2018 Board of Directors Election

August 06, 2018

The ACLU of Michigan is conducting an election of members to its State Board. This year we elect 12 at-large candidates and 2 Local Unit candidates to the 22-member Board of Directors. Read the candidate’s biographies

You, as an ACLU member, may vote Yes or No for each candidate by filling out our online ballot here.

You will need your 8-digit membership number to vote, which is featured on the address label of the recent mail piece titled “The Fight for Flint Continues,” which details the work that is still underway, as well as the successes we have achieved since the water crisis was exposed more than four years ago. If the word “joint” follows your membership number on the mailing label, both members are eligible to vote separately using the same membership number.

Can’t find your member number? Contact us at membership@aclumich.org or 313.578.6818.

While this election is uncontested, it is our duty to present it to you, our membership, for a vote. Through your “Yes” vote, these individuals can take their seats on the Board with the confidence of knowing the ACLU’s membership is behind them.


ACLU of Michigan 2018 Board Election

Nominee Biographies
The nominees to the Board all share a strong commitment to the mission of the ACLU and the qualities needed to serve as trustees of our organization which include, in some combination, issue expertise, important local representation from a diverse group of communities, and skill sets that will enrich the organization’s financial and long-term health and sustainability. The Board of Directors works to ensure that the ACLU is committed to its nonpartisan mission and maintains its values of readiness, reliability, respect and strategic action. 
Each of these excellent candidates has expressed a commitment to active participation in the stewardship of the ACLU of Michigan.  Cast your ballot in support of the nominees for the 2018 Board election. 

Michael Carter is a staff attorney with the Federal Defender Office in Detroit, Michigan. He is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and the University of Michigan where he received a B.A. in English. Prior to joining the Federal Defender Office, he served as a Staff Attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, where he represented adults and juveniles charged with serious felonies ranging from armed robberies, to kidnappings, to homicides. Following law school, Michael worked as an associate attorney for the Law Office of John A. Shea. While there, he represented clients in civil matters, and clients accused of various crimes including state misdemeanors and felonies, and federal offenses. Michael sits on the advisory board of the Detroit Justice Center.

Laura Champagne is an attorney and journalist who has served in the Milliken administration as the Director of the Office of Nutrition and in the Granholm administration as the Chief Deputy Director (COO) of the Department of Human Services. The bulk of Laura’s career was with the International Union, UAW where she was involved in contract negotiations, including auto, aerospace and the public sector, and policy development, primarily related to health care and pensions. Laura has also been involved in advocacy for long-term-care consumers both at the state and local levels, and was the Managing Director for Citizens for Better Care until it ceased operations in 2012. Laura served as Board Chair for Gay Elders of Southeast Michigan which has evolved into Metro Detroit SAGE and was active in the LGBT Older Adult Coalition. She currently serves on the boards of the Ruth Ellis Center and Metro Health Foundation.

Melanca Clark is president and CEO of Hudson-Webber Foundation , a private foundation dedicated to improving quality of life in Detroit. Prior to joining Hudson-Webber Foundation, she served in key leadership roles in the Obama administration including chief of staff of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office), senior counsel with DOJ’s Office for Access to Justice, and senior policy advisor with the White House Domestic Policy Council.  Clark earned her law degree from Harvard Law School, and her undergraduate degree from Brown University. Clark serves on the advisory board of LISC Detroit, University of Michigan’s Youth Policy Lab, and the board of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, Michigan Future Inc, and the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. 

Melissa Cragg is the retired CIO of The Fisher Group (TGF) but continues as a senior advisor and Chairman of their Investment Committee. Prior to working with the Fisher Group Melissa was the Vice President of Finance and Treasurer at The Detroit Medical Center and a corporate banker with Comerica Bank. Melissa’s board experience includes recently completing her term as Governor Snyder’s appointee and Vice President of Michigan’s Early Childhood Investment Corporation, Board Member of the Girl Scouts of Metro Detroit and Women’s Caring Program which she also co-founded. Melissa has also served on the Investment Committees of a number of charities including Trinity Health Corporation, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. Melissa earned both her bachelor’s and MBA degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Ponsella Hardaway is the Executive Director of MOSES (Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength) and a native Detroiter. MOSES, a group of diverse congregations, organizes communities, develops leaders and builds relationships to advocate for social justice. Ponsella is also a National Trainer with the Gamaliel Foundation. She has trained congregation members in South Africa, Swaziland and in the United Kingdom. Ponsella has traveled to Brazil and Mali to study NGO’s work on political and social issues. 

Katherine Humphrey is a longtime advocate for women, children and families with a passionate commitment to social justice and human rights, including reproductive rights, for all people. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Duke University and a Master of Science Degree in Counseling from Indiana University and served as President/CEO of Planned Parenthood in west and northern Michigan for 27 years. Previously, she worked as a therapist and administrator in the community mental health sector and as a hospital social worker serving terminally ill children and their families. She was co-founder of the Progressive Women’s Alliance PAC and co-founder of Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids. She is currently a board member of the statewide Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan Board and the ACLU of Michigan, and serves on multiple local community boards and steering committees.

Yolanda Lipsey is the Deputy Chief of Staff & District Director for the 13th Congressional District (formerly Rep. John Conyers, Jr.).  She began working for Rep. Conyers as a Congressional Black Caucus Fellow then Legislative Assistant working on various legislative and policy issues.  Ms. Lipsey effectively manages the day-to-day operations of the district offices and travels back and forth to Washington, DC. She has written over 200 letters of support for businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Metro Detroit area which helped to secure over $10 million in federal funding. Ms. Lipsey is also an avid entrepreneur, author and mentors youths of all ages.  She performs volunteer work with various nonprofits and political campaigns to help uplift, educate and advance the socio-economic status of individuals at large.

Joe Marogil received his J.D. from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law and his B.A. from Michigan State University. His legal work focuses on health law and the regulation of medical devices and pharmaceuticals. He has long participated in social justice and anti-war advocacy. He is an active member of both the Western Branch local chapter and the Western Branch Lawyers Committee of the ACLU of Michigan. Previously he has been involved with the National Lawyers Guild, Amnesty International, volunteered with the Illinois branch of the ACLU, and has participated in organizing numerous conferences and events on critical social justice issues. 

Portia Roberson received her B.A. in English from the University of Michigan and law degree from Wayne State University. Ms. Roberson currently serves as the Group Executive of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity for the City of Detroit. Prior to her current role, she served as Corporation Counsel for the City of Detroit, Assistant Prosecutor for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Associate General Counsel for the Detroit Medical Center, and the Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Liaison for the United States Department of Justice for President Barack Obama. Ms. Roberson is a member of the Wolverine Bar Association, serves as the Chair of the City of Detroit Police and Fire Pension Board, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated (Detroit Alumnae Chapter) and the Detroit Chapter of Links, Incorporated. She serves on the board of Habitat for Humanity and Delta Manor. 

Noel J. Saleh is an attorney in private practice specializing in civil liberties and immigration law. He serves on the ACLU of Michigan’s Executive Committee and is the Michigan Affiliate Representative to the ACLU National Board. Noel brings with him a long history of community engagement. He is a past president of ACCESS and has served on that Board since 1989. From January 2002 until October of 2005, Noel was the Post 9/11, Safe and Free Project Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Michigan. He has also served on the Boards of the National Immigration Forum, the Rights Working Group, Palestine Aid Society of America, American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, National Lawyers Guild, the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit and as a member of the Michigan Advisory Committee to the U. S. Civil Rights Commission. 

Lisa Schmidt is an attorney in private practice in Ferndale, Michigan. She is a partner at Schmidt & Long, PLLC, and has managed her own practice since 2011. Before that time she practiced in Berrien County, Michigan. She attended Michigan State University where she graduated with Highest Honors from the College of Arts and Letters, and Thomas M. Cooley Law School where she graduated magna cum laude. Lisa is also happy to serve on the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce, chair the ACLU Oakland County Lawyers' Committee, and to volunteer providing pro bono legal services through the Family Law Assistant Project.

Jonah Siegel is the Research Director of the Michigan Indigent Defense Commission, where he is responsible for identifying institutional research priorities, overseeing data collection and analysis, and translating research findings into best practices. Jonah has conducted research on the criminal justice system for more than ten years for a range of government and nonprofit agencies including the Vera Institute of Justice and Michigan’s State Appellate Defender Office. His professional research interests are in crime and incarceration, efficient operation of the criminal justice system, prisoner reentry, and policy development and implementation. Prior to his work with MIDC, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, where he also completed his PhD in 2014. 

Buzz Thomas is a consultant in Detroit specializing in building community relationships for business and non-profit clients.  Thomas Group Consulting has been serving its clients community engagements since 2011.   He previously served in the MI State Legislature from 1997 through 2010, including serving as Democratic Floor Leader in the Senate and as Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives. He was co-chairman of the 2008 Michigan Presidential campaign of Barack Obama. 

Dan Varner is the President and Chief Executive Officer at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit. Prior to joining Goodwill, Dan served as the CEO at Excellent Schools Detroit, worked as a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and he is also the cofounder and former CEO of a nationally-recognized youth development organization called Think Detroit (now operating as Detroit PAL). Dan has received numerous awards, and his work has been recognized by two Presidential administrations. He is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network and serves on numerous boards of directors, including the ACLU of Michigan, Capital Impact Partners, ConnectEd, Detroit PAL, and served on Michigan’s State Board of Education for four years. He is an attorney by training, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School.