The Women’s Municipal Leadership Program is an opportunity for aspiring women to advance their skills and hone their leadership abilities on the path to becoming strong local managers. Of the nearly 100 applicants received for the second class of WMLP, 28 women were selected to participate. Meet the future women leaders of our communities below.
Shawna Allen is an Executive Assistant in the Office of the City Manager at the City of Battle Creek. She holds a Bachelors of Science in Organizational Management and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Human Resources Administration at Western Michigan University. Shawna has more than thirteen years experience in local government and upon completing her degree looks forward to advancing her career within the field.
Assistant to the City Manager
Simone is the first Assistant to the City Manager in Novi. After working as an educational researcher for the University of Pittsburgh, Simone returned to Michigan to earn her MPA at Wayne State University. The Carnegie Mellon University alumna comes from two generations of Detroit Police Officers and is a certified applied behavioral analysis therapist.
Executive Assistant to the City Manager
Sarah Bek has served in various roles at the City of Petoskey since 2009 in the Finance Department, Clerks Office and was promoted to the Executive Assistant to the City Manager in 2011. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business from Grand Valley State University. Sarah is a graduate of Leadership Little Traverse and serves on the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement of Northern Michigan. Sarah is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys spending time with her family, friends and golden retriever Chloe, traveling and all four Northern Michigan seasons! She has a passion for giving back and looks forward to furthering her career in local government.
Asst. Community Development Director
Greta Bolhuis is the Assistant Community Development Director for the City of Plymouth, a position she’s held for three years. She started her public sector career as an intern with Plymouth while finishing undergrad. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning and Master’s in Public Administration, both from Eastern Michigan University. Greta is professionally accredited by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Her local government interests include economic and community development and public works and utilities. Greta is excited to network with other women in local government and to gain knowledge in municipal budgeting and contract negotiation.
Human Resources Director
Kristine Bosley has been practicing Human Resource Management for over 14 years in both the private and public sector. In her current role as Director of Human Resources, she serves as a strategic partner with City Management. She creates a culture of collaboration to achieve workforce excellence. Kristine obtained her Masters from Central Michigan University and her Bachelors from Oakland University. She finds success by cultivating positive relationships with management and employees and providing a level of HR services which can be trusted along with a fair approach to employee relations and problem-solving. Kristine enjoys a good challenge, rarely passing up an opportunity to grow.
Alicia Bradford was appointed to her current role in September 2016. Bradford is responsible for management of 68 full-time recreation and maintenance professionals, policy establishment and implementation, advocacy for parks and recreation, capital improvements, programming, budget development and the administration. Her areas of expertise include budgeting and performance management, public/private partnerships, organizational/employee development, human resources, capital development and programming. Alicia Bradford earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Wayne State University and is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science National Honor Society. She earned her Master of Science Administration in Public Administration from Central Michigan University.
Marrie Jo Carr
Marrie Jo Carr has been involved in Municipal Finance for over 20 years. She’s worked for the City of Eaton Rapids for 5 ½ years and worked for the Village of Lake Odessa for 14 ½ years. She has her Michigan Municipal Treasurer’s Association Certification, is a Certified Public Funds Investment Manager, and is a Certified Public Finance Administrator. She loves being able to serve the community and work hard to present transparency and integrity. In her spare time, she likes to camp, boat, and deer hunt with her husband Jim, and dog Oliver.
Assistant to the City Manager
City of Jackson
Amber Clark was recently recruited from Consumers Energy, Energy Waste Reduction Programs to work as the Assistant to the City Manager of Jackson, MI beginning in Fall of 2018. She has worked as a Public Relations Specialist since graduating from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Advertising and Public Relations Specialization in 2014. Amber excels in community organization, project management and communications. Her passion for bringing people together stems from her love of reading and family.
Legal Counsel, Water Resources Commissioner
Kelsey Cooke works for Oakland County as a legal advisor to the Water Resources Commissioner and his leadership team. She also provides legal counsel to drainage district boards involving Oakland County, works on statewide policy matters, and handles all labor relations for the office and its 350 employees. Kelsey joined Oakland County in 2014 and formerly worked for a law firm and a private corporation since becoming licensed to practice law in 2009. Her background includes civil litigation and real estate law. Kelsey currently serves in local government as a member of the Village of Oxford Planning Commission. Kelsey graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and received her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.
Public Relations Manager
Courtney Flynn currently serves as the Public Relations Manager for the Macomb County Board of Commissioners and has been working in local government communications since 2014. Prior to joining the public sector Flynn was a local government reporter and editor. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Print Journalism from BGSU and a Master’s in Public Admin from WSU. Flynn believes an informed and engaged citizenry is vital for local government to function at its best.
Director, Department of Community Resources
Monica Fulton is the Director of the Garden City Community Resources Department and has served in that role since 2014. She has held various positions in Garden City since 1995, beginning as a part-time coordinator of the Youth Assistance Program. Monica holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Philosophy from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Capella University. She is currently a Public Administration Doctoral Candidate in the School of Public Service Leadership at Capella University. She serves as the Treasurer of the Kiwanis Club of Garden City, is a founding member of the Garden City Community Coalition and enjoys interacting with residents at local community events.
Community Services Director
Marcie Gillette is the Community Services Director for the City of Battle Creek where she leads the work of the Code Compliance, Community Development, Inspections, and Planning / Zoning Divisions. In her role, she is responsible for uplifting, supporting, protecting and enforcing the community’s health of people and place. She strives to implement solution oriented government that is rooted in community needs and engagement. Ms. Gillette has spent her entire professional career in local government serving in various roles at the City since 1997. She holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services Administration from Siena Heights University.
Community Planning & Economic Development Director
Rebekah Kik graduated with a Master’s in Architecture from Andrews University and Postgraduate degree from University of Notre Dame in Urban Design and Architecture. Born and raised in Kalamazoo, she left Michigan to pursue an architecture and planning career throughout the country. She returned to Kalamazoo as City Planner in 2014, and was promoted to Director in 2016.
Director of Strategy, Office of the CFO
Jeanet Kulcsar, PMP, CGPM has over 15 years of experience in government. Jeanet currently works as the Director of Strategy, Office of the CFO (OCFO) for the City of Detroit. In this role, she leads strategic planning and performance management efforts for the 8 OCFO Divisions. Prior to her role at the City, she worked for the State of Michigan (Treasury) as Assistant Director of State and Authority Finance. Jeanet began her career in southern California as a public finance consultant. Jeanet earned her Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and her MPA from California State University.
Debra Peck Lichtenberg
City Controller & Treasurer
Grosse Pointe Farms
Debra Peck Lichtenberg serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the City of Grosse Pointe Farms. Debra is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), a Michigan Certified Professional Treasurer (MiCPT), and an Advanced Certified Public Funds Investment Manager (ACPFIM). She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan and began her career as an auditor with Plante Moran, specializing in the municipal practice. After a career hiatus to raise her three children, Debra stepped back into the governmental arena, serving in key finance and administrative roles with the Cities of Novi and Westland, before moving into her current position. Debra also serves on the Advisory Board for the Detroit Area Agency on Aging and is particularly concerned with issues of financial fraud and exploitation of older adults in our communities.
Director of Development Services
LeighAnn Mikesell is the Development Services Director for the City of Muskegon overseeing planning, economic development, and community and neighborhood services. Prior to joining the Muskegon team, LeighAnn worked for the Michigan Department of Transportation and several transportation consulting firms for 25 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Michigan and discovered through her work experience that her passion is planning and building community. The move to local government continues to be a challenging, educational, and rewarding experience, and she is grateful for the opportunity to learn additional skills.
Senior Assistant Corporation Counsel
Julianne Pastula began working for the City of Detroit in 2003 as a Public Policy Analyst for the Research and Analysis Division of City Council. In 2014, she was recruited to work for the Law Department. Ms. Pastula currently serves as a Senior Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Municipal Section, where she regularly interacts with elected officials, including the Mayor, members of Detroit City Council and their respective staff, as well as various City department/agency executives and officials to provide legal counsel and advice. Her work includes extensive legislative drafting on important social topics such as the creation of the City’s municipal identification card program, inclusionary housing requirements, amending the property maintenance code to assist in the Mayor’s blight reduction efforts, as well as executive orders advancing open data practices and a city-wide records retention and management policy. She also serves as General Counsel to the Board of Ethics and was formerly the Law Department’s Liaison to the Detroit City Council. Ms. Pastula earned her J.D. from the University of Detroit Mercy and has been recognized for both her professional work and her pro bono service.
Sharra A. Poncil
Liability Risk Management Analyst
Sharra Poncil has been with in the City of Grand Rapids for 3 years. She first served as a Human Resource Assistant/Analyst and then quickly promoted to the role of Liability Risk Management Analyst. Prior to joining the public sector, she worked as a Clinical Research Study Coordinator for an Academic Institutional for 6 years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences and Chemistry from Western Michigan University and her Master’s Degree in Business Administration as well as a Master’s in Science Management from Cornerstone University. Sharra’s passion is connected and building sustainable relationships with the community through policy development, innovation and transparency.
Assistant City Manager/Clerk
Sherry has been blessed to serve the good people of the City of Grant since September 1997. She is a 2002 graduate of the Leadership in Newaygo County Comprehensive Leadership Series and holds a dual degree in Accounting and Computer Information Systems. She is a Certified Michigan Municipal Clerk through MAMC, a Certified Municipal Clerk through IIMC, and is working toward her Master Municipal Clerk designation. Sherry has served as Trustee on the Ashland-Grant Fire Board as well as the Grant Area District Library Board. She has served as Interim City Manager on several occasions. She has coached and mentored several first-time City Managers, advising them on applying the theory they learn in college to making a real-world impact in any community they serve.
Recreation & Cultural Arts Supervisor
Jennifer is a graduate of Central Michigan University, and has served in various programming and administrative roles within Canton Township’s Leisure Services Department for the last 18 years. Currently the Department’s Recreation & Cultural Arts Supervisor, she oversees a Performing Arts Center, a Youth & Teen Center, Adaptive Recreation Programs, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives, and more. She is the current President-Elect for mParks, the Michigan Recreation and Parks Association. Jennifer is a Certified Park and Recreation and Professional through the National Recreation and Park Association, and is a Certified Instructor in CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention). She is also an exhausted but incredibly proud mom to third grade feminist-in-training, Leo.
Recreation Services Manager
Danielle graduated from Central Michigan University in 2007 with a double major in Commercial and Community Recreation. She began my journey with local government as an intern in 2007 with the Battle Creek Recreation Department and now as the Recreation Services Manager. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Leadership. She is excited to have this opportunity to better herself as a leader and learn more about municipal government. She enjoys playing sports, being active, and spending time with her family and fur-baby, Chevron.
Grosse Pointe Shores
Rhonda was hired in 1987 as the Finance Officer for the Village of Grosse Pointe Shores. In 2009, Grosse Pointe Shores became a City and the title of Treasurer was added to her job description. She holds a Bachelor degree in Business Administration along with a Masters of Science in Finance, both from Walsh College. She is also certified as a Michigan Advanced Assessing Officer, a member of many professional organizations, and a graduate of Leadership Macomb class of 2017/2018. When away from the office, she enjoys spending time with her husband Michael and their three rescued Huskies (Sonya, Sara and Jake). Evidence of our husky kids can always be found on my clothing and car!
City Controller/Deputy City Administrator
Karen E. Sall is the City Controller and Deputy City Administrator for the City of Trenton. In this role, Sall is responsible for supervising the quality of accounting and financial reporting for the city. Sall was formerly the Deputy Treasurer and has 14 years municipal finance experience. Sall attended the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. She and her husband, Frank, have 3 children and one granddaughter. Outside of work, Sall is a yoga instructor, CrossFit enthusiast, and avid reader.
Community Engagement Specialist
Heather Seyfarth is a Community Engagement Specialist for the City of Ann Arbor. She has over 10 years of experience working across non-profit, private, and public sectors completing a variety of community planning projects. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and currently serves on the board of the Michigan Association of Planning (MAP) along with serving on MAP’s Social Equity Committee.
Interim Assistant City Manager
Haley Snyder currently serves as the Interim Assistant City Manager and Deputy Clerk/Treasurer for the City of Albion. She obtained her Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management from Western Michigan University in 2017. She is eager to develop and grow as a public administrator and community leader.
Director, Strat. Planning & Special Projects
Crystal VanVleck is the Director of Strategic Planning and Special Projects for the City of Oak Park where she serves as a member of the City’s management team and ensures the execution of the City’s Strategic Plan goals and objectives. She began her local government career, and her love for local government administration as the Graduate Management Analyst with the City of Novi. Crystal is a graduate of Wayne State University, where she received a BA in urban studies, a BA in public relations, and a master’s degree in urban planning. Crystal’s passion is for cultivating an effective organization through strong leadership, and building and sustaining communities that have a positive impact on peoples’ lives.
Bonnie Wessler has been the City Planner for the City of Ypsilanti since 2015, and has been with the City since 2008. Her Master’s degree is in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Michigan, and earned her American Institute of Certified Planners certification in 2017. She’s passionate about meeting the long-term needs of the community, from environmental sustainability to business development, from roads to parks, and beyond.
Deputy City Clerk
Katie Zeits is the Deputy City Clerk for the City of Traverse City and has served in that role since 2015. Katie began her career in 2010 with the City of Newaygo as an Intern and Administrative Assistant. She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and her Master’s Degree in Public Administration specializing in Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities. She is a member of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks (MAMC) and the International Institute Municipal Clerks (IIMC) and is working towards her Master Municipal Clerk (MMC) certification. Katie finds passion in working with the public and finding innovate solutions to problem solving.