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, 35 women were selected to participate. Meet the future women leaders of our communities below.
City of Livonia
Enna Bachlor’s public sector procurement experience spans twenty-four years, two states and three municipalities. She was born and raised in Detroit, is a graduate of Grand Valley State University, and mother of three beautiful daughters.
City of Rockford
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.
Grand Valley State University
Katie is a second year graduate student at Grand Valley State University, and this year will receive her Masters in Public Administration, with a concentration in Local State and Regional Governance. She previously completed her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Pennsylvania State University. In addition to her studies, Katie serves as the Michigan Municipal Executives Next Gen Management Fellow with the City of Wayland, and will work as a graduate assistant at Grand Valley. She previously interned with the City of Ferrysburg and the City of Muskegon. At school, she is the President of the ICMA Student Chapter and a Leadership Fellow at the Cook Leadership Academy through the Haustein Center for Presidential Studies. Katie is passionate about civic engagement and the arts, and her thesis this year will be on the subject of voter participation in municipal elections.
Economic Development Director
City of Westland
Aubrey Berman was appointed as the Economic Development Director for the City of Westland in March of 2019. Her role is to provide direct support for commercial, industrial and new residential projects throughout the development and expansion process and to deploy ongoing attraction and retention business development efforts. She began her municipal career for the City of Westland in 2013 as an Administrative Assistant to the Mayor where she managed communications, public and media relations and provided direct support to the City’s 85,000 residents. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree of Psychology from Florida Gulf Coast University and a Master’s Degree of Business Administration in Global Leadership from Cleary University.
City of Boyne City
Barb is heavily rooted to the Boyne area as she has lived in northern Michigan most all her life but is also involved in regional and state-wide efforts. She has served the citizens of Boyne City through her various positions working for the City over the past 16 years and prior to municipal work, she served the business community in her role with the Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2018 Barb was appointed by former Governor Rick Snyder to serve a four year term on the State of Michigan Waterways Commission representing the northern region. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, is a dog lover, an outdoor enthusiast, and her fun loving and adventuress personality makes her game for trying most anything.
City of Dearborn
Ginger Burke- Miller is an accounting leader with 18+ years of municipal experience. She is a certified public manager, certified public funds investment manager, and certified public accountant. She graduated with Michigan State University with a Bachelors in Accounting and has her MBA.
City of Harbor Beach
Jennifer Capling is the Finance Director/Treasurer for the City of Harbor Beach, and a Financial Consultant for the Village of Forestville. She is also a Licensed Residential Builder, a Real Estate Agent and has taught mathematics at Davenport University. Prior to working in government, Jennifer was an Actuarial Analyst specializing in pricing, reserving and predictive modeling. Jennifer graduated from Kettering University with a Bachelor of Science in applied mathematics, with a statistics and industrial engineering concentration. Jennifer also studied art at Alma College for two years, and even though she hasn’t picked up a brush in too long, oil painting is still her favorite hobby.
City of Port Huron
Cynthia Cutright is the Downtown Development Authority Director for the City of Port Huron, a position she was appointed to in January 2020. Prior to that, she served as Assistant to the City Manager. She started her career serving with the advocacy team at the Michigan Bankers Association before working for Senator Darwin L. Booher for his final term. Through these positions, Cynthia found she had a desire to serve her community through working in the public sector. Cynthia earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Ashland University. An Ohio-native turned Michigander who can never go back, she loves being outdoors to enjoy all that Michigan has to offer.
Code Enforcement Officer/Intern
Village of Sparta
Natalie Davenport currently serves as the Code Enforcement Officer and Assistant to the Village Manager for the Village of Sparta, as well as a Project Intern for the Sparta Downtown Development Authority. Natalie also worked as a student intern at Melrose Township and Boyne Valley Township in the summer of 2017. Natalie graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science concentrated in Public Administration and a minor in Sociology in 2018. She is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in State, Local, and Regional Governance at Grand Valley State University and is expected to graduate in December of 2021. Natalie also serves as the Vice-President of the ICMA Student Chapter at Grand Valley State University.
Public Relations Specialist
City of Rochester
Jane is the Public Relations Specialist for the City of Rochester. Prior to her role at the City she worked in municipal analytics. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from Oakland University in Political Science and History and is pursuing a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan. She is grateful to be able to serve her community and looks forward to continuing to learn and progress in local government.
City of Adrian
Tamaris Henagan is an Adrian, MI native and a licensed attorney and CEO. She obtained her B.S. in Business Administration and Management from Ohio Dominican University and received a Juris Doctor, with a concentration in Criminal Law, from the University of Toledo College of Law. In 2017, Tamaris had the honor of becoming the first African- American attorney in the history of the City of Adrian.
She is the sole practitioner of Henagan & Associates, PLLC. where she is honored to serve as the City Attorney for the City of Adrian and specializes in criminal and family law, as well as, business consultation.Tamaris was honored to become part of local history by becoming the first African- American attorney to be sworn into Lenawee County bar and establishing the first black-owned law office in the city.
City of South Haven
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.
Livonia Housing Commission
Brandie Isaacson is the Executive Director of the Livonia Housing Commission – City of Livonia where she serves as a member of the City’s leadership team to ensure the execution of the City’s Affordable Housing and Community Development Plan goals and objectives. In 1997 she began her career in affordable housing working for a Detroit based non-profit assisting elderly citizens in accessing home improvement grants through the City of Detroit’s Neighborhood Community Development Block Grant programs. Her passion for increasing affordable housing and improving citizens’ accessibly to community resources led her to join the City of Livonia team in 2002. Brandie was appointed to Executive Director of the Livonia Housing Commission – Housing Department in January 2018 which she continues to lead today. Brandie holds a BBA in Business Management along with an MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management, both from Eastern Michigan University. She is also a certified public housing manager, a member of many professional organizations, and is active in promoting legislation that supports affordable housing.
Confidential Asst. to the City Manager
City of Walled Lake
Hana Jaquays is the appointed Confidential Assistant to the City Manager for the City of Walled Lake, having served previously as an intern and city hall office assistant. In that role she serves as the Freedom of Information Act coordinator, recording secretary for the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and the city’s Planning Commission. Ms. Jaquays has additional management responsibilities, having been appointed as the Manager of the City’s Farmer’s Market, a seasonal management position involving administration of the activities of the Market, its vendors and customers. Owing to her successes with the city, Ms. Jaquays was recently promoted to the position of Managing Director of the City’s DDA, working at the direction of DDA Executive Director. Her passion for public service began with her college internship at Walled Lake’s administrative offices. Ms. Jaquays graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. Because of Ms. Jaquays’ passion for municipal government service she is completing a Master’s degree in Public Administration and looks forward to advancing her career in local government management.
Director of Special Projects
City of Inkster
Tracy-Ann Jennings is a proud member of the Benton Harbor High School Graduating Class of 2000, a graduate of the University of Michigan and a Master of Social Work Student at Western Michigan University. Ms. Jennings has dedicated her professional career to serving communities, beginning in 1996. Formerly the Director of Community and Economic Development for the City of Benton Harbor, Ms. Jennings presently serves as the Director of Special Projects for the City of Inkster. Ms. Jennings is also a Certified DiSC Facilitator and Leadership Coach. Very much committed to community development and revitalization, Ms. Jennings has worked with City Leadership and Community Members on numerous projects in order to “achieve healthy communities, where everyone can live, work and grow.” While Ms. Jennings wears many important hats, her greatest title is that of Mother to her three beautiful children.
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.