which passed in 1987 and gave protection to Nordhouse Dunes and other well-loved wilderness areas.  During Woiwode’s time as director, the Michigan Sierra Club has been instrumental in:

·         Passing and implementing Michigan’s first renewable energy law in 2008
·         Forcing Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality to regulate water pollution from large-scale livestock operations in 2002
·         Designating 150,000 acres of national forest lands in Michigan as old-growth forest
·         Protecting the pristine Mason Tract and the south branch of the Au Sable River, one of the world’s premier trout streams, from oil and gas development
·         Blocking eight proposed new or expanded coal-fired power plants in Michigan
·         Passing the Superfund Right to Know provisions in Congress
·         Advocating for environmental justice by fighting waste incineration and toxic contamination

Philbin is a passionate advocate for a more sustainable, healthy and humane food system, and has been involved in West Michigan’s sustainable agriculture movement for a decade. She is a co-founder of the West Michigan Co-op, an online farmers market.  At Sierra Club, she works on agriculture issues and is the coordinator of Less=More, a coalition of organizations, farmers and consumers that seeks to end subsidies for factory farms and support sustainable farming in Michigan.

 “I’m honored to be leading the Michigan Chapter of the nation’s oldest, largest grassroots environmental organization,” said Philbin. “I look forward to working with Anne and David and all the excellent volunteer leaders around the state who have brought us to this point. We’re stronger than we’ve ever been.”

Woiwode, who will spearhead policy and advocacy work for the Michigan Chapter, will focus on martialing Sierra Club volunteers and staff around the organization’s conservation priorities, including mitigating climate change, protecting the Great Lakes system, safeguarding forests and other public lands, and ensuring that the public health is protected through enforcement of state and federal environmental laws.

“I’ve been honored to serve as a staff member of the Michigan Sierra Club for the past 30 years, and I’m eager to move into the new role of Conservation Director to focus on the issues and challenges confronting Michigan today,” said Woiwode. “Our strong leadership team led by Gail Philbin and David Holtz, our deep volunteer ranks and strong staff promise great things ahead during this critical time for the planet.”