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Board Elections Notice & Candidates 2022–2024


November 10, 2021

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that board elections will be held following the final meeting of the Board of Directors on December 8, 2021, 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: Melissa Wydendorf
Its: Secretary

How to Vote – Election Details

The Friends of the Rouge invite dues-paying members to cast their vote for the 2022 Board of Directors election.

Members will be asked to fill out an electronic ballot by no later than December 8, 2021, 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 Mike McNulty via email:

Director, Mike McNulty at mmnulty@therouge.org with the Subject line: 2022 FOTR Board Ballot


Nominee Bios

Ballots will be accepted via email or U.S. post from November 10 – December 8, 2021. Any electronic or mail-in ballots received after December 8, 2021 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 Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 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 Mike McNulty before Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at 6:00 p.m.

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


View 2022 Board Candidate Bios below.

We are looking forward to another great year of board development and support for Friends of the Rouge in 2022! 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 Mike McNulty at mmcnulty@therouge.org for more information.

2022-2024 Friends of the Rouge Board Election Nominees

Paul Draus, Ph.D.

University of Michigan-Dearborn, Professor of Sociology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences

Paul is a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.  He earned his Ph.D. from Loyola University Chicago in 2001. From 1992 until 2000 he was a public health field worker, specializing in tuberculosis control, first in New York City and then in Chicago.  He is the author of Consumed in the City: Observing Tuberculosis at Century’s End (Temple University Press, 2004), which was based on his dissertation research.  He has published numerous articles on health behaviors and social contexts related to substance abuse in rural areas and social networks and work patterns of daily heroin users, former street sex workers, and ex-offenders in Detroit.  His most recent research focuses on the dynamics of change in neighborhood environments and restorative justice practices in community and correctional settings.  He has become increasingly involved urban ecology and restoration efforts through his participation in the Fort Rouge Gateway (FRoG) Partnership.

Erma Leaphart

Great Lakes Organizer with Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

Erma Leaphart photo

Erma’s work involves promoting green (nature-based) infrastructure as an alternative to grey infrastructure for managing stormwater and preventing sewage overflows and polluted runoff into local waterways.  She facilitates workshops on rain barrel and rain garden installations, and advocates for sustainable, triple bottom line, policies to protect Great Lakes water quality and assure clean and accessible water for all.

Erma serves on the Governance Board of the Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition and is co-chair of the Detroit City Council’s Green Task Force – Water Committee. Previously, Erma worked for the State of Michigan as a Human Resources Manager and Public Health Consultant.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Communication from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Samraa W. Luqman

Samraa Luqman photo

Samraa is a Yemeni-American, born in Chicago and raised in the southeastern area of Dearborn (commonly known as the “South End”). Her parents were divorced at an early age, but both had a profound impact on her upbringing. Her father, Dr Wijdan Luqman, was an Army veteran, who continued to serve his country after the Korean War by becoming a physician and eventually the Chief of Medicine in the Department of Veterans Affairs. Luqman credits him for her first job, which was actually a summer volunteer opportunity at the Lake City VA Medical Center when she was just 12 years old. Luqman’s mother, Samira Alasbahi, further instilled a dedication to helping others when she serendipitously became an activist simply by speaking up against wrongs that she saw being committed against/in her community.

The examples that her parents set lay the foundation for Luqman to continue their legacy of giving back to society. She started by tutoring with a local non-profit, the Arab Community Center for Economic & Social Services, during high school, went on to work in public and charter school systems while completing her Bachelor’s in Psychology at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and followed in her father’s footsteps by working in the field of social services within the federal government which continues to this day.

At the same time, Alasbahi also established a non-profit, the American Yemeni Women’s Association, which Luqman became a Board Member and Secretary of, providing services, empowering women, educating the community by offering a variety of classes, and even partnering with the University of Michigan to create a work-study program. It is during this time that Luqman became more involved specifically in the environmental injustices that were occurring in the South End often speaking at community meetings and town halls.

As her advocacy progressed, Luqman became stronger, with a commitment to helping those who could not speak for themselves. This included a multitude of neighbors and Luqman’s own family members who were literally becoming sick with tumors, asthma, and other illnesses that are attributable to pollution. These illnesses drove Luqman to try to do more, and in 2019, she joined the PFAS Alliance, which partnered her with activists across the state, and the Environmental Health Research to Action Steering Committee, which educates recent High School graduates about the impacts of the local pollution. By 2020, Luqman also joined the Clean Air Council and independently presented to multiple audiences the effects and existence of PFAS in both our air and waters.

Luqman’s latest affiliations are with the local neighborhood association, the Concerned Residents for South Dearborn. The organization’s endeavors include providing input on ordinance enactment and enforcement, diversifying public school staff, fighting pollution on a local and state level, bringing additional recreation and city resources to the area, and partnering with other organizations, universities, and entities to make the South End and Dearborn as a whole a more livable place. She has attended countless commission meetings on recreation, city planning, zoning, city council meetings, and study sessions to fiercely advocate for the residents of Dearborn. She was instrumental in the bringing of and obtaining funding for an additional outdoor splash pad in the City, as well as helping save some of the local pools. She has fought for residents and been one of the strongest voices on issues of commercial expansion, the caregiver marijuana ordinance, and infrastructure issues. Through CRSD, she is also partnering with the City of Dearborn, the Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities, the Southwestern Outer Drive Neighborhood Association of Dearborn, and others in the Healthy Streets initiative.

Recently, she has also collaborated with the University of Michigan’s Environmental Interpretive Center and Friends of the Rouge to raise awareness on the environmental and flooding problems in Dearborn and succeeded in bringing hundreds of trees as well as a rain garden to the area. She has led the fight to obtain supplemental environmental projects to the city by holding big companies, such as the Cleveland Cliffs local steel mill, accountable for violations of the Clean Air Act. In these endeavors, she is also working with the Michigan Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Authority and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center to bring awareness to environmental injustice and provide cumulative impact solutions, including providing input for research and presenting to the public and EGLE on plain language solutions.

She is currently one of 36 community liaisons selected nationally to represent Michigan with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, where she presents in national townhalls the health impacts of PFAS contamination in her community.

Her advocacy also extends into the schools, where she is often representing parents and students with special education needs to guarantee the provisioning of services and advocating for educational excellence, diversity, and equality in the schools. She is also partnering with the local schools in the development of, the first of its kind in Dearborn, outdoor classrooms.

Dave Norwood

Sustainability Coordinator, City of Dearborn

Dave Norwood photo

Dave has worked at the City of Dearborn since 1992 in the Legal Department, Mayor’s Office, and as the Director of the Department of Building & Safety. Since July 2009 Dave has been the Sustainability Coordinator for the city.

Dave also serves as project lead or manager on several sustainability projects-  residential curbside recycling, “greening” the city’s fleet, implementing energy efficiency projects, bike sharing, urban forestry, and stormwater management projects. Dave is the primary municipal partner in the Healthy Dearborn Coalition which is a community-wide effort to improve health and wellness in Dearborn.

Dave has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Science and a secondary education certificate from the University of Michigan- Dearborn and a Juris Doctor degree with an Environmental Law focus from the Detroit College of Law.

Brandy Siedlaczak

Storm Water Manager, City of Southfield

Brandy Siedlaczak photo

Brandy has been involved with Friends of the Rouge (FOTR) Programs for over twenty years, annually coordinates the activities of 100+ volunteers at the City of Southfield’s Rouge Rescue, has been a member of the FOTR of Directors for the past 11 years, and FOTR Education Task Force Committee for the past 19 years.

Brandy’s focus for the City encompasses capital planning and resource management for storm water conveyance with the ultimate goal of protecting water resources in the community through regulatory compliance, innovative design, and public engagement. She is responsible for numerous large-scale capital improvement projects focusing on green infrastructure and sustainability. She has also been instrumental in securing over $10 million dollars in grant funding for several Southfield capital improvement projects. Brandy works with regional planning and watershed groups focusing on green infrastructure planning and implementation of projects throughout the Metro Detroit region.

She received her master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from Michigan State University.