Our History

With the aid of a planning grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (awarded in May of 2004), the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), including MSU Extension and the Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station, brought together a diverse group of stakeholders representing communities and the food system, agriculture, manufacturing, natural resource, and environmental sectors of the economy. The result of this discussion was consensus on a program that presents leadership concepts in the context of current issues and brings together current leaders in government, non-profits, and industry to broaden their perspectives about key sustainability issues and consider how leadership for the common good can influence Michigan’s future.

The external planning committee created to provide guidance and support for this effort included the following members:

  • Elizabeth Browne, Superfund Section Chief - Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
  • Molly Cantrall, Legislative Assistant - Michigan Association of Counties
  • Wil Cwikiel, Water Resource Program Director - Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
  • Frank Fear, CARRS Professor - Michigan State University
  • Dennis Fox, Chief of Staff - Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Mike Kovacic, ANR Leadership Development Program Director - Michigan State University CANR
  • Tom Nugent, Field Operations Division Director - Michigan Farm Bureau
  • Vicki Pontz, Environmental Stewardship Division Director - Michigan Department of Agriculture
  • David W. Robertson, Finance and Administration General Manager - Robertson Bothers Community Builders
  • William R. Rustem, Senior Vice President - Public Sector Consultants
  • Andrew J. Such, Executive Director - Michigan Chemistry Council
  • Donna Stine, Policy Assistant Director - Michigan United Conservation Clubs
  • Guy O. Williams, Community Education Programs Senior Director - National Wildlife Federation
  • Gail Imig, Program Director - W.K. Kellogg Foundation (Ex Officio Member)

The planning committee examined relevant literature, studied current leadership development efforts on the state and national levels, considered potential audiences, and created a mission statement for the proposed program. Visits were made to leadership programs and institutes in Michigan and other states. Program structure and curriculum development was also done through a broad stakeholder base.


Great Lakes Fishery Trust W.K. Kellogg Foundation Michigan Farm Bureau GreenStone Farm Credit Services Corn Marketing

Additional sponsors can be found on our sponsors page