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Board Elections Notice & Candidates 2021–2023


November 11, 2020

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that board elections will be held following the final meeting of the Board of Directors on December 9, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom meeting [registration required if you wish to attend]. This meeting of the members will be held for the purpose of considering and acting upon a slate of member representative nominees for election to the Friends of the Rouge board of directors.

Any FOTR member in good standing is entitled to one vote in person at the meeting or by proxy (maximum two (2) votes per member household).

By order of the Board of Directors,
By: Susan Thompson
Its: Secretary

How to Vote – Election Details

The Friends of the Rouge invite dues-paying members to cast their vote for the 2020 Board of Directors election.

Members will be asked to fill out an electronic ballot by no later than December 9, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

Completed electronic ballots will be automatically counted. Your name will be cross checked with our membership data. Alternatively, you may request a paper ballot to be mailed in directly. To request a mail in ballot and return address, please contact John Deslippe via email:

Director, John Deslippe at johnd@therouge.org with the Subject line: 2021 FOTR Board Ballot


Nominee Bios

Ballots will be accepted via email or U.S. post from November 11 – December 9, 2020. Any electronic or mail in ballots received after December 9, 2020 6:00 p.m. will be VOID.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, members will not be able to vote in person following the end of the year board meeting. However, electronic ballots will still be allowed up until the Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

If you wish to join the FOTR Zoom meeting, please register beforehand. If you do not register, you will not be admitted.

Final votes will be counted and announced at 6:30 p.m that day.

Additional candidates may be added to the website during the voting period, however, they will need to be written in on member ballots to be considered for a position. Members may write in a nomination, but the candidate must consent in writing to the nomination to be considered. That consent must be emailed to John Deslippe before Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 6:00 p.m.

Member households and corporate members are only allowed two votes per household or per corporation.


View 2021 Board Candidate Bios below.

We are looking forward to another great year of board development and support for Friends of the Rouge in 2021! Thank you for your participation as a member of Friends of the Rouge!

Warm wishes,
Friends of the Rouge, Board Nomination Committee

If you have any questions, please e-mail John Deslippe at johnd@therouge.org for more information.

2021-2023 Friends of the Rouge Board Election Nominees

Jeff Dobson

Jeff is an attorney.  He is the Practice Group Leader for ITC Holdings’ Business Operations Group, where he manages a group of eleven employees, including four other attorneys. 

ITC Holdings is the nation’s largest independent electric transmission operator, and is based in Novi, Michigan.  Jeff’s work helps ITC operate the electric grid in a safe and reliable manner, and connect people to their energy needs.  Jeff directs litigation and contract matters for ITC and handles a diverse variety of day to day subjects – including grid and business operations, risk management, physical security and cybersecurity.

Jeff is a member of several bar associations and professional organizations, including the Edison Electric Institute.  He also is a Trustee for the Detroit Historical Society and a fourth-generation member of the Knight of Equity – the nations oldest Irish-Catholic fraternal organization.   

Jeff graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University with a B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning.  He also attended the University of Iowa’s MBA program and was previously a member at Dickinson Wright PLLC in Ann Arbor where he specialized in land use, business, and utility law.

Sam Lulkin

Accounting professional with almost 20 years’ experience in a variety of roles and industries.  I have experience creating and reviewing budgets, financial statement preparation and internal controls.  In my current role at ITC I oversee the fixed asset accounting area and manage a team of four. 

I have always tried to do my part, however small, when it comes to the environment.  Whether it’s recycling, looking for ways to reduce our water use or installing LED bulbs in our house.  I believe being a board member of Friends of the Rouge would provide me the opportunity to enhance my appreciation and understanding of Michigan’s waterways while also providing an avenue that allows me to give back to the community in which I live and work.

I am a lifelong Michigander with an appreciation of our State’s abundant natural resources.  Especially our Great Lakes and the many rivers and inland lakes which we are fortunate to enjoy.  Outside of work I have fun being outdoors in a variety of ways: running, biking, hiking, camping and kayaking. I’ve been married to my wife, Jill, for almost 25 years and we have two, almost grown, kids.  Emily (21) a senior at Kalamazoo College and Ethan (17) a senior at Birmingham Groves High School.

Mike McNulty

Manager, Environmental, ITC Holdings Corp

Mike graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a BS in Environmental Science in 2000. While there, his senior research project was studying the relationship between groundwater and surface water quality in the Rouge River Watershed. Following graduation, he worked for Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc. for several years assisting on and managing a variety of community and watershed based water quality projects. He then moved to Marine Pollution Control where he worked as a project manager for four years, handling the day-to-day environmental affairs of a local electric utility client. For the past 12 years, he has held the position of Manager of Environmental for ITC Holdings Corp, located in Novi, Michigan. ITC is an electric transmission utility that operates the high-voltage transmission infrastructure in Michigan and other Midwest states.  Mike manages the daily environmental compliance of the company, including compliance obligations with respect to waste, air and water quality regulations.  He also heads up the company’s Green Team which leads efforts related to environmental stewardship within the company’s facilities and in the communities in which ITC serves.  Mike has been involved with the Friends of the Rouge for most of his adult life and has served on the Board of Directors for 9 years.

Sara B. Rubino

Attorney & Counselor

I recently became a FRIEND to Friends of the Rouge so that my family and I could volunteer together with a local organization to help improve our environment and the communities connected by the Rouge River. I am hopeful that my professional experience as an attorney can be of service to Friends of the Rouge as a board member. Additionally, I have a growing interest in the areas of conservation, sustainability and environmental justice and am working on a certificate in Sustainability & Development from the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability. In my professional life, I am a Member in the Troy office of Dickinson Wright PLLC and specialize in probate, trust, estate, civil and fiduciary litigation. Additionally, I maintain an active estate planning and elder law practice. I routinely work with families, seniors and individuals with special needs, helping them navigate through complex probate, public benefit and government systems and am passionate about respecting personal rights, freedom of choice and equal opportunities for all citizens, including those with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am most proud of my work with the ARC of Midland which protected vital services and public benefits to many of its clients. I was recently recognized by Best Lawyers in America 2021 and have also been named an Up & Coming Lawyer in 2018 and as a SuperLawyer Rising Star in 2017. I am a frequent speaker and author on probate related topics such as administrative appeals, guardianships, conservatorships and estate administration. In addition, I am a member of the Wayne County Probate Court Bar Association, as well as the Oakland County Bar Association and have previously served on the Membership Committee and New Lawyers Board. I earned my juris doctorate from the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law and dual bachelor degrees from Central Michigan University.

Sue Thompson

Board Secretary, Chair Membership Committee

Sue is a long time FOTR volunteer and member. She is currently the FOTR Board Recording Secretary and serves on several FOTR committees, including Advocacy, Fund Development, Membership, and the Restoration/Monitoring PI Committee. A Bug Hunt Team Leader, she is often in waders with a net, searching for benthic macroinvertebrates in the Rouge River and its tributaries. She also is a long-time Frog and Toad Surveyor, and Rouge Rescue participant. A 30-year employee of Wayne County Department of Public Services Environmental Services Division, Sue is dedicated to protecting and restoring water resources. She coordinates and performs a wide variety of water quality monitoring projects in the Rouge River watershed and throughout Wayne County. A few examples of projects include: conducting a bug hunt program that involves over 400 student volunteers; physical and chemical water quality monitoring, and illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDEP).  She is a presenter in the nationally-recognized IDEP training program she helped develop that trains investigators methods used to detect and eliminate illicit discharges. During her free time, she enjoys being outdoors hiking, skiing, biking, and when indoors, volunteers at Detroit’s historic Redford Theatre.

Dan Wellman

I have been a resident of Livonia for over 25 years, living near Bell Creek.   I grew up in Plymouth near Tonquish Creek, where we spent many hours hiking up and down the creek.  Looking for minnows, frogs and crawfish was a popular summer past time.  In the winter we would put on our ice skates and make our way up and down the frozen creek.  I feel I owe a debt of gratitude to the environment that gave me so many days of joy and enrichment, the Rouge is truly a remarkable water shed. 

Over the past 35 years I has been the Vice President of the Sales of a medium sized Japanese company, I plan on retiring December 2020.  I want to use my spare time to be active in organizations dedicated to the improvement of the environment.

I currently hold the position of Secretary, on the Executive Committee of the Detroit Section of the American Welding Society, a non-profit organization devoted to education and development of welding.  I have been active on the Board for over 15 years, serving on numerous committees, and have held the position of Chairman. I’m also a new member of the Elk-Skegemog Lakes Association (ESLA). ESLA’s focus is on protecting the environment, monitoring and tracking water quality and being a good steward of the lakes.  I’m looking forward participating in all three organizations, including the FOTR. I believe I can be instrumental in helping and working with the Friends of the Rouge efforts over the coming years.  I look forward to giving back to the environment that gave me so much Joy.

Melissa Wydendorf

My name is Melissa Wydendorf and I am the Program Relations and Event Logistics Manager at The Henry Ford. I am a proud graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a degree in Environmental Studies with a Naturalist focus area. During my studies, I had the privilege of interning with Friends of the Rouge and cherished the knowledge gained. Environmental conservation is near and dear to my heart. You can find me enjoying walks in nature with my husband and dog, playing sports, and camping whenever given the opportunity. A well-known fact about myself is my love for turtles. I appreciate their simplicity and the ecosystem services they provide. Throughout my employment with The Henry Ford, I have had enriching opportunities to help develop and participate in environmental programming. Such programming included presentations on historical environmentalism and its pioneers as well as leading nature hikes along the Rouge River throughout The Henry Ford’s campus. My goal is to help develop environmental programming that can be offered daily to our guests.