George Davis, II, President, Detroit
George is a Manager for Public Affairs and Public Safety at the Detroit Salt Company (DSC), owners and operators of the legendary underground Detroit Salt Mine. He manages government relations for DSC, including federal, state, and local governments. He also spearheads community outreach and sustainable development initiatives for the company. In addition to DSC media relations, he gives direction to company security and safety measures.
Before joining the private sector, George served as an Executive Assistant to Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, where he led initiatives targeting illegal dumping, abandoned cars, and hazardous material spills for the City of Detroit. He also served as a Public Policy Analyst for the Detroit City Council, where he provided analysis on environmental initiatives, including brownfields and other efforts of the Department of Environmental Affairs. He also served as a federal grant monitor with Empowerment Zone Development Corporation of Detroit and the Project/Outreach Coordinator with the Legislative Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan.
He currently serves as the Board President of the Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, Co-Chair of the Detroit Climate Action Committee Business and Industry Work Group, a founding member of the Detroit 2030 Coalition, a member of the Energy and Environment Committee of the Detroit Regional Chamber, Director of the Michigan Mining Association, a Board member of the Oakwood Heights Business Association, and the Detroit Local Emergency Planning Committee. He is also a member of the Geological Society of America and a member of the Michigan Geological Basin Society.
George is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he studied political science as an undergraduate and educational policy as a grad student. He is accredited as a Professional Emergency Manager (PEM) for natural disasters through FEMA and the Michigan State Police. He is a graduate of the Leadership Detroit Class XXII. George is also a volunteer Weather Spotter through the SKYWARN Network of the National Weather Service.
Emma White owns her own public opinion research and communications consulting firm, Emma White Research, LLC, where her clients include conservation organizations, labor unions, and local governments. She previously spent 9 years at Belden Russonello Strategists in Washington DC and her work there was instrumental in helping a coalition of conservation groups secure federal funding for Great Lakes Restoration. Emma has a BA in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College and an MS in Survey Methodology from the University of Michigan; she lives in Ann Arbor with her wife Stephanie and their young son and spends as much time as she can enjoying Lake Michigan and the state’s other treasures.
Gary is a Senior Vice President/ Investments of the Bice Leach Group at Stifel, Nicholas & Company in Southfield. Gary graduated from Wayne State University with a BA in Economics. He is a Certified Portfolio Manager, CPM® and has previously been selected as one of Crains Detroit
“Top 40 Financial Advisors”.
Gary lives in Bloomfield Hills with his wife Wendy and has three grown children. He is still a competitive swimmer and a member of the Wayne State University Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition to being a proud member of the Michigan LCV Education Fund Board of Directors, he currently serves on the Planned Giving Committee at Karmanos Cancer Institute. In his spare time, Gary spends as much time as possible at his second home in Leelanau County hiking, sailing, biking, and woodworking.
Bali Kumar, Treasurer, Detroit
Bali Kumar is Chief Operating Officer of PACE Loan Group, where he lends capital nationwide to property owners and real estate developers to retrofit existing buildings and build more sustainable adaptive reuse and new construction projects. Formerly, Bali was CEO of Lean & Green Michigan, the statewide administrator of the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. He is a fellow with the Urban Land Institute and has also received fellowships from the New Leaders Council and the U.S. Department of State.
Bali has also served as the Executive Director of the Wayne County Land Bank Corporation, a public body specializing in restoring blighted properties and returning these properties to productive use, including partnering with state and local entities to enact residential, commercial and industrial redevelopment. Bali also served as a board member of the Michigan Utility Consumer Participation Board, which seeks to advocate on behalf of residential ratepayers. Bali was also a transactional attorney at Proskauer Rose LLP and a management consultant at Deloitte LLP.
Bali holds a B.A. from Brown University, a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.
Bali’s favorite place in Michigan: Biking along the Detroit Riverfront and the Dequindre Cut to Eastern Market!
Before stepping down in 2012, Janis served 24 years as the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commissioner. She was re-elected to the position five times and has been applauded for advancing sustainable stormwater practices and effectively promoting public education and water stewardship in the County.
As an officer with the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners, she worked to ensure that water quality protection and environmental resource management became integral parts of Drain Commissioners’ jobs in Michigan. Before becoming Water Resources Commissioner, Janis worked as an Environmental Planner and Manager of Water Quality Programs for SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Governments).
In addition to serving on the MLCV Board, Janis is currently serving as one of Ann Arbor’s representatives to the Huron River Watershed Council Board and Executive Committee. She is also Vice Chair of Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission and serves on other non-environmental nonprofit Boards. She holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Michigan.
Janis’ favorite place in Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Salah Ali, Dearborn
Salah Ali is an electrical, electronic and computer engineering professional at Ford Motor Company. His professional experience spans over four industries: automotive, power, maritime and consumer goods.
Salah is deeply involved in his community, providing his skills and services to various 501 (C)(3) and 501(C)(4) organizations. He serves on the boards of the American Human Rights Council (AHRC) and the Middle East & North Africa Employee Resource Group at Ford Motor Company. He is a member of the Engineering Society of Detroit (ESD), the Golden Key International Honour Society, and the Clean Air Council of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. Salah serves as a mentor to high school and college students in competitive robotics and volunteers his time expanding access to free health screenings as a key means of combating human and environmental injustices.
In January 2020, Salah was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to Michigan’s first Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which was created to expand and improve input from impacted communities in the state’s decision making.
Salah obtained his Bachelor of Science in electrical and computer engineering at Wayne State University and his Master of Science in electrical engineering at the University of Michigan.
He resides in Dearborn and in his free time, he enjoys watching sports and spending time with family and friends.
Salah’s favorite place in Michigan: Silver Lake Beach in St.Joseph
Julie Metty Bennett, Pinckney
Julie Metty Bennett is a senior vice president at Public Sector Consultants. As an owner of the firm, Ms. Bennett works with her partners to set the vision and strategy for the firm, appoint and oversee the principals of the firm, set policies, and make all major decisions about corporate financial and business matters. She also manages the firm’s Environment and Energy Division, provides strategic counsel and facilitation services, conducts research and analysis, and manages projects for the firm and its clients on a wide range of subjects, including energy, water quality, solid waste management, land use, community and economic development, and natural resource management. Additionally, she oversees the PSC’s Marketing and Communications Division. She also serves as a co-founder and manager of program design and innovation for Michigan Saves, a multimillion-dollar nonprofit organization managed by PSC that provides financing solutions for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. In this capacity, she designs new and improved existing financing products, advises the executive director on financial, strategic, and operational issues, and assists with fundraising. And she serves as manager of the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, a multimillion-dollar private foundation managed by PSC. In this capacity, she manages staff, budgets, and project tasks; provides strategic direction; and manages grants made to a variety of nonprofit and governmental entities.
Prior to joining PSC in 2000, Ms. Bennett worked for the Michigan United Conservation Clubs as an environmental policy specialist, representing the organization before local, state, and federal policymakers on energy, air quality, and waste management issues. She also managed a variety of issue-specific public education campaigns and coordinated grass-roots activities related to the 1996 voter initiative Proposal G. She then joined the National Wildlife Federation, where she successfully and strategically managed energy policy advocacy campaigns to educate and mobilize individuals, organizations, and federal, state, and local policymakers in furtherance of Great Lakes protection issues.
Ms. Bennett holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science, with a concentration in Environmental Policy and a second major in Political Science, and an MS in Resource Development, with specialization in Environmental Toxicology, both from Michigan State University.
Laura Berman, Birmingham
Laura is an award-winning Detroit-based journalist and writer. She was a featured columnist at the Detroit News for almost 30 years, writing and reporting from Detroit and destinations as far-flung as war-ravaged Bosnia, Moscow, and London. At the Detroit Free Press, where she worked for ten years, Laura covered politics, business, and worked as a Sunday Magazine writer.
Laura’s commentary and feature writing has appeared in many national publications, including full-length profiles of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert in Fortune and of Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne for Time. Her journalism awards include a National Headliner Award for column writing, best Michigan columnist awards from AP and UPI, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Detroit chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalism society.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, she lives with her husband, Brian Dickerson, and their 16-year-old daughter Lina in a Detroit suburb. She is currently working on a non-fiction book about the mercurial rise, slow fall and remarkable rebirth of a Detroit square mile.
Julia Cole is an interdisciplinary paleoenvironmental scientist with a passion for science communication. She is a Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan and chairs the marine science advisory board at the University of Arizona’s Biosphere-2. Before joining UM in 2017, she served on the faculties of the University of Arizona and University of Colorado. Although a recent arrival on the UM campus, she has strong familial roots in Michigan.
Julia’s research uses data and models to understand environmental change in regions and systems with substantial ecological or human impacts. Her work emphasizes the history of drought in semiarid regions and the variability of tropical oceans and their inﬂuence.
Julia teaches in the areas of climate, global change, oceanography and environmental communication across all levels of university students. She also has participated in several National Research Council and other national/international committees and contributed to recent assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Julia values opportunities to discuss environment and climate issues with decision-makers, the media, and the public and believes strongly that scientists need to do more of this. Her favorite inspirations come from helping students gain insight into the natural world and from enjoying the outdoors with family and friends.
She received her undergraduate degree from Brown University and master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia.
Irene McDonnell Cahill, Lansing
Irene is a forester for the City of Lansing Operations & Maintenance planting the city of tomorrow and an active Teamster 243 Chief Supervisory Steward and environmental organizer.
Irene joined the Michigan LCV Board in 2000, serving as the board president from 2003-2004. Irene is an active member of numerous other organizations across the state, such as the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance Committee and the Michigan State University Extension & Experiment Station Stakeholders Council. Whether at home in East Lansing or at work in Lansing, Irene is constantly advocating and organizing for a healthier and more accessible Michigan environment.
The many honors Irene has received over the years include the Region 5 Environmental Quality Award from the US EPA in 1991 and the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Michigan Spirit of Arboriculture Award.
Irene’s favorite place in Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes
Andy is the Holcim (US) Professor of Sustainable Enterprise, a position that holds joint appointments at the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Andy’s research focuses on corporate strategies that address environmental and social issues. His disciplinary background lies in the areas of organizational behavior, institutional change, negotiations and change management.
Andy has published eighteen books and over one-hundred articles. Prior to academics, Andy worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency, Metcalf & Eddy, the Amoco Corporation, and T&T Construction and Design, Inc. In 2004, he was a Senior Fellow with the Meridian Institute.
Andy includes among his many teaching interests strategies for sustainable development, the role of business in policy-making, reexamining capitalism, organizational behavior and change, negotiations, and green construction.
Andrew’s favorite place in Michigan: Greenfield Village
Before retirement, John had a career as a Intellectual Property Attorney with McGarry Bair PC from 2001 till 2015. He also spent 18 years beforehand as an attorney with Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt and Howell. In his practice of law, John has taught, directly or indirectly, international IP law, its intricacies and strategy, to many IP lawyers. Highly respected for his thought leadership, his colleagues hold him in the highest esteem for his contributions to the field. Named in “The Best Lawyers in America” in the practice areas of: Copyright Law, Litigation – Intellectual Property, Patent Law and Trademark Law, 2013-2014. Elizabeth Major Nevius Award for Leadership, Scholarship and Citizenship, 1961.
John received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Applied Science and a Bachelor of Science degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Lehigh University, and a Law degree from Georgetown University.
Michael O’Donnell is a successful cardiologist. He received his MD from Loyola University and his Cardiology career has spanned multiple highlights in Illinois, California, and Michigan. Dr O’Donnell has held numerous administrative posts and faculty appointments; and has published an impressive array of medical journal articles and abstracts in the field of Cardiology.
Currently, He is an adjunct assistant professor in Biomedical Engineering at U of M, an innovator and the Co-Founder, of multiple start-up companies. He also volunteers at at Hope Clinic in Ypsilanti, MI seeing un-insured patients.
Dr O’Donnell and his family have a second home in Leelanau County and are very active in the Leelanau Conservancy. Their love and concern for the future of our air, land and water has lead him to work with the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund. A position he truly feels makes a difference.
Mike lives in Ann Arbor with his wife. They have three grown daughters, all of whom majored or minored in environmental science in their collegiate education.
Phil is an expert on organizational strategy, innovation, branding, and entrepreneurship, a successful entrepreneur, and a consultant to a wide range of for-profit and non-profit organizations. Currently, he is CEO of Great Lakes GrowthWorks (GLGW), an innovation and growth strategy consulting firm that helps both large global organizations and emerging companies (including those in the health, wellness, sustainability, and “craft” consumer products arena here in the Great Lakes region) to grow, prosper, and make a positive difference.
Phil was previously CEO of Among Friends Baking Mixes, a natural/healthy baking mix company. Prior to that, he was Managing Director of GfK Strategic Innovation, the practice area formed by the acquisition of Arbor Strategy Group (ASG) by GfK Group, a leading global marketing research and consulting firm Phil founded ASG in 1998. Phil held previous positions as Chief Marketing Officer for Frank’s Nursery & Crafts, Senior VP Marketing for Little Caesars Pizza, President of Delicious/Frookie snack company, and Managing Director of Marketing Corporation of America’s consumer industry consulting practice. Phil started his career in brand management with the Quaker Oats Company.
In addition to his role with Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Phil currently serves in a board or leadership capacity with a variety of non-profit organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, Michigan Wolfpack, the Michigan Economic Center, and the University of Michigan”s Zell-Lurie Commercialization Fund. Phil was appointed in 2021 to Governor Whitmer’s Council on Climate Solutions charged with helping develop and advise on the plan to get the state to climate neutrality.
Phil earned a BBA from the University of Michigan and a MBA from Harvard. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.
Phil’s favorite place in Michigan: Leelanau County/Sleeping Bear Dunes
For the past seven years, Milton has been the president and CEO of ENRG Power Systems LLC, and then principal and CEO of 232 Advisors LLC. He is also the Co-Chair of the MI Innovation Alliance, promoting new and emerging technologies on a global basis for implementation in Michigan. Milton has extensive experience in working across diverse geographies and company cultures, with a background that includes the clean-tech, automotive, health-tech and manufacturing arenas. He has recognized expertise in integrating engineering, finance and sales to achieve maximize organizational effectiveness, and customer satisfaction / growth. Milton’s previous executive-level positions include: Vice President of North America Sales and Business Development for TATA AutoComp Systems Ltd, a unit of the Tata Group; Vice President of North America Sales and Engineering for Weidmann Plastics Technology AG; Executive Director, Sales & Business Development for Newcor, Inc; and Director of North American Program Management for Delphi Interior & Lighting.
Milton received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and his Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.
Denise Thal has spent her career as a program and financial leader for mission-based organizations, where money is a means to an end rather than the end itself. She is currently Executive Vice-President of Business Operations at Planned Parenthood of Michigan and previously oversaw program and business operations at The Henry Ford, a large history museum complex outside Detroit.
Her first work on environmental issues was in the Economic Analysis Department of the Environmental Protection Agency where she was part of a team developing the “Bubble Project”, an early cap and trade effort to establish a market-based approach to controlling air pollution.
She has taught Budgeting for Mission-Based Organizations at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy, provided financial advice to community not-for-profit organizations, and served on the boards of numerous organizations including The Ecology Center and the Leslie Science and Nature Center.
Denise has a BA in economics from Harvard University and a MBA from the Yale School of Management.
Denise’s favorite place in Michigan: North Bar Lake
Sally Hart Petersen is a former Ann Arbor City Council Member and currently serves as a Community Affordability Advocate. In this role, she works with city administrators, private sector leaders and community stakeholders to identify areas appropriate for sustainable redevelopment. Currently, Sally is leading a strategic economic development team that focuses on redevelopment opportunities along the east side of the North Main Street corridor that would activate the riverfront and improve the view shed. Sally is an avid runner and has trained for six marathons along the Huron River and through the Ann Arbor Parks systems. This experience has fueled her appreciation for the role the Huron River plays as a critical water source and recreational destination.
Sally earned a BA in psychology from Williams College and a MBA from Harvard. Sally’s husband Tim is Co-founder and Managing Partner at Arboretum Ventures. They have two children. Jack (24), is a graduate of Lehigh University and is an Investment Analyst for Willis Towers Watson in Manhattan. Their daughter Jane (22) is a graduate of Williams College and is a Research Analyst for Industrial Economics in Cambridge, MA.
Sally’s favorite place in Michigan: Anywhere on the water
Dr. John (Joe) Schwarz, Battlecreek
A long time resident of Battle Creek, Joe is a dedicated physician and public servant. With a medical degree from Wayne State University, Joe has practiced otolaryngological medicine (ear, nose, and throat) in his hometown since 1974. Joe also has degrees from U of M and Harvard.
Elected to the State Senate in 1987, Joe served in the Michigan Legislature until 2002. In 2004, Schwarz was elected to represent the seventh district of Michigan in the US Congress. Schwarz is a member of The Republican Majority ForChoice, Republicans for Choice and Republicans for Environmental Protection. In January 2007, Schwarz was appointed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s Emergency Financial Advisory Panel.
Joe currently sees patients at Grace Health in Battle Creek and teaches in at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. In 2008, Joe led the successful passage of Proposal 2, which allowed state funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Bruce Wallace, Ann Arbor
Bruce is Hooper Hathaway Beuche and Wallace’s senior litigator. Hooper Hathaway’s litigation department, which Bruce has built over the past 30 years, comprises the majority of the firm’s attorneys who each have extensiv
e experience in major litigation throughout the United States. Under Bruce’s leadership, the litigation department emphasizes aggressive strategies to win prompt disposition of difficult disputes and creative use of alternative techniques including, arbitration, mediation and facilitation where appropriate, with the goal of reaching the most economical result by the most expedited available measures.
Bruce has obtained successful trial results in lawsuits spanning contract disputes, employment, securities, trade secrets, environmental protection, personal injury, defamation, unfair competition, antitrust, banking, uniform commercial code, class actions, and complex commercial and business tort lawsuits. As prevailing counsel in numerous summary judgment and appellate decisions and as general counsel to a variety of corporate and non-profit clients, Bruce’s roles as litigator and counselor involve many different industries and public and private entities throughout southeastern Michigan and elsewhere.
Bruce is the author of numerous articles on various legal topics, as well as books on environmental litigation and discovery practice, and is a frequent lecturer at the University of Michigan, Wayne State and other law schools. Bruce is AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell.