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Governor Whitmer Dumps LARA Director Hawks

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Governor Whitmer finally got around to dumping her biggest conflict of interest liability, Orlene Hawks.  The director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) is married to Michael Hawks, an owner and principal of Government Consultant Services, Inc. (GCSI).  They lobby (or have lobbied) many State agencies and the Legislature on behalf of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, Consumers Energy, the Michigan Physical Therapy Association, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, Michigan Cannabis Development Association, CannArbor, MedFarm of Michigan, and PSI Labs

Michael Hawks is also Vice Chair of the EMU Board of Regents, serves as Chair of the EMU Finance and Investment Committee, and is Chair of the EMU Personnel and Compensation Committee:

Governor Whitmer shakes up cabinet leadership team
Michigan State Police director, LARA director both announce retirements

By Zac Harmon - July 21, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a number of changes to her administration's leadership team on Friday.

Michigan State Police director Colonel Joe Gasper and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) director Orlene Hawks both announced their planned retirements on July 21. Whitmer revealed her picks to lead several departments in the interim.

Col. Gasper will end his 25-year career with MSP in September. During Gasper's tenure as top police officer in the state, MSP hired nearly 500 new troopers, changed the training and professional development standards, and brought in new technology.

“I am thankful and grateful to Governor Whitmer for entrusting me with this role,” said Gasper. “Leading the men and women of the Michigan State Police as we work to build a Michigan where everyone feels safe and secure has been the honor of my 25-year policing career.”

No interim director has been announced for MSP.

Orlene Hawks will wrap her 25-year career in state government after being the first black woman and immigrant to lead LARA. Hawks guided the creation of the Child Care Licensing Bureau, which provides oversight of child care providers.

“I have dedicated 25 years of my life to public service because I truly believe in the good work that we do," said Hawks. "It’s hard to summarize all that we have accomplished at LARA, especially during unprecedented times for our state and our nation. I am so proud to have led this department of more than 1,600 employees who never missed a beat and continually demonstrate their commitment to improving the lives of others and creating opportunities for everyone in this state."

Hawks' last day will be July 30.

Filling her role will be Marlon Brown, the current chief administrative officer at LARA. Brown will serve as the acting director while candidates are interviewed for the permanent position.

Outgoing Lottery Bureau Commissioner Brian Neill will be replaced by Jessica Weare. She is currently a deputy legal counsel to the Governor. Weare previously worked for Facebook, the U.S. Department of State, and the Alaska Supreme Court.

Neill was appointed to serve as a judge in 61st District Court which covers Grand Rapids. His last day is July 30th.

The Office of Future Mobility and Electricification will have a new permanent leader. Justine Johnson joins the state as Chief Mobility Officer on August 21. She previously worked for the Los Angeles County Aviation Commission, the California Mobility Center, and the Ford Motor Company.

Abigail Nobel
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 233

A lot of stories within this story. Are the journalists out there asking the right questions?



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