Sierra Club SWMG Executive Committee and Leaders

Our Executive Committee, our standing committees, and our volunteer leaders

SWMG Executive Committee

Membership in our Executive Committee (ExCom) is usually an elected position, but the ExCom can also appoint additional SWMG members to the ExCom. Any Sierra Club member who lives in our nine-county area is eligible to vote in each year’s Executive Committee election, and is also eligible for nomination as a candidate for election to the ExCom and for appointment to the ExCom.

Mark E. Miller, Executive Committee Chair, member of the Programs & Events Committee

Mark E. Miller, ExCom ballot candidateI gave my first environmental talk to my church on The Limits to Growth in 1975, when I was still an undergraduate. From that day to this, I have been an environmental activist. I am a Climate Reality Presenter and a member of 350.org, Kalamazoo Environmental Council, Citizens Climate Lobby, and the WMU Climate Change Working Group. I will be teaching “Energy and Environment” in the Physics Department at WMU this spring.

With the Sierra Club being one of the oldest and strongest environmental groups in the world, I hope that the Southwest Michigan Group can continue to take leadership on a broad array of local issues, as well as supporting groups which have a tighter focus on the climate issue, the greatest threat we face. I see the need for an ongoing platform for communication between the various environmental groups in SW Michigan, so the membership of each group is aware of all relevant events. I hope Sierra Club can be part of that.

Roz Linsea, Executive Committee Vice-Chair, Fundraising Committee Chair, Programs & Events Committee member

Roz Linsea

I am an activist and organizer with a passion for reducing activities that contribute to climate change. My travels and activities revolve around attending in- and out-of-state environmental focus groups, events, and marches to draw attention to dismal situations like the Keystone Pipeline, fracking, and climate change.

For over 30 years, husband and business partner, Mike, and I have shared a solar powered home in the forest. As VP of Sierra Club’s solar partner, Solar Winds Power Systems, I have been active in working on renewable energy legislation in Michigan and happily able to enjoy opportunities to demonstrate the aspects of becoming energy independent.

Nancy Appel, Executive Committee Secretary & Recorder, Membership Committee Chair, Programs & Events Committee Member

Nancy Appel

I’ve always loved our Earth. Even as a young child I got outdoors as often as I could to embrace the breeze and the beauty. In the 1980s I got all my friends and roommates to recycle with me. After practicing as a registered dietitian for 23 years (BS cum laude, MSU) I’m shifting my focus to climate change and how I can help.

I’ve canvassed for Clean Water Action and political candidates, served on the Board at church, initiated journal clubs, led seminars, and facilitated an EarthCare Team. As an experienced teacher, speaker, salesperson, and health professional, I believe I will contribute productively to the SWMG.

Raymond Mickus, Executive Committee Member, Political Committee Chair

Raymond Mickus, ExCom ballot candidateI live in Marshall and work as a probate attorney in Calhoun County. I became active with SWMG because of my strong commitment toward environmental issues. I believe I could contribute even more to the Group as a member of the Executive Committee.

As a University of Southern California law student, I absorbed every class offered in Environmental Law/Ethics. Thus inspired, I spent a summer working with activists from the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth. We forced the state to impose wastewater treatment protocols for any discharges into the Pacific Ocean at or near Santa Monica Bay. Our organization, Heal The Bay, is still active in the Santa Monica area.

After moving to Chicago and now Michigan, I have a rekindled passion for working on behalf of the environment. My strengths are in the legal and legislative areas, but I’m also anxious to expand my knowledge of how to effectively spread awareness of the Sierra Club’s concerns.

Charles Stefanac, Executive Committee Member, Representative to Michigan Chapter Executive Committee, member of Membership Committee and Political Committee

Charles Stefanac, ExCom ballot candidateI’m retired from a 45-year career in industry, education, and mental health, but I believe learning is a lifelong purpose. My love for nature began in my Boy Scout days, and it has grown as my enjoyment of landscaping has brought a closer connection to nature. I believe we need to work toward creating a stronger public consciousness that we are all connected, that how we interact with nature can bring either great advances or great destruction; we are in command of our future.

My concern for the Earth’s sustainability has prompted my Sierra Club activism. I’ve served on the Executive Committee and chaired the Political Committee and Membership Committee. I would like to see the Southwest Michigan Group work as a team to expand and grow and become more active. We need to connect with other environmentalists in our neighborhood. Our monthly meetings should inspire us to work together to accomplish our goals and to work toward Michigan Chapter and National organization purposes.

Ben Brown, Drive Electric Week Organizing Committee Chair, Programs & Events Committee member

Ben Brown, ExCom ballot candidateI’m a graduate of Spring Arbor College with a BA in philosophy/religion, focused on ecology, world cultures, and social psychology. I’m the last of a four-generation southwest Michigan African-American farming legacy. In the 1980’s, after a disabling environmental poisoning, I made a life choice to learn and speak about natural remediation, sustainability, and renewable practices

My vision for the Southwest Michigan Group is reconnection and empowerment of the public to care for nature’s health and for our neighbors’ health – personally, socially and politically. Short term this means connecting with activities that promote clean and safe energy, transportation, and environmental stewardship. Even more critical and more fundamental: to get people outside their homes, truly seeing and learning to appreciate nature.

Joe Ziolkowski, Executive Committee member, Executive Committee Co-Chair Emeritus, and Political Committee member

Joe Ziolkowski

Going back to my youth as a Boy Scout I found myself enjoying the outdoors. I loved to camp out! This continued after I was married. My wife and I have camped all over the US.

Somewhere during that time I began to appreciate the beauty of the environment that I was enjoying and I knew that I needed to protect it. I joined the Sierra Club. I started to separate my trash, to recycle it, and I began to compost what I could. Several years ago I quit buying plastic water bottles. So I guess I’m an environmentalist.

When I retired in 2009 I decided to become more active with the Club. That is why I agreed to serve as Executive Committee Co-Chair for the Southwest Michigan Group from 2014 through 2015.

Bette Pierman, Executive Committee member, Programs & Events Committee member

I’m a retired educator, project manager, and technical writer. My activism began with the fight to protect Benton Harbor’s Jean Klock Park.

Seeing a need to help educate folks about clean, safe energy and our Palisades threat, I co-founded Michigan Safe Energy Future. I chair MSEF’s Shoreline Chapter. I’m a member of: Two Rivers Coalition (Vice-President), Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail Association, Friends of the St. Joseph River, the advisory board for Southwest Michigan Planning Commission’s Ox Creek project, and Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. I collect signatures for the Michigan fracking ban, I volunteer with Van Buren Conservation District’s Paw Paw River Water Trail project, and I go kayaking whenever I can.

Becky Mandrell, Executive Committee member

Becky Mandrell

I have lived in Richland 42 years. My occupation for the past 19 is Licensed Massage Therapist. I’ve been a member of Sierra Club for several years with 2 years serving on it’s Retreat Committee.

I’ve served on many committees both in my community and for environmental groups. The horror of the Kalamazoo River oil spill deepened my commitment to our children and our future generations. I’ve been in Washington DC twice since then, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline with First Nations folks as well as lobbying for nuclear disarmament and against nuclear power.

For balance, I camp, kayak, bike and walk with friends and family.

Our Executive Committee.

Our Executive Committee. Front: Mark Miller, Chair. Second row, left to right: Ray Mickus, Political Committee Chair; Charlie Stefanac, Delegate to Michigan Chapter Executive Committee; Becky Mandrell; Ben Brown, Kalamazoo Drive Electric Committee Chair; Roz Linsea, Vice-Chair and Fundraising Committee Chair. Back row: Joe Ziolkowski; Nancy Appel, Secretary; Bette Pierman; Roger Taylor. (Roger has withdrawn from the Executive Committee). Photo: Craig Brainard / Mark Miller for Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group.

Other volunteer leaders and committee heads

Kristi Lloyd

Kristi Lloyd, a Cadillac native with a BS in social work, is our Conservation Chair, a member of our Political Committee, and an advisor with Wolves of the Rockies. Kristi is also a strong advocate for wolves here in Michigan.

Gary Klooster, TreasurerGary Klooster is Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group volunteer Treasurer. He is a twenty-year Sierra Club member and the owner of Klooster Landscaping in Richland.

Kim GabrieleKim Gabriele, an Executive Committee Co-Chair emeritus, is our Programs & Events Committee Chair. Many years ago, she became deeply disturbed at the changes in our environment and joined the Sierra Club because she believes in the Club’s commitment to protecting and preserving the Earth’s natural treasures.

Roger TaylorRoger Taylor is our Redistricting Campaign Coordinator. He’s committed to doing his part to return American Democracy to a time when voters chose their representatives rather than politicians choosing their voters.

Mary ColbornMary Colborn is our Environmental Education Chair. She’s been an environmental activist, educator, and author all of her adult life. She honors the past, heals the present, and nurtures the future at her Allegan Historic Farm and Learning Center.

Group leader Craig BrainardCraig Brainard serves as an at-large member of the Michigan Chapter Executive Committee. He’s also Michigan Education Coordinator for Beyond Natural Gas. Craig has presented his “Don’t Frack Up Our Future” presentation all over Michigan. His Fracking Linkletter©, currently on hiatus, appears here as a blog.

Our State and National Leaders

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