A new era of bold leadership for the Great Lakes Commission

Enhancing advocacy efforts will be a priority

Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Great Lakes Commission is pleased to announce the election of two new officers to lead the binational agency into the future. Nathaniel E. Robinson, a senior executive policy advisor to Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, has been elected chair by unanimous vote. He will lead the agency in its information sharing, policy development and advocacy efforts for Great Lakes-St. Lawrence environmental protection, resource management, transportation and sustainable development issues. He succeeds Irene Brooks, who will remain active as chair of the Commission’s Pennsylvania Delegation. Robinson has asked Brooks to work with him on ensuring the continuity and productivity of the numerous partnerships formed during her term. Robinson has the distinction of being the first African-American to chair the 45-year-old organization. He will be joined at the Commission’s helm by newly elected Vice Chair Samuel W. Speck, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Robinson, presently executive assistant to the director of the Wisconsin Technical College System Board, holds numerous key appointments, including the National Sea Grant Review Panel, Advisory Council of the University of Wisconsin’s Sea Grant Program, Board of Visitors of the University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Environmental Studies (immediate past member), State Integration Committee of the National Ocean Service, and Board of Directors of the National Crime Prevention Council. Prior to assuming his current post, he served as the principal spokesperson to Gov. Thompson for non-regulatory energy policies, demographics, state-federal relations, and coastal and related environmental issues, including serving as the governor’s delegate to the Coastal States Organization for eight years. He has also advised the governor on the administration of public safety research, policy and program initiatives.

Speck was appointed director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources by Gov. Bob Taft in February 1999. Prior to the appointment, he was president of Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio. He also served in Ohio’s General Assembly for 13 years and was associate director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Reagan.

A central theme under the new leadership will be raising the profile and influence of Great Lakes jurisdictions at the U.S. federal and congressional levels. Under Robinson’s leadership, the Commission will establish a new regional advocacy staff position and develop and implement a bold, comprehensive and effective advocacy strategy for the new Congress.

“I have had the pleasure of chairing Wisconsin’s Delegation to the Great Lakes Commission since 1992 and have served as vice chair of the Commission since October 1998,” says Robinson. “I now have the honor and privilege of contributing to the mission of the Commission as its chair. Complementing our theme of enhanced advocacy efforts and improved effectiveness among our partners and within the U.S. Congress, is my commitment to maintaining and expanding Commission services to our member states, provinces and the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence community.”

“I look forward to working with Nat in not only strengthening the Commission’s advocacy efforts, but also ensuring that we provide the data, information and technical support needed to strengthen decisionmaking throughout the region,” adds Speck.

For immediate release: October 26, 2000
Contact: Michael J. Donahue, mdonahue@glc.org


The Great Lakes Commission, chaired by Nathaniel E. Robinson (Wisconsin), is a nonpartisan, binational compact agency created by state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of state legislators, agency officials and governors’ appointees from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Quebec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission offices are located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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