Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the March 23, 2023 edition of Three Things Thursday! From elected officials and environmental justice advocates to members of the Michigan LCV team, there are incredible women doing powerful work all over our state!
1. Winnie Brinks, Michigan’s First Woman Senate Majority Leader
The 2022 midterms were a banner year for women running for office. There were historic wins in Michigan, from local offices to the top of the ticket, and – as a result– there are more women serving in our state legislature than at any time in Michigan history.
Today I’d like to put a spotlight on Senator Winnie Brinks, whose re-election campaign Michigan LCV proudly endorsed and robustly supported. Senator Brinks not only held her seat in November, but the new Democratic trifecta opened the door to an even more important role: that of Senate Majority Leader. Earning her colleagues’ votes of confidence, Senator Brinks became the first woman to hold this position in Michigan history.
Senator Brinks represents Michigan’s 29th Senate District encompassing portions of Kent County and the greater Grand Rapids area, home of the Republican Party. Before being elected to the state Senate in 2018, Brinks served in the State House (2013-2018), and worked as a caseworker at an NGO, helping local businesses and nonprofits grow and retain employees. Senator Brinks also served as the executive director of a community-based corrections agency and as a school paraprofessional.
During her time in Lansing, Brinks has demonstrated a deep commitment to environmental and public health priorities, sponsoring bills and voting to address PFAS contamination, improve air quality, and ensure safe drinking water in schools. She has also helped pass bold water infrastructure investments and bills to protect public land. Senator Brinks received a 100% on the Michigan LCV 2021-2022 Legislative Scorecard.
Over the first three months of the new 102nd Legislature, Senator Brinks has focused on the establishment of a robust and increasingly aligned caucus. In our initial meetings, we have heard a strong commitment to economic, social and environmental justice, and we anticipate bold action on the part of the Michigan Senate to address energy/climate (from home weatherization and utility accountability to grid reliability and electric vehicle readiness), protection of our democracy (full funding to ensure the implementation of the 2022 Prop 2/voting rights initiative) and drinking water protection/affordability (lead service line replacement, stormwater infrastructure, and septic challenges).
We look forward to working with Senator Brinks and her team in the days, months and years ahead.
2. Celebrating Monica Lewis-Patrick and We The People Of Detroit on World Water Day
Yesterday, March 22nd, was World Water Day, which is both a celebration of the natural resource that literally sustains life AND a means of highlighting the myriad challenges that threaten the human right to clean, safe, affordable drinking water. In Michigan, we can’t celebrate World Water Day without celebrating the incredible Monica Lewis-Patrick and the work she does every day to address water affordability through her leadership at We The People of Detroit.
WATCH: How We the People of Detroit Are Fighting Water Injustice
Water shutoffs have become increasingly common in Detroit in recent years. As I wrote in Three Things in early February, the City of Detroit launched its COVID-19 Water Restart Plan in March 2020, which restored water service to thousands of Detroit residents and established a moratorium on shutoffs as Michiganders reeled from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Subsequently, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order that both suspended all water shutoffs and created the Water Restart Grant Program to help communities maintain water service. And, in December 2020, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced the city’s moratorium would be extended through 2022.
But Detroit’s moratorium on water shutoffs expired on January 1, 2023, meaning that low-income Detroiters are once again at risk of having their water service disconnected due to unpaid bills. With tens of thousands of Detroiters living without water at home, or at risk of having their water shut off, groups like We The People of Detroit have rolled up their sleeves to ensure that water is affordable for all Michiganders.
And, President & CEO Monica Lewis-Patrick is leading the charge!
Water justice activists have been fighting to ensure that all Detroit residents have and maintain access to clean, safe, affordable water for decades. As the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department rolls out the new Lifeline Plan, we must acknowledge the foundation of social justice upon which it is built. We recognize and honor the work that went into the first water affordability plan for Detroit residents led by the Honorable Councilmember JoAnn Watson, the late Honorable Maryann Mahaffey, and countless water warriors and advocates back in 2005.
Detroiters and people worldwide are navigating a post-COVID-19 world, and we must recognize the necessity of clean water in fighting against infectious diseases and protecting public health. To avoid future public health crises, we must meet the basic human needs of the community. In doing so, transparent communication and authentic community engagement are necessary. The lived experiences of the community cannot continue to go unnoticed and unaddressed in Detroit and in the State of Michigan if we are to live up to our claim as The Great Lakes State. We must be leaders in the fight for water justice and clean, safe, affordable water for all.” – Monica Lewis-Patrick, President & CEO, We The People of Detroit
Thank you, Monica, for your outstanding leadership! The Michigan LCV team is proud to stand with you in the fight for water justice.
3. Roslyn Ogburn, Michigan LCV’s All-Star Partnerships Coordinator
Michigan LCV’s Partnerships Coordinator Roslyn Ogburn has been an all-star member of our team since joining us in late 2022. Given her organizing expertise, her political savvy, her expanse of trustworthy relationships and her indefatigable, Ros has catapulted Michigan LCV into the right rooms with the right people at the right times to have the right conversations, increasing our partnerships, elevating key issues (like water protection/affordability, electric utility rates and voting rights) and building people-centered power in our state’s largest city.
Roslyn (left) and Michigan LCVs Democracy For All Director Brooke Harris!
Ros joined the Michigan LCV team in September as our new Partnerships Coordinator. Working closely with Partnerships Director Shannon Rochon, Ros uses her talents to develop and strengthen collaboration with impacted individuals and organizations in the environmental justice and pro-democracy spaces — as well as with businesses, sports teams, churches, universities, and more!
Ros speaking at Michigan LCV’s Black History Month Celebration in February, an event she was instrumental in organizing!
Ros is a fourth-generation Detroiter and mother of five, which is a big part of what brought her to this work. Prior to joining Michigan LCV, Roslyn worked as an environmental and housing specialist, organizing in the Detroit community for over 25 years.
Ros with Representative Helena Scott, Chairwoman of the House Energy Committee
Mothering Justice – an amazing partner organization that works with and for mothers in Detroit – chose Roslyn as a 2022 Mamavist of the Year in recognition of the work she has done on behalf of mothers of color. Along with nine other phenomenal women — all of whom represent the vanguard of democracy — Ros was honored during Mothering Justice’s 2022 Ballot Bash in Detroit last October.
We are so fortunate to have Ros on our team!
NOTE: Earlier this week, four other wonderful women on our team – Lena Swirczek, Maddie Samuels, Abby Barker, and Shannon Erwin – provided testimony at the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC)’s public hearings on the recent power outages in Jackson and Dearborn, and all four of them were quoted in the press!
Lena’s testimony was front and center in a Detroit News article! You can watch a video of Lena speaking before the MPSC at the Dearborn hearing in the article.
Abby Barker testifying at the MPSC hearing in Jackson.
And Maddie’s testimony was captured by Fox 2 Detroit! Click here to watch the full video.
As I say every week, thank you so much for all you do to make our work possible! Until next time…
P.S. Tuesday’s “Women Making History” event in Detroit
If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” – Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress
That powerful quote was on brochures scattered on every table at Tuesday night’s “Women Making History” event at the Detroit Science Center. Although I unfortunately couldn’t attend the festivities, I was honored to serve on the “Women Making History” Host Committee and made sure that Michigan LCV was well-represented at the event. The event was held to support the formation of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum (SAWHM), which will bring much-needed and deserved attention to the critical role that women have played in our national history. Women civil rights activists, scientists, physicians, elected officials, and – yes, we hope! – environmental leaders will finally be given their due and an honored place in history. This is an important and ambitious project, one that has required bipartisan support and three different acts of Congress simply to get the launch of the museum approved. A timeline for construction is still in the making, but once codified, the museum will proudly be the 21st Smithsonian.
Left to Right: Jennifer Martin (Michigan LCV Supporter), Major Gifts Manager Suzanne Van Dam, and co-chairs of Women’s Museum–Colleen Peters and Jane Abraham. Jane and Colleen spoke about working from opposite sides of the aisle to get this important work accomplished.
Michigan LCV board member Lisa Baker celebrating with friends
Jazz musician Kimmie Horne
The presentation concluded with a song sung by Detroit’s beloved jazz musician Kimmie Horne, a song fittingly written from a mother’s point of view to her daughter: “I Hope You Dance”
I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance… I hope you dance…