Governor Whitmer appoints Henry Ford College President Kavalhuna to co-chair Higher Education Workgroup of the Growing Michigan Together Council


Governor Gretchen Whitmer has appointed Henry Ford College (HFC) President Russell Kavalhuna to co-chair the Higher Education Workgroup, one of four such workgroups leading the Growing Michigan Together Council. Kavalhuna will co-chair the Workgroup with Ferris State University President Bill Pink.

The Growing Michigan Together Council will advise the governor on policies to grow Michigan’s population, including identifying a population goal for 2050. The Council will also look at ways to prepare Michigan’s workforce for in-demand jobs and emerging industries by proposing initiatives to improve pre-K-12 educational outcomes and long-term funding solutions for higher education. To meet the needs of a growing, thriving population, the Council will develop long-term, sustainable transportation and water infrastructure funding solutions.

“Kudos to Governor Whitmer for assembling a group of people from all corners of our two majestic peninsulas,” said Kavalhuna. “This group reflects the vibrant diversity of backgrounds and skills that only Michiganders can deliver. I can’t wait to get to work with them in growing our beloved state’s population, particularly by growing its talent pipeline.”


Governor Whitmer has appointed the following people to the Growing Michigan Together Council:

  • Linda Apsey, president and CEO of ITC Holdings Corp.
  • Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
  • Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan and former lieutenant governor for the State of Michigan.
  • JoAnn Chávez, founder of the Michigan Hispanic Collaborative, president of the Michigan Hispanic Fund, and senior vice president and chief legal officer of DTE Energy.
  • Robert Coppersmith, executive vice president of MITA, Inc.
  • Jeffrey Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan.
  • Patrick F. Gleason, retired president and business agent for Michigan Iron Workers Local 25.
  • Anika Goss-Foster, CEO of Detroit Future City.
  • Maha Freij, president and CEO of ACCESS.
  • Ollie Howie, managing director of New Community Transformation Fund.
  • Dr. Santa Ono, president of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
  • Bill Parfet, chairman and CEO of Northwood Group.
  • Ambassador John Rakolta, Jr., chairman of Walbridge, a Detroit-based construction company and one of the largest contractors in the United States.
  • Jennifer Root, executive director of SEIU Michigan.
  • Shirley Stancato, the longest-serving president and CEO of New Detroit Inc.
  • Nickolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District.

“The Growing Michigan Together Council and Workgroup appointees bring a diverse range of skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table,” said Governor Whitmer. “Led by the Workgroups, the Council will hold several meetings over the next few months, hearing from Michiganders firsthand. They will collaborate and continue working toward presenting a comprehensive strategy to help anyone make it in Michigan. Together, we will grow our economy and population and write the next chapter in Michigan’s story.”

Additional appointments, including members of the legislative branch and members with expertise in demography and economics, will be made in the weeks ahead.