A Few Words From Debbie–September, Autumn, First Day of School

A Few Words From Debbie

September, Autumn, First Day of School

Like many of you, my internal calendar resets and my new year begins when September rolls around. Perhaps it is because the summer is winding down and school begins in earnest. Perhaps it is because of the change in the weather. But probably it is because the fiscal year of every nonprofit organization I’ve had the pleasure to lead is on an October 1 –September 30 timeframe. September has always given me the chance to reflect on accomplishments, to step up my game and to set new parameters to achieve our goals for the upcoming year.

For the past month, I have been thinking of all the wonderful accomplishments of the Arts Council as we prepare for our Annual Meeting where we elect new board members and new officers. As a mission-based non-profit organization, it’s an honor to have active, passionate, insightful, and talented individuals on the board of directors, who dedicate their time and energy to move the Arts Council forward.

As I reflect over the course of the past four years, two individuals who have served as the organizations presidents, have guided me and prodded me every step of the way to make the Arts Council a truly unique arts service organization. They’ve given me space and encouragement to outline a new path. They were both in the room when I was hired, and they have been my “sounding board” and support system since. They are truly special leaders, not only for the Arts Council but in the community as well.  If you have the opportunity – please make sure to thank them for their time and devotion to our mission and vision. Julie Pingston and Jeff Magnuson – you are remarkable!

A year ago, Julie had served her nine year limit and had to rotate off the board for a year. Guess what?  We got her back!  She is on the slate of nominees for election for the first of her new three,
three-year terms. This year, Jeff has served his nine year limit and has to rotate off the board for a year. And if we are lucky, I hope that he too will consider coming back and serving again on the Arts Council board. We’ll give him a year to think about it.

Board membership is something we don’t take lightly. We have been working for over six months to identify the next group to help shape the Arts Council and we think the following community leaders are going to take us to new places.  On Sept. 27, at our Annual Meeting, our slate of new board members to be voted into office will include: Julie Pingston (Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau), Taylor Gast (Foster, Swift, Collins and Smith), Janet Lillie (MSU Office of Governmental Affairs), Stephen Serkaian (City of Lansing Board of Water and Light) and Rachel Elsinga (Tri-County Regional Planning Commission). We are so proud to have each and every one of them step forward to lead the Arts Council. We are also proposing new officer positions including president – Patty Barnas (First National Bank of Michigan), vice president – Kirk Meadows (Jackson National), secretary – Ginny Haas (MSU, Retired) and treasurer – Kathie Feldpausch (Michigan Realtors). If they are elected – as I’m sure they will be — I will be one lucky executive director.

Another very special person on our board, Steve Kozera, who has served as the organization’s secretary for the past four years, has also completed his full nine years, and we are going to miss him greatly. He too must rotate off the board to fulfill the requirements of our by-laws.

With all of the new faces and changes coming for the board and leadership, we are taking time this fall to do a full board assessment to find even more ways to engage them in our work to support and strengthen arts, culture and creativity in our region. In the spring, we’ll start looking again. If you would like to be considered for board membership, please contact me at 517-372-4636 ext. 2 or by email at

Deborah E. Mikula

Executive Director